Irish singer-songwriter Andrew Hozier-Byrne, better known as Hozier, serenaded a sold-out crowd at the Trocadero on Saturday night. Playing what he described as his first proper show in Philly, he performed an entrancing set of his passionate and poetic music off his recently released self-titled debut album. It’s not often that you come across a musician with such a hauntingly beautiful voice that makes an entire crowd go silent, but that is exactly what Hozier did at the Troc. As soon as he took the stage, the crowd went crazy cheering for him. Once he started singing, it seemed that the slightly rowdy crowd went silent and became completely immersed in his performance.
He was backed by a touring six-piece band with members on cello, bass, drums, synth, keyboard, and backing vocals. The band provided a rich sound for Hozier’s vocals and intricate guitar picking. Mid-way through the set, Hozier’s band stepped off-stage so he could perform “Cherry Wine” acoustically. Following was an acoustic performance of his duet “In A Week,” where he introduced cellist Alana Henderson as she provided the female vocals in the live performance of this song. Throughout the show, he shared a few stories with the crowd, and later encouraged everyone to help out with the percussion and clap along during “Work Song.” He seemed genuinely grateful for everyone’s support, and introduced every band member and audio tech to the crowd. Closing out the set with his hit single “Take Me To Church,” he left the audience wanting more, leading to a foot-stomping chant of “one more song, one more song…” A few moments later, Hozier and his band returned on stage playing a two-song encore, including a cover of “1 Thing,” by Amerie.
In the past few months, Hozier has received much critical acclaim for his debut album and extremely popular single “Take Me To Church.” Making TV appearances on Saturday Night Live, The Late Show with David Letterman, and The Ellen Show, he is quickly and steadily gaining popularity. Despite the hype, I do not see him slowing down any time soon as he is truly a great musician, and all of the praise is well deserved. With the Troc show selling out months before his debut LP was even released, it was great to experience his live show in such an intimate venue. Since most of Hozier’s initial US tour dates sold-out quickly, additional shows were added, including one at the Electric Factory in March that is already sold-out. I consider Hozier to be one of the most genuinely talented, best new artists to emerge in quite some time.
English singer-songwriter James Bay opened the show. Touring in support of his recent EP Let It Go, he played a soulful set of songs from Let It Go as well as his debut EP The Dark Of The Morning (2013). Bay was great live; playing a heartfelt energetic set, he got the crowd hyped up for the night. His bluesy, soulful sound, which was a perfect fit to open up for Hozier, introduced many people to James Bay and undoubtedly gained him some new fans.
Check out the setlist and photo recap of the show below.
Like Real People Do
Angel of Small Death and the Codeine Scene
Jackie and Wilson
To Be Alone
It Will Come Back
Illinois Blues (Skip James cover)
In A Week
Take Me To Church
1 Thing (Amerie cover)