Irish musician and singer-songwriter Andrew Hozier-Byrne, better known by his stage name Hozier, pulled out all of the stops at his sold out Riverside Theater show Saturday night.
Although known for his hit single “Take Me to Church,” Hozier brought a decent repertoire of songs to the table from his two EP’s (“Take Me to Church” and “From Eden”) and his self-titled first studio album.
During this particular tour, Hozier brought along with him another singer-songwriter by the name of Ásgeir. Like Hozier, he is also from across the pond. The Icelandic native’s voice was unique-sounding and reminiscent of Jónsi Birgisson’s falsetto vocals, who is the lead singer of Icelandic band Sigur Rós. Ásgeir’s electronica-induced folk sound was also different, but worked for songs in his brief set like “Going Home” and “King and Cross.”
As the crowd seemed less than interested in Ásgeir’s performance, it was clear that almost everyone in the crowd was there for Hozier. And they were not just there to hear “Take Me to Church” either. They were there to see him.
Hozier, along with his touring band, stepped on the stage in front a black banner with “Hozier” branded in capitals, and started off the night with upbeat selections like “Angel of Small Death and the Codeine Scene,” “From Eden,” and “Jackie and Wilson.”
Around the middle of the set, the show became very intimate. The band left the stage as Hozier invited his cellist, Alana Henderson, to join him on “In a Week.” He prefaced the morbid yet romantic ballad by saying it was about two lovers who go to the Ireland’s Wicklow Hills and, as he put it well, “do as lovers do.” Their voices blended together to create amazing harmonies during the choruses in the ballad.
Keeping with the blues and soul theme, Hozier made sure to pay homage to blues singer Skip James with “Illinois Blues.” He also kept the intimacy going with “Like Real People Do” as the chorus is, “Honey just put your sweet lips on my lips / We should just kiss like real people do.”
The band soon joined him back on the stage as he rounded off the night with guitar-heavy “To Be Alone” and piano-driven “Foreigner’s God” before ending with his radio hit, “Take Me to Church.”
Hozier and his band were so grateful, as the amount of booming applause was unending. He thanked the crowd multiple times over the loud applause and said, “I only wish every gig could be like this.”
The roaring applause continued until he came back out for a four-song encore. And he finally let down his head of hair for all of his admirers in the audience after it was tied up for most of the show. As he started off the encore with “Cherry Wine,” he accidentally flubbed a line, but the crowd cheered him on anyway. He also threw in another cover to the mix, R&B singer Amerie’s “1 Thing.” “Work Song” rounded out the night perfectly with its gospel-laden energy that had the whole crowd clapping and humming along.
All in all, the Irish lad definitely took his Milwaukee crowd to church. Hozier’s gospel-meets-folk-meets-soul resonant vocals were accented well by four vocalists in the band. His overall voice and sound was near spot on to his album recordings. Of course, he made sure to introduce the whole band at the end of the show while also thanking almost everyone in his crew, which was very generous and humble of him. After a week of blustery cold, a spiritual and emotional revival through music was just the right thing for Milwaukeeans.
If you missed Hozier perform this time around, try to catch him soon before ticket prices skyrocket. He may be a one hit wonder now, but there will be many more hits to come for this musician.