From a little town in Ireland called Wicklow emerges Andrew Hozier-Byrne, who has had a stratospheric rise into the mainstream music industry and has transitioned from smalltime musician to now Grammy-nominated artist. With number one singles worldwide and performances on nearly every major TV show, including David Letterman and even the Victoria's Secrets fashion show last year, Hozier played an extremely intimate set at the O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire last night, which left audiences nothing less than enraptured.
Comprising a fantastic set-list, Hozier treated fans and played all the much-loved tracks from his debut album - the heart-warming blues and gospel influences flooded in with the opener 'Angel of Small Death and the Codeine Scene', which quickly got the audience swaying and dancing with delight. As a performer, Hozier was simply a sight to remember; the passion with which he strums his guitar and sings is unforgettable, and there is a compelling sensuousness and ferociousness with which he connects to his music and the stage. And what an incredible band he is blessed with. Although every member is commendable, vocalist and keyboard player Mia Fitzgerald was a stunning to watch and massively aided in bringing Hozier's music come alive and feel as authentic as possible.
A big highlight was Hozier's performance of 'Arsonist's Lullaby', which tore the stage apart and showed his strength as a vocalist and performer in full force. With his more softer songs such as 'Like Real People Do', 'Work Song' and 'Sedated', Hozier is other-wordly: he is chilling, haunting, phantom-like and magical. Not only does he have a mysterious aura of spirituality and even sensuality about him, every word he sings is emotionally rooted somewhere in his (genius) core.
On stage he is captivating, staring somewhere far off and yet appearing and sounding absolutely connected with his craft, and this intensified when the band made a disappearance and 'Cherry Wine' was played to the audience. With 'It Will Come Back' Hozier delivered a powerful vocal and interweaved it with a dangerously seductive edge, which teased out the hint of sexuality evoked in his performances. 'Take Me To Church' gave the audience what they had patiently been waiting for, and left fans hanging off Hozier's every word. By the time he had finished with an enthralling cover of Amerie's 'One Thing', everyone knew that Hozier is so much more than a one-hit wonder.
Since he has transformed into an overnight megastar so quickly, one would imagine that Hozier has succumbed to fame or at least, is showing signs of this. But last night's simplistic set proved that he remains a witty, wholesome and entirely humble man both in and out of performance. The show took me to church, and more.