By Wal Reid
Date / Venue: Thursday November 5th, 2015 - Vector Arena, Auckland
Calling musician Hozier the ‘Van Morrison' of a new generation is like claiming ‘all Irishmen sound like I.T Crowd actor Chris O'Dowd'. Bold claim sure. There may or not be nuances that may elude to this haphazard theory, but make no qualms about it, he's no one hit wonder - the boy can play and sing the blues.
Choosing to open with the acoustic bliss of YouTube hit Like Real People Do, its blues infused riffing echoing across the Vector Arena setting the mood for the night, followed by a flurry of songs including off his first EP in quick succession, Angel of Small Death and The Codeine Scene before chopping back the tempo with From Eden while finding his groove on the head-bopping Jackie & Wilson.
The man known around the world by the mononym Hozier was full of praise for the packed Auckland crowd, who judging by the looks were barely old enough to remember the classic rock blues influences that have shaped Hozier's trademark sound. His soaring blues guitar picking and proficient backing band including strings and backing vocalists, pampering the needs of the adoring crowd who blindly cheering and dancing en masse were in full swing.
"You guys are amazing, here's a fun song" as the 1.96 metre musician launched into the Van the Man-esque Someone New, its annoyingly catchy chorus working its way into the crowd before coaxing the audiencewith his warm Irish accent to sing along to a funked up ‘Hozier' version of the Beatles's Blackbird.
Along the way there were the obligatory travelstories (‘The only time you hear about the Wicklow Hills is when it starts with ‘A Body was found ...') before starting off the subdued In A Week, a haunting duet withKaren Cowley.
Mega hit Take Me Church was saved as the nights'coup de grâce, its wonderfully worked chorus must be rated as one of the year's best tunes. Ariana Grande's twee pop song Problem gets the vote for strangest cover but in true Hozier fashion this comes off ‘most agreeable' with the millennium crowd, even crediting New Zealand's ‘island nation‘ mentality and Auckland as the closest place so far like home.
Hozier excels when he's in that space between blues and soul, that magical place where the guitar sings and voice is lobbed on by its own melodic perpetual motion. Anyone who has time to give a shout out to the All Blacks, can't be all bad, and I can't remember the last time someone thanked the sound, lighting & tour staff. If you thought modern troubadour Hozier was a one hit wonder like myself then you'd be wrong. Great show that left no person wanting afterwards - maybe a couple of Ariana Grande fans but that's it definitely.