Hozier delivers passionate show

(Olivia Loomis) Hozier performed crowd favorites "Cherry Wine," "Run" and "Take Me to Church" in Milwaukee show at the Riverside Theater on February 21.
(Olivia Loomis) Hozier performed crowd favorites “Cherry Wine,” “Run” and “Take Me to Church” in Milwaukee show at the Riverside Theater on February 21.

Anxious fans endured the cold on the evening of February 21 as they waited patiently for the doors to open at downtown Milwaukee’s Riverside Theater to see Hozier live.

Starting from humble beginnings, Andrew Hozier of Bryne of Bray, County Wicklow, Ireland suddenly entered the limelight with his hit single “Take Me to Church” from his first EP. From there, this Irish singer’s fame only grew, from performing at 2014’s Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, to being nominated for Song of the Year at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards.

The show, originally scheduled for the Pabst Theater, soon sold out and was moved to the Riverside due to popular demand, although tickets at the Riverside also sold out. To accommodate the large crowd, those who had originally ordered their tickets for the Pabst Theater were let in approximately a half hour earlier.

As the theater started to fill, the opener Ásgeir, named after the lead singer Ásgeir Traust, took the stage.  Similar to Hozier, this Icelandic band came from humble beginnings. Releasing their first album in Iceland in 2012, the band was a hit in their home country. Over the next few years the band expanded their audience through the translation of their debut album, Dýrð í dauðaþögn, into English.

In homage to their first album, the first song the band played was “Head in the Snow.” In contrast to Hozier’s  bluesy style of music, Ásgeir’s set list sounded far more moody and alternative, especially with the use of a synthesizer. Despite the conflicting styles, Ásgeir’s performance was fantastic. Between songs, the lead singer humbly thanked the audience for their applause as well as Hozier for the opportunity to tour with him. The band finished up their set list with their hit song “King and Cross,” their most popular song in the U.S.

Hozier opened his performance with his upbeat and folksy song “Angel of Small Death and the Codeine Scene.” Everyone in the crowd was standing and dancing along before the song had even finished, while Hozier himself was all smiles. The songs, which followed, carried the same energetic vibe, including “From Eden” and “Someone New”.

Just as humble as the opener, Hozier complimented the Riverside Theater on its beautiful architecture, along with how lively the crowd was. The rest of his set list included his more mellow and bluesy songs such as “It Will Come Back” and “In A Week,” featuring Alana Henderson. His already diverse set list even included a cover of “Illinois Blues” by one of his favorite artists, Skip James.  All of these songs eventually led up to the finale, “Take Me to Church,” which left the crowd cheering for more as he and the band left the stage.

Less than five minutes later, Hozier and the band returned to play not one, but four more encore songs, including “Cherry Wine,” “Run” and a cover of Amerie’s “1 Thing.” Before his last song, Hozier made sure to thank his band, the Riverside and Pabst Theaters, tech crew and the audience, stating that this show was “one [I’ll] always remember.” Closing out the concert with the soulful “Work Song,” Hozier promised Milwaukee that “he’d see them again soon.”

Overall, the concert was by far one of the best I’ve been to yet, leaving me and the rest of the crowd high-spirited and energetic. Hozier was very passionate throughout the entire concert, telling stories of his life in Ireland and introducing his band mates in between songs.  After such an outstanding performance, Milwaukee undoubtedly and impatiently awaits his next concert.

by Olivia Wycklendt

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