Hozier Commands the Bowl

Irish Singer/Songwriter Enchants at First S.B. Appearance

Hozier plays the Santa Barbara Bowl (Oct. 18, 2015)
Paul Wellman

On a clear Sunday evening, Irish singer/songwriter Hozier commanded the Bowl stage thrilling a capacity crowd with his rich soulful voice and dynamic song arrangements. Sporting skinny jeans, ankle boots, and a man bun, the 25-year-old Hozier cut the perfect picture of a hipster musician.

He opened his set with “Like Real People Do” from his eponymous 2014 debut album. Next the Bray-born singer trotted out the revival hall-esque “Angel of Small Death and the Codeine Scene,” bluesy “Jackie and Wilson,” and soulful “From Eden” in rapid succession. Soft spoken and seemingly overwhelmed by the adoration and size of the audience, Hozier thanked everyone many times throughout the evening for coming out to hear him play. “Do you guys think you can sing a few notes?” he politely asked before leading the crowd through some “whoa whoa ohs” as intro to “To Be Alone.”

Son of a blues musician, Hozier was clearly inspired by that musical genre. But his style is also peppered with traditional Irish folk influences — he spent five years as a member of the chorale ensemble Anúna — and his nuanced interweaving of the two is what makes his songs so compelling. “In a Week” particularly speaks to his Irish roots and when he performed the song on acoustic guitar with vocal accompaniment by the band’s cellist Alana Henderson he transported listeners to the rolling hills of County Wicklow, Ireland, an area known for the number of bodies regularly found there, Hozier said, explaining the inspiration for the song.

Hozier finished out the evening with his hit “Take Me to Church,” the delicate “Cherry Wine,” and a cover of Ariana Grande’s “Problem.” With only one full studio album under his belt, the concert ran a bit short. Still, in the time he was on stage Hozier undeniably proved that he is here for the long haul.

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