Leinster Leader - 10 April 2003
Luka Bloom's Amsterdam
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.
"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
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
"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
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."
The Irish Times - Thursday, April 10, 2003
* * * *
Amsterdam - Big Sky
Live albums should carry a health warning, especially to those who weren't at the gig: beware of wolf whistles, brotherly
love and singalongs. They can result in either saccharine overload or boredom. Luka Bloom has managed to avoid
all clichés of the live album in Amsterdam, a pristine snapshot in time of a performance who is more comfortable in his
skin now than he's ever been. Of course, it's a roll-call of his multi-layered calling cards, from the cinematic 'Exploring
The Blue' to the manic 'Delirious' and the louche 'Don't Be So Hard On Yourself'. But the stand-out, to these ears,
it the ode to Jacqueline Picasso, 'Gone To Pablo', alongside the magnificently Dylanesque 'Monsoon'.
Guitar and voice rarely gel so effortlessly.
The Irish Times
HotPress Magazine - April 2003
Arguably more popular in mainland Europe than he is at home, it's no surprise that Luka Bloom
has chosen to make a live album before some of his most devoted audiences. Recorded in
Amsterdam's Koninklijk Theater Carré (Royal Carré Theatre), this collection of 13
songs is pretty much as you might expect from the self-professed Bogman.
With no frills or gimmicks, what you get is Bloom's impassioned singing and distinctive
guitar style, along with what sounds like a 1,000-strong audience lapping up every minute of it.
Amsterdam kicks off on a fairly low-key note with his own poignant composition, 'Exploring The Blue',
followed by Mike Scott's 'Sunny Sailor Boy', which seems to strike a particular note with the crowd.
Also going down well is one of his earlier triumphs, 'Gone To Pablo'; while other highlights include,
'Don't Be So Hard On Yourself', and the evocative 'Diamond Mountain'. From his most recent album
(Between The Mountain And The Moon), the Arabic-sounding 'Perfect Groove' ups the tempo a notch or two
while crowd participation reaches new heights on 'Fertile Rock';
you have to admire his ability to work a crowd.
Well-chosen cover versions are another Bloom speciality, as he demonstrated on his
Keeper Of The Flame album - his renditions here of Bob Dylan's 'Make You Feel My Love'; and Bob Marley's
'Natural Mystic'; being just two examples of his mastery of a good pop song (though sadly his best ever cover LL Cool J's
'I Need Love' isn't included).
Ending on a sombre note with some impressive guitar effects, 'Gabriel' rounds off what comes across as a warm-hearted,
highly entertaining evening.
Celtic Connection - May 2003
Luka Bloom - "Amsterdam"
...And what a night it was. The gorgeous Koninklijk Theater Carre, with its red plush
seats and ornate chandeliers - it seemed more the setting for symphony orchestra
than a Kildare man with a guitar. However, that night, Luka took over the theatre,
creating a sense of intimacy and connection with the European audience that was
nothing short of amazing. The glow from that night lingered for weeks afterward.
Now everyone can experience a bit of that magic night in Amsterdam. Luka has
selected 13 tracks from over 2 1/2 hours of music on the night, to give listeners a
sense of his live work. And about time. Luka is a performer that has to be seen to
No matter how good his studio albums are, it is the live performance, the spark
between Bloom and the audience that makes him shine. You can feel the the edge,
the tension, in this recording that tells you that Bloom was "on". An
energy that can only be generated with an audience that is giving it back as well -
as this audience did....... The track list covers old and new material and will be a
welcome addition to Luka fans' collection and the best introduction to the man and
his music for those "first-timers". From the first deep, resonant
chords on 'Exploring the Blue' to the furious energy of 'Delirious',
this is quintessential Bloom and a cameo of a very special gig....
The Phantom Tollbooth - 6 May 2003
Artist: Luka Bloom
Length: 13 Tracks, 51.11 minutes
If you have never heard the music of Luka Bloom you are missing out on something
wonderful. This live album is the icing on the cake of a brilliant career.
For over 30 years, this Irish folk-singer (brother of another legend of the style,
Christy Moore) has been playing, writing and recording in his homeland as well as
touring the world, making friends with Sinead O'Connor, Lou Reed, David Byrne
and Roseanne Cash along the way and pushing the boundaries of
folk music to places unheard before.
An affliction of tendonitis midway through his career led Luka to change his
style from the traditional finger-picking, to a more striking, strumming folk style
on his distinctive acoustic-electric guitar, which gives his songs an added power
and accessibility. It allows his rich, mellow voice to shine while avoiding the often
hick sound of folk-music as heard by young ears attuned to pop radio.
Live albums are usually just for the fans, and "Amsterdam" is no
exception. Nevertheless, it certainly gives the newbie a chance to experience
an overview of the full Luka Bloom discography in one fabulous hour, recorded
in the city of the album's title, and helps one appreciate the immense talent
and spirit of an artist who has built his recording career on a solid basis of live
In 1987, Barry Moore changed his name to Luka Bloom and flew into New York
with the aim of breaking into the American music scene. Three years of intense
live gigging at New York clubs and building an audience yielded the first studio
album "Riverside". Two tracks from this album feature on Amsterdam,
namely 'Gone to Pablo' and 'Delirious'; infectious melodies
about life and death that are even better live than on the original CD.
The big breakthrough for Luka came in 1992 with the album The Acoustic
Motorbike. Putting a twist in the tradition of folk musicians covering other
people's songs, he recorded a truly amazing Celtic-bathed version of the rap
song "I Need Love" by LL Cool J, underscored by the heart-beat
like sound of a bodhran. Sadly, a live version of that track is not on Amsterdam,
but 'Exploring the Blue' and 'You' are; both warm, haunting
melodies of love and the beauty of nature.
Three of the best songs from Luka's 1994 release Turf, arguably his most
popular album to date, are here. The cover, 'Sunny Sailor Boy',
'Diamond Mountain' and 'Fertile Rock' - like the album
they came from - all dwell on the concept of sacred ground and the
interconnectedness of humankind with the land. In style and content,
earthiness is always synonymous with the music of Luka Bloom. These
songs also give the Amsterdam audience an opportunity for participation,
which always demonstrates how well an artist connects with their
audience. Luka's rapport with them is warm and they respond with great
After Turf, a busy touring schedule meant fans had to wait four years for a
new studio release. As with many Irish musicians (U2, Sinead O'Connor etc),
the aura of a country with such a strong religious heritage infuses Luka's
songs with shades of his Christianity. This is most prevalent on 1998's Salty
Heaven. As such, I would have liked to have heard his gorgeous song of faith
"Blackberry Time" played live on Amsterdam, but instead Luka settles with
'Don't be so Hard on Yourself', the only track from this great album.
Luka blew away all preconceptions of what folk music can do with the release
of Keeper of the Flame in the year 2000. His cover versions of songs by U2,
The Cure, Radiohead, Abba, Bob Marley, Hunters & Collectors and Bob Dylan,
should have every youngster who listens to rock radio also reaching for a guitar.
The aforementioned "Bob" songs; that being 'Natural Mystic' (Marley)
and 'Make You Feel My Love' (Dylan) feature live on Amsterdam.
Finally, three of my all time favorite Luka Bloom songs from the 2002 release
"Between the Mountain and the Moon" are played. Introduced as
"a celebration of love, sex and heavy rain", 'Monsoon' is
all it promises to be. Solomon himself would be jealous of the evocative love poetry
in this one. Likewise, 'Perfect Groove' is self-explanatory, and the
final track, 'Gabriel', could as easily have been called "Perfect
Album Closer Song" for the sweet lullaby prayer it is. It is as if Luka is
blessing us as we go on our way from the spiritual experience of hearing him
Clearly I'm a fan, so it was probably inevitable that I would like this album.
Others may wonder why it is so special. His protest songs are conspicuously
absent from this collection, but that doesn't bother me. Luka himself has said
many times that he never wanted to record a live album, but this one is a pure
celebration for the fans. But if this has inspired you to check out at least one
of the great albums in the Luka Bloom catalogue, I can promise you won't
be disappointed. Amsterdam, however, may just be the place to
whet the appetite.
The Advertiser - 15 May 2003
* * * *
Luka Bloom: Amsterdam
No adornments, no pyrotechnics, no bikini-clad nubiles in a cage. Just a man
and his guitar, and his voice. The Luka Bloom live show is a simple wonder - and
a tough experience to describe adequately. After all, many would rather drink
paint than watch an Irish folk singer.
When he recorded this Dutch gig, silver-tongued Bloom knew the difficulties of
capturing the magic, especially without accompanying vision of his spirited strum.
He gets top marks, then, for harnessing a set which translates the warmth, joy
and emotion of Luka live. With loving crowd input, the crystal-clear Amsterdam
is a terrific dance through his back catalogue and broad range. It's just like Bloom's
in the room - and highlights such as 'Sunny Sailor Boy', 'Diamond
Mountain', 'You' and 'Delirious' deserve a standing ovation.
KKunst.com - Internet Magazine - 16 May 2003
* * * * *
Amsterdam by Luka Bloom
Skip / Culture Records (SKP 9035-2)
Luka Bloom may have delivered his best cd with the live album "Amsterdam",
recorded at the Royal Carré Theatre. On stage this talented Irishman is at his best.
For thirteen songs he manages to keep us fascinated with his brilliant act.
This album doesn't require a long explanation. As Luka Bloom puts it in the
interview this performance was a magic event.
Both the acoustics, the sound of his guitar playing and singing and the interaction
between artist and audience were unique. The Irishman doesn't deliver a "Best
of - Live",... He draws from his six studio albums, even though his latest album,
"Between the Mountain and the Moon" gets the most attention with three
songs included. It is hard to name highlights because the album as a whole is a brilliant
document. Production and mixing can be called the same. Still we'd like to single out
three songs; "Gone to Pablo", one of my favourite songs from the
"Riverside" album, "Gabriel", which Luka Bloom wrote for
his son, and Mike Scott's "Sunny Sailor Boy", which the singer virtually
considers his own composition .... I speak from experience, but once you have
listened to "Amsterdam" it will regularly end up in your cd player.
Guido Van Pevenage
Translated by Jolande Hibels
De Bond - Weekblad voor het gezin - Muziek (Belgian newspaper) - 30 May 2003
Luka Bloom - Amsterdam
Luka Bloom, the little brother of folk singer Christy Moore, left for the United States
at the end of the '80s, when he had gained no success in his own green Ireland.
Inspired by new encounters, hard tales of the city and the immense space of this
country, the Irish singer-songwriter came back to the stage with the New York
recorded "Riverside". This gorgeous cd put Bloom finally on the musical
map. And from that moment on no cd of the young Irishman would pass unnoticed.
The power of Bloom's music lies in the beautiful mixture of melancholic Irish folk
and contemporary pop. But there is more: everyone who ever saw Luka Bloom
perform, with the sole company of his acoustic guitar, know this man can move
you like no one else can. Whether it is in a small club or on a mega-stage, Luka
sings his positive lyrics with a warm, passionate voice and plays with amazing
virtuosity his hard hit guitar chords. (Because of tendinitis in his hands, this
man developed his own playing technique). "Amsterdam", the live
cd by Luka Bloom is no bleak carbon copy of his lovely repertoire, but it shows
a musician who feels most at ease when he is on stage. During this concert in
Carré, Amsterdam, he browsed through his own songs like "Gone
to Pablo", "Delirious" or "Diamond Mountain", and
covered Marley and Dylan. His typical guitar sound and beautiful voice make
the magic work, even on cd; compelling and heart-warming!
Translated by Karl Catteeuw
No Depression - The Alternative Country Music Magazine - July/August 2003
In the explanatory paragraph inside Luka Bloom's first live record, the artist admits that such an endeavor was
"something I never wanted to do until now". Given this Irishman's extraordinary talent as a live
performer and his ability to interpret other writer's songs, history, not timing should have carried the project.
"Amsterdam", recorded last year at a concert in the city that lends its name, is more than adequate
for what it is: a contemporary, 13-track album that consistently strikes the right balance between Bloom's
dynamic voice ("Diamond Mountain") and his crisp, rhythmic guitar playing ("Perfect
Groove"). Song selection touches on most of Bloom's catalog, and sequencing generally hits the
mark, too: just over halfway through, the set takes off, ending with the obligatory reading of "Delirious",
from Bloom's 1990 major label debut, "Riverside".
The shortcomings stem from what this record isn't: long enough. The gig lasted over two hours, but the disc
clocks in at just over 50 minutes. Covers, including Mike Scott's "Sunny Sailor Boy", Bob Dylan's
"Make You Feel My Love", and Bob Marley's "Natural Mystic" reveal Bloom's range
and influences. The performances, however, only hint at his in-concert mastery of covers that in the past
have embraced T Bone Burnett, Prince, and LL Cool J.
Perhaps the choice to issue a disc from one evening's performance dictated the result. Asking it to
encompass over two decades of soulful performances and material isn't quite fair. Expectations,
however, rarely diminish with the passing of time.
ABC Gippsland Vic - CD of the Week - 7 July 2003
Amsterdam - Luka Bloom
Distributor: Shock Records
Luka Bloom is a modern day troubadour - his contemporary folk sound, poetic lyrics and honest, earnest
vocals touch so many people that his huge fan base covers the entire globe... and with that admiration
and respect in mind, Luka travels far and wide to perform for his loyal audiences.
His latest album "Amsterdam" was recorded live at the Koninklijk Theater Carre, in Amsterdam,
last year and it's clear from this recording that Luka's performance was heart-felt and his audience
appreciative - "Sunny Sailor Boy" has to have some of the best crowd singing I've heard
in ages! Especially so, given they apparently had no idea they were being recorded.
Luka Bloom began his musical career as Barry Moore, the younger brother of Irish folk legend
Christy Moore, but seems to have always been an independent soul - and as with this latest
album, it's when he performs solo, just him and his guitar, that Luka is at his best... even in a
large concert hall, his music is warm, enveloping and full-bodied. His live versions of favourites
like "Monsoon", "Diamond Mountain" and "Delirious" are
crackers, as are his impressive covers of Bob Marley's "Natural Mystic" and
Bob Dylan's "Make You Feel My Love". Amsterdam is Luka Bloom's first live
album, something he's avoided until now because it can be so difficult to capture the magic
of a live concert, but this is definitely well worth the wait.
PopMatters - the magazine of global culture - 8 July 2003
His name is Luka. And he's really got to be tired of hearing his name in the same breath as the Suzanne Vega song ...
Luka Bloom comes by his musical ability honestly ... but, honestly, his name's not really Luka Bloom. He might've been
using that moniker for about 15 years or so, ever since he relocated from Ireland to Washington, DC, in the late '80s,
but when our man Luka's back in Dublin, he's probably still known as Barry Moore and, as often as not, referred to
as Christy Moore's brother...
... Armed solely with an acoustic guitar, Amsterdam casually meanders through Bloom's back catalog, revisiting
each of his three Reprise albums (including the as-yet-unmentioned third disc, Turf) for at least a song or two, as
well as touching on more recent indie releases such as Salty Heaven and Between the Mountain and the Moon.
It's not exactly a greatest-hits set list (though "Delirious" is the next-to-last track performed, "Mary
Watches Everything" is conspicuously absent), but fans familiar with his entire discography will no doubt
be pleased as punch to see tracks like "Gone to Pablo'" (from Riverside), "You"
(The Acoustic Motorbike), and "Sunny Sailor Boy" (Turf) amongst the selections...
Luka Bloom's vocal delivery can go from unabashedly romantic to painfully intense at the drop of a hat (between
"You" and "Don't Be So Hard on Yourself"), the music often dark and somber at one moment,
then uplifting the next. Amsterdam shows both these sides.
It may not be a perfect summation of Bloom's musical career, but, as a glimpse into the world of the man's live
performances, Amsterdam is as fine a snapshot as one could hope for.
The State.com - Weekend - 1 August 2003
Luka Bloom - 'Amsterdam' (Evolver)
With just his amplified acoustic guitar and powerful singing voice, Luka Bloom has
been enthralling audiences for more than a decade. This 13-track live disc captures
the energy and emotion in one of the Irish singer/songwriter's shows, and when
the crowd starts singing "Sunny Sailor Boy" before Bloom can get
around to the first verse, it's goosebump city.
Michael Miller - Music Columnist
noise Theory - Australian Music Community - August 2003
Luka Bloom - 'Amsterdam' (Skip)
"Amsterdam" begins sluggishly, however once the brilliant cover of Bob Marley's "Natural Mystic"
kicks in at track 4, all attention is focused towards the near magical combination of guitar and voice. Another cover, this
time Bob Dylan's "Make You Feel My Love" keeps the set rolling, however even as the listener patiently
predicts the moment when Luka Bloom's "Amsterdam" will falter, it never happens.
Whether it be via pure emotion in "Monsoon" (which Bloom describes as "a celebration
of love, sex and heavy rain"), the haunting crowd sing-a-long in "Fertile Rock", playful
John Butler Trio-like "Perfect Groove" and "Delirious" or the utterly intense
"You", "Amsterdam" amazingly, and unbelievably, get better with each successive
track. Closer "Gabriel" obviously comes too soon, though with it's church organ backing sounds
out of place, but the 9 tracks prior have already made their mark.
Luka Bloom fans will notice the omission of several key songs from this man's past, which takes away
some appeal "Amsterdam" may have had as a retrospective release, however for an
acoustic-based live album, there are few records with such a captivating appeal....... At 51 minutes
there could have possibly been a bit more material thrown on, whether it be via more tracks or extension
of existing efforts, however "Amsterdam" already stands as possibly the best live record
released in 2003.
Rating: 8.4 out of 10
Sinwagon - www.sinwagon.com
Luka Bloom - Amsterdam
A live album can be an interesting proposition for an artist. The results are often hit or miss, with no way
of knowing how affectively the final product captures the unique attributes of that artist's live performance.
Also, the noise generated by a crowd can sometimes take away from the songs in a live recording.
These are some of the factors that contributed greatly to Luka Bloom's longstanding objection to
releasing a disc of his live material. Finally after 10 years of fighting it, Bloom has released Amsterdam,
a live recording of a solo acoustic concert at the Carre Theater in Amsterdam from February of 2002.
This excellent collection proves that Bloom had nothing the worry about.
Bloom, a folk singer/songwriter from Ireland, has long been hailed by critiques for his studio material
over the years, but has not enjoyed the commercial success and following in America that he has in
Europe. This collection contains 13 songs, culled from the seven studio albums he has put out since
1988, and gives the listener a great idea of what a Luka Bloom performance is all about.
On this stripped-down set, Bloom is accompanied only by his acoustic guitar and an enthusiastic
audience. He seems to be at his best in this stark musical setting, producing a sound similar to
Turf, arguably his greatest studio album. Both albums, consisting of pretty love songs and quiet
folk odes, provide excellent mood music for an evening with that special someone in front of a roaring fire.
Amsterdam starts with the soaring "Exploring the Blue", but really hits its stride on the second
track, "Sunny Sailor Boy". This song, originally found on Turf, is highlighted by the audience
sing-along at the beginning and middle of the song. While this type of thing usually sounds kind of
forced on a live recording, in this case the audience adds subtle support without taking attention
away from the song.
Another early highlight on the album is the folksy cover of Bob Marley's "Natural Mystic".
Bloom maintains the reggae feel of the original, but still makes the song his own. The other cover
on the album is the often played "Make You Feel My Love" by Bob Dylan...
Bloom manages to deliver the tune in a very straightforward and sincere manner...
But not everything on Amsterdam is a quiet ballad. Bloom also gives us some of his traditional
folk rock throughout the album. Tracks like "Gone to Pablo" and "Fertile Rock"
are more up-tempo than most of the album, but do not standout in a bad way.
The biggest challenge that Bloom must have faced in putting his first live collection together was
what songs to include. Though he has never had hits, at least in the United States, he has written
some amazing songs over his career, some of which were left off of this album. That being said,
Amsterdam is a great live recording that further cements Blooms status as an excellent contemporary
folk artist and would serve as a great introduction to the man and his music.