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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Review Thu Feb 26 2015

Hozier Took the Riv to Church on Wednesday Night


2014 was a big year for Hozier. Along with dropping his From Eden EP and his self titled debut album in September, the Irish singer songwriter was also named Spotify's Top Viral Artist of 2014. But really every year has been a big one for Hozier since his career started, considering that it was just a little over a year ago in 2013 that the video for "Take Me to Church" went viral.

I'm not sure anything made me realize quite how sudden his ascent was though, until I overheard two women next to me at his show at the Riv on Wednesday night who were talking about his set at Lollapalooza this past summer. I thought for sure they were mistaken -- clearly I would've gone to see him had he played a festival I attended this past summer. Looking back at the lineup though I realized they were absolutely right -- there he was listed just after Lucius on the Palladia Stage. He's become such a huge name at this point it's somewhat disorienting to realize that just six months ago I'd never heard of him.


Hozier took to the Riv's stage with a drummer, a bassist, a keyboardist, a cellist and two backup singers while the amped up crowd gave him a warm welcome. Taking center stage with his signature cup of tea already in his mic stand, he dove straight into his debut album, getting things started with "Angel of Small Death and the Codeine Scene" and segueing from there into "From Eden" and "Jackie and Wilson". The Riv was a good setting for him - with its superior sound system, Hozier's rich, full vocal range came across beautifully and he looked entirely relaxed up onstage.

Categorized as a singer-songwriter, I was curious as to how the show would play out in a large setting like the Riv, but with a full band behind him and the light show flashing along in tempo to the drums, it took on more of a rock vibe than a singer-songwriter vibe -- never to the detriment of the lyrics though. One of the things that sets Hozier's debut album apart for me is the lushness of sound in context with the often dark, dreamy and morbid lyrics. I was afraid those lyrics might be diminished in the live setting but Hozier's voice and every word came through clear and strong.

Halfway through the set the band departed and Hozier and cellist Alana Henderson moved into a more intimate, acoustic point in the set. Working their way through "In a Week" the two quietly and sweetly sang the exquisitely beautiful song about two lovers' corpses in a field.


Bringing the band back up onstage, Hozier wrapped up his set with the hugely popular "Take Me to Church" as the crowd sang along. I always like it when bands choose not to encore with their most popular hits -- it makes things more interesting, and Hozier did not disappoint. He wrapped up his show with "Cherry Wine" "Run" "Work Song" and a cover of Ariana Grande's "Problems." While Hozier's songs are often very dark his set never ranged into the realm of depressing, and his sense of fun and his ability not to take himself too seriously came through with that choice of cover -- completely unexpected and totally delightful.

Set list:
Angel of small death
From Eden
Jackie and Wilson
Someone New
To Be Alone
It Will Come Back
In a Week
Skip James "Illinois Blues" cover
Like Real People Do
Arsonist's lullabye
Foreigner's God
Take Me to Church

Cherry Wine
Ariana Grande "Problem" cover
Work Song

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »


  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
The Hood Internet
Jaded in Chicago
Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
Live Music Blog
Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
Pop Matters
Resident Advisor
Sound Opinions
Sun-Times Music Blog
Theft Liable to Prosecution
Tribune Music
UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
Windy City Rock


Abbey Pub
Andy's Jazz Club
Aragon Ballroom
Auditorium Theatre
Beat Kitchen
Bottom Lounge
Buddy Guy's Legends
The Burlington
California Clipper
Concord Music Hall
Congress Theater
Cubby Bear
Double Door
Elbo Room
Empty Bottle
Green Mill
The Hideout
Honky Tonk BBQ
House of Blues
Kingston Mines
Lincoln Hall
Logan Square Auditorium
Mayne Stage
The Mutiny
Old Town School of Folk Music
Park West
The Promontory
Red Line Tap
Reggie's Rock Club & Music Joint
The Riviera
Thalia Hall
The Shrine
Symphony Center
Tonic Room
Uncommon Ground
The Vic
The Whistler

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  & Shops:

Alligator Records
Beverly Records
Bloodshot Records
Dave's Records
Delmark Records
Drag City
Dusty Groove
Flameshovel Records
Groove Distribution
He Who Corrupts
Jam Productions
Jazz Record Mart
Kranky Records
Laurie's Planet of Sound
Minty Fresh
Numero Group
mP Shows
Permanent Records
Reckless Records
Smog Veil Records
Southport & Northport Records
Thick Records
Thrill Jockey Records Touch & Go/Quarterstick Records
Victory Records

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