By Philipia Hatziandreou
Grammy-nominated, award-winning singer and songwriter, Andrew 'Hozier' Byrne gives a swoon-worthy performance against the historical backdrop of the Piece Hall in Halifax, UK.
July 2023: A gorgeous summer’s day was turning into an even more beautiful evening - a perfect opportunity for an outdoor gig. Having welcomed multiple acts of all different genres since mid-June, including the likes of Madness, UB40, and Queens of the Stone Age, it was now time for Irish singer and songwriter, Hozier, to take to the stage of the Piece Hall, Halifax.
Arguably one of the most stunning venues to attend, not only as a viewer but also as a performer, the beauty and charm of the Piece Hall was undeniable. An 18th-century courtyard surrounded by gorgeous buildings, the Grade I listed structure is now frequently used as a popular event space.
First to grace the stage was the young talent, Victoria Canal, followed shortly after by Allison Russell, both impressive crowd pleasers and a pleasant start to a long-awaited performance from the multi-platinum, grammy-nominated, Hozier. Anticipation grew following Russell’s set, which finished 45 minutes prior to the arrival of the much-awaited headline act. Based in such an idyllic setting, with a mild heat and the sun slowly setting, attendees were all comfortably content with hardly anyone seeming to move, perhaps in fear of losing a perfect spot during the build-up to the big show.
Though he turned up on stage slightly late, Hozier was quickly forgiven by his adoring fans. The time had come, and in his usual humble and laid-back manner, the singer strolled onto the platform and greeted the crowd of 5,500: “What a beautiful place."
Joined by an extremely skilled band consisting of pianists, guitarists, violinists, and of course, accompanying angelic vocalists, the set design and all performers perfectly complimented each other with their simplicity. There was no need for anything extravagant, no extreme lightning or special effects taking place; the undeniable standard of talent stood before a sea of attendees was more than enough.
The set began with one of his latest singles, Eat Your Young, which was inevitably matched with an ongoing round of applause from an exceptionally keen audience. The love and admiration from doting fans didn’t stop there, as many of the following songs were classic familiar favourites, including Jackie and Wilson, as well as Eden.
Throughout the night, the crowd seemed to be going through waves of enjoyment and satisfaction; many viewers often juxtaposed between having rigid, still stances (barely moving at all) and gently dancing, swaying as they sang along. However, as for most concerts, the newly released singles rarely resonate with gig-goers as much as old cult classics. Having said so, Hozier was an impeccable singer all night long and was wonderfully accommodating and interactive with his loyal audience.
Although visiting members weren’t as familiar with some of his latest releases; it must be said that the constructed setlist was a stunning variety. The latter half of the concert featured more songs from his earlier career, including Cherry Wine which encouraged a lot of tears. It also included Movement, which debuted on the Wasteland, Baby! album in 2019. This was definitely one of the standout performances of the night; with Hozier showing off his sensational vocal capabilities, and a slightly flashier rendition in contrast with the rest of his set.
Of course, no Hozier gig is ever complete without Take Me To Church, a timeless hit, which will still play in years to come; I don’t think anyone could ever leave dissatisfied after experiencing such a monumental song live.
Listening to the chants of the crowd after supposedly finishing, Hozier along with his band came out for a final encore. Before performing Unknown and Work Song as a moving duet alongside Alisson Russell; he made sure to thank his fans as well as introduce those taking part in the Piece Hall event, including all musicians and staff behind the scenes—an exceptionally kind and modest finale to an inspiring night of music.
Hozier's third album Unreal Unearth is set for release on the 18th of August and will feature tracks such as Eat Your Young, Francesca, and All Things End.
All photos are courtesy of Rhodes Media.