Last Monday night was the night that Hudson Taylor turned Folk Rock into a verb.
The Folk Pop Rock duo Hudson Taylor opened for Hozier at the Observatory North Park on October 15th, but their performance and the atmosphere in the crowd would have had anyone believing that they were headlining the show. The two brothers, Harry and Alfie, hailing from Dublin Ireland, had all 1,200 of us at the sold out venue stomping our feet and singing along before the first song on the setlist, “Travelin,” had even reached the second chorus.
The duo is touring as a whopping 7-piece band so their energetic vocals and guitar were backed by a fiddle, harmonica, violin, keys, mandolin, and even a tin whistle, as well as harmonic vocals from their sister. Their live performance encompasses a more traditional Irish folk sound than their pop-influenced studio recordings do, which turned the space into what felt like a jamboree for a solid 45 minutes. And let me tell you, everyone was loving it.
They performed a mix of tracks from their older album Singing for Strangers, as well as tracks from Feel It Again and Bear Creek to Dame Street, their EP and album that were released this year. About half way through the set, they encouraged a deafening chorus of “I don’t know why and I don’t know when, I need you now like I needed you then” from the crowd. Immediately after the first chorus of this uplifting tune entitled “Don’t Know Why,” which appears on Singing for Strangers and again as a live version on Bear Creek to Dame Street, is when we had the pleasure of hearing their sister Holly sing solo for the first time. Her melodies drew a loud applause from the front of the venue all the way to the back. From there, the song just got better and better with the surprising tin whistle solo, and heavenly harmonies from all seven musicians on the stage.
The atmosphere calmed down as they sang their most streamed track on Spotify entitled “Old Soul,” whose violin entranced the whole crowd into a collective swaying motion. We didn’t have long to catch our breath however, the energy picked right back up as they moved into the fast-paced, harder-hitting, “One in a Million.”
The brothers’ chemistry shown as bright as the stage lights during “Pray for the Day,” as they danced and fed off of each other’s showmanship. Harry's subdued grit and surprising vocalic outbursts and Alfie’s high energy tambourine jam was so fun to watch and to be a part of.
They closed out their set the same way they started it, with foot stomping hand clapping to the deep cut “Battles,” off of their first album. When all seven musicians locked arms and took their bow, the feeling was mutual around the room: we all wanted more.
Overall, the Irish duo’s live show surprised me in an incredibly good way. They have the talent and they have the stage presence. Luckily for us, I don’t think San Diego has seen the last of Hudson Taylor.
Written by: Aubrie Shadday