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Hozier show


HE TOOK US TO CHURCH:
It seemed a little on the nose, putting the guy who did "Take Me to Church" in a church, but last night's performance by Columbia's Hozier at Immanuel Presbyterian Church in L.A. was a transfixing, unforgettable one. The pews were packed with hipsters, many of whom had managed to down a quick beer before taking their seats beneath stained-glass portraits of the saints. Hozier's set, drawing liberally from his strong new album, wrestled with the contradictions of devotion and desire. The glorious acoustics of the space embraced the rangy soul of "Jackie & Wilson," the effervescent groove-pop of "Someone New," the gothic-blues fever dream of "To Be Alone" and all the night's other moods perfectly. With a superb band backing him (often with angel-choir harmonies), Hozier's sonorous voice and bluesy fingerpicked guitar sailed through these and other memorable tracks from the album; he stepped away from the mike and the sanctuary to play an unamplified version of Skip James' "Illinois Blues" and followed a barnstorming "Church" with a staggeringly cool cover, Amerie's funky miracle "One Thing." The crowd, I need scarcely add, went apeshit. The dude's artistry is fully formed, but it's clear he's just getting started. I'm not a religious type, but: Amen. (10/17a)

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