Hozier at The Olympia Theatre – Review & Photos
It is a treasured gem of Dublin, the Olympia. Every time I come here I find myself whisked away to a world of pleasure. After all, who wouldn’t be in this Dame Street dream-world? What lies ahead this evening is a Bray musician who has dumbfounded the world through his musical sublimity performing in a setting of intimacy – the setting in which he peaks. Tonight was only ever going to be something else.
The first supporting act Alana Henderson proves to be a delight. Her music is predominantly a quirky thoughtfulness. The glorious cello implements an altering aspect – diving between sultry moans and pretty picks. The clear dictation in her voice is also greatly appreciated as it allows us to really listen and draw meaning from each tune. It is a grave pity that the rowdiness of some groups in the crowd take away from the moment. Silence would have undoubtedly illuminated this music’s beauty. However the looming noise becomes disregarded from ‘Wax and Wane’ onward where Henderson really comes into herself and becomes comfortable. As a result, the performance thrives, pleasantly catchy with atmosphere lifting drum beats and shaker.
Up next are Wyvern Lingo. From the moment that their smooth sound soars, a delicious vibe falls over the venue. Immediately, everyone knows that these girls are much more than good. Their vocal ability is absolutely impeccable, both individually and together. Their harmonies completely captivate. This is reflected as hushes circulate for their final song – a mesmerizing a cappella version of ‘Used’. This song is already a breathtaking piece, but here in the quiet Olympia the tune flourishes all the more. These girls are indeed also adept instrumentalists – from the chillingly beautiful guitar work in ‘Snow’ to the uplifting rhythm maintained in ‘The Widow Knows’. A bright future can be expected for this group as their performance has left a deep impact on those here; the appreciative audience fortunate enough to experience it. On this occasion they also treat us to a new song ‘Letter To Willow’, which introduces synthesizers. This successful change-up to their music is an exciting glimpse of things to come with the enchanting trio that are Wyvern Lingo.
As the curtain lifts – exposing the set up for the main man of the night, piercing screams ring out. The atmosphere is striking as the collective adoration for this musician turns to overwhelming excitement. Then finally, Andrew Hozier-Byrne saunters on stage with his band – casual and humble, like he’s no big deal.
However this modesty is met with thunderous decibels. The theatre bursts into unimaginable hysteria; totally vitalized and absolutely exhilarated – all because of the arrival of this one remarkable man. The Olympia is now lost in revelry as the deafening roars persevere. This moment is like a grand homecoming of a sporting team – yet in this case it is the homecoming of a musical hero. At this point the truth is made clear – Mr. Hozier-Byrne has become a glimmering source of pride for this nation.
And so he stands before us, pitch perfect and like a god. There isn’t one person who doesn’t recognize their luck to be here, having their ears blessed by that powerful, ceremonious voice that just sucks you in and consumes you.
I watch his hands during the performance – fingertips instinctively picking at the strings of his steel guitar. His ensemble too invest themselves in delivering stellar entertainment, each one lively and dedicated.
The audience bask in Hozier’s glory – singing back every lyric. This year, there has been so much attention towards this man, and here he dazzles – confirming that every word of praise was rightfully deserved.
The fans’ mighty reverence of Hozier remains glaringly obvious throughout the night. On one occasion as he recounts a story about getting press shots for Cherry Wine, a heckling man interrupts and makes relatively sleazy comments to a Wyvern Lingo member. This is completely bothersome for all in attendance. Hozier retorts “You’re a fucking charmer man” which is met by howls of approval. As the man continues to disrupt, the audience boo ferociously until he is (seemingly) removed by security. It is significant how the people here defend the singer with such passion.
A superlative and almost indescribable moment arrives as Hozier duets with Karen Cowley of Wyvern Lingo for ‘In A Week’; a song about two lovers in the Wicklow Mountains. A stillness descends on the Olympia. Nothing can be heard except for their breathtaking singing. It is an emotion-stirring experience. Sensuality and gentleness take over. Never have I witnessed a scene set so remarkably. Heavenly, awe-inspiring, absorbing. Hairs rise on every neck. Lines like “I’d be home with you” sink in and the sensation washes over – love. Here in the cozy theatre, it is magical.
There are so many moments, so many memories provided that have made this one of the most special nights – his solo execution of Blues goodness for Skip James’ ‘Illinois Blues’, the slice of R&B that has us hysterically busting moves in a cover of Amerie’s ‘1 Thing’, his grins at the electric reaction to ‘Take Me To Church’ as arms rise up to the “Amen”s and joy climaxes to daunting heights, his tender and emotional dedication for his mother who smiles on from the balcony.
It is impossible to discuss this gig without mentioning the gracious and kind character of Andrew Hozier-Byrne. He repeatedly re-iterates how he feels so wonderful when he’s here at home. From the start we can see how much this means to him.
“We’re so proud of you”, some individual cries out – a declaration met by ear-popping cheers of agreement.
Photos by Anamaria Meiu
Review by Shannon Welby