Words by Caitlin Black, Photo by Joshua Atkins
It has been a crazy few years for the Irish Singer Song-Writer Hozier, whose self titled debut album launched him into the limelight when his song “Take Me To Church” went viral and then on to stratospheric success.
Fortunately he has since come back to earth landing at the Roundhouse in London with the intention of preaching to the converted. The show opened with the up beat ‘Angel of Small Death & the Codeine Scene’, followed by “From Eden”, the bluesy “To Be Alone” and the uplifting “Someone New”. The increasingly excited and impressed crowd met each song with enthusiasm and recognition and impressive he was in his ability to recreate the intensity and power of his album.
Half way through the set Hozier was joined by his band member and fellow Irish singer-songwriter Alana Henderson for a duet of ‘In A Week’. This morbidly haunting ballad is told from the viewpoint of the corpses of two lovers found in the Wicklow hills. Heavily influenced, by the poetry of Seamus Heaney, Hozier in introducing the song recounts how “you only hear about the Wicklow Hills before or after the words: ‘a body has been found.” And while the music can at times be dark it nonetheless is tinged with humour and manages to be both darkly morbid and strangely uplifting and life affirming.
Staying true to his love of Blues music Hozier then played a solo cover of Skip James’s Illinois Blues further demonstrating what a talented musician he is. The band then returned to the stage to deliver ‘Like Real People Do” and the perhaps lesser known “Arsonist’s Lullaby”. This was cleverly followed by interview paper format of the stand out song of the night “Sedated” played with emotion and meaning with an almost gospel like chorus.
With the crowd firmly enraptured Hozier brought his set to a close with the song on which his star has risen – Take Me to Church, this bluesy, soulful song with a appropriately gospel choir feel that was simply Hozier at his finest. This was a certain and obvious hit with the crowd and was from the first bar greeted with a roar of approval and subsequently followed by a crowd sing-a-along and exit stage left from the man of the moment.
While no one expected that was the finale just in case the chanting, whistling and feet stomping from the appreciative crowd ensured Hozier’s reappearance back on stage for a triple encore of Cherry Wine, a cover of Ariana Grande’s “Problem” and finally ending with his latest single “Work Song”, rewarding this openly appreciative and sated audience.
On the evidence of this Roundhouse performance it’s clear that while his hit song “Take Me to Church” has brought him his deserved 15 minutes of fame his talent for storytelling, hunting melodies and powerful delivery means he is very definitely here to stay.