The Irish singer-songwriter brought his “Wasteland, Baby!” tour to a sold-out 20 Monroe Live on Wednesday night, with New York’s Bailen getting things started. The review, photos at Local Spins.
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Emerging amid a swirling collage of light and sound Wednesday night, the gospel of Hozier’s album “Wasteland, Baby” was actualized at 20 Monroe Live, where a sold-out crowd, or rather congregation, embarked on a transcendent journey.
After an entertaining opening set by New York City trio Bailen, Andrew Hozier took the stage.
The Irish songwriter embodied all the mystic vibrations of a hippie prophet. With shoulder-length hair atop a tall frame, each motion onstage felt larger than life.
Beginning with “Would That I,” a folksy, whimsical number rounded out by stomps and claps, and an echo of voices, Hozier wasted no time unleashing his booming voice. He was also flanked by a seven-piece band of excellent players from around the world.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the show however, was that the musicians doubled as a troupe of backup singers, sounding more like a full choir. Bright and rich harmonies blossomed at the end of every phase; choruses were undoubtedly choral.
Other early songs included the smoldering “Nina Cried Power,” a fan favorite. Once again, the group’s collective vocal capabilities were outrageously good.
GENRE-MELDING AND DYNAMIC
Another impressive factor was the melding of genres throughout the night. Drifting through a dynamic catalog, one moment could feel like a shimmering pop show, and the next could become a soulful interlude teetering on the edge of spiritual.
Midway through the set, the title track from “Wasteland, Baby,” juxtaposed a gentle, acoustic driven instrumentation with a post-apocalyptic love song.
The evening began drawing to a close with a couple of wildly popular radio singles: “Movement” displayed a more subdued instrumentation, driven by rhythm and feel, while the universal hit “Take Me To Church” felt like an anthem from the underworld, with its brooding intensity — and certainly the most vocal performance by the audience.
After a brief encore fake-out, Hozier returned onstage alone to deafening applause. With an acoustic guitar over his shoulder, he launched into “Cherry Wine,” another fan favorite and early career release, and a distinctly beautiful song.
Closing the evening, Hozier and his band came together once more for “Work Song,” a hopeful, soulful exploration of the human existence.
For many, the performance likely marked the first time hearing the songwriter’s work beyond the radio hits, and hopefully they resonated with such deeply personal, detailed and passionate work.
Though the idea of an organized religious gathering is a topic often tackled (and criticized) in Hozier’s work, it was hard not to leave feeling at least somewhat uplifted and enlightened. After all, the crowd was taken to church.
PHOTO GALLERY: Hozier, Bailen at 20 Monroe Live
Photos by Anthony Norkus
SET LIST: Hozier at 20 Monroe Live
1. Would That I
2. Dinner & Diatribes
3. Nina Cried Power
4. Someone New
5. Angel of Small Death & The Codeine Scene
8. From Eden
9. Wasteland, Baby!
11. No Plan
12. To Be Alone
13. Almost (Sweet Music)
14. Jackie and Wilson
15. Moment’s Silence (Common Tongue)
17. Take Me to Church
18. Cherry Wine
19. Work Song
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