Maxwell's, Hoboken, NJ
18 February 1991
The curious and the converted packed into Maxwell's to witness
the first Luka Bloom show in this his adopted hometown in quite
some time, and judging by the reception he received, he was
among old friends. After playing to packed houses on the West
Coast, Luka brought his "acoustic motorbike" tour to
Hoboken and New York before heading back to Dublin for some
dates with An Emotional Fish, so it was a chance for the faithful to
hear the new material which was in abundance at these shows.
After the familiar "Hello, my name is Luka Bloom, would you
give me a warm welcome, please!" the set opened with
"You", the first of the new songs, with its metronome
guitar and ballad style vocals, which seemed to catch everyone's
attention. This was followed by "Be Well My Love"
and "The Wiping of Tears". These songs were a jaunt
into the dark side of Luka Bloom, and if it's any indication of the
next album, anyone expecting "Riverside, Part II"
will be disappointed. Gone is the enthusiasm and wonderment.
It has been replaced by depth and maturity.
The intimate atmosphere of the club was very apt for these
personal songs, and added new life to old favourites.
"Dreams In America", "Gone To Pablo"
and "Te Adoro" sounded as fresh as ever.
"Bridge of Sorrows", a song dealing with the
disturbing social trends that exist behind Switzerland's pristine
facade went down well, along with "Mary Watches
Everything", in which Luka tells of an Irish woman
returning home after a trip to England where she had an
abortion. Both these tunes were real beauties. The latter,
despite its downbeat lyrics, has a strong commercial
strain due mainly to its blazing guitar riff. But the real
standout among the new material is the stunning
"Exploring the Blue". This song is Luka Bloom
at his best, both vocally and guitar-wise a perfect song
if ever there was one.
The second half of the show was classic Luka Bloom,
and was a real feast for the devoted, with such favorites
as as "Delirious", "You Couldn't Have
Come At A Better Time" and "The Acoustic
Motorbike", another new gem à la
"Irishman In Chinatown" mode with a touch
of Iggy Pop. By the encore "I Need Love",
the place was jumping, which is pretty amazing
considering it was a solo act they were watching, not
a full band.
With Luka Bloom's music finding huge appeal, this is looking
like one of the last chances to witness the man in small
venues. More's the pity.
Tramps, New York City, NY
19 February 1991
Luka Bloom introduced his version of LL Cool J's
"I Need Love" by telling us it was an old Irish
love song that he learned from his grandfather while on
his deathbed, in the west coast of Ireland! Such is the
attraction of a Luka Bloom gig - mainly that it's a
different show each night, something sadly missing from
a lot of today's live acts.
Luka's ability to suss out an audience, coupled with
running commentaries between songs, are almost as
enjoyable as the music itself. Whether making a social
statement about the war in the Gulf, or women's rights in
Ireland or the plight of the American Indian, or
injecting a bit of levity as he tells us of a ride in a
New York City taxi, it breaks down the barriers that can
exist between performer and punters. It brings the music
closer to you via the man himself, and it can go a long
way towards reinforcing the message in a song.
Also, it's becoming more and more apparent, judging by
the turnout at Luka's recent shows that his small club
days are numbered. And this comes to light in the new
material which Luka has been unveilling as of late. The
music is at a crossroad of sorts. A metamorphosis of his
style seems to be taking place. Songs like
"Hudson Lady" and "The Way You Talk
To Me" are more or less gone from the set, and
have since been substituted with songs that give a more
widescreen feel. "Mary Watches Everything"
and "The Acoustic Motorbike" are powerful
examples of this, particularly on the guitar front.
A new rawness is emerging in the sound which, despite
seeming to go against the traditional scope of folk
music, lends itself well to Luka Bloom, who all the while
seems to enjoy playing.
Is Luka Bloom a frustrated rocker? The answer is a
resounding NO; but he is not a folkie either. He is continuing
but at the same time improving upon a sound which
started with such non-aligned artists as Phil Ochs and
Ritchie Havens, then picked up in the seventies by the
likes of Bowie and Lou Reed, then further carried on into
the eighties by REM and The Smiths, and now has come
full circle with Luka in the nineties. This is music that has
universal appeal because it's well structured, and honest
to the artist.
Luka Bloom's performance here demonstrated that honesty.
His music is well loved by his audiences, as can be witnessed
by reactions to "An Irishman in Chinatown" and
"Rescue Mission", which show these songs to be
already classics to the people who packed Tramps tonight.
It's only a matter of time before the rest of the world wises up.
- JUNE SHERIDAN
CBGB's, New York, NY
8 August 1991
Luka has never looked or sounded better than he did this night,
and the fact that he was clearly up for the occasion charged the
place with a sort of electricity I've never experienced at CBGB's
before. And the place was packed to the rafters as The New Yorker
magazine predicted it would be.
As always, the crowd was multi-cultural, multi-generational, and
enormously enthusiastic. Thankfully, the chronically boisterous
"lads of the lion" left the front of the room to those
who prefer to celebrate Luka's infrequent NYC gigs in reverent
symbiosis and Hilly's sound system did its part by creating
something of a wrap-around buffer zone.
While assorted studly LA types with cameras and Loisada
princesses in downtown black and motley milled whispered
and squealed at the side of the stage, Luka presented the
faithful a fulsome banquet of selections from Riverside and
Motorbike as well as his insightful and much appreciated
covers of the Waterboys' "This Is The Sea"
and LL Cool J's "I Need Love".
The program was so flawlessly constructed and performed
that CBGB's was in constant peril of implosion by virtue of
spontaneous delirium and delight. Sing-alongs and lighted
bics made their first massive NYC appearances at this
concert as Luka relentlessly charted his way through the
program, rarely stopping for applause, tuning, toweling,
chatter or, it would seem, even oxygen.
I'd first heard "Exploring the Blue" at Continental
Divide about a year ago, when it was still something of a
work in progress. It was incredibly compelling then but it
was so much more in encore at CBGB's - polished,
mysterious, complete and true. There's really nothing
And there's really never been anything quite like this
performance. Fueled by multiple encores, the energy level
was at such a pitch that at the end of the night, when the
loop kicked in just after "Chinatown", the
audience, stunned to realize that there was to be no more,
silently made their way out onto the Bowery. Unquestionably,
that "Greatest Hits" album is more than possible -
- SUSAN WEXFORD
Newport Folk Festival
Sunday, August 11, 1991
The sun beamed down on the second day of the Ben & Jerry's
Newport Folk Festival, at Fort Adams State Park on the island of
Newport, and one of the highlights was one of Luka Bloom's best
performances to date. The venue is one of the most idyllic for his
music, with everyone sprawled out on the grass, with the waters
of Naragansett Bay behind, and the sun beaming down. The lineup
for the weekend included other folk and rock luminaries such as
The Indigo Girls, John Hiatt, Nanci Griffith, Suzanne Vega, and
Richard Thompson. Luka's being placed on the morning of the
second day gave him the advantage of having the crowd already
warmed up a bit from the previous day's proceedings.
Although short, due to the nature of the festival, his set was
vibrant, and had many of the early crowd rushing forward for
a better look. Given the difficult task of appearing in one of the
earlier slots of the day, usually relegated to newcomers, the
response which Luka received makes it apparent that he has
gained quite a few fans among those who frequent the festival.
He started off with a rousing rendition of
"You Couldn't Have Come at a Better Time",
getting the set to a raucous start, and followed it with
excellent versions of "You", "Gone To Pablo",
and "Rescue Mission". As usual, his humour was a
sharp as a razor, introducing "I Need Love" as
being written by his great friend, "LL O'Cool Jay".
This number was particularly well received, largely due to
humourous moans and groans which have become requisite
with its performance.
Turning to his newer material to close the set, he introduced
"The Acoustic Motorbike" in true Luka spirit with
an expression of his feeling that word "environment"
should be replaced with the word "home", that we
are not facing a coming emergency situation with the ecology
but are presently in the midst of one, and that in the title
song for his forthcoming album he has found the perfect
solutions to the emissions problems plaguing our atmosphere.
The song itself was perfect for the day, and he even
recommended anyone going on holiday to Ireland, not to
take the package bus tours, but to
"fly into Shannon, rent a bike, and head south."
By this time the crowd were right with him, and he was
having a great time up there reveling in the warm reception
and the gorgeous weather.
For his encores, he brought forth "Exploring the Blue",
again taking his inspiration from the day's surroundings and
broke into a fast-as-lightning rendition of "Delirious",
which had quite a few of the audiences singing along.
Having been there last year as well, it was great to see
him get such a wonderful reception this time. Talking with him
afterwards in the crowd he said that he'd "had a
blast up there!" Well, so did we! Hopefully, the next time
he plays there he will be among the ranks of the headliners.
This is a venue where Luka's work easily gets a chance to shine
- ALICE FARRELL
The Blackthorne Tavern, South Easton, MA
12 August 1991
It was easy to doubt the many comparisons to Pete Townshend that
people have made about Irish folksinger Luka Bloom. His Reprise debut
album, Riverside, after all, showcases his songwriting and does
demonstrate exceptional guitar technique. But it is still a folk album -
and how many musicians rank with the gloriously mad leader of the Who?
Well, about the time Bloom whipsawed his way through
"Over The Moon" Monday night, I was wondering if he
would be smashing his guitar, because by that time, halfway
through his two-hour show, he'd already wrung every other
imaginable effect out of it.
Bloom was appearing before a jam-packed Blackthorne crowed
hot on the heels of his Sunday set at the Newport Folk Festival.
Last year's album made many "top 10 of 1990" lists,
and draw probably the youngest concern crowd in Blackthorne
history. This is undoubtedly due to the fact that Bloom brings
rock intensity in spaces to his brand of folk.
Monday's concert featured much of Riverside, as well as a
healthy sample of his forthcoming album. Everything Bloom played
was about three times as intense, and rocked three times as
hard, as his recorded versions.
Bloom's guitar style relies on rocking surges of energy, dark
counterpoints on the lower strings, subtle finger-picking
melodies and occasionally chainsaw thrashings. This may
obscure the range of his voice, which swoops and soars,
and yelps and cries as the tune demands.
Among new songs, "Listen to the Hoofbeat",
composed after he had seen a program about Wounded
Knee, was a definite standout, both for its heartfelt
lyrics and the circular strum patterns that suggested
nothing so much as a stampede. "You" is
another new song, a desperately, throbbing love song
whose urgency was heightened by Bloom's blitzkrieg
chording, while at the same time, softened by the
foreboding of the deep notes he simultaneously
finger-picked. Incredible measures of dynamic elements
like this were the norm.
"I Need Love" showed another facet of
Bloom's music, as he sang its serio-comic lyrics in rapid
torrents of words - folk rap if you will - before resolving
with the exaggerated, pitiful title chorus.
The title cut of his next album is "Acoustic Motorbike",
a comic tale based on cycling in Ireland, with a weary chorus
of "Pedal on, pedal on." Bloom's last encore was
the wistful romantic ballad, "This Is For Life", with
his quiet vocals growing into a full-throated cry on the chorus
that made its yearning palpable.
- JAY N. MILLER
for the Patriot Ledger
The Knitting Factory, New York, NY
Saturday, August 24, 1991
"Shut up, you bollix! I've been working my balls off
for an hour and a half up here and I don't wanna hear any
of that shite!" was Luka's response to one of the
audience who shouted "About time!" after
he came on stage for the first encore, which surprisingly
turned out to be his rendition of Elvis Presley's
"I Can't Help Falling In Love With You".
Although most of the audience tended to be your typical
New York Saturday night
"let's check out this guy Luka Bloom; I've heard he's
good" crowd, the vibe was generally one that you
would normally associate with Luka's more raunchy gigs.
Still, there were plenty of Luka fans in the crowd, as
evidenced by the rousing singalong from the audience
during "Delirious" and especially
"Irishman in Chinatown", which was probably
the highlight of the evening.
Luka opened the show with the moody and hypnotic
"Bridge of Sorrow", segueing into the raw and
powerful "Listen To The Hoofbeat", both
new songs from the forthcoming album. Already at this
stage, people were screaming for
"Irishman in Chinatown", and naturally
he obliged them by doing "Mary Watches Everything",
in true Luka fashion.
The middle part of the show was standard fare, although
"This Is The Sea" sounded a little more passionate,
probably due to the fact that Mike Scott was in the audience.
The new-and-improved "Te Adoro", with the
added haunting intro, was slightly marred by some idiots
who decided this would be a good point in the show to
start having a conversation, again testifying to the fact
that this was not a typical Luka Bloom audience. But they
soon wised up and shut their mouths, much to the delight
of everybody else who were being mesmerized by Luka's
"The Acoustic Motorbike", which is destined to
become this year's motto, delighted the audience,
insuring that it's already got the makings of a classic.
All in all, a scorching performance in a scorching environment,
that didn't damper Luka's or the audience's enthusiasm.
- ROWAN MORRISON
Symphony Space, New York, NY
14 April 1992
Finishing a blazing version of
"The Acoustic Motorbike", Luka remarked,
"I've never played this far uptown, I almost feel like
I'm playing in another city." There was a profound
logic to Luka's statement, especially when he went on to
refer to the Red Lion, The Knitting Factory and Tramps,
and the other venues where his early shows have gained
legendary status. No; tonight this concert did not have the
same vibe that these early concerts had.
But then again, neither did the audience. Luka is without a
doubt the kind of performer that responds to audience
enthusiasm with increased momentum, hence the low key,
almost pensive feel to the gig. That is not to say that this
was a bad show - not at all. In fact, "Te Adoro",
"I Need Love", and "I Believe in You"
never sounded better. But the usual climax that has us
spoilt was sadly missing. The audience was very Irish
American, and it appeared that many of them had never
seen Luka live, and one did get the impression that if he
wasn't Irish in the first place, then most of the audience
wouldn't have been interested. When nearly all the intros
to the songs were played, only the cheers of the hardcore
supporters were audible, and you could almost hear the
silent half wondering "When is he going to do 'I'll
Take You Home Again Kathleen?'"
But this was the only down side to an otherwise show,
and a special hats off to the sound engineer who did a
suberb job, both with the vocals, and the guitar filling
up the entire hall with Luka's moaning, and droning.
Hopefully by the time Luka makes his way back to these
parts, the gig will take place in a venue more suited to
both, Luka's music and his audiences' tastes. (Long
As a postscript to this review, a person by the name of
Brian Rohan, who happens to write the appalling childish
music page of the Irish Voice newspaper in New York, made
the outrageous, and quite racist statement in his review
of this show, comenting that the gig didn't have the same
vibe as usual, because the venue had no bar! Mr. Rohan
seems to think that being pissed out of one's head is a
necessity for being Irish performers. Perhaps this explains
his pathetic writing.
- ROWAN MORRISON
Rotterdam, Utrecht, Groningen, Tilburg,
Sittard & Amsterdam, Holland
30 January to 6 February 1992
You may not know this, but Holland is probably the bicycle-loving
country in the world. Everyone in Holland has his own bicycle, and
if you'd look from above you'd see more bikes than cars on the
average road. Holland is crowded with bikes. Holland is also crowded
with Luka Bloom fans. I'm no scientist, so I don't know if there's any
causal connection, but there might be. Luka Bloom himself anyway
was happy to dedicate The Acoustic Motorbike to "all the
people who came here tonight on their bikes". Nearly everyone,
Luka played 6 gigs in Holland, from January 30th to February 6th,
going to the north and the south and everywhere. And I followed him,
to the north and the south and everywhere. I have no real idea how
things are going for Luka in other parts of the world, but I was very
surprised to find that all 6 gigs over here were sold out weeks before.
The one in Amsterdam sold its tickets even within one day! Well, I
was surprised, but not as surprised as the man himself. The first
gig of the tour in Rotterdam, he came on stage, gasped and said
with disbelief in his eyes, "who told you all to come here?"
It took him a long time to get used to the idea as well. A few days
later, he still couldn't stop commenting on the subject. "Until
a week ago, I had to play 5 nights to see this many people, and
now you're all here together!" But, being Luka Bloom, he couldn't
leave it at that, of course. He had to fabricate all sorts of wonderful
stories about it as well. "After Utrecht, I called my mummy
and said to her 'Mummy, there's all these people here, they've
all come to see me. I don't know what to do. It's so scary.'
And me mummy said 'Fuck off and enjoy yourself!'" Well,
I doubt whether any decent Irish mother would say so in those
terms, but it showed me he was genuinely astonished but pleased
about all this sudden success.
As for the actual gigs, what can I say? They got better and
better. He played like a devil and sang like an angel.
The set list was neatly divided in half, with selections from Riverside
as well as The Acoustic Motorbike. He also played another song,
a new one, by Waterboy Mike Scott, called "My Sunny Sailor
Boy". It sent actual shivers down my spine.
During the last two Dutch gigs in Sittard and Amsterdam (by the way,
in the Sittard venue there are seats, it's like a theatre) nobody stood up.
They all remained in their chairs until the end of the show. That
sparked off a brilliant thought in Luka's mind. "I now finally
understand why this town is called Sittard," he said.
"It's because everybody's sitting down."
Anyway, in Sittard and the next day in the Amsterdam Paradiso as well,
he surprised and spoiled his fans with one of the very first songs he'd
ever learned, called "Black Is The Colour".
What else can I say? I enjoyed myself so much those four days I saw
him play. If only he would keep on playing for hours on end.
- INGE KUIJT
Luxor, Cologne, Germany
10 February 1992
"Hello, I'm Luka Bloom." According to the applause most
of the people seemed to have known him quite well. I couldn't believe
it. When I went to his last concert in Cologne in September 1990, there
was about half this amount of people in the Luxor, a gloomy place, full
of little corners, but still one of the best venues for live music in the
Luka noticed the amazing growth of the audience himself:
"Maybe you breed so quickly" was his suggestion.
Regarding the recent German birth rate figures, however, this can
hardly be the proper explantion. Sorry Luka, but you and your music
must be held responsible for the packed house yourself: obviously
it was due to the impression left over from the 1990 concert.
After having asked for "a warm welcome" (as usual)
Luka started to hypnotize the faithful for over two hours. Those
who weren't spellbound (although it is impossible to believe there
were any...) were probably either deft, blind or both. What can I
say that has not been said many times before? Well, it was superb,
brilliant, excellent... enough already! Let's leave it at that.
"Can't Help Falling in Love" just about says it all, and
we could not stop falling in love with Luka's music as it filled the
air around us. What thrilled me almost as much as the music
itself were the little stories he told at the intro to the songs.
Sometimes funny, sometimes laced with contemplation, and
sometimes personal histories which can considerably raise the
meaning of every single lyric to that of an expressive and unique
artform. One could not help listening to the poetic verses and
being twice fascinated, and being absorbed by the atmosphere
of the music by an artist who can really connect to the listener.
To me, Luka's art is not simply his music, but also his ability
to seduce an audience by his own personal conviction and the
truths Luka songs contain for himself. Phenomental! Whatever
and "acoustic motorbike" might be (I certainly know
that it's Muddy!) I am convinced that it must be something
very important - something that the world cannot do without.
To me Luka's greatest song is "Mary Watches
Everything". No one deserves such a dedication more
than the women of Ireland who are denied reproductive
freedoms from the Vatican dominated south or the political
problems in the north.
For singing along loudly during "My Sunny Sailor Boy",
we were rewarded with several encores. Somebody in the
audience called "Couldn't Have Come at a Better Time",
to which Luka replied, "you could not have come at a
better time, if that was the song you wanted to hear."
Anyway Luka, you could never come at a wrong time - the
concert was absolutely brilliant. T(h)anks!
- ANKE DYNEWSKI
5th July 1992
What can I say? Luka is one of the most brilliant live performers
that I've ever seen. He played in front of 70,000 people in
Belgium, and didn't have a problem with that. He started of
with "My Sunny Sailor Boy", probably one of the best
songs ever written, but you'd expect nothing less from Mike Scott.
He then played one of the most beautiful versions of
"Gone To Pablo", and ended the song with a thrilling
I was on stage during his performance, and it
really shivers down my spine when I saw 140,000 hands
in the air. He went on with "Rescue Mission",
"You Couldn't Have Come", "I Need Love",
When he got off the stage, I saw a delighted man.
He afterwards told me that the day before, he made a bad
choice of songs and he was out for revenge. He certainly
- MARIO VAN ROMPAEY
Luka Bloom/The Frames/Loyko @ The National Stadium, Dublin
2nd October 1992
Rarely have I had such a positive musical experience and so little
space to expound upon its glories-but here goes.
Loyko were the higher wild card of sorts. This traditional Russian trio
were festive most of the time, soberingly beautiful others and won
enough enthusiasm from the punctual element of the crowd to warrant
an encore. And a riveting one it was too.
Then came The Frames. With a splendidly warm and attractive stage
presence, they delivered song after song of energetic rock, chock full
of both power and charm. If The Stadium security guards hadn't been
such kill-joys, the crowd would have been on their feet for
"The Dancer", "Last Song For You" and
everything in between. A band to be cherished.
Then the main attraction. Luka sings about real issues, about real
heroes, and love and life with capital L's. He takes an instrument
that millions of people can play, gets down on his knees and makes
it sound as if it were created for him alone. The man can wear
suspenders and get away with it. Hell, when Luka rolled out the
line, "girl, if you're out there, make yourself seen" in
"I Need Love", and then scanned the audience intently,
it was all I could do to stop myself from getting up and
shouting, "Here I am, Luka, way over here in Block N."
It was that kind of performance.
- TARA McCARTHY
Hot Press, issue #18, vol. 16
Enmore Theatre, Sydney
20 November 1992
Luka Bloom does not like to be reminded that he is Christy Moore's brother.
Near the beginning of this superb concert, some buffoon in the audience
called out, "Where's Christy?" to which, with a sense of
sharp-edged intolerance of fools which his brother would have been
proud of, Bloom replied, "You can go back into your cage now.
It's been cleaned."
The comparisons don't end there. Like Moore, Bloom plays his acoustic
guitar with such intensity that you wait for the whole instrument to
collapse under the raw speed and power. Like Moore, he uses light and
shade, and his distance from the microphone, to marvelous effect.
Like Moore, he starts slowly but, after about half a dozen songs,
reaches a level of emotional intensity which is truly awesome. And
like Moore, he wears his politics on his sleeve - well, actually, on
his jeans, where he had a large image of Bob Marley just below his
But in spite of these comparisons, Luka Bloom is his own man and
his talent does not deserve to be compared, either favourably or
unfavourably, with his big brother's. Rather, he should be recognized
as a performer of great power and originality who demonstrates,
once again, that there is still a lot of unexplained potential in the
simple configuration of a singer with an acoustic guitar.
His material ranges effortlessly from the lyric beauty of Mike Scott's
"My Sunny Sailor Boy" through the echoing a cappella
of "The Fertile Rock" to sharp and jagged compositions
like "Mary Watches Everything" and "This Is The
Sea". Add to this a high level of on-stage warmth and repartee
and a sense of innocence and charm which is genuinely disarming.
With finely honed Irish anti-British sentiment he dedicated
"I Need Love" to Princess Diana, and after delivering
a sharp-edged, acoustic version of Prince's "When Doves
Cry", he declared, "you can't beat the old ballads".
Still, Bloom's real strength as a live performer is that he lives
every nuance of every song. His whole body rises and falls with
the rhythm, the physicality of his guitar playing seems to drive
him higher and higher, and his live versions of songs like
"Exploring the Blue" and the traditional "Black
is the Colour of My True Love's Hair" are so intensely
poetic, passionate and powerful that you'd have to be brain-dead
not to respond.
Throughout the concert, Bloom concluded each song with a wide
and garrulous grin of happiness and an overly loud shout of
"T'anks!" If the audience had been sharp enough
we should have all stood up and loudly declared, "And
t'anks to you, Luka", for this was one of those performances
which will be remembered and treasured for years. Singer/songwriters
don't come much better than this.
- BRUCE ELDER
Sydney Morning Herald
Enmore Theatre, Sydney
20 November 1992
There's an argument going on down the front, a ripple in the air
of bourgeois civility. Pausing in one of his rambling, cheerfully
self-deprecating monologues, the singer first appears amused
by the dispute, then vaguely embarrassed by it.
"Look", he says at last, "If it'll help, it's all my
fault. Okay?" He tries valiently to continue, but an Irish
voice lets out a curse, and the fight is renewed. To add insult
to injury, at that very moment someone in the balcony cries,
"So where's Christy?" and the singer looks up, tired
and suddenly impatient.
"Get back in your cage, man", he says quietly.
"I hear it's been cleaned."
Without another word he begins to hammer out a bludgeoning
rhythm, his acoustic guitar emitting a shuddering bass drone amid
angular jolts of treble. For an instant, even Michael Giro would
It's an odd moment, considering the engaging personality Bloom
otherwise presents - the likable, rather naff way he strums a last
chord and steps back from the mike; the way he greets every
ovation with a good-natured shout of "T'anks!" and
the flash of a wide, unabashed grin. A very uncharacteristic
moment, and one which serves to signify two things.
One: that he exists well outside the shadow of his more famous
sibling, particularly when songs like "I Believe in You"
and "Mary Watches Everything" compare favourably
to anything the elder Moore has recorded of late. Two: that
beneath his ready charm lies a tightly coiled resolve, one that
renders his quietly daring appropriation of LL Cool J's "I Need
Love" capable of much more than mere novelity value.
Bloom is, like his Joycean namesake, nothing if not a bundle of
contradictions. It's fortunate then, that the intensity and
exuberance of his performance, the sheer joy and excitement,
that his songs (did I mention the folk-trash cover of "When
Doves Cry"?) inspire so effortlessly and so well.
- SHANE DANIELSEN
Enmore Theatre, Sydney
20 November 1992
The strong vocals of a woman called Guan, backed by two
competent guitarists, quickly put the crowd in the mood for a good
night's entertainment and with the arrival of Luka Bloom on stage,
looking very boyish and excited, that good night's entertainment
The concert got off to a great start with a brand new song,
followed by a beautiful performance of "Dreams in America".
Luka looked out at the full theatre and confessed that he was so
pleased to finally be in Australia, he was having trouble settling
down - an admission that only won him favour from the audience.
It was great to see so many people had come out to Luka's first
Australian concert, and from their reaction it was obvious that they
were glad they did. Having seen Luka perform in Dublin at the
beginning of the year, I knew what to expect and enjoyed
listening to the reaction of the crowd as they made their own
discovery of what a great performer Luka is. You could feel the
excitement ripple through the air and take hold of the crowd -
it was brilliant.
Luka literally ripped through tracks like "Delirious",
"You", "Mary Watches Everything", and
"You Couldn't Have Come at a Better Time", and
stunned the audience with the beauty of "I Believe in
You", "Exploring The Blue",
"This Is Your Country", and two new, very
romantic songs. I think the audience thought he was joking
when he said he was going to play Prince's
"When Doves Cry", but they soon realised he
wasn't as he launced into it with great passion and made it
sound like a brand new song. Another favorite with the
crowd was "I Need Love", especially as he
dedicated it to Princess Diana and suggested that she
would be better off with him than with Prince Charles!
Luka played several new songs during the night, including
a gorgeous song called "Black is the Colour",
and a song about the Burren in Ireland, which is about to
be turned into another touristic trap. The song is called
"The Fertile Rock", and the matter is obviously
one of great importance to Luka as he played it with such
strength and passion.
His guitar playing was fiery and strong, and at times I could
hardly believe that there was only one man up on stage -
There was just so much noise coming from him - it was
amazing! As much as I liked hearing him play his wonderful
music, the thing I enjoyed the most was watching his
own excitement and enjoyment of the night. You didn't
need to hear him say how happy he was to be playing
in Australia, and that so many people on the other side
of world from his home had come to see him play, and
even more surprised that they liked him. His emotions
were there for all to see, not hidden under a cool exterior
like so many other musicians. I really enjoyed watching
his reactions and sharing his enjoyment of the night.
Everyone was still hyped up at the end of the night, so
Luka's choice of "Be Well" as the last song was
perferct. It had a soothing effect on the audience, and was
a wonderful end to the night.
After the concert I was lucky enough to meet him briefly,
and he assured me that he would tour New Zealand when
his next album is released - probably in about a year's
time - so I'm already looking forward to that. He looked
tired but still happy and hyped up as he greeted a few
more people. It was great to be there for his first
Australian performance. I'm sure the rest of the tour
will be just as successful.
- TRICIA FITZGERALD
Napier, New Zealand
Luka Bloom & Friends @ Mother Redcaps, Dublin
The fertile rock. It's raised hackles and temperatures from Corolin to Cootehill.
Going by the strength of feeling on both sides, the assumption was that Bloom's
gig would be a sell-out, with tiptoe room only for the vertically challenged of us
in this world.
The bush telegraph must've been on short time, though, because the punters
ambled in, more a trickle than a torrent, and it was near closing time before the
floor was covered.
Still, the losers were the absentees, with Luka emceeing an effervescent cocktail
of high octane sounds. Revelation of the night had to be Jasmine Russel, a blonde
Billie Holliday, pouring forth wonderfully sultry rumours and sighs with nothing
more than the bared larynx for accompaniment. Joined by Rosa Corcoran for
two sean nos pieces, they simply proved the point that it doesn't take 32-track
studios to produce the finest sould food outside of Tante Zoe's.
A hard act to follow but a role cherished by Paul Tiernan. A hybrid of Hal
Hartley and Jim Henson's Animal, he coerced most of us to at least take a
peep at his quirky world view.
From there we rollercoasted to the dizzy heights of "A Wise Maid Gone Senile",
with Deiseal (Cormac Breathneach and friends) and chanced all manner of
other fairground amusements with Eilish Moore (aka Molly Bloom) and
baby brother, Luka.
A night for the fertile rock. And fertile imaginations. Pollination for the ears!
- SIOBHAN LONG
taken from HotPress
The Bottom Line, New York, NY
February 15, 1993
Luka Bloom's ever-growing popularity and near cult status was truly
evident from the cheering crowds and standing ovations - comprised
of newcomers and die-hard followers alike - that had packed both
the early and late shows at the Bottom Line.
Armed with only his guitar, Bloom unleashed his big sound through
intense playing and powerful vocals. The audience were treated to
old favorites like "Gone To Pablo", "The Man Is Alive",
and even older still, "Cold Comfort" and "Wave Up To
The Shore", as well as songs from the current record - "Mary
Watches Everything", "I Believe In You", "This
Is Your Country", "Be Well", to brand new compositions
such as "Holding Back The River" and "The Fertile Rock",
covers by Prince ("When Doves Cry", which unfortunately, the
audience didn't quite know how to perceive upon recognizing the tune),
a sing-along to a new Mike Scott song, "My Sunny Sailor Boy",
and a lovely, haunting version of a very old Kinks' hit (circa 1965)
"See My Friends", which, for those who were not familiar
with the Kinks, could have easily mistaken this for a new song off
the forthcoming album, as it had all the earmarks of a Luka Bloom
Between the quieter, nostalgic moments of the early set, the rowdier
mood of the second show, and the political commentaries, anecdotes
and jokes as told by Mr. Bloom - (i.e. Luka: "What do you call
an Irish psychiatrist?" Audience: "What?"
Luka: "Bartender!") during both shows, this night clearly
made up for the nearly year-long absence his New York-area fans
have had to suffer through! Hopefully, as this was such a short
jaunt to America (Luka was mainly here for the Songwriters series
that followed at the end of the week, also taking place at the
Bottom Line), Luka will return to these parts before the natives
start getting restless again!
- JUNE SHERIDAN
The Bottom Line / First Show, New York, NY
February 15, 1993
The atmosphere inside the Bottom Line was, to say the least, electric.
It has been almost a full year since Luka played in New York City, and
the faithful were in a mood reminiscent of a lion's cage just before
feeding time - here was a hungry crowd who had been denied this
night for too long a time. This was indeed a stark contrast to the
last show Luka played in these parts, when he sang and played his
heart out to a rather apathetic Symphony Space audience.
No; tonight was going to be different, and nobody was to be left
with a half-empty stomach by show's end.
After the now famous introduction tape (that nobody knows the title
of!), the place erupted as Luka strolled on stage and strapped on
his guitar. The familiar "Hello, my name is Luka Bloom..."
and then, to the surprise of the packed venue, Luka moved the
guitar behind his back and started to sing the first verse of
"Wave Up to the Shore".
What then followed was a string a Luka's early favorites - "Cold
Comfort", which despite never having been released, did not
prevent the majority of the audience from singing along. Forget
Newbridge, or even Dublin, for that matter. We were, without a doubt,
in Luka's real home town.
After a very nostalgic trip down Memory Lane, the real show kicked
off and we were treated to a new and far more confident Luka Bloom
that had come back with a vengeance. Not only were the usual
favorites - "Bridge of Sorrow", "Te Adoro",
and the timeless "This Is Your Country" played to the
ecstatic crowd, but some new songs such as "The Fertile
Rock" and "Holding Back The River", which if are
any indication of the content of the next album, should be Luka's
But the real surprise of the night came when he played a new song
written by Mike Scott (no, not "This Is The Sea") called
"My Sunny Sailor Boy", which Luka claimed to have talked
Mike Scott into giving him one night. "Fuck off. I've been to
America; I know how these things work", was Luka's alleged
response when Mr. Scott asked for his song back. Good thing too -
the song is destined to be a Luka classic even if he didn't write
By the time he finished up the night with the haunting and melancholy
"Be Well", the audience had been treated to probably
the gig of the year in what has become an increasingly sterile
New York music scene. He had taken a packed Bottom Line on a
roller coaster ride through some of the best songs written by
just about anyone in the last five years. This performance was
not only special in that it was an excellent one, but it also
served as a watershed of sorts. Here was an Irishman who had
brought his talent back to a city that had given him the attention
he had so richly deserved. On this night, Luka Bloom played one
of those shows that made him the talk of this city only five
short years ago in clubs like The Red Lion and Tramps, albeit
on a larger scale.
Welcome home indeed, Luka.
- STEPHEN ECCLES
New York, NY