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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Maryland chapter.

Irish folk-rock singer Hozier released his long-awaited third studio album “Unreal Unearth” last month, which means that fans are coming out of the woodwork. Luckily, us DMV fans didn’t have to wait long before Hozier’s “Unreal Unearth Tour” hit the Anthem in Washington DC.

Those unfamiliar with Hozier’s body of work may know him only as the “Take Me to Church” guy, which is a label he acquired when his chart-topping single “Take Me to Church” shook the fibers of everyone lucky enough to hear it on the radio in 2013. Since then his small cult following has grown exponentially. 

Hozier’s songs are beloved for lyrics that would fit in amongst the works of Sappho and Homer, the accompanying melodies and instrumentals equally as timeless, powerful and haunting. His music is inspired by a blend of jazz, soul and rock and roll, taking thematic inspiration from classic literature and mythology. 

Before Hozier took the stage, the lights came up on opener Madison Cunningham. I had limited exposure to Cunningham before the show and was not prepared for the vocal powerhouse she turned out to be. Her songs were heavy and cool. A few of them built venue-shaking belts and runs that prompted eruptions of applause. I particularly enjoyed “Hospital,” “In From Japan” and the beautifully sad, “Life According to Raechel.” Madison Cunningham was the perfect opener for Hozier; she embodied his ethereal, earthy aesthetic while also bringing in a newer indie vibe.

After Cunningham’s set, the crowd buzzed with anticipation as we waited for the main event. Before we knew it, the theater dimmed to near total darkness apart from a few rays of white light hazily illuminating the stage. The crowd’s shrieks and cheers for Hozier’s entrance persisted until the soft, chilling first few notes of “De Selby (Part One)” caused a heavy silence to fall over the room, broken only when its fun, rocky companion “De Selby (Part Two)” lifted the spell. The concert was in full swing and it was electric. 

Hozier ended up being one of those live performers who sounds nearly indistinguishable from their album recordings, at least apart from the little improvs and tempo changes he added spur of the moment. His deep baritone lilt transported the audience somewhere otherworldly. 

A few showstoppers included ballad “To Someone From a Warm Climate (Uiscefhuarithe)” as well as the soft and beautiful “I, Carrion (Icarian).” “To Someone From a Warm Climate” was sung with a passion rare for long-time touring artists making it clear that Hozier found it deeply personal. The intimacy of watching him sing it felt like witnessing magic in a bottle and the audience stood transfixed. “I, Carrion” was equally moving, with Hozier taking a moment before singing it to lament the inspiration it took from the story of Icarus. 

“Take Me To Church” was the final song of the set and was sung with a guttural ferocity that reverberated through the theater. The music video played on a screen during the performance showcasing the harrowing journey of a gay couple in a small religious town. “Nina Cried Power” was an encore song, and while legendary singer and civil rights activist Mavis Staples wasn’t there to sing her featured portion, backup singer Melissa McMillan shone in her place. Both performances felt profound and relevant, refusing to shy away from modern injustices.

The show’s sole hiccup came during Hozier’s heartbreaking love song “Cherry Wine.” There are countless clips circulating the internet these days of performers stopping shows when they notice something amiss in the audience. From Taylor Swift interrupting her song “Bad Blood” to tell a security guard to leave a fan alone  to Billie Eilish stopping her show to make sure a fan got their inhaler, it seems that the responsibility of looking after audience members is falling more and more on the performers themselves. 

Hozier’s moment came when he noticed the crowd pointing to an audience member who had collapsed. He signaled for the band to stop playing and waited until the fan was safe to finish the song. Despite the moment of concern, the rest of “Cherry Wine” was played to perfection and the venue let out a sigh of relief.

While the entire experience was beautiful, the highlight of my night at the “Unreal Unearth Tour” was a moment no one else in that theater experienced. It wasn’t some crazy high note or special celebrity guest performance. Instead, this moment represented the intersection of art, live music and the human condition, and it moved me more than any concert experience I’ve ever had. 

I attended the show with a childhood friend who recently lost her father. In her grief, my friend has found comfort in Hozier’s song “Abstract (Psychopomp),” which features lyrics like, “the memory hurts, but does me no harm.” The word itself, psychopomp, is the name of a mythological Greek entity that guides spirits from one life into the next.

My friend and I had gone into the concert knowing and accepting that he didn’t play this song live. About halfway through the show, however, Hozier informed his audience that he would be playing a song he had never played live before and the instrumental for “Abstract (Psychopomp) swelled. Hozier delivered the song with such heart that my friend and I couldn’t help but feel its performance was meant for her that night. Live and for the very first time. 

To describe Hozier’s show as “magical” would downplay the raw humanity that could be found in every moment, from the crowd’s passionate belting of every word, to Hozier’s empathetic concern for a stranger in the audience, to his music’s ability to comfort the grieving and heartbroken. 

Take me to church? More like take me to another Hozier concert.

Olivia Milne

Maryland '25

Olivia Milne is a new staff writer for Her Campus at the University of Maryland. Olivia is currently a junior psychology major. Olivia has had a passion for both creative and essay-style writing for as long as she can remember. Her Campus is her first introduction to the world of journalism and publication, and she is so thrilled to be involved. Professionally speaking, Olivia enjoys working with children, whether within her field as an undergraduate research assistant in UMD's Child Development Lab, or for fun as a summer camp counselor. Olivia is perpetually listening to music in her free time. She also loves dancing, watching and dissecting films, and drinking spiced chai. More than anything, she adores spending time with her two dogs, Opal and Juno.