Hozier returns to Chicago as part of his 17-date US tour, in support of his current EP, Nina Cried Power.
It took only a matter of a few minutes for this show to sell out on the day the tickets were released. The result being that, on Friday night, The Riviera Theatre was packed to capacity and buzzing with excitement in anticipation of Hozier taking to the stage. The Chicago temperatures may have started to dip outside, but inside the venue it felt like the hottest place on earth. Whilst some of theaudience struggled with the heat whilst standing in such close quarters with their fellow fans, they persevered for the show they had been waiting to see.
It has been four long years since the release of Hozier, but the current EP, Nina Cried Power, came out just a few weeks ago to tide fans over until the next full album is released early next year. The fans have lapped up this EP, as they demonstrated on the night with huge cheers whenever any of the songs were performed from it. Everyone knows Hozier for his huge hit “Take Me To Church,” however watching and listening to the crowd gathered here, it’s fair to say he is far from being a one-hit-wonder as some have suggested following his absence between records. To be honest, on the night, there were other songs performed during the set which received louder cheers, and the audience sang every word to every song, including the new ones.
The show opened with the title track from the new EP, the sound of the church choir-like harmonies of the backing vocalists reverberating around the venue. Throughout the show the sizeable band, which includes a number of backing singers, did a fantastic job of providing a solid and atmospheric platform upon which Hozier could deliver his vocals. As the band played the first few notes of each song, the crowd would cheer with delight as soon as they realized which song was up next and every time that happened, what looked like a truly genuine smile would spread across the singer’s face. It was clear that he couldn’t help but be delighted at the reception his material, both old and new, was receiving. It is great to see an artist respond to the reaction of the audience that way and you could tell that he is enjoying every moment of bringing this music to his US fans.
The setlist for the evening was comprised of the majority of the Hozier album, as well as the whole of the new EP. There was also an additional treat provided when he performed “Movement,” a song from the upcoming album. The band only momentarily left the stage on one occasion during the night leaving Hozier standing in the center of the stage to deliver a beautiful rendition of his solo acoustic song, “Cherry Wine”.
Four years on since the release of “Hozier”, and the crowds are still packing out the venues in droves, which is an impressive feat given that he is drawing from a limited back catalog after a long break. It was refreshing to see an entire show where virtually every audience member in a packed venue was straining to make sure they could see the stage and listening intently without talking or taking a peek at their phones throughout. The audience engagement is a result of the great performance of great songs and these shows will certainly be whetting everyone’s appetite in respect of what the 28 year old from County Wicklow is going to come up with for his new album next year.
This 17-date is fully sold out, so if you are one of the lucky ones to have managed to secure a ticket, you will not be disappointed.