Hozier, Finsbury Park review: Intimate pop lost in a vast field


When Hozier released his first single "Take Me to Church" in 2013, it quickly became a huge success around the world. The song criticized homophobia in religion and showcased Hozier's unique mix of soulful folk and blues rock. It reached the top spot on the charts in 12 countries and has amassed over two and a half billion streams. It seemed like Hozier's career had reached its peak right from the beginning.

Hozier - Figure 1
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Ten years and three albums down the line, Hozier has found success once again with his latest hit "Too Sweet". This catchy track, with a gospel influence, touches on the theme of being the wild one in a relationship that just doesn't quite fit. Thanks to the help of TikTok (like everything these days), "Too Sweet" has climbed to the top of the charts in both the UK and the US, making Hozier the first Irish artist to reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100 since Sinéad O'Connor in 1990.

During a positive and welcoming performance at Finsbury Park, he was in his usual polite and gracious demeanor. He expressed gratitude to all who listened to that song, a sentiment that was reflected by the audience as they quickly pulled out their phones to record once the song started playing.

This song may not be the most impressive, but it has become a big success. It demonstrates Hozier's approach: carefully crafted songs with good intentions. Hozier writes about topics like Irish identity, love, religion, and social justice. He even advocated for Palestinian rights during a recent performance. His songs are sincere, sometimes grandiose, and elevated by his powerful and dreamy voice.

At his largest London concert ever, there were many enjoyable moments. He took the stage promptly at 7:20 pm to a calm but interested Sunday audience who were uplifted by the sun's appearance after a rainy day. He was accompanied by a skilled seven-person band, which included five musicians and two backing vocalists. He had a relaxed charm, with shaggy hair and wearing a black suit jacket and white shirt. The music ranged from a smooth and funky new song "Eat Your Young" to 70s blues rock on "To Be Alone", which featured festival-friendly "whoa whoas". There were also occasional nods to his folk music beginnings.

During the concert, the folk songs "Like Real People Do" and "I, Carrion (icarian)" were lovely and heartfelt. The performance of "Cherry Wine" on a separate stage during the encore was delicate and pleasant, although it was a bit difficult to hear due to the quiet sound.

Hozier's transition from smaller, more personal venues to a large outdoor field proved to be a bit challenging. The lack of high-tech production meant that his heartfelt performances didn't always translate as well in the open space. Despite some enjoyable moments as the music floated through the evening air, a rendition of Joe Cocker's "Feelin' Alright" with Brittany Howard from Alabama Shakes fell short of expectations.

However, with his performance of "Take Me to Church", he closed the set in a powerful and unifying way. This was considered by many to be his greatest song, and the audience responded with enthusiastic applause. The song ended with a loud and rebellious sound, and a Pride flag was prominently displayed on stage.

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