Hozier – The House of Blues Boston, October 1, 2018
The Renaissance of Hozier
Halloween night 2014, a tall gangly Introvert, dressed as Slender man, is guided on the stage at the Paradise Rock Club in Boston. Clumsily he is moved along to his microphone which hovers a good foot taller than his guitar tech escort. Stoically he stands, then with the tap of his foot and the first cord on his guitar the crowd of 1,000 roars it’s welcome Hozier back to Boston. Last night, during his encore at his sold-out show at the House of Blues in Boston, he recounted that story adding, “When the lights hit my face I was completely blinded and thought for a second I was going to fall off the stage.” “We opened with this song that night; this is “Like Real People DO’.
This is my fourth time seeing Hozier. My second at the House of Blues. The metamorphosis as a performer from The Paradise Show in 2014, to the HOB show in 2015, then to Boston Calling in 2016 and now back to the HOB in 2018 is startling. Gone is the uncomfortable young man who stood straight legged and barely moving his body. Gone was the need to repeatedly glance and smile to his immediate and Massachusetts family members in the VIP area.
The HOB stage may not be on the scale of the Grammy’s but he owned that bitch. Visibly missing was Hozier’s right knee and his calling card, the buffalo plaid shirt. He has set himself free of self-imposed restrictions on his vocal range. From the moment #NINACRIEDPOWER from his recently released EP of the same name. kicked in. you realized you were in the presence of a rising showman.
Though individually his entire band is maddening talented, as a cohesive group they have not achieved synchronicity. Longtime fans were acutely aware that his former band breathed as one unit. This new incarnation audibly is still finding its collective sound. Nowhere was that more apparent than in the new arrangements of old favorites from his self-titled album, ‘Hozier.” Last night “Someone New” came with a vague twist of something old not yet fully developed. Despite Alex Ryan’s base penetrating the floors, the walls, the ceilings, the new female and male voices as not yet distinct enough to know which part of a song which voice carries. (A fan favorite game.) Despite the “newness” of the re-arranged tunes, these melodies have threaded themselves through the days, months, years of fans lives as they stayed vigilantly awaiting new music. The freshness of newly added instruments breaths hopes that “In the Woods Somewhere” will make its stage debut in 2019.
I loved this show, and I so wanted this to be a wonderful memory of the last time seeing him in a venue this size. Despite the sound inconsistency at the venue, (Some places it sounded tinny, other places VERY LOUD and where I stood, when Hozier spoke he sounded a bit like Charlies Brown’s teacher) I wanted it to be special. In the end, the HOB was a terrible choice for this show. The entire 2nd level mezzanine is “OBSTRUCTIVE” view (the only reason I knew he was onstage was the sneak peek of his right (or was it the left?) foot moving every so often when the crowd shuffled. More maddening is the fact that the HOB has no areas designated as seating for persons who are physically challenged. Yes, they do not have handicap seating anywhere. Staff were kind but the affected were embarrassed. One by one the challenged person and their companion were moved to the nose bleed section. Despite having paid for tickets in better locations the decision was made by the HOB to move them because the show is “sold out” (They just realized that the day of the show?) I’m not an expert but aren’t their laws about this? CAUSE I KNOW THIS DIDN’T HAPPEN!
So, OKAY I am jaded by now and I openly and freely admit it. As is the case in most scenarios of “Could it get worse” it did.
About a quarter into the show when I spotted a concert buddy on my venue level. She had paid extra for the VIP Foundation Room experience. However, the HOB got a better offer from a private party that booked the entire room. So mere mortal patrons who had already paid for the VIP experience were unceremoniously booted from the VIP area and were given a space in the nose bleeds. Oh, heck yes with refund of course! When I asked a friend, who was shipped to the physically challenged spots, if they offered her a refund between the seats she got moved too and the spaces she purchased the reply was, “No one said we’d get the difference refunded.” The HOB was over capacity in my opinion. I’ve never seen that many people there. Hozier and Hudson Taylor had a warm and pretty big crowd for their welcome to and welcome back to Boston show.
In the end the experience wasn’t totally without it’s merit. The music I heard was felt in its purest form, I listened to it and I was transformed. Unable to take photos or be in the moment of the concert via their camera video device, fellow concert goers were dancing, singing and have a wonderful time interacting with one another.
For me it gave me the opportunity to share this experience with my son. The Hozier concert back in 2015 at the House of Blues was the first concert I ever took him too. He repaid me with Green Day. The drive from home and back home provided a chance to talk and listen to music. I’ve done a good job, we listened to folk, classical, world, rock, pop and oldies music. He has a linguistic talent and is teaching himself German, Russian, Spanish and is toying between Greek and Japanese. The easiest way is to learn to sing songs, he did… Did you know that the Spanish National Anthem as it is played today has no words? This didn’t get in the way of a performance as he played an old recording of a Spanish Patriotic song, and proudly sang the tune. That memory will remain imbedded in my head and I might get rid of this ear worm by tomorrow, maybe.