By Eleanor Stammeijer (@ElStammjam)
30.6.2015, The Forum, London
Nothing builds buzz like an artist’s return after a cancelled show. Hozier was feeling a bit unwell for his original performance at The Forum, but this rescheduled, sold out show has the crowd enthused despite long queues in the evening heat.
Irish trio Wyvern Lingo have joined Hozier for his UK and Ireland tour. Made up of Karen Cowley, Caoimhe Barry, and Saoirse Duana, the chemistry between them is palpable as they perform one song after another. I wasn’t familiar with their material but they earn my fandom and the approval of the room, due in no small part to a well-timed Alt-J cover thrown into the mix. With tight harmonies and great songs, they are a perfect opening act for the night. More exposure needed.
Excitement levels lift several notches as the stage resets for Hozier’s entrance. Every new roadie that crosses the stage is treated to screams from the audience as light bulbs are placed around the set, giving it an almost Mumford & Sons vibe, and the sight of what appears to be a cup of tea placed in Hozier’s cup holder on his microphone raises a grin or two. We could just make out his variety of guitars, all of which the group around me agreed were the best guitars they’d seen – but that might have just been the heat.
Hozier takes to the stage to a cacophonous response from the crowd, launching straight into the set. With a response like that there’s no need for small-talk. It’s undoubtable that Hozier has magnificent stage presence, holding the gaze of his audience with every movement and lyrical flourish. Tracks from his self-titled album are given new life, the crowd taking ample advantage of the added power of the live performance.
One of my favourite performances of the night was the duet with Karen Cowley from Wyvern Lingo. Their collaboration is a haunting and deceptively soothing lullaby that has onlookers enraptured. It serves as the understated counterpoint to ‘Take Me to Church’, a track of such magnitude with a chorus so irresistible the enthusiastic crowd overpower Hozier.
Before the band and Hozier have even left the stage the screams for more are deafening, only ceding as they return for an encore. This section of the set feels even more engaging. Now Hozier can have some fun with a cover of Ariana Grande’s ‘Problem’, treating us with a few acoustic renditions. It’s the perfect way to end a night of beautiful music, buoyed by a great crowd, there to bear witness to an artist performing at the top of their game.