As we walked down 7th Street in downtown Minneapolis the sidewalks were bustling with people. However, on the west side there was a mass of stationary people. A crowd of people waiting in a line that went from underneath the Pantages marquee on Hennepin all the way around the corner to the doors at First Avenue. Some of them were there for over 8 hours to ensure they got a front row experience at the iconic Minnesota music venue.
First Avenue was bursting at the seams on Wednesday night, every corner filled with joyful fans and the reverberations of immensely rich vocals. If there is one thing about Minnesotans, it’s that we love everything Minnesota especially supporting our local talent. Mike Kota launched their second mainroom appearance with a well written song about love and northern Minnesota, their deep raspy voice commanding the room and enrapturing the audience.
During her rather short opening set, Kota showed a range of songs from a heartfelt piece about the stress of parenting to the straight up banger for the closing piece. Kota brings a refreshing realness to the stage, leaving the crowd feeling like they’ve made a new friend. While Kota clearly had a large cheering section of hardcore fans, she left the stage with many more.
The audience was treated to a preview of “little tugs” which releases at 11:00 pm Central Time on Thursday, May 18. While Kota played solo tonight she will be backed by a full band and will be preforming on June 17 at the Grand Oak Opry in Saint Paul.
From the first song to the final encore, Hozier and the rest of the band played with an inviting aura of joy and happiness. They did not take themselves too seriously and really seemed to enjoy being on stage with each other. That feeling clearly spread to the crowd who grew louder yet stayed rapt in attention, happy to provide background vocals.
As he led the awe-struck audience from one moving soul wrenchingly beautiful song to the next, he truly captured hearts while serenading everyone with “CherryWine”. It was at this moment the enormity of the situation really set in for folks. They were the lucky few attending an intimate show with the stadium filling Hozier. It was hard to not feel as though we were all a part of a particular type of magic, a time and space unreplicatable. “Angel of Small Death and the Codeine Scene” brought the crowd to a fever pitch, producing screams of adoration louder than this writer has ever heard at First Avenue. As Hozier pointed out, the crowd’s energy far surpassede xpectations for a Wednesday evening.
The unreleased track, “Francesca”, off of his to be released album made its North American debut to an enraptured crowd. The ballad ends with hauntingly beautiful vocals by Hozier and supporting band members. The evening ended with an achingly good rendition of “Work Song” leaving the audience breathless. The crowd was was left in a state of delirium as they headed out the doors with delighted faces glowing from their shared experience.
Hozier will make one last stop in Minneapolis at Electric Fetus today, May 18 at 3:00 pm for a limited meet and greet for 500 fans before heading back out on the road.