Hozier and Allison Russell transcend at Camden's Freedom Mortgage Pavilion - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart

There was a candle lit onstage while Allison Russell was opening up for Hozier at the Freedom Mortgage Pavillion over the weekend. It was calming and warm, and I could smell it from the pit. She also had stones and what looked like tarot cards to cleanse a space that, in the middle of a heat wave, probably reeked in more ways than one. 

Russell is an extremely talented multi-instrumentalist. Her vocals are beyond, and she was playing the clarinet and banjo throughout her set. Her energy was nearly transcendent. Hozier described her as someone who practices “radical acceptance,” which couldn’t be more accurate. 

“We don’t get to choose who we’re born to, who we’re fostered by, who we’re adopted by, who we’re stolen by. We don’t get to choose those things. But at a certain point,” she said, “ we start to find the ones who see us and love us exactly as we are…”  

Russell, while welcoming us into her circle singing songs about trauma and injustice, had the biggest smile on her face. 

Allison Russell | photo by Danielle Ciampaglia for WXPN

Hozier opened his set underneath a rainfall of blue light. The lighting of his first song, “De Selby (Part 1)” set the tone for one of his more haunting tracks. The beginning of his set felt more shy and reserved, and he wasn’t moving around a lot. But Freedom Mortgage Pavillion is a gigantic venue; once he had some time up there to get used to things, he started to open up more and banter with the crowd. 

Hozier | photo by Danielle Ciampaglia for WXPN

Hozier surprised the audience for his performance of the devastating “Cherry Wine” which he played on a B-stage closer to the lawn. It was a grounding moment. After watching a show for so long, it can start to feel like a movie. This kept things fresh and intimate, and gave people in the lawn a treat after braving the heat and crowds. 

The most notable part of Hozier’s set was his band. His backup vocalists were enormously talented. He played “Nina Cried Power” during his encore, a track he released in 2018 with the legendary Mavis Staples. In Mavis’ place, backup vocalist Melissa McMillan stepped into the role and did a miraculous job. That song never fails to make me emotional, and seeing it live is as close to godliness as anyone could ever feel. 

Both Hozier and Russell took time at the end of their time on stage to thank every member of their crew from their bands to the tour managers and everyone in-between. It was truly a night filled with immense gratitude.

  • De Selby (Part 1)
  • De Selby (Part 2)
  • Jackie and Wilson
  • To Be Alone
  • Dinner & Diatribes
  • Francesca
  • It Will Come Back
  • Uknown/Nth
  • I, Carrion (Icarian)
  • From Eden
  • Wildflower and Barley
  • Would That I
  • Too Sweet
  • Almost (Sweet Music)
  • Eat Your Young
  • Movement
  • Take Me to Church
  • Cherry Wine
  • Nina Cried Power
  • Work Song
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