Hozier brings way more than 'Church' to Sacramento

By Paul Piazza

When Hozier played Ace of Spades last Wednesday, I honestly didn’t know what to expect from the sold-out crowd. Keep in mind, this was just three days after he had been joined by Annie Lennox onstage as he played his smash hit “Take Me to Church” on the Grammys. The following Monday, his website crashed from the viral aftermath.

Would there be hysteria? Uncontrollable screaming from the mostly female–ranging from teens to 40-something–audience? It was quite the opposite.

Many had been following this artist for a couple of years, with a pretty reverent knowledge of his repertoire. Many were actually distancing themselves from the success of “Church,” which was the No. 2 single in the world at the time of the show. Instead, they focused on the deeper cuts, preferring “Jackie and Wilson” to the big hit. Some were referencing cuts from the singer’s 2013 EP, on which “Church” originally appeared. I was even quizzed by a few hardcore fans about my own favorite tracks.

Andrew Hozier-Byrne seemed to be handling things pretty well himself. The tall, lanky Irishman appeared cheerful and relaxed as he hit the stage, at ease throughout the show. He stuck to tunes from his 2014 self-titled album and both EPs. In fact, he played every single one of them.

Many in the audience knew the words to all of the songs, including a pair of girlfriends, who with their moms had flown up that morning from Orange County. They had gotten in line on R Street at 11 a.m. so they could stand against the rail.

We all knew that “Church” would be the last song before the encore. It went over pretty big. Hozier came back and played an impressive four-song encore.

The front of the stage had little low-wattage light bulbs for a softer feel, while a giant Hozier logo blared on a banner behind the drummer. You could buy a T-shirt emblazoned with the same logo at the merch booth–the line for the that opportunity was easily the longest I’ve ever seen at Ace of Spades.

It’s probably a safe prediction to say that this guy will be around for a while.

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