Luka Bloom - The Connection
The Luka Bloom Connection
Fan Magazine from 1990 to 1993
Riverside Poster 1990 Acoustic Motorbike Poster 1992 Riverside Poster 1990
Live Reviews taken from Issues 2, 3, 4, 6, 7 and 8
18 Feb 1991 Maxwell's, Hoboken, NJ, USA
SHERO
19 Feb 1991 Tramps, New York, NY, USA
JUNE SHERIDAN
8 Aug 1991 CBGB's, New York City, NY, USA
SUSAN WEXFORD
11 Aug 1991 Newport Folk Festival, Newport, RI, USA
ALICE FARRELL
12 Aug 1991 The Blackthorne Tavern, South Easton, MA, USA
JAY N. MILLER
24 Aug 1991 The Knitting Factory, New York City, NY, USA
ROWAN MORRISON
30 Jan 1992
to 6 Feb 1992
Rotterdam, Utrecht, Groningen,Tilburg, Sittard & Amsterdam, Holland
INGE KUIJT, Delft, Holland
10 Feb 1992 Luxor, Cologne, Germany
ANKE DYNEWSKI, Germany
14 Apr 1992 Symphony Space, New York, NY, USA
ROWAN MORRISON, USA
5 Jul 1992 Torhout/Werchter Festival, Belgium
MARIO VAN ROMPAEY, Langdorp, Belgium
2 Oct 1992 Luka Bloom/The Frames/Loyko @ The National Stadium, Dublin, Ireland
TARA McCARTHY, Hot Press
20 Nov 1992 Enmore Theatre, Sydney, Australia
BRUCE ELDER, Sydney Morning Herald
20 Nov 1992 Enmore Theatre, Sydney, Australia
SHANE DANIELSEN, Melody Maker
20 Nov 1992 Enmore Theatre, Sydney, Australia
TRICIA FITZGERALD, Napier, New Zealand
Feb 1993 Luka Bloom & Friends @ Mother Redcap's, Dublin, Ireland
SIOBHAN LONG, Hot Press
15 Feb 1993 The Bottom Line, New York, NY, USA
JUNE SHERIDAN, USA
15 Feb 1993 The Bottom Line / First Show, New York, NY, USA
STEPHEN ECCLES, New York, NY

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.

- SHERO


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 like it.

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 - it's inevitable!

- 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 fretwork.

"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 live Tramps!)

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, that is.

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
Delft, Holland


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 city.

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


Torhout/Werchter Festival
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 "Te Adoro".

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", and "You".

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 came through!

- MARIO VAN ROMPAEY
Langdorp, Belgium


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.
Magnificent.

- 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 right knee.

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 be proud.

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. Delirious, indeed.

- SHANE DANIELSEN
Melody Maker


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 was guaranteed.

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
February 1993


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 offering.

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 best yet.

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 it himself.

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

top


LUKA BLOOM LIVE  ::  photos >>   ::  setlists >>   ::  reviews >>   ::  fan reviews >>
© Rena Bergholz - Luka Bloom Page