“If you’d like to view the seats you’ve been assigned as mere suggestions that would be fine. If I had my way I’d have most of you up here with me. And if you’d like to do anything else, erm, illicit or illegal I can guarantee you I won’t be the one to call the fuckin’ cops!”
So were Hozier’s first words to us last Sunday at the Palace Theater, and I applaud him for it. My main complaint with theater shows in this city is the stick figure audience. It’s just a product of the room: assigned seating and no dance floor means no movement until the end of the performance when the artist plays the hits and crowd simply can’t help themselves.
With those simple lines, Hozier made the room his own and allowed the crowd some much-needed freedom to counterbalance the grim humanity that overhung the whole performance.
Wasteland, Baby!, Hozier’s long-awaited sophomore album, was finally released in March and boy, is it sad. A wonderfully soulful, weighty, lachrymose record, Wasteland… is a collection of, as Hozier would describe them later that evening, “love songs for the apocalypse.”
The same balance of melancholy love songs and political consciousness that made him famous is ever present with this new batch of work.
Hozier balanced his stage time equally, briefly mentioning our planet’s impending doom due to climate change before busting out a guitar crafted from an old gas can and showering the crowd in distorted melodious energy.
The set was mainly composed of new material but, of course, contained his early hits “Take Me To Church” and “Jackie And Wilson.” A memorable moment was Wasteland’s “To Noise Making (Sing),” during which ethereal beams of fog-filled light bathed the crowd from the balcony to the floor.
After closing with “Take Me To Church,” the band dutifully returned for an encore and we were treated to a solo acoustic rendition of “Cherry Wine” and “Work Song.”
The new album and subsequent tour mark a triumphant return for Hozier, and I can’t wait to see what he does next.