Before doors opened at the South Side Ballroom, there was a long, meandering line filled by hundreds of people, young and old, waiting to enter the sold-out show. Right in downtown Dallas, excitement hung heavily in the air. It’s a likely overused pun, but I’ll repeat it; Hozier took the crowd to church last Friday night. Hot off the release off his No. 1 Album, Wasteland, Baby!, the Irish singer-songwriter used the familiar blues, rock-esque vibe to reveal the real power of music. It’s a religious musical experience unlike any other.
After making it through the never-ending line and some surprisingly robust security, Jade Bird first warmed up the stage with the help of her guitar. The British singer-songwriter performed an acoustic song set of nine songs and had no need for a background band. She broke up her tunes with descriptions of their meanings and funny anecdotes, connecting her to an audience made up of a lot of first-time listeners. Many people took her up on her offer to meet and chat with her by the merch table following her last song.
With the house shaking, Hozier stepped on stage and heaped massive praise upon Jade Bird and with good reason; she definitely gained quite a few new Dallas fans this evening. Andrew Hozier-Byrne comes from a family of talent- his mother designed both of his album covers, and he grew up playing the blues with his father. He is at home on the stage with his large, diverse 7 member ensemble. Hozier performed as the pastor with his soulful music serving as his scripture. The crowd hung onto every word that came out of the singer’s mouth.
His performance of the song that started it all, “Take Me To Church,” was particularly breathtaking. As a long-term fan, I am both grateful and mournful of Hozier’s explosive success from the tune. The song itself is unmistakably beautiful, but sadly due to its popularity, some people paid to hear it and talk through the rest of the set.
The more substantial majority of the Dallas audience was swept along in the percussive openings of “Would That I” and “Dinner and Diatribe,” as well as the bitter-sweet melodies of “Cherry Wine” and “Shrike”. The new tracks from Wasteland, Baby felt like a natural maturation of older works and blended effortlessly in the set list.The Dallas audience was exposed to the power of Hozier’s sharp lyricism and soul-searching new work. It’s rock-and-roll that really seems to mean something.
Jade Bird and Hozier shrank the South Side Ballroom, creating an intimate venue where one could both relish and recognized the power of music. The show was unsurprisingly amazing, considering the amount of talent cramped on the stage. From the aesthetics to the atmosphere radiating throughout the room, to Hozier’s flawless, emotion-filled vocals, this concert is one worth remembering.