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Review Thu Feb 26 2015

Hozier Took the Riv to Church on Wednesday Night

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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.

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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.

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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
Sedated
Foreigner's God
Take Me to Church

Encore:
Cherry Wine
Run
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 »

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