Main Street Recommends

Hozier Plays Sold Out Show in Saratoga

By Published On: May 21st, 2024

In the summer, one of my favorite things to do is buy lawn tickets to a concert at an outdoor venue. Being located in Dutchess County, one of my favorite venues to go to is Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC).

On Sunday, May 19, we headed north to go see SPAC’s first big show of the season: Irish singer-songwriter Hozier. His opener was Allison Russell, but we missed most of her performance because we were running a little late and parking was a bit of a debacle. 

Hozier’s biggest performance to date

Allison came on at 7:30 and was finishing up her set at about 8:20 while we were walking around. 

Hozier came on at about 8:45 and opened the show with “De Selby (Part One and Two)” from his latest album, Unreal Unearth. He did a great job loading up the setlist with songs from the new album and classics from his older albums, too. He greeted us all by sharing that this concert was the biggest show he had ever played in the United States. “I’ve been reliably informed that this is the largest ticketed show I’ve ever done in the United States. It’s a special one for me. Thank you so so much. It’s such a joy,” he said. He also noted that Saratoga was one of the most beautiful places he had ever been. Score for the State of New York. 

He followed up with fan-favorite, “Jackie & Wilson,” then launched into “To Be Alone,” both from his debut album. “Dinner & Diatribes” came next from his 2019 album Wasteland, Baby! Anyone who wasn’t already on their feet certainly got up for “Francesca” off his most recent album, Unreal Unearth. Hozier’s vocals are incredible on all of his songs, but there’s something about the rawness and emotion in his voice when he sings “Francesca” that makes it particularly powerful. 

Next he performed “It Will Come Back” and “Cherry Wine,” both from his debut. He performed the latter acoustically and enlisted the crowd in the singing of the chorus. Phone flashlights were lit up as far as you could see along the lawn while everyone swayed to the music. 

Next, he sang “Unknown / Nth,” from Unreal Unearth. “From Eden,” off of his debut was next, which he performed acoustically and tugged out his earpiece to hear the crowd sing the words back to him during the bridge, which was a special moment for those of us in the crowd who could see the amazement on his face. 

He brought Allison out for a performance of “Wildflower and Barley” off his most recent album, then launched into some of the most anticipated songs of the night. He played “Would That I,” from the Wasteland, Baby! Album; “Too Sweet,” off of Unreal Unearth and was his first number one single; “Almost (Sweet Music)” from Wasteland, Baby!; “Eat Your Young” from Unreal Unearth; “Movement” from Wasteland, Baby!; and finally, he ended the show with “Take Me to Church” from his debut. 

We decided to exit before the encore in an attempt to beat the traffic – which for the record, we did not – but we could hear him performing “I, Carrion” from Unreal Unearth, “Nina Cried Power,” from the Nina Cried Power EP, and “Work Song,” from his debut, which he brought Allison Russell back out for. 

Final thoughts

Hozier put on a wonderful performance and sounded absolutely incredible. His band is energetic, dynamic, and they all mesh together so well on stage. It was a joy to watch. 

Now, let me start by saying that I typically have a pretty good experience at SPAC. I’ve had actual seats in the amphitheater and have sat in the lawn on multiple occasions. The venue is beautiful, the sound is usually pretty good from the lawn, and if you get a good seat in front of the big screens, you have a decent view. 

However, I have never been to a show at SPAC that was this crowded. Upon entering, it was evident that the show was completely oversold. The sheer number of people there was absolutely insane. The entirety of the lawn was packed shoulder to shoulder and even the grassy areas up by the bathrooms were packed with people. 

We were lucky that we didn’t have chairs or blankets – we typically just stand in the lawn – so we were able to meander our way halfway down the lawn and get a great view of the screen and even of the stage. However, if I were someone who was hoping to bring chairs and have a nice evening chilling on the lawn with a reasonable amount of personal space, I would have been incredibly upset. 

With all that said, I have tickets to at least three more shows this season, so stay tuned for more concert updates and let’s hope the lawn isn’t as packed for the next show. 

To listen to Hozier’s setlist, visit our playlist here.