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Soul boy hits his peak at home

The ladies love Hozier. So much so, that our leading boy is blushing. "Give me a chance," smiles the Wicklow lad, adjusting an electric guitar around his gangly frame and welcoming us on board. At least, that's what we think he said (it's difficult to hear over the squealing). All this noise; all this madness, and Andrew Hozier-Byrne has yet to play a single note. That's the big time for you.

What a year it's been for the chap. Mainstream chart success worldwide; various high-profile TV appearances in America; one of the world's biggest songs in the transcendent Take Me to Church (still sitting comfortably in the US top-three); yes, the dude's been busy, to say the least.

A few nights ago, he performed at the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, alongside Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran. Make what you will of that one, but Hozier's proudest achievement, we reckon, is arriving back in Ireland to a sold-out Olympia Theatre where family, friends and devout followers of The Church of Hozier (the fan club can have that one for free) have gathered for this most immense of seasonal homecomings.

Soulful

And whaddaya know? The ubiquitous 24-year-old has found his groove. In time, he might yet loosen up some more - maybe even break a sweat. Indeed, Hozier is pinned to the one spot, as always, but with that outstanding, soulful cry of his we are truly in the presence of a heavyweight contender.

Hozier's powerful, rock-tinted, R&B throw-downs suggest an artist at the very peak of his creative game. With just the one album under his belt, that's quite a feat.

Flanked by a proficient and attentive squad of supporting players, Andrew's superior vocal soars high and wide, basking in the scintillating fretwork of the marvellous From Eden and the gorgeous In a Week (featuring the talented Karen Cowley).

Hozier: The Bluesman shakes things up on Jackie and Wilson, and later throws in some cleverly-arranged covers (Skip James' Illinois Blues and Amerie's 1 Thing). The bloke's done his homework.

Too nice for his own good? Perhaps, but you had better believe that the humble song-and-dance man is well able for drunken hecklers, too (there's only one of them, and Hozier puts him back in his box).

By the time we get to the Big Song (still magnificent), there are tears in his eyes. Dedicating the set to his artist mother, who designed his album cover, Hozier wears the stunned expression of a man who can't quite believe his luck. We can. The arenas beckon, my friend. HHHHH


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