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Hozier delivers heartfelt set at Lollapalooza

The set, full of American blues and folk music but never far from his Irish roots, was further embellished with a choir of voices from a six-person backing band.

Hozier performs on day one of Lollapalooza in Grant Park,
Hozier performs on day one of Lollapalooza in Grant Park.
Santiago Covarrubias/For the Sun-Times

Hozier, 6:45 pm Thursday T-Mobile Stage

Hozier had nothing but love for Chicago during his hour-long set — no stranger to playing some of his earliest shows in our clubs (including a showcase at the now-defunct Double Door) as well as the breadth of the city’s musical heirs.

“The majority of my influences come from here,” he said to a packed evening crowd, subtly referencing blues greats like Buddy Guy, Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf, and of course “the sovereign queen of my heart, Mavis Staples.” Hozier and Staples collaborated last fall on the powerful epoch “Nina Cried Power,” from Hozier’s EP of the same name. It’s a song that pays tribute to the spirit of protest, and was doubly supported on this night with video on giant screens showing legendary marches during the civil rights movement through to present day.

“There’s an important legacy of history in this city, I hope it’s something you’re proud of,” he said, summing up the meaning of the song.

Hozier, from the historically war-conflicted country of Ireland, imbues much of his music with political leanings, like that of his uber hit “Take Me To Church” (with which he ended the evening), parlaying the artistic power and dynamics of brethren like U2.

The set, full of American blues and folk music but never far from his Irish roots, was further embellished with a choir of voices from a six-person backing band that provided full instrumentation including a full organ and Hozier’s own guitar made from an old motor oil can.

Though Staples was not present as a surprise guest as some had no doubt hoped, singer-songwriter Maggie Rogers (appearing at Lollapalooza on Saturday) joined Hozier for “Work Song.”