Fame has not yet caught up with this Irish singer-songwriter. Sure, he has a Grammy nomination and he was playing to a sold-out audience, but the 25-year-old was so enthusiastic and gracious during his first Las Vegas show that he seemed like he’d just won the lottery. Hozier thanked everybody multiple times, not just the audience and his band but also the sound guy, the lighting guy, the monitor engineer and the backstage workers. All this sincerity made for a great performance. His signature happy-sad hooks came honestly.
Hozier’s talent on both vocals and guitar shined brighter than they did on his self-titled album. His clear, deep, sad voice would either soar or dip into gritty blues-rock. The audience often sang along, sharing his mournful intensity on “To Be Alone.” At his best, Hozier spins truth and melancholy into sound, such as during the encore performance of “Cherry Wine,” which featured him alone onstage, playing the acoustic guitar and singing. Another highlight was the sweetly traditional “In a Week,” which featured Irish singer/songwriter and cellist Alana Henderson. Even during his hit “Take Me to Church,” he still gave it his all.
The Chelsea acted as a cathedral to his sound, containing and elevating the music. The evening felt pristine, like an MTV Unplugged performance or a PBS special. It seems certain that this was the best way to experience Hozier’s finger picking and folk harmonies, that his Coachella audiences will be missing something that Las Vegas enjoyed.
Angel of Small Death & The Codeine Scene
Jackie and Wilson
To Be Alone
It Will Come Back
In a Week
Illinois Blues (Skip James cover)
Like Real People Do
Take Me to Church
1 Thing (Amerie cover)
Photos by Erik Kabik/ ErikKabik.com