Hozier, review: 'An MOR troubador with commercial clout'

Hozier can write a trenchant protest song (Picture: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for LOVE ROCKS NYC/God's Love We Deliver)Hozier can write a trenchant protest song (Picture: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for LOVE ROCKS NYC/God's Love We Deliver)
Hozier can write a trenchant protest song (Picture: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for LOVE ROCKS NYC/God's Love We Deliver)
Hozier offers up inoffensive Celtic pop rock, with diluted traces of Thin Lizzy and Van Morrison

Hozier, Glasgow Green ***

This year the annual pre-festival blessing of the TRNSMT site fell to Irish singer/songwriter Hozier, an unassuming MOR troubadour with an elegant vocal range, deft guitar skills and the sort of large band line-up – in this case, embellished with violin, cello and percussion – which comes with commercial clout.

He kicked off the final date of his European Tour “back in the Republic of Glasgow” with the dreamy falsetto pop of Eat Your Young, a Jonathan Swift-like modest proposal with more lyrical than musical bite. Hozier trades in inoffensive Celtic pop rock, with diluted traces of Thin Lizzy and Van Morrison in his waltz rhythms and vocal phrasing on the likes of Jackie and Wilson.

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Dinner and Diatribes was an earthier blues workout, folding in some Tuareg desert blues guitar sounds, but it was more a vibe than a song as it hurtled to a heady climax and a long sustained vocal note. Elsewhere, Hozier can bring the vacuous bombast on Abstract (Psychopomp), or the acoustic breathiness of I, Carrion (Icarian) with lofty sentiments tenderly delivered.

He prefaced Nina Cried Power, recorded as a duet with the great Mavis Staples, with an extended paean to the power of protest and “small acts of love and solidarity” but most ably demonstrated his ability to write a trenchant protest song with the anthemic Take Me To Church, which condemns religious bigotry as it conjures a devotional spirit. Ten years on, his first hit is still his best by some distance with its dramatic chorus and powerful hooks rousing the audience to the evening’s biggest singalong.

Chief support act Brittany Howard is immersed in the conscious soul tradition, with her brothers-and-sister mantra flowing as freely as her lurex kaftan across a mellow early evening set which effortlessly encompassed spiritual jazz, acid rock and loose-limbed electro funk.

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