Hozier, Metro Theatre, Sydney, March 30th
They have watched his meteoric rise from afar but finally this week Australia’s Irish community were able to celebrate the worldwide success of Hozier at a few sold out concerts.
The singer seemed unprepared for just how many Irish were in the venue when he took to the stage in Sydney’s Metro Theatre, which has a capacity of around 1,000.
As he described where his native Wicklow was in Ireland and where cellist and singer Alana Henderson is from in Co Tyrone, the deafening roars from the crowd had him acknowledging the “geography enthusiasts” in the room. But such was the response that he had to concede to the Australians present that “no one is actually left in Ireland”.
Later, as he tried to explain where the song Cherry Wine was recorded in Greystones, the Wicklow fans beat him to it shouting out “the La Touche Hotel” which drew more surprised smiles from the man of the moment.
Australia has come late to the Hozier phenomenon, with Take Me To Church only getting airplay and reaching the top of the charts at the end of last year - over a year after the song was a hit in Ireland. But it is unlikely the Irish fans here were similarly out of touch. Tickets for two shows in Melbourne and Sydney sold out in minutes in early February, and those left disappointed only had the option of buying the $55 tickets for up to $300 in online resales.
Irish accents were everywhere at the Metro Theatre, and so too was the usual Irish six degrees of separation. “My brother is about to go on tour with his band in the States,” gasped one girl to a friend near the bar.
Many fans would have been among the waves of young Irish who came out to Australia in recent years in search of work. They’ve had to miss out on a lot back home, the Irish music scene and Hozier’s many gigs around Ireland among them. To have him finally delivered to them was a special moment.
Reviews from some US shows reported people heading for the exits after Take Me To Church but there was no such move in Sydney. The crowd, baying for an encore, got the band back on stage without much of a breather and they sang along to some of the lesser known hits such as Someone New and Work Song.
Hozier plays at the Byron Bay Bluesfest this weekend, where no doubt more Irish will make the journey to see him. He promised the Sydney crowd he would return later in the year for more concerts. Judging by the enthusiasm that greeted him this time around he had better find some bigger venues.