Raw and raunchy Hozier serves up full-throated display at Olympia

Rapturous reception for songwriter capping off sensational year with short Irish tour

By any musical measure, 2014 has been a brilliant year for Hozier – and he capped it off with a full-throated display of power at Dublin’s Olympia Theatre last night, his first show of a short end-of-year Irish tour.

Since his breakthrough single Take Me To Church redefined the meaning of “viral”, the young singer from Bray has had the world at his feet.

His slot at Electric Picnic pulled the biggest crowd of this year's festival, his appearance on Letterman was judged a success, even though it was a somewhat ragged performance.

Agreeing to appear at the Victoria's Secret show in London on Tuesday alongside Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift might have been an ill-judged move – inviting such unfortunate puns as "hosiery" – but it won't do him any harm in the long run to be seen serenading scantily clad models on television.


It won't do his ladies man image any harm, either – you only have to listen to his lyrics to realise he comes from a long tradition of full-blooded male singers, from Robert Plant to Prince, who can sing about sex without making you cringe. Hozier's lyrics serve it up raw and raunchy – it's base human nature, red in tooth and claw.

His musical influences are similarly earthy – vagabond bluesmen, outlaw folk singers and sinner boys. And let’s not forget the Van Morrison factor – not for him the buskers’ favourites such as Sweet Thing; Hozier’s in thrall to Morrison’s more sensual songs, such as Warm Love and Moondance.

Among the faithful gathered at the Olympia were Love/Hate actors Peter Coonan and Lawrence Kinlan, and Leinster rugby stars Jamie Heaslip, Cian Healy and Rob and Dave Kearney.

When Hozier took to the stage the cheers were so loud he couldn’t start the first song. “Give me a chance,” he begged, then proceeded to prove why he is so deserving of our adulation.

From Eden was driven by Hozier’s rapier guitar, rumbling cello and celestial backing vocals. Jackie And Wilson was a superb slice of soulful frivolity, and To Be Alone was a neatly concentrated display of blinding bluesology. Someone New was another deadly sin that went down as smooth as well-aged bourbon.

This guy could have years in him.

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney is an Irish Times journalist