Live Review: Hozier, Rhodes

4 November 2015 | 4:44 pm | Mark Beresford

"Each Hozier track has its heart in a delta blues sound that is branched out into swooning church soul."

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It's difficult to be disappointed with the setting of the Belvoir Amphitheatre, and even before a note was played the grassy levels were already loaded with eager people. Rhodes may not have a strong presence in Australia yet, though it does little to diminish his set, largely due to his folk-pop striking the sweet spot for the crowd in its kinship to the headline act. Performing a solo set and opening with key single Morning, his 30 minutes whipped by quickly. Strong songwriting mixed in with a positive and humbled stage presence made David Rhodes a difficult man to dislike, though his lack of backing band and straightforward approach to songs pushed him multiple times to the fringes of dull as songs blended into one another and the sound of crowd chatter progressively increased.

With the soundtrack of Creedence Clearwater Revival dropping down and the stage basking in a purple hue, Hozier stepped straight into Like Real People Do amongst a cacophony of screaming women. With a six-piece band supporting Hozier, each at their own microphone, the amphitheatre was engulfed in rich soulful harmony. Andrew Hozier-Byrne has already dominated the Australian charts and radio rotations over the last 12 months, but all of that makes a lot more sense in his live experience. Each Hozier track has its heart in a delta blues sound that is branched out into swooning church soul, highlighted by the aggressive electric guitar strikes of Hozier himself. It's clear to see the vocal talent of the man in question during Angel Of Small Death, The Codeine Scene and Jackie And Wilson, but the stringed flair is a subtle skill masked in the shadow of his vocal prowess. The constant pouring of blues licks was consuming and left little wonder as to why so many people scanned the stage looking for a second guitarist to explain the sound. The buoyant mood exploded at the haunting low vocal intro to breakout hit Take Me To Church. There's certainly a reason so many have turned out to a balmy field almost an hour out of the CBD, having been lured by the prospect of Hozier's sincere performance and zealous approach to songs that he has likely been strumming for 18 months now. There was a show of adamant appreciation from the stage in response to a raucous Australian tour opening applause over a stellar live performance.