Leinster Leader - Thursday, 10 April 2003
Luka Bloom's Amsterdam and live at the Riverbank
By Theresa Murray
I'm on the phone to Barry Moore, alias Luka Bloom, arranging to interview
him about his new (and first live) album 'Amsterdam' and his forthcoming
gigs on home ground at the Riverbank. "Sorry, Barry, I won't be able to ask
you much about the album because I never got a copy of it." "Are you living
in Naas, Tess? Would it help if I dropped one up to you myself, no bother at all."
This never, ever, EVER happens. Famous people demand that you dance
attendance on them, and this was an unconventional role reversal. A
refreshing, down to earth, touching, distinctive, generous and humbling
experience. A bit like his music really.
Luka Bloom is one of Ireland's worst kept secrets. His is a household name
here; among the unconverted he is simply Christy Moore's little brother. On
parts of the continent, America and Australia he is absolutely massive. His
website guestbook boasts devoted fans from all over the globe. His is the
sort of music you either adore with a passion, or ignore with an uneasy
indifference. And this album Amsterdam reveals him at his best. Luka Bloom
live. And so very alive.
It starts with the slow, measured Exploring The Blue and on to Sunny Sailor
Boy which sends 'ooh ahh ohh ahh ohh' round in your head for weeks after one
of his shows. On to the poignant but dignified Gone To Pablo which commands
you to sway along with the crowd, and the staccato Bob Marley number Natural
Mystic, then You which seems to tremble with emotion and the caressing Don't
Be So Hard On Yourself, and on to the upbeat Bob Dylan cover Make You Feel
My Love. Then to Diamond Mountain's Celtic melancholy, and the feel-good
Perfect Groove and passionate Monsoon. The album seems to move up through
the gears and by the time he hits Fertile Rock and the climatic Delirious
you're sky high with him. Then he sweeps you back to earth with the heavenly
"Gabriel is a very special song for me, inspired by my son Robbie. He said
something to me one day which reminded me that when I was a kid in the
primary school in Newbridge, I had a great sense of having a guardian angel;
I think all kids taught by the brothers or nuns have that," explained Luka Bloom.
I had intended to ask him why he didn't record the album in front of a home
audience. One play-through makes that question obsolete. Good-natured roars
of 'go on Bar, you good thing' from the crowd might be funny at the time,
but would break the magic spell of this album. And while the Irish can sing,
they like to be heard, loud and clear above everyone else! The 1500-strong
crowd in Amsterdam sang sweetly in tune and on cue like a well-rehearsed choir.
"Right through the last 12 or 13 years people said 'we really like your
records but we prefer a live gig and we'd love a live album.' But I'd never
really got it; I always felt there was something unsatisfying about a live
album. I'd never been in the audience so I didn't know what they were on
about," explained Luka Bloom.
"We recorded a whole rake of shows around Europe and when I got home and
listened to this show in Amsterdam I realised that this was really something
special and that it was so special I could justify it being an album in itself."
Live albums are usually recorded over 10 concerts; snippets of a series of
nights. This was over just one night and that makes it unique. Amsterdam
captures the feeling of what it's like to be at a Luka Bloom concert.
"It was one of those rare nights; everything was right. I was just blessed
that the tapes were running that night. The people I work with, my sound
engineer Paul Scully and Brian Masterson, engineer of Windmill Lane, did a
fantastic job editing a two hour show to 13 songs and 54 mins in a way that
has continuity and flow."
He admits it was excruciatingly difficult to pick the songs. "The album has
a sense of the journey of a gig; you start at one level and take it to
another level. Choosing the songs was the hardest part of it."
And why did he call the album Amsterdam? "I wanted to pay tribute to the
people of a city that's been very good to me. Amsterdam has been very good
to me; it's my favourite city. To be honest with you I feel more relaxed and
more comfortable with myself in Amsterdam than I do in Dublin. I lived in
Dublin for 27 years after I left Newbridge. I'll always like it, and I have
lots of great friends there and love going there, but as a place to live it'
s too fast for me. I'm not a really a 'big city' kind of person. Dublin has
become a very fast big city with a fair bit of aggression. In Amsterdam you
still have the feeling of a relaxed town."
Many of his songs are love songs, dripping romance and unrequited love.
"Yea, I suppose I'm a bit of an old romantic. People are moved by different
things, inspired by different things. Sometimes you get a more spiritual
rather than 'romantic relationship' love song. Love doesn't necessarily
involve a romantic relationship."
And on to the song everyone is talking about, which isn't on the album and
hasn't been released commercially. "'I Am Not At War With Anyone' is a very
simple statement, written in about 20 minutes. I am very upset with the use
of Shannon airport for this war. I'm not great at writing the real angry
political songs. This is a very quiet song. People in America have become
aware of it and are playing it on radio stations all over America which is
kind of fantastic. I never intended to release it as a single. The war is
happening now. I would feel weird about releasing it as a commercial single;
it would feel like an exploitation of a really tragic, tragic situation.
People can hear it for free on Lukabloom.com and download it for free. I may
stick it on an album in the future and I'll sing it everywhere I go, and I'
ll surely sing it at the Riverbank this week."
Barry Moore was destined to become a performer from the minute he was born.
The youngest child in the well-known Newbridge family, the Moore house was
always filled with music and song. "I remember very vividly the very first
moment I ever held a guitar. Christy was just back from one of his forays
into England. It would have been about 1965 and I was about 9 years old. He
had this nylon string guitar and I held it and felt a shot of electricity
going through me."
Things really started to piece together in 1987 when he changed his name to
Luka Bloom. "I had been struggling for years before that. My mother accused
me of being very resilient. One of my proudest moments was when she came to
a sold out show at the Olympia about a year before she died and every time I
've played there since I can see a shadow of her leaning over one of the
boxes. She had been through so much blood sweat and tears with me, wondering
whether I'd get by and make a living and survive. I think that night she had
a feeling I would be alright."
Now he will take a short break before continuing the gruelling tour to
promote the album. Probably what he will look forward to most this summer
will be Lisdoonvarna in June. "Myself and Christy are the only people on the
bill who did the original Lisdoonvarna. I can't wait. But for now I intend
to enjoy watching the flowers coming up in Blacktrench, watching the spring
kicking in. And I'll be keeping an eye on my son doing his leaving cert."
The wheel has come full circle. The prodigal young Barry Moore, who was
expelled from school and admits he gave his mother plenty to worry about,
has returned home, to 'suburban Clongorey,' a settled and mature Luka Bloom,
and reckons he's here to stay, for a while at least!
'Amsterdam' is now available in all good music stores.
Luka Bloom plays The Riverbank Arts Centre, Newbridge, on 10 and 11 April.
To book phone 448333. Check out his other tour dates on www.lukabloom.com
Carlow Nationalist - Thursday, April 10, 2003
When Luka Bloom takes to the stage at the Riverbank in Newbridge this week
he will return to his home town after a period of great change in his life and career.
A new home, an anti-war song which is becoming a cult hit around the world, and
a new live album which brings together years of material recorded during one
night's performance in Carre Theatre, Amsterdam last year.
"A live album is something I've always wanted to do, many times over the years
it has been suggested that I do this, now itís done I know I should have released
a live album a long time ago, it's a great way of reflecting closely on my work",
says Luka of his new project.
The new home is the place he has bought in Blacktrench, "suburban Clongorey"
he says jokingly, just outside Naas, "a great place where the blue sky can be seen for
miles on a beautiful, clear night." The anti-war song is called "I am not at war with
anyone", and despite not been released commercially the song has been played
on over 400 radio stations across America and down-loaded from his own website
many thousands of times. "I am delighted with the response for that, it was never
a song for commercial release, I'm just glad to have had my say about the war."
With a childhood like Luka's it's not surprising he became a musician. He was born
Barry Moore in Moorefield Terrace in Newbridge, a place where there was always
a piano in the living room. Anyone who dropped by was "required to give the room
a song, and then the children would sing and a great session would develop in the
place most nights". His father Andy, who died when Luka was a year old, was
reputedly a great singer, and his mother Nancy "would sing anything from light
opera to ballads - she had a great voice".
The family had a grocery shop on the main street, and were heavily involved in
the life of the town, his mother served as a Fine Gael councillor, and on countless
community groups, she also encouraged her sons musical ambitions, paying for
piano and singing lessons, "a sainted lady, we were blessed to have her".
Luka, along with his brothers Christy and Andy, learned to play the piano from a
young age, but it was a guitar given to him by his brother Christy when he was 12
that really kicked off his musical career. By age 13 he was playing in folk clubs
in England as the opening act for Christy, and at 14 he wrote his first song.
While in Newbridge College, Luka formed his first band, Aes Triplex, with his
brother Andy and best friend Pat Kilbride. "It was great craic really, and nothing
more, not a highlight of my life, although Pat who was in the band with me, lives
in Madrid now, plays music there and is a great man".
He was still in school in the early days of Planxty, his brotherís band, and he
went on tour with them as an opening act. His early musical hero was Planxty member
and Newbridge native Donal Lunny, a "fabulous singer and a great man".
He returned to school between the tours and then went on to the University of Limerick,
but dropped out after two years, much to the chagrin of his mother. "She was after
seeing one son go into music, and I suppose she wanted one 'normal' one, but
she got used to the idea and was very encouraging at the end of it all".
Luka got his first taste of political protest in 1979, when he was one of a number of
artists who played at the protests against plans for a nuclear power plant at
Carnsore point in Waterford, when these plans were dropped Luka describes
it as "one of the best times of my life so far".
After this Luka spent some time drifting around Europe. "There always was a
bit of the rambler in me all right". Germany, France, and Italy were visited and
their music sampled before he settled in Groningen in Holland, it was here
that the majority of his first solo album, the suitably titled In Groningen was written.
The Newbridge that reared Barry Moore was a vastly different place to the one
that Luka Bloom visits today. "I love the new life, the new blood in the town, the
new cultures, the diversity, the changes have been unbelievable, Iíd hardly
recognise the place now, the Riverbank, the Red House and the Old Mill
make it a great town for live music".
"I also love what they have done with the strand, It is a place I am very fond
of, I had my first fag there, my first beer, and my first kiss, it had been let go
a bit, so I'm delighted with the way it has been done up now".
In 1982 he released his second album, No Heroes, spent some time playing
with Manus Lunny, and then headed off into a new musical experience, forming
a punky rock band called "Red Square", which lasted for three years.
"Another experience to chalk up, it was like a second adolescence, spending
loads of time talking in the studio, planning what we were going to do, but not
playing much, it was great craic though".
Luka took off for America in 1987 and played in myriad small clubs around
New York and Washington, performing with artists such as Lou Reed and
Roseanne Cash, soaking up the different musical influences which he
poured in to his 1988 album, "Riverside". He also recorded a cover of a
rap song which was released in America when he was there, "It was a
chance to do something different, keep me fresh, hungry and interestingĒ.
This song appeared on the 1990 album "Acoustic Motorbike".
He spent the next few years touring Australia, America and Europe, playing
at folk festivals and small clubs. His political principals came to the fore again
at this time when got involved with the campaign to save a part of the Burren
"my favourite place in the world", from developers in 1994. Much of
his next album Keeper of the Flame (1995) was written about this time.
In 2001 Luka made the decision to become an independent performer, with
his own record label, "The pop idols and such of the world have taken up a
lot of the record producers time, but for all of that, there is another world out
there, an active live music scene, with top class performers such as Glen
Hansard and Mundy not having record deals, but playing to big crowds all
over the country, so it's actually a great time to be a singer songwriter in
Ireland at the moment".
And so it's back to where it all began. The Riverbank in Newbridge on April
10 and 11, his home town and home crowd, playing the songs he has written
and performed over the decades. Any ambitions left Luka? "Well, peace
on Earth would be nice. Oh, and a big hit record for myself".
"I am just an old troubadour really, playing me music, singing me songs,
having a bit of craic while doing it, itís a great life really and I love every
minute of it, hope to continue doing it forever."
Luka Bloom plays at the Riverbank Arts Centre, Newbridge, tomorrow (Thursday) and Friday.
Sligo Weekender - Tuesday, April 15, 2003
Luka's Irish adventure starts with new album
When you interview someone and their first words to you are: "I've been
hanging on the bloody phone for your call for the past hour", the omens are
However, Luka Bloom's mischievous sense of humour had already caught me out.
Winding people up is, it seems, a speciality of Mr Moore....
The reason for talking to one of Ireland's most famous musical exports was two-fold.
Firstly Mr Bloom was on the look-out for a venue in Sligo in which to play later this month
or in early May. Secondly, and more importantly, was to discuss the release of his first
ever live album, 'Amsterdam'. Bloom's third album in two years (the others
being 'Between the Mountain and the Moon' and 'Keeper of the Flame') was also the
"Releasing a live album is a new experience for me. I had no intention of
making a live album. I recorded loads of shows last year, but only with a view of
using some as b-sides, but when I heard this particular show there was something
very special for me." The show in question was held in
February 2002 in the beautiful Carre Theatre in Amsterdam.
Luka played to a large audience of devoted fans, who had travelled from as
far as the West Coast of Clare, Cork, Kildare, Boulder Colorado and Germany
to see him perform.
"Every now and then you're fortunate to have a night where, as soon as you
walk into the room, there is magic. This was one of those nights," said a
still enthusiastic Bloom.
It is possibly that enthusiasm and boundless energy which has endeared Bloom
to so many. Well, that and his music, which shares some very Irish and also
some very universal influences and sounds. Strangely, his appeal on the continent
and across the Atlantic far outweighs his popularity at home. Having first hit the road
at the age of 14, Bloom was keen to leave Ireland behind for pastures new
as a young twentysomething.
However, now as a more seasoned performer he is keen to return to Ireland
and make as big an effort here as he has elsewhere.
"The one big difference between home and abroad is when I do a gig in
Holland or Belgium or Germany, larger numbers of people show up.
For a long time I have concentrated on playing in Europe and in America. I'd come
back to Ireland for a week, maybe play one gig and then I'd be off again for two months.
I decided to begin my working life in Ireland with this album. Last weekend I did a gig in
Portlaoise and it was the first ever time I
did a gig in Portlaoise. I did a gig in Clonmel the night after it. It was the first ever
time I did a gig in Clonmel too."
He continues. "Years ago when I started out there just wasn't the choice of
venues. There are fantastic venues around Ireland now."
While Luka has played for thousands of people at a time, his Irish tour will
be much smaller. Intimate venues are very much what this songwriter is after
and as such he will be following in the footsteps of the younger generation.
Performers like Damien Rice, Mundy, Paddy Casey, Gabrielle Y Rodrigo, Susan Enan,
Gemma Hayes and Mark Geary have made the small venues of Ireland their homes.
Luka wants to do likewise, at least for this nationwide tour. Later in the year he'll be returning
to the bigger arena of the Irish festival stage.
Live performances will be the sole concern of Luka Bloom for the next twelve months.
Despite the fact that he is almost constantly writing new material (he was strumming his
guitar to a new tune just before I called) he will not be returning to the studio any time soon.
"I want to keep making great records and discover great music. I can't really see
myself hanging up the guitar."
Leeuwarder Courant - 19 April 2003
Luka Bloom records a live album in Carre
The Irish singer and guitarist Luka Bloom, on his own, has created a live
album 'Amsterdam'. A special report of a special evening. Bloom sees
himself as a folk musician, but one who does not have too much respect for
By Jacob Haagsma
Amsterdam - By the end of the seventies Luka Bloom, or rather Barry Moore,
his real name, lived in Groningen for a while. "You know what they say about
the sixties. That if you can remember them you haven't really lived them? My
time in Groningen was a bit like that. I enjoyed making music with other
Irishmen, great fun."
A few years ago he played in De Schaaf in Leeuwarden, and a then young,
unknown duo opened for him. 'Twarres!' "Please say hello to them for me.
They were very good and very nice." Not long after Twarres made number one.
Bloom recognizes the irony of it, he never made it into the charts himself.
These days he is his own boss and has his own label, that position is
further away than ever before. "That is not my world, and that's it. These
days artists like me no longer have to worry about the charts, not even
about record companies. I release my records myself, and as long as I sell
enough to make a decent living, and to give good performances for nice
people I'm a happy man."
"The music industry might be destroyed because of the internet, but my fans
are not the kind who sit in their rooms all the time downloading MP3-files.
I don't feel sorry for the record companies, because they treated their artists
like shit for years."
Bloom works much more small scale now, and that only improves his contact
with his audience. This is very much in the folk tradition, where the
musician is one with his audience and shares his experiences with them.
"When I was making music in Groningen with these drunk Irishmen, it was pure
folk. A small, organic world, which had nothing to do with the music
industry that is folk. That is the feeling I have now. But I don't feel
connected to the traditional folk scene, who kneels at the altar of old
songs and will not change anything."
These days Bloom has a record to sell: 'Amsterdam', recorded live in the
Carré Theatre in Amsterdam. It was not his intention to release a live
album, but sometimes these things work out that way. "It seemed like a
normal day, but when I had been on stage for ten minutes I knew this would
be a special performance. By coincidence I wanted to record the show for
myself, and when I heard the recording later on I could listen to myself for
the first time with the feelings and understanding of someone in the
audience. That is very special, and that made me realise that this had to be
my next record."
Translated by Jolande Hibels
DeMorgen, Brussels - Tuesday April 30, 2003
The Kitchen Secrets of Luka Bloom
The Irish songwriter Luka Bloom is a welcome guest at any Belgian stage. His enchanting concerts are the main reason, but until
now he always had refused propositions to record the magic of such a performance on a cd. "Listening to a live record is like staring
through a keyhole to a party you weren't invited to," he said. Nevertheless Bloom gave in after thirteen years of constant requests.
Amsterdam, recorded live at Carré, gives a good idea of what you may expect to experience in Brussels tonight.
Luka Bloom has lost all orientation. He just talked to Yasmine (a Flemish tv-presenter and singer) for an item in The Red Carpet
(a celebrity spotting tv-show), and just a few minutes after our Irish Prince Charming thought he had recognised in her the
woman of his life, he wakes up to the hard reality: Yasmine is not only in it for the girls, but also has an gorgeous girlfriend.
"That's the first time I've let my heart be broken by a lesbian woman", he suffers, but a few seconds later his burst
of laughter pierces through the very marrow, and will be remembered permanently by all there present.
"Sometimes you just have to listen to what everyone tells you", is his explanation for the awkward turnaround he made with
Amsterdam. "In the last few years I've often met fans who loved my records, but added again and again that they liked my
performances better. I for myself have always found the idea of making a live cd dull and boring. Meanwhile I've found out that my
own objections weren't good enough to stick to. Moreover we did tape several shows in the past, just because every now and then
we needed some extra tracks for b-sides or compilations. That way this record rather made itself. It wasn't made with a plan in mind.
I just happened to listen to the taped show at Carré, and thought it was the first recording that perfectly summed up the
atmosphere at a Luka Bloom concert. And there was a very practical argument as well: Dutchmen are noisy people by nature,
but that time they were silent all through the quiet songs. We didn't need to cut out even a single cough."
Luka Bloom has lived in Amsterdam for a while, and confesses he still has a special bond with his former home town. "I don't smoke
myself, but when you walk around in Amsterdam, you feel that everyone is smoking 'joints'. Everyone is nice and relaxed. You can
take a stroll or go for a bike ride without risking any trouble. That's completely different in a busy, hasty city like New York, where
I lived as well."
Amsterdam is not a representative compilation of his twelve years as a recording artist, according to Luka Bloom. "Too many
important songs are missing for that. Tracks like 'The Man is Alive' and 'I Need Love' really are milestones in my career, so when I
ever ought to make a 'greatest hits', those ones should be in it. This record is more like a snapshot, instead of a panoramic
overview. One moment in time. And in a wider perspective it also shows what emotional road I've travelled. In fact, this cd gives me
the feeling of meeting up with old friends I've lost out of sight for a long while."
The Irish singer, who is really called Barry Moore and who is the younger brother of folk legend Christy Moore, is still amazed that in
these times of pre-fabricated pop idols, he can make a living out of his music. The days when major music companies worked their
mighty pr-machines for him, are now behind him, but since Bloom self-publishes his records, he feels happier than before. "When I
brought out Riverside in 1989, it seemed to cause a minor land slide: everyone loved it, and countries like Belgium, the
Netherlands, Switzerland and Australia received me with open arms. The Acoustic Motorbike did even better: it had a hit song for
one thing. But from there on, a lot of things went wrong. For two years I worked with all my heart and soul on Salty Heaven, but the
record completely flunked. That was a bad thump to take. The record slowly drowned and Sony, the company with whom I had a
contract at that time, didn't even bother to throw out a lifebuoy. I never forgave them that. So now I take care of my own business. And
I must say it's liberating. I enjoy playing music more than ever. Even when I'm at home, no day passes without making music. All the
time, neighbours drop by and before we know it we're jamming all afternoon. Music is not only my profession, it also remains my
biggest passion. And you know, when a song works well around the kitchen table, it will work anywhere."
Although Bloom has been playing with the idea of making a record with a real group for years, and even to take that group on a tour,
there are no signs that he is about to take that big step. "I'm already busy writing new songs, but it would be a real change to involve
other musicians. I still like the plan, and perhaps one day it will become reality. Just this: such an evolution has to be a natural one.
And I still consider it a great challenge to use very limited means - just a voice and a guitar - to make new sounds and songs. And
believe me: I'm too stubborn to think I'm through with voice-and-guitar after just eight records."
Translated by Karl Catteeuw
KKunst.com - Internet Magazine - 16 May 2003
"Planxty and The Bothy Band were both 'my Beatles and my Rolling Stones'.
Pop and Rock I usually found very boring."
Kevin 'Barry Moore' (23/05/55, Newbridge, Ireland),
Christy Moore's younger brother, caught the music microbe
at an early age. At first he appeared under his own name and mainly performed Irish folk songs. Initially young Barry found it difficult
to find his own way because he remained in the shadow of his brother, who had grown into a true folk legend. An injury to his hand,
new material, a long stay in the United States and a change of name to Luka Bloom lead to the release of "Riverside", an
immediate hit. Since then he has released several brilliant cd's and has found a unique place in the music world.
You quit your studies in Russian and European Culture at Limerick University. Did you already know then
that you wanted to be a musician, as you were already part of "Aes Triplex" with your brother Andy and Pat Kilbride?
Luka Bloom: Do you know Pat Kilbride? A brilliant musician and a great guy. But, yes I knew already in 1970, when I was 15 years
old, that music was my vocation. I left secondary school and was the youngest of 6. My brother Christy was already touring the world
as a singer-songwriter. My mother begged me to be the one to choose a respectable profession and to go to university, which I
did out of love for her. But the music was on my mind the whole time and in the end got the upper hand.
- At first you played solo and then started a band. But you chose in 1978 to release a solo-album,
"Treaty Stone", your debut album.
Luka Bloom: My life revolved around folk clubs. That was really the only place where I could perform. Sometimes I managed to get
gigs in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. Still I worked mainly in Ireland. But I had a 'funny' feeling: I had the impression I did
not belong there, even though I loved folk music. My favourite bands were Planxty and the Bothy Band.
- You also performed with these bands.
Luka Bloom: Usually I opened for them. They were both 'my Beatles and my Rolling Stones'.
Personally I think Planxty is one of the best bands and they made some
great recordings that I often listen to. But the Irish audiences usually
preferred James Taylor, Doc Watson and Neil Young's work to mine.
These are artists I also love and was influenced by.
- Was Bob Dylan's music also important in building your own identity and your solo career?
Luka Bloom: Not at all, and this is mainly because of his voice. I didn't become a big
fan of Dylan's until two years ago when I saw him perform at a club in
Dublin. His cd "Time Out Of Mind" is an album I cherish and which is one of
my favourites. At the time I was inspired by English singer-songwriters like
Nick Drake, John Renboum, Bert Jansch, Martin McCarty, Nic Jones... even
though I never played in England.
- You played finger picking guitar, but then suddenly changed your style.
Luka Bloom: I got tendinitis and had to, even though initially it was incredibly hard to
change my style. A human being can be a complex creature: I considered
musicians who used a guitar pick to be inferior. I loved to play the guitar
my own way and to conjure up nice melodies and reels, like the Frenchman
Pierre Bensusan who is a master at this; to me this was the ultimate. After
the problem with my hand I had to stop playing for two years and then had to
learn 'flatpicking'. A whole new world opened up for me. I listened a lot to
Ray Charles records, blues artists and also discovered U2 and the Waterboys.
I also had to learn to sing and play the guitar standing. This has since
become 'my trademark'.
- In 1983 you formed the post-punk/pop band "Red Square".
Luka Bloom: It was more of a pop band: the music sounded like "Aztec Camera" and had
very little to do with the "Clash". (laughs)
- Why this change of course?
Luka Bloom: During the 70s and 80s you mainly heard older, adapted songs, while I wanted
to create something new all the time. I thought rock and pop were boring,
but when I heard U2 and the Waterboys I thought I could create something
worthwhile in this style. My original idea, when I started my career, was to
play in a band, which I tried for three years. But the many meetings, the
debates, the arguments and financial difficulties keeping your head above
water, made me go solo again. There should be a certain connection between
the musicians themselves, you should be on the same wavelength. You should
really have known each other from a very young age and have played together,
like U2. This wasn't the case with Red Square; I auditioned and played with
fine musicians, but they were a lot younger and there was no friendship.
- When I first met you in Brussels years ago, when you were still Barry Moore, you told me that you preferred playing solo.
Luka Bloom: As a solo artist you travel a lot and you meet a lot of people who later
become friends. With a band this isn't the case: music lovers or even
ordinary people suddenly have to deal with five or six musicians.
Communication often is out of the question.
- When did you first go to the United States?
Luka Bloom: In 1986, still as Barry Moore, for a number of concerts. After Red Square I had to go and do something else entirely
again. I wrote a lot of songs in a very short time, most of which appeared on "Riverside". I realized I had finally found "my way"! In
1987 I went back to the USA, but this time I considered it a new start, I knew I couldn't realize my dream in Ireland or in Europe and
crossed the ocean with new songs and a new name.
- You played in Washington D.C. and Greenwich Village in New York.
Luka Bloom: That's right. I always had a plan in mind, no demos, not going round all the
record companies, even though I did want to release my album with a major
record company. I realized my live shows were my great strength. I convinced
the owner of a small bar to offer me a contract on Wednesday nights, the
least busy day in Greenwich Village. All the other bars didn't have many
customers, but after six or seven weeks the one I played in was full. In a
roundabout way I got in touch with Warner Records and I think I am one of
the few artists who was offered a deal without delivering a demo, but
because of my live show and because they liked my songs.
- "Riverside" was the result of this, but you had already recorded an album called
"Luka Bloom" in Ireland, and many compositions from this can be found
on your American debut cd.
Luka Bloom: : The record you mention was only on the market for about ten minutes. The label was completely illegal, which I didn't
know, so a good album was dying in their basement. That is why I used some of the material of that album on my first cd.
- Is "Riverside" your impression of the city of New York?
Luka Bloom: I think so. You discover completely different philosophies of life and experiences. It was also the first time in my life I felt
confident. I still consider this to be a brilliant period in my life.
- For the successor, "The Acoustic Motorbike", you returned to Ireland.
Luka Bloom: Yes and no. I lived both in New York and in Dublin, even though I did feel
that my time in New York was coming to an end.
- Then "Turf" came out.
Luka Bloom: Many fans considered this my best album until the release of "Amsterdam",
because the latter is a live recording and suits my personality better.
- I like "Salty Heaven" least. Only one song from this album, "Don't Be So Hard On Yourself" was
included on "Amsterdam".
Luka Bloom: Does it sound 'over produced' to you?
- Yes, and that makes me feel this is not a real 'Luka Bloom cd'.
Luka Bloom: And still this album contains quite a few songs I love a lot, and which I sing regularly, like "Ciara", "Water Ballerina",
"Holy Ground" and "Forgiveness", which I consider to be one of my best compositions. But you are right, in fact I should re-record
this album, but make it more simple. It didn't turn out to be a real 'Luka Bloom cd'; I think you ended up with a 'Sony feeling' (laughs
out loud). Still, it is strange that so many music lovers love "Salty Heaven".
After "Turf" I wanted to work independently, but then Sony offered to record "Salty Heaven" because they loved the songs. I must
admit it was interesting and impressive to record this at the Abbey Road Studios, even though it received an overwhelming
production, and this is where I went wrong: I might have been too impressed by all these famous people I was working with. I
drifted too far away from my principle: to strive for simplicity. I did manage to do that on my latest studio album,
"Between the Mountain and the Moon", also because I was working independently.
- "Keeper of the Flame" was criticized because it contains only covers. I didn't used to like
covers myself, but I've changed my mind, on the condition that the musician succeeds in incorporating his own feelings and
personality in the song. That worked very well.
Luka Bloom: I agree with you entirely, even though I would have been content at the release if people had liked three or four covers.
Still, the cd got a better reception than I had expected, even though not everyone likes the whole album. The idea behind "Keeper
of the Flame" was to pay tribute to all the people who wrote these beautiful songs.
- In 2000 you became an independent artist.
Luka Bloom: I used to dream of a record deal, now I don't (laughs). I do want to work with labels, like "Culture Records", but I want to
keep control of the process and I want complete freedom in what I do and what I try to achieve.
- Is "Amsterdam" a "Greatest Hits-Live" cd?
Luka Bloom: Not at all. It is the registration of one show on one particular night. For a live cd usually several concerts are recorded
and the best sounding songs are taken from those recordings. That isn't the case here.
- That is the way it is usually done, why not for "Amsterdam"?
Luka Bloom: I wanted to recreate the magical moment of a concert that was a hit from the first to the last note. It was a challenge to
find the perfect balance between applause and sing-alongs. I think we have succeeded in that.
- You present your compositions in a different way all the time, also on this album. Sometimes you are a 'pure' singer-songwriter,
sometimes there are folky influences, and at times you pour in a little rock and roll.
Luka Bloom: "Delirious" is a rock song (laughs). But what you say is true, I play and I sing in a different way all the time. Monotony
can strike quickly and that leads to boredom with the audience and indifference with the artist concerned.
- The atmosphere and intensity on "Amsterdam" are great.
Luka Bloom: I had never played Carré before, but I knew the theatre's reputation, I felt privileged to be allowed to perform there. You know, it was
a Monday night in February and you don't expect everything to turn out so perfect: the acoustics,
the sound equipment, which made my singing and guitar sound so great, and, of course, the audience. Normally you build up a show.
Here I plugged in my guitar and I felt the magic I mentioned. It was a wonderful night!
Interview by Guido Van Pevenage
Translated by Jolande Hibels
Ancienne Belgique, Brussels