Madison Cunningham on THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON, January 5, 2023. Todd Owyoung/NBC photo
 | Music

Madison Cunningham at Rogers Arena

Review – Madison Cunningham at Rogers Arena, Vancouver, Oct 22 2023

“I found a journal from five years ago. One of my dreams I’d written down was to open for Andrew.” Madison Cunningham shared this anecdote with a cheering crowd of Hozier fans, who had arrived early to catch Cunningham perform as Andrew Hozier-Byrne’s opener.

Cunningham is one of the most unique artists in the singer-songwriter sphere. Credit for that sentiment goes to Hozier himself, who took time during his set to praise Cunningham, who has served as his opener for the entirety of his North American tour. Her lyrics are tight and full of metaphors, whereas other artists may at times get lost in their lyrical prowess, Cunningham is just as skillful at crafting incredible sounds and songs. At times symphonic, melancholic, or hypnotic, every song in her repertoire sounds different from the last. This is an artist who is not afraid to try new and different things. There’s a reason her 2022 album “Revealer” won Best Folk Album at the Grammy’s last year.

“Revealer” by Madison Cunningham

This was my second time seeing Cunningham perform as an opener. Having seen her once before, on stage alone with her guitar, it was a full-circle moment to see her on an arena stage with a full band. Her sound is well-suited for a performance like this, and with a voice large enough to fill a venue like Rogers Arena, she didn’t disappoint.

For the song “Broken Harvest,” Cunningham delivered her most impressive vocal performance of the night. I don’t know what she conjured to howl like that—always perfectly on tune, all with this incredible timbre that is unlike anything I’ve heard before—but the earth surely moved.

Often the encore for a concert is where the artist performs some of their most anticipated songs. It’s so expected these days, that the vast majority of people know to stay after the artist says goodbye the first time—and the excitement when the artist returns to stage is a highlight of most shows. So, when Hozier brought Madison Cunningham out for the final song of his encore, he was telling the audience that they stayed for a reason, and she was worth hanging around for. It was also a nice way to give the opener an encore as well—something most openers don’t get to have.

For their duet, Hozier and Cunningham performed “Work Song” from his 2014 self-titled album. While they have very different vocal stylings and sounds, their differences complemented each other, as they ended the concert together beautifully. Their chemistry was joyous.

Cunningham only played seven songs for her opening set. In many ways it was the perfect preview for what a full Madison Cunningham concert could be like. Based on the crowd’s reaction to her performance, I wouldn’t be surprised if she gained at least several hundred new fans from this one show. Multiply that by the entirety of the Hozier tour and it’ll be exciting to see where Cunningham goes from here. I’ll be eagerly listening.



Hannah Madden-Krasnick

Hannah is a student, software developer, and writer based in Vancouver, BC. You can find her studying in a cafe as she finishes her latest degree, knitting her friends a sweater, and around town training for her next triathlon. If you see her on her phone in public, she's probably reading a book, as she considers for the dozenth time if she should buy a Kobo. The next time you see her at a concert, let her know your thoughts on eReaders, and she'll show her gratitude by sharing her glitter with you.
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