Arts & Entertainment, Music

Hozier delivers a mesmerizing performance at L’Olympia

It’s been four years since Hozier released his self-titled debut album, a work that captivated listeners across the world. Ever since, fans have been desperate to hear more, waiting on the edge of their seats for a follow-up that, for some, felt like it might never come. However, fans’ prayers were answered this summer when Hozier announced the release of a new EP, to be followed by an album in addition to dates for his current world tour.

His tour made its stop in Montreal this past week. Hozier’s performance thrilled the crowd at L’Olympia on Sept. 18, leaving them hungry for his next album’s release.

The night’s opening act was Irish duo Hudson Taylor, a lesser-known band hailing from Dublin, where Hozier also got his start. They kicked off the night with a short setlist of high-spirited indie folk, complete with fiddles and lively harmonies. Their enthusiasm was infectious, and the pair succeeded in boosting the crowd’s energy before Hozier took the stage.

From the start, Hozier built expectations for a spectacular night. Opening with the title track of his new EP, Nina Cried Power, the crowd’s anticipation was almost palpable. The delivery of new material kept excitement high for a performance that did not disappoint.

Hozier played a dynamic setlist of both well-known songs and tracks from the new EP, also offering a sneak-peek of his yet-to-be-released album with “Movement.” A dark and plaintive track, “Movement” included everything audiences expected: Complex, ambiguous lyrics, a rich emotional atmosphere, and Hozier’s unmistakable style.

In addition to satisfying his fans’ desires for new material, Hozier gave passionate performances of old favorites from his first album. He got the crowd grooving with a rhythm-driven version of “Someone New,” laid a hush over the room with the heartbreaking “Cherry Wine,” and closed the main set with his biggest hit, “Take Me to Church.” For the encore, the band delivered a resonant, moving rendition of “Work Song,”—a perfect finale for the show. A hauntingly-beautiful narrative of two tortured souls finding peace, the final track left the audience with a feeling of solace after an emotionally intense experience.

Hozier’s unique, ethereal voice is powerful in live performance. His music has always felt like an intimate, soul-sharing experience, and is even more personal in concert. Hozier’s passion is evident in his stage presence, and its effect on the audience is extraordinary. In turn, the crowd’s enthusiasm never dwindled; they were on their feet throughout the show, roaring along with the anthemic choruses and softly singing along with tender acoustic tracks.

Hozier’s stage presence is as sincere as his lyrics—throughout the show, Hozier stressed his joy in being back in Montreal and his wholehearted appreciation for the cheers that welcomed him. His authenticity was heartwarming, and added another dimension to the strong connection he had formed with his audience that night.

“Words can’t express how grateful I am for this,” Hozier said to the crowd before his final encore.

Live music is, by nature, visceral and ephemeral. Hozier’s music is emotionally-stirring and the power of a live performance is especially cathartic. It’s an incomparable experience, and one that no fan of his should miss.

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