Hozier gave a heavenly performance and yet again helped me break out of my shell.
Story by Haley Kennis
I never pictured myself as someone who would go to a concert alone. But last year when I saw that Hozier was coming to Austin in March, I knew it was my only option. Though I had already seen him perform in 2015 and 2018 at ACL, I wasn’t about to miss a chance to see him again. I was filled with anxiety up until the moment I ran into Moody Theater, still worrying that my arrival one hour before doors wasn’t enough to land a close spot in the crowd. Luckily, I nabbed a spot three rows back from center stage.
I spent two hours waiting for the opening act to begin their set by talking to wonderful people I lucked into standing next to. All my worries that I would spend the show standing awkwardly by myself vanished as we bonded over our shared love of Hozier’s music. Never in a million years did I expect to bond with total strangers so quickly, but something in the air made me feel completely at ease by the time opener Jade Bird came out to perform.
Jade Bird’s raw, airy vocals soared as she plucked away at the songs “Uh Huh,” “I Get No Joy” and “Love Has All Been Done Before.” The crowd was silently hypnotized as she performed the haunting ballad “Does Anybody Know.” Her passionate and fiery songwriting and stunning performance made the crowd roar with applause after every song. She was an absolute powerhouse and a star in the making, all with just her voice and an acoustic guitar.
Twenty minutes later, Hozier finally graced the stage. He surprisingly opened the show with the gorgeous deep cut “Would That I” from his new album “Wasteland, Baby!” The setlist continued with more new songs like the sizzling “Dinner & Diatribes,” “Nobody” and “Nina Cried Power,” as well as beloved songs like “Jackie and Wilson,” “From Eden” and “Cherry Wine” from his debut. Gorgeous lighting bathed bright rainbows over Hozier as his powerful, sultry voice and smokey guitar playing left everyone in the room equally star-struck. Most strikingly, beams of white light bounced all over the room during the slow burn of “Movement,” making the already beautiful song breathtaking.
The sheer talent Hozier and his band put into the music was entrancing. Being so close to him put on full display just how much hard work he puts into performing, while also having fun with the crowd. Though more humble than the typical rock star, Hozier played with the crowd by singing directly to individual people (including me during “Talk”), introducing songs like “Wasteland, Baby!” and “No Plan” with little funny quips, leading call and responses with the audience during “To Be Alone,” and even getting into the crowd directly in front of me while singing glorious “amens.” A girl in the front row threw a flower crown on stage at the end of the show for everyone’s favorite Irish forest fae to wear and he obliged with a smile, sending the entire theater into a roar. Hozier’s ability to switch from howling brooding lyrics to quiet, witty, Irish charm in an instant captures what makes him such a delightful performer and artist.
Hozier concerts are a place for anyone to feel cared for, accepted, and free — and I certainly felt that way. As all different kinds of people sang and danced together we could feel the love and care he put into each song, humbly giving us back as much gratitude as we gave him. By the end of the show, I had five new friends and overwhelming joy in my heart. Though you may show up to a Hozier concert by yourself, you certainly won’t leave feeling alone.