Our new friends Hudson Taylor made it to their tour stop in Oakland after their long tour around North America supporting Hozier, and their opening set was every bit as fun as I expected if not more.
If you haven’t gotten your crash course on Irish brother duo Hudson Taylor yet, check out our interview with them just before the start of this tour. Back home across the pond, these brothers cut their teeth busking for years, so I was expecting them to be natural performers. Alfie and Harry more than met my expectations.
As soon as they play their first notes, Alfie immediately has the crowd clapping along and dancing, setting the tone for their raucous and earnest set. His and Harry’s harmonies are so well matched, I was reminded of Simon & Garfunkel’s best moments, but with the tone and toe-tapping tempo of the former’s solo “Cecilia”. Adding to their charm and chemistry, their little sister, Hallie, joined them on this tour, lending her gorgeous and ethereal background vocals. She and Alfie could be twins, and it’s sweet to see all three of the sibling’s banter with the audience.
In contrast to Hozier, whose set is a produced and polished experience (although still incredible), Hudson Taylor and their band were a refreshing breath of fresh air. In all the shows I’ve seen, the ones that stand out most to me continue to be ones wherein the artist interacts with their audience. When there’s a fourth wall there, and you’re purely there to see an act, not a SHOW, part of my brain switches off and wonders why I’m there and not just watching this from my couch. When a band is just as excited to be there as you are, and when they pull audience interaction out, when it’s a mutual experience, these are the magical moments. Hudson Taylor’s set was filled with these.
Their canon is still pretty small, so we were regaled with most of it in their set, favorites being the softer “Old Soul”, my personal favorite and rockin’ live track “One in a Million”, and “Run with Me”. Recorded, they’re sweet and fun, but seeing these songs live adds an incredible shot of energy and noise. A treat of their live shows is who they bring in to their bands- in addition to the gorgeous violin, I freaked out when they gave their guitar player a tin whistle solo. Their songs take on a much more distinctly Irish voice when performed live, and personally, I love it even more that way.
Hudson Taylor absolutely killed their run as Hozier’s opener, and hopefully they’ve gained droves of new fans out of this. They stayed back meeting and greeting everyone after their set, a connection seemingly rare in the higher profile touring bands of today, so I would not be surprised if this personal touch wins them some very passionate connections. After our interview, I was hoping to say hello, but the theater ended up being so packed I was afraid to move to lose my spot. I’ll definitely be catching them next time they come through, and hopefully give them a hug and tell them how rad we think they are in person!