5/14/14 – The Red Room at Café 939

From clean-cropped blonde hair, to half-shaven heads, to white curly ‘dos, it was clear from the crowd Hozier attracted at Café 939 that his fans spanned all ages. With his long hair tied back and a navy jean jacket, this lanky dude proved quite the charmer.

Everyone who writes about Hozier loves to talk about the fact that the Irishman was born on St. Patrick’s Day, but given the immensely full sound that filled The Red Room, we’d rather dwell on the fact that Hozier and crew served up a diverse 12-course set, including new tracks from his upcoming album and the sensational “Take Me To Church” that racked up millions of views on YouTube. From the slight shades of raw bluesy rock that slipped through in “It Will Come Back,” to the smooth jazzy cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” (complete with a kickin’ solo and crazy tremolo by cellist Alana Henderson), to the punchy cover of Amerie’s funky “1 Thing,” we got a little taste of everything.

There was a stiffness about Hozier that didn’t quite match the emotion he pours into his sound or the slow swaying and bobbing of the audience—his shoulders stayed put throughout most of the performance. And although in theory Hozier fell back on stage banter, telling stories about the songs, he wasn’t one for the typical tale. Before “Cherry Wine,” he explained how the song was recorded in an old, abandoned hotel with a caved-in roof and walls covered in grave graffiti; “It was like 5 in the morning and I was so tired… and it ended up on the first EP!”

Before playing unreleased track “In A Week,” he recalled his hometown in the countryside: “Anytime you hear Wicklow Hills, it’s usually before or after the words ‘a body was found.’” The band fell away, leaving behind the duo of Hozier and Alana Henderson to sing the song’s bleak lyrics: “So long, we become the flowers / Two corpses we were, two corpses I saw/ They’d find us in a week… After the insects have made their claim.” Luckily, they didn’t leave us to mull around in the gloom, counteracting it with the upbeat clapping of “Work Song” and a rendition of “Happy Birthday” for his cousin Huey, who attended the show that night.

If Hozier can manage to loosen up a bit while playing—let down his hair, if you will—he’ll produce quite the live performance. He certainly won’t be one to miss the next time around.

Blues-ing in the Red Room: Hozier
  • Well-planned and diverse setlist
  • Raw emotive music
  • Stiffness of performer
8.8Overall Score

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