Hozier – Live @ Spark Arena, Auckland 2019
I first heard Hozier about four years ago when his seminal hits Take Me To Church & Someone New were blowing up and remembering being impressed with the young Irish musician’s deft Blues infused guitar style and potent songwriting skills.
WORDS BY WAL RIED – PHOTOS BY BRAD HOLLAND
Sporting the same bogan 90s hair cut as Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder or our own TV personality Jon Bridges, thankfully was not the fashion harbinger of bad news. In fact, it had no bearing whatsoever on the tall Irish singer/songwriter from County Wicklow’s music. “It’s so good to fuckin’ see you”, he let rip, commenting that from one “Island Nation” to another, New Zealand had it ‘going on’.
His looming figure on stage belaying his hulking 1.96 metre frame, he curated his band of fellow musicians through a punchy and moody set, including newish track single Nina Cried Power featuring Gospel legend Mavis Staples (legacy of artists like Nina Simone, Joni Mitchell & Billie Holiday) to his international breakthrough Take Me to Church, which amazingly has been certified multi-platinum in several countries.
With the occasional spoken word in between, he received rapturous applause, even when raising his hand or playing the guitar. Astutely attuned to the Insta-generation crowd in attendance, he took it all in his stride. His phenomenal band kept up perfectly, matching him song for song, never skipping a beat.
The funky animated jokester Alex Ryan on bass, stealing the hat off band mate fiddler/guitarist Suzanne Santo and placing it on drummer Rory Doyle, was testament to the closeness and kinship of the group. This was no more evident than at the end when Hozier read a ‘thank you’ list of cast and crew while making a toast to signal the end of the Tour, before gloriously ending on Work.
Hozier’s grasp on Soul music is comparable to Michael McDonald of Doobie Brothers/Steely Dan fame, maybe even a touch of 80s Irish R&B group The Commitments – acute and intuitive, his affinity for Soul/Blues music, garnishing the young artist the title “The Van Morrison of our times.”
Hopefully next time here returns he’ll have that haircut sorted, then I’ll have something else to write about. Good tunes, good times. Irish Soul all the way.
Would That I
Dinner & Diatribes
Nina Cried Power
Angel of Small Death and the Codeine Scene
To Be Alone
Almost (Sweet Music)
Jackie and Wilson
Moment’s Silence (Common Tongue)
Take Me to Church