Two important events happened on November 3rd. The first was that I turned 23, and the second was that Hozier played his largest Australian show to date at the Hordern Pavilion in Sydney (there may have been a horse race or something as well but never mind). Much like a Hollywood script, the Irish native has gone from pub gigs to headlining arenas in just over a year and is possibly the biggest musical export from Ireland since B*Witched.
We didn’t at all mind waiting for the man himself to take stage, because kicking the night off with a soft and strangely comforting bang was UK crooner RHODES. Besides from being roguishly handsome and brimming with a natural charm and charisma, RHODES has a very distinct calming quality to his vocals. Standing alone bathed in red light, the young UK artist cruised through his opening slot with melodic masterpieces such as ‘Wishes’ that ended to a roaring round of applause.
30 minutes passed (four drinks also passed by for me) and the anticipation in the crowd was at fever pitch, yet when the lights cut out and a lone guitar echoed, it became even more intense. Hozier (the only man left in 2015 who’s allowed to rock the man-bun) took to the stage with his guitar in hand whilst the intro to ‘Like Real People Do’ hummed over the steady kick drum. From then on in, it was easy to see why he has gained so much attention this year.
For the entirety of Hozier’s set there wasn’t a low point. Bellowing guitars shook the Hordern to its foundations when track ‘Arsonist’s Lullaby’ started, while the timbre of his voice grabbed you by the collar and dragged you into the moment. It’s a strange and rare ability to pull off making large venues feel as intimate and personal as a pub show, but that’s something that Hozier did effortlessly. There were moments like during ‘Sedated’ where even though I was near the back of the room, it felt like he was singing to me. While some of these sentimental moments could be expected from the Irishmen, one of the biggest surprises of the night was when Hozier whipped out ‘Blackbird’ by The Beatles. To say shivers ran down my spine and the hairs on my arm stood on end would be an understatement to say the least.
No doubt that the biggest moment of his set came during the track that has catapulted Hozier into worldwide superstardom, ‘Take Me To Church’. When the chorus hit, hundreds of voices were singing collectively while the mosh swayed in unison and held up mobile lights as if we were all at a futuristic Woodstock. Everybody’s attention was trained in from the opening brush of piano chords to the thundering drums that sung out till the room fell black and applause sounded out. Just when I thought I had seen it all, the encore that followed caught me off guard. I had heard that he had done a cover of Ariana Grande’s ‘Problem’ but I had never seen it. Naturally, his version is so classically Hozier that if you have not witnessed Grande’s original you would think it was his own.
By the time he got to his last track it was safe to say that the entire room didn’t want the night to be over. Hozier is an Irish gift from the gods to humanity. His technical ability with the guitar and hauntingly beautiful melodies is nothing short of world class. It’s clear to see why he’s been catapulted into international fame. Thanks for the great show on my birthday, Hozier. You made it awesome.