Why the Hozier Concert Changed My Life

Picture this: you are twelve years old. You are questioning the Catholic faith by which you were raised, probably because you are starting to question your sexuality, too. “Take Me To Church” by Hozier has just come out. And it is now your anthem.

This is exactly what my middle school years were like. I felt myself pushing back against some of the things I was being taught by the Catholic school I attended and in church. I felt confused, as I knew there was something a little different about me but I did not yet know what that thing was.  I did know, however, that whatever it was likely didn’t fit within the confines of the religion that was supposed to be my own.  

When “Take Me To Church” blew up in 2013, it made me feel slightly less alone in my romantic/sexual confusion and in my angst towards my religion. “Take Me To Church” is a song by Hozier, an alternative artist, that condemns the Church/religious institutions for teaching others to be ashamed of their sexuality (if they are not straight) and for not accepting non-cisgender, heterosexual love. The song was a hit and, sure, everyone liked it when it came out.  It was different, catchy, and at twelve-years-old, most of us did not understand what it meant at all. But for me, I understood more than enough to feel comforted by its beautiful message. When I listened to it, I felt little bits of my confusion melt away—not completely, but just enough to feel…better.

Now, at eighteen-years-old, six years after the release of “Take Me To Church,” I have finally gone to my first Hozier concert. It was fun, powerful, and, quite honestly, life-changing.  The opening act was Angie McMahon, who I had never heard of before the concert, but who has now certainly been added to my Spotify. The contrast between her deep, raw, and powerful voice and her cute demeanor struck me. But when Hozier came out, his 6’5 presence immediately commanded the stage. He is an incredibly talented writer and musician, and a captivating performer, with an angelic voice, and all that and more was on display during his show. His band was on stage with him for its entirety, and they were insanely talented as well. They used careful, specific visuals on screens behind the stage, which ranged from powerful images of protesters on the street during “Nina Cried Power” to serene pictures of trees and nature during “Shrike.” These visual effects added so much to the performance, and their variety fit Hozier’s vibes, and the vibes of their respective songs, perfectly.  

Hozier’s songs are all extremely meaningful to me, and I love that each of them deals with subject matters so entirely different, and yet they are all connected by Hozier’s unique,  evocative musical style and consistent sound. Each of his songs speaks to me in different ways, and I was thrilled that I was able to hear all of my favorites at the concert. He even ended the show with my all-time favorite song of his, “Work Song.”  

When Hozier began singing “Take Me To Church” near the end of the show, I felt a tap on my shoulder. I looked behind me and saw a girl handing me a large pride flag, and she whispered, “pass it up.” My friends and I were standing right in front of the stage, so we passed the flag forward to the stage floor. As he began to sing, Hozier looked down at the flag with a respectful, almost solemn look. He took a few steps forward, bent down, picked up the flag, and held onto it as he sang. He proclaimed that “flags don’t belong on the ground” and draped the flag over his microphone. It was a truly beautiful moment, and it nearly brought me to tears. Hozier then came into the crowd and began to belt the powerful “amens” of “Take Me To Church” just inches away from us. It was a surreal moment that I will cherish forever; it was incredible to see one of my favorite artists so up-close and personal. But Hozier is not just one of my favorite artists—he is someone whose music has changed my life by showing me that I was not alone. And he continues to change my life with each new song. 

Image Credit: Feature, Molly Moran