Music & Nightlife

Hozier returns to Charlotte, gracious as ever

If you need any further convincing that Hozier’s performance was anything short of spectacular, just ask this guy who sat in front of me rocking a lighter, peace signs and traditional rock-n-roll hand horns ALL. NIGHT. LONG.
If you need any further convincing that Hozier’s performance was anything short of spectacular, just ask this guy who sat in front of me rocking a lighter, peace signs and traditional rock-n-roll hand horns ALL. NIGHT. LONG. scarson@charlotteobserver.com

Though Hozier clearly stole the show with his powerful vocals and dark curly mane, his performance Wednesday at NC Music Factory’s Uptown Amphitheatre was heavily enhanced by the members of his band, and was nothing short of a group collaboration.

At most concerts, the lead singer’s voice drowns out all the others by a long shot, but Hozier’s back-up singers were toned down just enough to allow his voice to stand out, yet not so much that the audience couldn’t clearly distinguish each of their smooth, strong vocals.

This was the singer’s second visit to Charlotte this year. In March, Hozier – best known to general audiences for Grammy-nominated anthem “Take Me to Church” – performed to a sold-out crowd at the more-intimate Fillmore Charlotte music club, which is just a few dozen feet away from the amphitheatre.

And as with that late-winter performance, Hozier was nothing if not gracious. The artist formally known as Andrew Hozier-Byrne said “thank you” 14 times total (yes, I counted.) He seemed genuinely touched by the audience’s presence and appreciation for his work. Maybe that’s why at one point the stage lights beamed purple and teal? Was he thanking Charlotte by showing some love to our NBA team? I’d like to think so.

Hozier played a set of 14 songs, mostly from his debut album, “Hozier,” along with a few covers from artists like Skip James.

While performing the second song of the night, “From Eden,” he made sure to emphasize the “s” in a serpent-like way while singing the word “sin,” which added a devilish, bad-boy mood. Later in the show, band member Alana Henderson joined Hozier for a powerful duet of the soft, melodic “In a Week.”

“Take Me to Church” – which got the whole crowd singing along – was last before the encore, same as his March show.

He led off his encore with “Cherry Wine,” then told the crowd: “I won’t lie to you, Charlotte, around this time of the show we just do something fun,” before surprising everyone with a rock/blues cover of Ariana Grande’s “Problem” that sounded totally different from the pop singer’s version (in the best way).

Even though the evening heat was sweltering – temperatures hovered in the 80s way past sunset – Hozier let his brown curly locks fall to his shoulders for most of the night. It wasn’t until he got to the show’s closer, “Work Song,” that he tied his luscious mane into a beloved man bun. Praise the man bun. Praise Hozier (even though we still don’t know how to properly pronounce his name).

As the last song concluded, he touched his heart, gave fans a wave and a thumbs-up, thanked his band and opener Dawes, and once again, graciously thanked the audience for its love and support.

“Thank you so much. We’ll see you again,” he said. Let’s hope so.

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