On a beautiful evening in the stunning setting of Cardiff Castle, Hozier takes the stage, and looks the part: standing tall in a 1970s Wrangler jacket and trademark shaggy locks. A brand new track to kick off, Eat Your Young, serves as a perfect warmup for an enthusiastic crowd; “Look at this beautiful fucking place!” is a charming, Irish-accented greeting, too.
As the night progresses, Hozier teases us by upping the tempo of songs like Jackie & Wilson, which see heads bobbing from front to back of a sold-out Castle crowd, many donned in flowers and faery regalia. On a perfect summer’s evening, this feels like the perfect set for it.
The headliner knows how to work an audience, chatting comfortably and personably with us throughout: for a large-scale event, Hozier certainly makes it feel like an intimate gathering of friends.
We move on to Francesca, a song inspired by the inferno depicted in Dante’s poem – as Hozier notes via a brief explanation. He transports the audience into the depths of the narrative, his voice conveying the raw emotion embedded in his lyrics; it’s a hauntingly beautiful performance, and it resonates deeply with the crowd.
When he stepped forward and sang solo, without the accompaniment of a band, this stripped-down rendition allowed his rich vocals to soar, much to the delight of his adoring fans. As the night came to an end, we were left with another great evening of live music in the city, and just the place for it.
Hozier, Cardiff Castle, Thurs 6 July
words ANTONIA LEVAY photos HANNAH NICOLSON-TOTTLE