Hozier hit Los Angeles full force in his 2019 North American Wasteland, Baby! Tour at LA’s Greek Theatre with special guest, Madison Ryann Ward.
Known for his unsubtle take on “protest music,” fans have been anticipating new tunes since the release of his 2014 album Hozier. Come 2018, he blessed fans with the EP Nina Cried Power before following up with his second studio album Wasteland, Baby! in 2019.
Accompanying Hozier for the show was his seven-piece band (including new members) Alex Ryan on bass, keyboards, music directing and vocals; Rory Doyle on drums and vocals; Emily Kohavi on violin, electric guitar and vocals; Cormac Curran on organ, keyboard and vocals; Rachel Beauregard on percussion and backing vocals; Kristen Rogers on keyboards, percussion and backing vocals; and Thandii on keyboards and vocals.
Fans were swarming, to say the least, upon arriving at the Greek Theatre. It was surprising to see the multi-generational fan base and how many had decided to come early.
Warming up for Hozier was featured singer on David Letterman's Netflix series My Next Guest Needs No Introduction Jay-Z episode and former college volleyball star, Madison Ryann Ward.
On stage, Ward brought herself, a guitar and raw talent for a simple acoustic set. She wooed the audience with her soulful, bluesy voice and insightful messages through her storytelling in a poetic song-like form. A highlight of her performance was when she broke out into spoken word in the middle of a song. Not everyone knew who she was, but the impact of her performance had people wanting to know by the end.
After a short intermission, Hozier jumped straight into his set walking through the fog and red stage lights. He began by strumming traces of the song, “As It Was.”
This slow build-up eased the crowd into a journey through the wasteland.
The journey began with songs from his EP Nina Cried Power, “Dinner and Diatribes” followed by “Nina Cried Power.” And power the people cried, entwined with the performance. A wave of enchantment washed over the crowd as many stood up to clap and dance to the beat of the bass and bellows of his voice feeling his messages deeply.
This couldn’t be possible without Hozier’s ensemble who brought a unique essence out of the music. Live instruments can sometimes sound pitchy and indistinguishable, however, the live instruments for this show added that something extra and blended very well with the vocals. Throughout the sets, this was taken advantage of through prolonged instrument solos and instrument face-offs during song breaks. There wasn’t one boring moment throughout the whole night.
To keep the show at a pace, Hozier would play new and old songs. He took fans back to 2014 with songs “Angel of Small Death and the Codeine Scene,” “Someone New,” “From Eden,” and more. He even performed a cover of Stevie Wonder’s song “Living for the City.”
As far as backdrops go, there weren’t any giant props. Instead, there were fitting story backgrounds, light effects and fog. The strobe effects were great at creating intensity and emphasis on certain parts of songs. But even without the effects, he didn’t need much to wow this crowd who were already so taken.
Fans were reminded of their humanity when he took the time to use his platform to inform them of the nature of his music and what was behind it through personal anecdotes. While hinting at new music, he brought awareness to the civil unrest and inhumane treatment in parts of the world and critics toward his approach to addressing it.
“What is not subtle is the murder of protestors,” he said.
He described the situation with a mental image of a jackboot stepping on a face. This served as an interlude for a song from his new music. He asked the crowd to refrain from recording it before performing the song with an electric guitar alone.
Hozier closes the show with his international breakthrough song “Take Me to Church.” But as many concert-goers know, this wasn’t the ‘end end.’ After decorating the stage with mint leaves, Hozier and his band returned on stage for the encore. He recited a poem by an Irish poet Seamus Heaney inspired by mint outside his homestead.
The last lines of the poem resonates, “Like the disregarded ones we turned against. Because we’d failed them by our disregard.”
Hozier’s social consciousness calls the crowd to choose a side and to pay attention to what’s happening. This is solidified with the very last songs performed, “Cherry Wine” and “Work Song.” A calm end from the journey through the wasteland.
- As It Was
- Dinner and Diatribes
- Nina Cried Power
- To Be Alone
- Angel of Small Death and the Codeine Scene
- Someone New
- -Jackboot Jump-
- From Eden
- No Plan
- Living for the City Cover
- Jackie and Wilson
- Almost (Sweet Music)
- Moment’s Silence (Common Tongue)
- Take Me to Church
- Cherry Wine
- Work Song