The Post Athens: Hozier is as sweet as ‘Cherry Wine’, wows with surprise cover song
26 Jun 2015
23rd June, 2015
Meryl Gottlieb | Culture Editor
One of the defining factors of a musician’s worth is how their live performance on stage matches their sound on a recorded album.
It’s possibly one of the biggest letdowns when an artist can’t hit a note or relies on auto-tune during a live show, especially after concert-goers have shelled out a pretty penny for a ticket.
Hozier need not worry about this problem.
Hozier performed at a packed Lifestyle Communities Pavilion in Columbus on June 16. Ever since, his self-titled debut album has been on repeat.
What’s great about this is that there’s little to no difference between the crooning on the album to the toe-tapping performance he gave at the pavilion. Hozier is one of the few artists, anymore, who don’t have large discrepancies between how he truly sounds and how he sounds on his album. It’s incredibly refreshing.
Even more, he’s an artist that gives his fans what they want.
After a subpar opening from Dawes, Hozier brought everyone to their feet. Beginning with the energetic “Angel of Small Death and the Codeine Scene,” he performed on stage for more than an hour — without a break — and ran through his entire album. Fans were singing along and swaying to the music the entire time.
The fans even got to sing along with Hozier during “To Be Alone.” He said he wanted to teach everyone part of the song, but the obvious love of his work took over as the audience filled the pavilion with the song’s chorus of different-pitched “Oos.”
“I guess you know this already,” Hozier said with a laugh.
His concert isn’t a big spectacle — there aren’t any fancy graphics or crazy costumes — yet it is still entertaining. The closest thing to a costume change was the amount of times he switched guitars in between songs. His more subdued performance matches the cool tone he sets in his album. These aren’t songs meant to inspire hours of dancing in a club. They are songs that are meant to capture audiences with their impeccable, creative and cool guitar sounds as well as the catchy and layered lyrics.
A rich and unexpected level was added to the concert with its perfectly-timed, well-thought-out lighting design. Every moment was impeccably planned. Every flash was perfectly in time with the strike of a drum or strum of a guitar. Though Hozier might not have been running around like Katy Perry on stage, the lights created a level of spectacle that induced just as much excitement.
After singing his runaway hit “Take Me to Church,” Hozier waved goodbye and thanked everyone for coming out. Then the air filled with cheers and claps, and Hozier was back on stage.
“As if I’d leave you disappointed,” he said to the delight of the pavilion.
He had already performed the more well-known songs on his album, “Someone New,” “Jackie and Wilson,” among others, so guessing what songs he would do for his encore was only done successfully by the fans who know and love his whole album.
His encore started soft. He stood alone on stage and sang “Cherry Wine.” Then, for the first time that night, he veered away from his original songs and covered a song not many people would think he would do: Ariana Grande’s “Problem.”
“This one is for ‘funsies,’ ” he said right before he went into the song.
Those who enjoy the BBC Live Lounge sessions from BBC Radio 1 were already in the know of this miraculous marvel and have found it randomly popping into their heads. The lower end of Hozier’s register is a perfect counter to Grande’s original approach. It’s epitome of what a cover should be. Hozier makes the song his own. It sounds as if it would fit perfectly on his album with its harmonizing backups and slower approach. Plus, now audiences can listen to the song without the Iggy Azaela element, which in no way betters the song.
Hozier might not be the flashiest of performers but if audiences go in knowing his music, then they can’t be disappointed. His voice sounds even better live than it does on his album; he knows how to put together a well-designed and impressive show; and he knows how to leave his fans happy.