The Irish theme opens tonight with a brief set from three-piece, female band Wyvern Lingo. With keyboards, drums and guitars, their breezy light but syncopated tight Funky groove and dooby-do, scat harmony vocals were well received.
Hozier has had quite a remarkable past two years with gaining, not least, a Grammy gong 2015 for Best Song, ‘Take Me To Church’, that closed tonight’s main set before a worshipful congregation.
Tonight’s sell-out gig, not exclusively, but predominantly teenage and twenty something females, defines his demographic appeal. He’s a talented artist with the gushing stage presence and guitar-slinger swagger of Thin Lizzy’s Phil Lynott together with the leather-lunged voice recalling Paul Rogers (Free/Bad Company). A six-piece band of exceptional musicianship and multi-harmonies comfortably occupy the superbly lit O2 stag. The converted know the score and sing close chorus accompaniments throughout the evening.
He’s an eclectic magpie with the Midas touch. A charismatic troubadour with the shrewd mastery of decanting old wine in to new bottles.
Targeting his adoring demographic with canny accuracy he astutely pitches his Pop pot-pori marriage of cross-genre influences — something Soul, something Blues, something Rock Gospel, sometimes rhythm & blues. The stadium-busters are all here tonight. The power-ballads ‘Arsonists Lullaby’ and ‘Take Me To Church’ not least. There’s an interesting dedication to David Bowie with the syncopated, cover of ‘Young Americans’. Power-Soul ballad ‘Work Song’ closes the evening to a crescendo of gurgling bonhomie and value for money good will.A riff, a reference, a phrase or fill, the songs embrace a focused remit that draws on generic, sometimes, reactionary templates. Access all areas – notwithstanding Punk, Grunge, Hip-Hop, Rap, Indie or Dance that is.
Every dip in to Hozier’s magical box of sweetly digestible delights is always a lucky one. Neatly wrapped treats promise instant gratification, confected and perfected with no danger of those challenging chewy ones you need to get your teeth in to. In this highly popular and increasingly successful vox-pop MP3 puree any essence of jeopardy seems akin to a YouTube loop of a kitten with its claw caught in a ball of fluff. But, come the death, it’s the punters who decide and there’s no point crying wolf over spilt milk, is there?
Hozier set list:
Like Real People Do
Jackie & Wilson
To Be Alone
It Will Come Back, In A Week
Review: John Kennedy
Photographs: Ian Dunn