By K. Sophie Will
BU News Service
BOSTON — Irish bands Hozier and Hudson Taylor rocked the House of Blues on Monday to a packed house. Excited fans waited for hours in the rain, in a line that stretched from the concert hall next to Fenway Park, down Landsdowne Street and into Kenmore Square.
Hudson Taylor kicked off the sold-out event. Drawing from their album released this year, Bear Creek to Dame Street, and the EP also released this year, Feel it Again, the band brought an other-worldly folk to Boston.
The seven band members, three of them siblings, harmonized perfectly in the most ethereal way. Even though each musician had their own distinct personality and style, they meshed together perfectly to create a heavenly chorus. The band could be both slow and intimate, as well as full of passion and fervor, as seen with crowd favorites “Old Soul” and “Battles.”
Tunes played by Hudson Taylor can best be described as running away music. The folksy melodies, driving beat, traveling lyrics and dreamy harmonies make one want to jump in a car with a guitar and just drive west.
The lead singer, Alfie Hudson-Taylor, weaved Boston into almost every song and made each song personal to the audience. They engaged the crowd with call and response, and mesmerizing rounds.
Alfie, with his brother Harry, brought a spunk and passion to the stage. The pianist turned flutist turned guitarist was incredibly talented and a staple for the group, along with their sister who was an angelic addition.
The best part of the whole night was when Hudson Taylor went off-set list and played a special edition of “Shipping Up To Boston,” by the Dropkick Murphys. It was a real treat and a moment of pride to watch an Irish band play the anthem of Beantown, while bouncing up and down on stage.
Hozier entered the stage to an ear-piercing crowd of fans. Opening with the title track from the September 6 EP, Nina Cried Power, the deep percussion beat to the tune of the audience’s hearts. Andrew Hozier-Bryne, the lead singer and namesake of the band, was genuinely possessed with his music. He felt each lyric and note with the depths of his soul, and the crowd could feel it.
Hozier mixed songs both from the new EP and from his 2014 self-titled debut album. Though, the four-year gap between them meant nothing to the audience, who powerfully sang “Nina Cried Power,” with the same fervor as the classic chart-topping “Take Me to Church.”
“Boston ye are wild and I love you for it,” Hozier laughed mid-set. “It’s not always you come face to face with a crowd like a Boston crowd.”
Hozier was authentically humble and connected deeply with each of his songs. He almost didn’t know how to react to the raucous crowd and seemed a little hesitant or bashful to stray away from just playing the set.
However, the exception would be his rendition of “Someone New,” which was not only funky and surprising, but even included a few riffs from “Cissy Strut,” by The Meters. Hozier is a talented and versatile musician who showed off in this song. He encouraged the audience to sing the chorus in a round that was spellbinding.
For the fan-favorite “Cherry Wine,” Hozier sent the band away and played the lilting tune alone, under a single spotlight. It was powerful, intimate and moving, as he demonstrated his truly unique talent. His voice, even with just a guitar and the dark silence for accompaniment, is immense and soul-filling.
This was contrasted by his deeply percussive songs like “To Be Alone,” “Take Me To Church” and “Moment’s Silence,” which were played with such intensity that the ground shook, and the crowd could feel the anguish and mournfulness in Hozier’s voice. With the harmonic chords in the songs, it truly felt like the crowd was worshipping at his feet upon holy ground in a cathedral. The way he got lost in his songs was hypnotic.
Hozier played an entirely new song “not heard by many audiences” and not on any EP, called “Movement.” In the same fashion and fervor as his traditional percussive songs, it fits his style perfectly. Starting slow and reverent, then exploding with passion, it is sure to be a chart-topper.
He ended the 13-song set with thunderous applause and a standing ovation. The blaring crowd shouted and applauded for an encore with persistence, which he indulged with two songs. At the end, the band linked arms, took a bow, and Hozier lingered to wave goodbye. He promised to return next year for his next tour.