Hozier opens 'Wasteland, Baby! Tour' at Shea's

Buffalo marks the first stop on musician's newest tour

hozier

Hozier took a sip of his water after strumming the final notes for his song, “NFWMB.” He changed guitars and leaned into the mic to address the packed audience.

“This is a new one, which I never sang in front of a crowd before,” Hozier said. “In fact, that’s true for a lot of songs this evening.”

Sunday night’s performance at Shea’s Performing Arts Center was the first stop on Hozier’s ‘Wasteland, Baby! Tour.’ The North American tour is in support of the rock musician’s recent album of the same name. But Hozier didn’t just celebrate the first tour stop at Shea’s that night. The singer announced that he officially topped the Billboard 200 chart.

The titular number, “The Wasteland, Baby!” was a highlight for fans. The song felt intimate and simple, with some of Hozier’s band members leaving the stage and reducing the instrumentation. During the intro of the song, the lights fell, leaving Hozier’s silhouette against a red-lit background.

The singer-songwriter encouraged audience members to clap along throughout the night. The audience participated in a call-and-response during track “To Be Alone.” The house lights rose during the audience’s turn, encouraging the crowd to sing along.

Lauren Guy, a freshman English and art history major, enjoyed the opening track, “Would That I.” She said she thought that the number was beautiful and complimented Hozier’s vocal talent.

“His music and his performance was just so ethereal.” Guy said. “It’s like bringing the entire room together in one soul. It’s amazing.”

Opener Jade Bird charmed the crowd with her excitable attitude. The singer was able to fill the stage with just her voice and her acoustic guitar, cracking jokes about slipping into a fake American accent.

“There it is again. The American accent. I don’t know what’s going on.” Bird said. “It’s like a tiny little cowboy is just like, you know, hiding there.” 

Emily Haas, a Niagara University student, was impressed by Bird’s energy.

“She was fun. She was quirky,” Haas said. “I didn’t know her before, but now I’d definitely listen to her again.”

The concert was set in a large venue, but the show had a feeling of connection. Anna Reed and Kendra Craik, Buffalo residents, said they felt a sense of intimacy throughout the performance.

“It was a huge venue, but it felt really intimate,” Reed said. “There was an energetic exchange that was palpable.”

The audience came together the most during his closing number and the most anticipated song of the night, “Take Me to Church.” From the first chord of the song, the crowd cheered and clapped. Many sang the entire song along with the singer.

But Hozier wanted to give back.

Hozier showed his gratitude to fans, fellow band members and crew. During the encore, “Cherry Wine” and “Work Song,” the singer devoted time into introducing each member of his band, and gave special thanks to the crew for making the concert possible.

“I’m probably forgetting probably a few people, but you’re all legends,” Hozier said. “It takes more than a hammer and nails, as they say, to make a house a home.”

Julianna is the asst. arts editor and can be reached at julianna.tracey@ubspectrum.com and on Twitter @JTraceySpec.