11/12/19 – The Wang Theatre

Bathed in the warmth of The Wang Theatre and the ethereal glow of low-lit stage lights, Hozier’s opener Angie MacMahon crooned to the adoring crowd before her. Creating a safe enclave far away from the harsh winter winds outside, the Australian conjured up a performance brimming with raw vocals and effortless instrumentation, strumming on her Gretsch Semi-Hollow guitar with an impassioned grace that captured the audience instantly. “She sounds like the lovechild of Hozier and Stevie Nicks,” a concert-goer beside me whispered to her friend. “How does he find people like this to open for him?” She earned a standing ovation as she closed her opening set. Channeling bluesy-rock and emotional baritones, paired with a modest, quiet disposition, MacMahon was a spellbinding opener for the enigmatic Irishman.

After a brief intermission, Hozier stormed the stage to uproarious applause from his eager audience, opening with “As It Was,” a track off of his sophomore LP, Wasteland, Baby! followed by the lustfully dark “Dinner & Diatribes.” A sea of hands went up to clap in time as Hozier began the song, crimson flames from the impressive backdrop of his set licking the ceiling of the theater. Following the track was the political “Nina Cried Power,” in which Hozier’s vocals were poignantly raw and impassioned. The track, featuring renowned gospel singer Mavis Staples, is a nod to the history of protest and addresses the hate that has erupted in the recent political climate. Ripping across the screen during the powerful performance were striking images from Greenpeace, the Civil Rights Movement and the 2017 Women’s March, among others. Hozier has long been an ally for the LGBTQ community, as well as a supporter of feminism. The song was a major highlight of the set, showcasing the Irishman’s support of human rights. He received a standing ovation for the performance and thanked the Boston crowd for always being so supportive. 

After “Nina Cried Power,” he asked the crowd to harmonize with him in the all-to-familiar prologue of his 2014 hit, “To Be Alone.” Hozier sang in the octave only he knows how and beckoned for the audience to follow him, a smile plastered on his face. “Come on,” he said, “I know how good you guys are at this one!” before exploding into the soul-and-blues-infused track.

Following “To Be Alone” were favorites “Angel of Small Death and the Codeine Scene,” “Nobody” and “Talk.” Hozier then paused for a moment to ask the crowd if it would be okay to test out some new material. I’ve never quite seen a fanbase like Hozier’s who looks up to the artist so much; his candor and poetic lyricism and his quietly modest disposition certainly attribute to his charm, but his fans nearly worship him. He asked, “Because this one’s new, would it be okay to put away phones, please?” and I haven’t seen phones go down at a show any faster. Hozier began “Jack Boot Jump,” a sonically soothing and catchy track with a strong hook punctuated with Hozier’s smooth bluesy harmonies. He teased that more songs would be coming soon before jumping into a beautifully orchestrated acoustic version of “From Eden.” The stage lights went dim and the spotlight shone on Hozier as he began. The track, off of Hozier’s freshman LP, Hozier, was sung back to the musician by his crowd, nearly drowning him out, further proving that Hozier’s fans are one of the most dedicated groups around. 

After came tracks “Jackie and Wilson,” “Almost (Sweet Music)” and “Moment’s Silence (Common Tongue),” followed by an enchanting performance of “Movement.” During the latter track, the house lights went out and psychedelic string of white lights cut through the air. It was—along with his performance of “Nina Cried Power”—one of the most magical moments of the set. Hozier, his voice, starting off slow and soft, climbed to the raw, emotional baritone with the lyrics, “So move me, baby / Shake like the bough of a willow tree / You do it naturally.” The white lights moved with his rhythm and his tone, and certainly added to his already impressive set.

As the show began to wind down, Hozier ended with “Take Me To Church.” Hozier let the crowd sing most of the song, lifting the microphone up to the audience, who gladly sang his verses back to him. He looked tired as the night began to come to an end. Despite this, after a brief exit of the stage, Hozier returned with his band for a small encore of “Cherry Wine” and “Work Song.” He brought MacMahon out for the last song and the two of them sounded electric together as their voices intertwined on the melancholy track. Hozier thanked Boston again and highlighted each of his band members and crew. 

Hozier has been in Boston twice in the last year; once at the House of Blues last October, the other at Boston Calling in May. In this small window of time, he has matured and grown in confidence as a musician—he is noticeably much more comfortable and happy when interacting with his fans, creating a mesmerizing atmosphere packed with adoration for blues, soul and rock.

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