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Hozier rocks The Observatory, teases upcoming album during performance

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Hozier took the stage at the Observatory on Oct. 15.

Hozier took the stage at the Observatory on Oct. 15.

Lauren J. Mapp

Lauren J. Mapp

Hozier took the stage at the Observatory on Oct. 15.

by Lauren J. Mapp, Senior Staff Writer

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Exactly three years after performing at San Diego State’s CalCoast Credit Union Amphitheater, Andrew Hozier-Byrne — known by his mononymous stage name, Hozier — played at the Observatory North Park on Oct. 15.

Since releasing his eponymous album “Hozier” in September 2014, he has produced two EPs — 2015’s “Live in America” and “Nina Cried Power,” which debuted on Sept. 7 — and he’s gearing up for the release of his next full-length album in 2019.

The sold out show at the Observatory featured opening act Hudson Taylor, an Irish band fronted by two brothers who were able to interact with the crowd in a way that is usually dominated by veterans of the music industry.

It is a rare event that the opening act for a show will be just as talented and engaging as the headliner, yet the band succeed in this sense, and was able to rile up the crowd, getting them to sing along on several songs.

Lauren J. Mapp
Sibling duo Hudson Taylor opened the show.

Wildly energetic Alfie Hudson-Taylor’s performance was juxtaposed with older brother Harry’s more subdued stance on stage.

Joined by their little sister Holly as a backup vocalist and percussionist, the band also includes bassist Ronan Sherlock, percussionist Jonny Colgan, Tadhg Walsh-Peelo (violinist, guitarist and mandolin player) and Oisín Walsh-Peelo (harmonica, whistle, keyboard and guitar), all of whom also provide backup vocals.

Reminiscent of a wandering folk song, their performance of “Don’t Know Why” was a relaxing segue into the second half of their set.

Hudson Taylor also played its gentle love ballad “Old Soul” and “Feel It Again” off its “Feel It Again” EP, released in March 2018, along with the bouncy, folk-pop song “One in a Million” from its recently released “Bear Creek to Dame Street” EP.

After a quick stage transition, Hozier opened his set with “Like Real People Do,” which sounds like an Irish lullaby, leading concert goers to be immediately enthralled in his performance.

In addition to playing the tried and true hits from his debut album, Hozier played music from his EPs, including “Shrike.” The playfully whimsical love song highlights the staccato precision of his guitar playing, along with hints of his Irish roots.

“This song is named after a small bird, which is small bird of prey, it’s known to kill its food and hangs it over its house,” Hozier said to the crowd during the show. “It makes its nest in small blackthorn bushes or blackthorn trees and cacti. It’s known to kind of kill its prey and hang it above it, where it lies upon the bush for protection…I thought it was an appropriate theme for a love song.”

Bathed in the streams of light refracting off of a disco ball, Hozier played a not yet released song, “Movement.” The song pairs highly danceable hip hop-style beats with the gospel choir harmonies from his background singers.

Lauren J. Mapp
Hozier teased upcoming music during his performance.

Perhaps the most sultry track from the new EP is the not-safe-for-work “NFWMB,” a song Hozier has said is about loving a woman who has the strength to protect herself.

“It’s about watching the world ending and falling in love with someone who is completely unfazed by it,” Hozier said on stage during the show.

Each lyric is weighed down by the depth of his emotions, yet the words float in a seemingly effortless manner throughout the venue.

The crowd in the Observatory went wild as Hozier closed the main part of his set with “Take Me to Church” — the gospel anthem for sinners that rose to popularity in 2014.

Returning to the stage for an encore, Hozier teased that the crowd would know the lyrics to the next song before diving into a cover of Destiny’s Child’s “Say My Name,” followed by “Work Song.” Few performers could hope to match Beyonce in her prowess of this song, but if anyone could launch over the high bar that she has set, it would be Hozier.

While it might be a while before audiences are able to hear new music from Hozier, the jam-packed venue on Oct. 15 may be a predictor of a sophomore success story.

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