The Wang Theatre, brimming with an eager audience, was bathed in the warm, low glow of stage lights as opener and newcomer Angie McMahon took the stage. A bewitching concoction of Stevie Nicks and Amy Winehouse, the young singer stood her ground with impassioned grace, her crimson Gretsch Semi-Hollow guitar slung over her as she began her set. Her modest, quiet cadence while addressing the audience—in contrast to her deep, rich vocals—instantly ensnared the entirety of the theater. Singing poignant tracks like “Slow Mover,” “Soon” and “Missing Me,” McMahon proved she was the right powerhouse to open for Hozier.
After a small intermission, Hozier entered the theater, only to be met with riotous applause by the audience. The Irishman opened with “As It Was,” a hit track off his sophomore record, Wasteland, Baby! Following with a lustful darkness was Hozier’s acclaimed “Dinner & Diatribes.” The sets for the track were explosive and capturing, with flames alternating in the backdrop in time with the audience’s clapping. Next on the setlist was the political “Nina Cried Power,” in which Hozier’s vocals were especially impassioned. The track, featuring gospel singer Mavis Staples, features lyrics detailing the history of protest and addresses the hate that has poisoned the recent political climate. The screen’s backdrop during the performance were photographs featuring Greenpeace, the Civil Rights Movement and the 2017 Women’s March, among others. Hozier has long been direct in his speech as an ally for the LGBTQ community. The passionate track was a major highlight of the set, showcasing his support of human rights and minority groups. He received a standing ovation for the performance.
Following “Nina Cried Power,” Hozier asked the audience to join him on the 2014 hint, “To Be Alone.” The Irishman smiled and said, “Come on, I know you know the words to this one.” He beckoned for the audience to sing in his tone; they gladly echoed him, and soon, the theater became a place of worship to the singer.
Hozier then asked the crowd if he could test new material out on them; when they agreed, he exploded into the bluesy track “Jackboot Jump,” a catchy track with a strong hook punctuated with Hozier’s smooth harmonies. He teased that more songs would be coming soon before jumping into a tastefully orchestrated acoustic version of “From Eden.” The track, off of Hozier’s freshman LP, Hozier, was sung back to the musician by his impassioned crowd.
Hozier broke into an enchanting performance of “Movement.” The theater went dark and white lights cascaded across the audience. It was one of the most magical moments of the set. Hozier climbed to a raw, emotional baritone with the lyrics. The white lights moved with his rhythm and his tone.
Hozier ended the show with “Take Me To Church,” a track that has left the musician weary of singing it due to its popularity. He had the crowd sing most of the song, lifting the microphone up to the audience, who gladly sang his verses back to him. He looked tired as the night began to come to an end. Despite his tiredness, Hozier called Angie McMahon back onto the stage, where the two erupted into a duo performance of “Work Song.” Their vocals intertwined were pure spellbinding magic, the dark lyrics punctuated by their passion.
Hozier has been in Boston many times throughout the past year, having played at the House of Blues as well as at Boston Calling. He has noticeably matured between these performances and now; his excitement to interact with the audience and the passion he exudes during and between each track has shown Hozier’s growth in not only his music, but also his persona as an entertainer.
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