For Andrew Hozier-Byrne’s first time playing what he termed a “proper show in Minneapolis,” he certainly served the city a proper show – selling out the venue back in September, long before the masses got their obsessive ears on his music. The 24-year-old Irishman brought to the stage a six-piece band able to flawlessly hash out the tunes from his debut self-titled album. Beginning with “Angel of Small Death and the Codeine Scene,” the introductory “mmms” immediately capture the crowd, crescendo-ing into a more raucous tune. He continued with the lighter, “From Eden,” then launched into the rock tribute to R&B singer Jackie Wilson, crooning playfully, “We’ll name our children Jackie and Wilson, raise them on rhythm and blues.”
Hozier brought the tone down a notch with an intimate duet with cellist Alana Henderson, singing “In a Week” with her after going into a monologue about where he was from and where she was from. In between playing his songs we have come to know and love, he added a few covers, stretching a 53-minute track list into a 90-minute live show. He showed his appreciation for his adoring fan base, saying “I love your work, you guys,” only to be met by more screams of approval.
As a pre-encore finale, Hozier, with his gospel-ballad-bellowing voice (and his daunting 6’5″ stance), gave the audience what they came for – “Take Me to Church,” without flair or embellishment. He returned to the stage to finish out the track list and added an odd, but kind of fun mélange of Ariane Grande and Warren G songs, before bringing us back to his earthy, soulful, if a bit saccharine, “Work Song.” And in his final moments of performing at the Purple-Rain-famed institution that is First Avenue, Hozier exclaimed, “If we had religion, I’d be barefoot right now.”
I’ll spare you the “he took us to church” references that will no doubt haunt his every move until the next album.
Setlist: Angel of Small Death and the Codeine Scene / From Eden / Jackie and Wilson / Someone New / Sedated / In a Week (duet with cellist Alana Henderson) / Skip James’ Illinois Blues (solo acoustic cover) / Like Real People Do / Arsonists’ Lullaby / To Be Alone / Foreigner’s God / Take Me To Church // Encore: Cherry Wine / Run / Ariane Grande – Warren G cover / Work Song
And if I would have been properly-equipped, I could have gotten a sweet shot like Leslie Plesser did for vita.mn (review and awesome photos here).