On the one hand, the haunting hit has launched Hozier's career into the stratosphere, earning the 25-year-old a Grammy nomination for song of the year and the instant love of millions of fans, some of whom squeezed into a sold-out House of Blues Friday night.
See photos from Hozier's concert in the gallery above.
Backed by a mostly female sextet and flanked by cellist Alana Henderson, Hozier focused on the starker side of R&B and fleshed it out with tribal drums and eerie backing vocals. The stop-and-start soul of "From Eden" segued into the grunge-y "Jackie and Wilson" and into the Brill Building-styled "Someone New," a song he described as "about love at its most fleeting and futile and empty, and it was appropriately co-written by an ex-girlfriend."
He took a side trip into contemporary pop with a full-blown cover of Amerie's "1 Thing." Yet he spent much of the show showing off his expert feel for 20th century blues, moving from the John Lee Hooker vibe of "To Be Alone" to the electric slide-guitar stomp of "It Will Come Back" to a bold solo version of Skip James' 1931 song "Illinois Blues."
With Hozier lurking in the shadows of a dimly-lit stage, the concert aimed for the morose and hit the bull's-eye. It was so mournful, in fact, that the murder ballad "In One Week" qualified as one of the show's lighter moments.
By Thor Christensen, Special Contributor. Email him at Thorchris2@yahoo.com.