After a long winter here in WNY, it makes sense that people's anticipation will heighten as it gets closer to the summer concert season. Darien Lake opened its season last Wednesday night with artists Hozier and Allison Russell. A rainstorm rolled through mid-day but the skies cleared and the weather was just about perfect for each artist to give their all to a sold-out crowd.
Opening the show was Allison Russell. Even though the Canadian artist is new to the scene (only been a solo artist since 2021), she has already released two studio efforts garnering many Grammy nominations; and won one for best American Roots performance for “Eve Was Black.” Russell and her band absorbed the stage for a total of 6 songs. Russell is a multi-instrumentalist as she went from playing the clarinet to strumming the banjo from song to song. At the beginning of her set, I believe she had the crowd with her but after a lengthy speech about everything from politics to equal rights to sexual orientation, she lost many of them.  She is an activist but personally, I wished she focused more on delivering her Grammy-nominated catalog than trying to drive her own beliefs onto the concert attendees.
Headlining the show was Hozier. Hozier has really come on the last few years as he is now headlining arenas and amphitheaters across North America.  From his humble beginnings with the Trinity Orchestra to a backup singer to Billy Ocean, Hozier’s time has now arrived! A sold-out crowd at Darien consisting of about 70% women was riddled with enthusiasm as he and his band took the stage at around 8:55 pm. As Hozier stepped up to the microphone, the entire stage was dark except for one white light that shined on him through the back. This created a cool lighting effect for both De Selby Parts 1 and 2. Hozier made a connection with the crowd as he continued his set with songs “To Be Alone,” “Dinner and Diatribes,” and “It Will Come Back. He honored a birthday wish and went off the traditional setlist by adding “To Someone from a Warm Climate (Uiscefhuaraithe).” Hozier’s voice was powerful in this song. A few songs later, he welcomed opening act Allison Russell for the 1st of two songs they would sing together on.  The 1st song was “Wildflower and Barley.” Russel showcased her soulful yet powerful voice on this track. She later joined him again for the last song of the evening in “Work Song.” Before this took place, Hozier went out to get closer to his fans by playing on a mini stage for the song “Cherry Wine.” Backup singer Melissa McMillan sang co-leads on “Nina Cried Power.”
Having Hozier was a fantastic way to kick off the 2024 summer concert season.  I can honestly say that the following acts at Darien Lake will be hard-pressed to match the superb performance put on by Hozier.
De Selby (Part 1)
De Selby (Part 2)
Jackie and Wilson
To Be Alone
Dinner & Diatribes
It Will Come Back
To Someone from a Warm Climate (Uiscefhuaraithe)
From Eden
Wildflower and Barley (with Allison Russell)
Would That I
Too Sweet
Almost (Sweet Music)
Eat Your Young
Take Me to Church
Cherry Wine
Nina Cried Power (With Melissa McMillan)
Work Song (with Allison Russell)

Hozier and Allison Russell at Darien Lake PAC 5-22-24

Darien Lake opened its season last Wednesday night with artists Hozier and Allison Russell.

Gallery Credit: BackstageAxxess, David "Gus" Griesinger

More From We are Buffalo