Luka Bloom » live reviews
Luka Bloom - Live in Concert
Tollhaus Karlsruhe 2006 Leopoldsburg Vicar Street, Dublin
 concert » reviewed by
13-03-2008  De Barra's, Clonakilty, Co Cork, Ireland
Rebecca (England)
16-03-2008  St Patrick's Day Festival, London, England
Rebecca (England)
25-03-2008  The Stables, Milton Keynes, England
Dolf (Ireland)
13-04-2008  Komedia, Brighton, England
Rebecca (England)
21-04-2008  Union Chapel, London, England
Rebecca (England)
21-04-2008  Union Chapel, London, England
Rena (Germany)
04-05-2008  Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival, Black Box, Belfast, N-Ireland
Rebecca (England)
08-07-2008  De Barra's, Clonakilty, Co Cork, Ireland
Richie (Ireland)
15-07-2008  De Barra's, Clonakilty, Co Cork, Ireland
Richie (Ireland)
22-07-2008  De Barra's, Clonakilty, Co Cork, Ireland
Richie (Ireland)
30-07-2008  Tom Malone's Pub, Miltown Malbay, Co Clare, Ireland
Rebecca (England)
31-07-2008  Royal Spa Hotel, Lisdoonvarna, Co Clare, Ireland
Rebecca (England)
05-09-2008  Bickford Theatre, Morristown, NJ, USA
Tom Gramegna (USA)
07-09-2008  World Café Live, Philadelphia, PA, USA
Denise Smith (USA)
07-09-2008  World Café Live, Philadelphia, PA, USA
Eileen Pinto (USA)
11-09-2008  Tupelo Music Hall, Londonderry, NH, USA
Paula Diemer (USA)
11-09-2008  Tupelo Music Hall, Londonderry, NH, USA
Dave Cain (USA)
01-11-2008  Vicar Street, Dublin, Ireland
Sabine Dunne (Germany)
01-11-2008  Vicar Street, Dublin, Ireland
Dolf (Ireland)
01-11-2008  Vicar Street, Dublin, Ireland
Adeline Roux (France)
05-12-2008  Erbdrostenhof, Münster, Germany
Gudrun Spanka (Germany)

De Barra's, Clonakilty
Thursday, 13 March 2008

Here is a belated review of a lovely, intimate gig Luka played in De Barras in mid-March. I am relying on scribbles as I write this two months later; I had hoped that, by now, the kaleidoscope of impressions, memories and emotions from my very first visit to Ireland would have settled into some kind of coherent pattern but it has not! Yet hopefully I can give you a glimpse at this gig.

Clonakilty is a friendly welcoming town and De Barras is a fantastic venue – not least because of its established reputation as a premier venue for live Irish music in an intimate setting, especially for contemporary artists. De Barras is spoilt for choice as to what artists they can get, so we punters are always the winners, guaranteed first rate music, no matter when we go or who is playing. The fact that John Spillane has a residency there on the first Thursday of every month says it all, really!

I met up before the gig with Rich who lives nearby and we got seats in the front row. The room filled slowly, reaching perhaps 100 in total, though a few seats remained empty all evening. The stage was clear of everything except sound equipment and two guitars (Rudy and, yes, Judy!) and a third (empty) guitar stand. Rich idly remarked that the guitars looked like they'd "been through the wars", then he suddenly said: "Where’re the flowers?" "Never mind the flowers," said I, "where’s the chair?!"

Because, YES, after nearly 4 years, The Man Is Standing!! :-)

What a great gig! Luka came on stage from a staircase off to the right, carrying the Martin classical guitar he has been playing the past six months, and was welcomed with huge cheers and applause. He was very happy to be playing here among his own people, as of course the audience was full of Moores and various other relations and friends. He was grinning and bouncing with energy the entire evening, really psyched up – said he’d had a bit of a rest since Celtic Connections but needed something like this gig to get back in the swing of things before performing the next Sunday at the St Patricks Festival in London, as he didn't want to "go straight from the bunker to 40,000 'nutcases' in Trafalgar Square". [I teased him afterwards for insulting Londoners... he denied he said it!! ;)]

Here are the songs Luka played, not in the correct order as I wasn’t taking proper notes and have only pieced together the first half dozen for certain:

Set list
(on the Martin guitar)
There Is A Time
I Love The World I’m In
I Am Not At War
Eastbound Train
I'm A Bogman
Peace On Earth
Look Over The Hill And Far Away
[a Gerry Rafferty song with harmonica]
City Of Chicago

(on to Rudy/Judy – I didn’t note which songs were played on which guitar)
I'm On Your Side
Sunny Sailor Boy
See You Soon
Candle In The Window
Natural Mystic
When Your Love Comes
Every Man
You Couldn’t Have Come At A Better Time
[last song of main set]

(two of the Rudy/Judy songs above, don’t remember which ones)
then back to the classical guitar for the closing song of the night:

So many new songs for me. Quite a few have featured in his live sets before but have never been recorded. My one and only previous Luka gig was seven years ago and so I hadn't heard Candle In The Window, See You Soon or Fire (which I loved). A few songs were written just in the past few months and are still being "tried out on the humanoids" - Sunday was lovely but Every Man raised goosebumps on my arms. Luka did not introduce When Your Love Comes at all so I didn’t find out until a gig later this spring that it was written in January for John O’Donohue – it simply registered in my memory as very intense and very gorgeous.

The Gerry Rafferty song also caught my attention: I grew up in the USA with Gerry Rafferty songs and must admit I hadn't heard this one before! Luka had a bit of fun getting the headgear set up to hold the harmonica to his mouth so he could blow into it and still have both hands free to play guitar – he obviously had not perfected the technique and his clumsiness was fodder for a few jokes.

I have a scribble in my notebook that Luka also played an instrumental that I’d never heard before (in addition to Peace On Earth), and I haven’t heard it since either, so don’t know what it was and haven’t included it in the set list.

- Rebecca

De Barra Folk Club Rudy and Judy
photos by Rebecca

St Patrick's Day Festival @ Trafalgar Square, London
Sunday, 16 March 2008

St Patricks Day in Trafalgar Square was GREAT -- as Luka said 'a soft Irish day', so not bad at all!!

Luka Bloom Quite a festival atmosphere! Lots of tricolours, football shirts, shamrocks (including temporary face tattoos being handed out at the gate), leprechaun outfits... And people of all races, ages, etc... In fact, when Luka spoke to the crowd in Gaelic, nobody paid him any mind, so I think the 'genuine' IRISH were in the extreme minority!!!! Three huge nets of balloons (green, white orange, of course) were released to great applause and cheers. Then one of the nets got caught on the stage lights over the stage, requiring 3 men & one enormous ladder to get it disentangled -- again to loud cheers & not a little joshing!! Not everyone was paying strict attention to what was happening on stage, but that's okay, everybody seemed to be having a great time -- lots of people up on other people's shoulders (children on daddies', teenage girls on teenage boys'... ) and flag waving (including makeshift flags from umbrellas) and groups doing their own sing-a-longs. Don't remember if it was Luka, or Joe Brown who was on before him, that said "looks like you guys have a little gig of your own going on right there..."

Anyway, Luka sang 8 songs (not 100% sure of the order but I don't think I missed any!), as follows:

* FIRE -- I heard this for the first time in De Barras the other night -- fantastic song,
I hope he records it -- lots of energy & 'angst', harks back to Riverside days, in my opinion!
* CITY OF CHICAGO -- the only song the audience appeared to know well enough to really
sing along to -- he gave his "the song my brother made famous" introduction...
mention of Christy got a big cheer
* NATURAL MYSTIC -- audience LOVED this!! everybody was dancing
seemed largely to ignore, which is such a shame
* YOU COULDN'T HAVE COME AT A BETTER TIME -- introduced with the words
'as the actress said to the bishop...'

I arrived too late to catch Ann Scott -- and by the time Luka finished, my face felt frozen and I needed the toilet.... and then I thought it might be a good idea to start making my way home before all the drunken hordes later on... So while I caught Joe Brown (who reminded me rather oddly of Rod Stewart), I missed out on Roisin Murphy and Aslan, which I had been hoping to see. Ah well, another time.

- Rebecca

> photo by Rebecca

The Stables, Milton Keynes
Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Different show in a different town and I'm in a different mood. Reading Rena's page I noticed that this show was on. I was in central London and it was about 5:30 on a mild March evening. Fifty miles north. Thirty minutes by express train. Yeah, I can make it. I love life's little surprises.

Through the maze of roundabouts, the taxi finally arrives at "The Stables". A beautiful new venue. Too new. Too clean. Very friendly staff Another beer bought. Another cigarette smoked. Outside in the warm spring rain. Soon it will be time.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, Tonights show will begin in five minutes."

I wander into the theatre itself. It is nice. There are seats to the left, right and centre of the stage. I would say it would hold 200-300 people. 68 tickets were sold. I can sit wherever I want. Stage left about 8 rows back. They have a young uniformed girl wandering around selling tubs of Ice Cream. How quaint.

The lights dim.

From over on my right, Luka walks down the aisle and takes the stage. Tonight, black shirted he picks up a brown Spanish guitar and picks a few notes. He stops. "Eh, Matt there's something wrong", he says. He pushs and pulls the amplifier. He kicks it. Matt arrives and works his magic. Luka walks to the microphone. "It helps if you turn it on." We all laugh with him.

Luka continues plucking and strumming. "When you come out on a Tuesday after a bank holiday, you must really love the music. I have been watching the news this week. It reminded me of a little song I wrote five years ago. It's about Tibet."

1 As I Waved Goodbye
2 Here and Now
3 Tribe
4 Miracle Cure
5 Love the world I'm in
6 Primavera
7 Peace On Earth
8 Make you feel my love
9 City of Chicago
10 No matter where you go, there you are
11 Eastbound Train
12 Sunday

Rudy comes out to play

13 Exploring the blue
14 Candle in the window
15 Every Man
16 Ciara
17 Couldn't have come at a better time
18 Sunny Sailor Boy

The two "Mountain and the Moon" songs opened me up in a way that I had forgotten about. Tribe and Eastbound Train were my two songs of the evening. Oh and "Exploring the Blue" was where I lifted off. Written in my notes "Best Ever!!!"

I was glad to see Luka standing at the mic again. He could throw the head back, close the eyes, and bring us to the places in the songs.

He was in very good voice. His guitar playing looked effortless. His anecdotes brought us all over the world and made us feel at home. From a Candle in the Window to the deepest part of your singular ocean.

The audience were very polite, very quiet. It was like having Luka play in your front room. While introducing "No matter where you go....", his favourite title of all his songs, "I see that two people bought 'Innocence'", he said. Meself and the other guy had cheered. Nowhere to hide.

A mellow Luka Bloom soulful evening. None better.

After the show there was a table set up in the foyer. Luka, and his two female assistants, chatted away and signed CDs and DVDs. Brisk trade. Some people were buying two or three items.

Good news, Anne will still be running the Luka On-Line store. Christy Moore mentioned recently that she was moving to pastures new.

So, I asked him, "What's the new album called?"
"The Acoustic Superhighway", he says. "Naw", he laughs, shaking his head.

Hope you get to see him soon. He is rather good.

- Dolf

Komedia, Brighton
Sunday, 13 April 2008

After several weeks of arguing with myself over the 'necessity' of going to Luka's Brighton gig, when, after all, I will see him at the Union Chapel in only a week's time, I gave into weakness on Thursday and rang up the Komedia and bought a ticket. So, after my usual Sunday afternoon singing lesson in central London, I drove down to Brighton enjoying a lovely, long-overdue spring day, marked by intermittent showers and dazzling sunshine.

The Komedia is a funky kind of place: the walls are dark red and the place feels a bit cave-like. Access to the two event venues in the building is through a cafe at street level. Luka's gig was upstairs; on the ground floor, a stand-up comedy event was happening but through the entire evening we never heard anything of them... I wonder if they could hear anything from us...? The doors opened at 7.30 pm by which time a little crowd of people had collected in the cafe. A nice buzz of anticipation was running through everyone, and then we were up the stairs and into a room set with little round tables, each with a lit candle and 3 or 4 chairs. The stage was quite high (Luka's feet would be at eye level). A table was set with water for Luka and a vase of yellow roses. The backdrop was midnight blue with little starlike pinpricks -- it reminded me of the Helix gig on the DVD.

The tickets were sold stating "event starts at 8 pm" but when we came in we were told that had been moved back to 8.30 pm. There were a few half-hearted mumbles about that and I must say I was surprised, as I have never heard of Luka keeping his audiences waiting. Sure enough, he came on at 8.10, so maybe the Komedia staff were just playing it safe.

Luka came on stage to warm applause. The room was lit with spotlights throughout and he said how great it was to be able to see everybody! He got a bit of a surprise though. He sang much of his first song with his eyes closed. When he finished the song and opened his eyes, he found that all the lights (except the ones shining down on him) had been turned off -- we had all disappeared! This was a shame, as the darkness deprived us and Luka of the direct eye contact that he likes to have with his audiences.

On to the music...I took proper notes this time and can give you the full set list as follows:

Luka Bloom [with the Spanish guitar]
1  I Am Not At War
2  Here And Now
3  As I Waved Goodbye
4  Tribe
5  I Love The World I'm In
6  Miracle Cure
7  Blackwater Side
8  Make You Feel My Love
9  Eastbound Train
10  Sunday
11  Peace On Earth
12  Primavera
13  City of Chicago
14  No Matter Where You Go, There You Are
15  I'm A Bogman

[then Rudy's turn]
16  Exploring The Blue
17  I'm On Your Side
18  Every Man
19  You Couldn't Have Come At A Better Time

Encore [with Rudy]
20  When Your Love Comes
21  Fire
22  Sunny Sailor Boy

Highlights for me were the particularly exquisite guitar bridge in Miracle Cure and hearing the story behind When Your Love Comes. When introducing Every Man at a recent gig, Luka said that he had been to too many funerals lately. I felt sad to hear that, but -- looking for the silver lining to this cloud -- it appears that, in his personal way of dealing with these losses, Luka has tapped into a rich song-writing vein. Every Man is a real gem, both simple and profound, and When Your Love Comes is an outstanding tribute celebrating a friend's life and passion, rather than wallowing in grief.

Sunny Sailor Boy was a fabulous way to end the gig, with everybody singing. Just before we came to the finish, Luka interjected "I forgot to tell you, I'll be hearing confessions and signing CDs..." which resulted in the song ending in laughter as well as applause and whistles.

I don't know about any confessions, but there was a lot of interest in the DVD set and everything purchased on the night got signed. I was trying to think of a legitimate reason to buy another CD or something, just for an excuse to get it signed... but then had the bright idea of getting my set list signed!! That capped off a perfect evening.

- Rebecca

Luka Bloom
photo by Rebecca

Union Chapel, London
Monday, 21 April 2008

Wow!!! What a venue!!! Visually it is quite spectacular, all proper wooden craftsmanship, with intricately detailed stained glass windows, and the acoustics were amazing. Luka's voice and guitar filled all the spaces beautifully. Our voices didn't seem to quite do that when we sang with him, but Luka said afterward that he could hear us all very well, so he must have been getting the best of us just as we were getting the best of him!

But I get ahead of myself.... a special feature of this gig was the fact he had an opening support act, and he could not have had a better one in Claire Tchaikowski. They have known each other for a long time (he told the story of how they met in Lausanne, her home town, in the early 1990s) but had never shared a stage before, so it was a special gig for them both for that reason.

Claire sang for about 30 minutes, accompanied by two very talented chaps - Hugh Wilkinson on percussion and Tom Howe on guitar. Her songs are in a contemporary singer/songwriter style, not really what I'd call 'folk'. They are quite original with strongly emotive lyrics -- but it is her singing that sets them apart! Her voice reminded me at times of Sarah McLachlan... at other times of Enya (who she cites as an influence for her) -- a pure lilting soprano that soared over us like a dove. Her final song was Ride On, sung a capella. I'd never heard anyone but Christy sing this but she made it all her own. Just gorgeous. (Go check her out on MySpace and listen to her downloads!!)

And now on to Luka!

Here is the set list, starting on the Spanish guitar:

Luka Bloom 1  As I Waved Goodbye
2  Here And Now
3  Tribe
4  Miracle Cure
5  I Love The World I'm In
6  Make You Feel My Love
7  Primavera
8  Sunday
9  Eastbound Train
10  City Of Chicago
11  No Matter Where You Go, There You Are
12  Peace On Earth
13  I'm A Bogman

(change of guitars to Rudy)
14  Exploring The Blue
15  Gone To Pablo
16  Fire
17  I'm On Your Side
18  Sunny Sailor Boy
19  You Couldn't Have Come At A Better Time

20  When Your Love Comes
21  Ciara
22  I'll Walk Beside You
(a cappella)

Every gig is different of course, not just for the venue but for the people and the vibe and how Luka is feeling and playing on the night. The Union Chapel had, I felt, a restful, soothing effect. We know how Luka puts so much energy into his live performances and makes each one feel fresh and new but I thought this evening had a slightly different pace to it than his other gigs I've been to recently. The entire evening felt more contemplative. Perhaps our surroundings lent a little reverence to the occasion...? The tempo of the songs was a little slower and his voice savoured each word, giving each note its full value -- beautiful! Of course the cheeky jokes were all still there, with, for example, natives of Roscommon bearing the brunt of his introduction to No Matter Where You Go, There You Are: "there are places in Ireland where the gene pool is too small..." But things cannot quite be 'business as usual' when you're playing "Irish folk/punk/rap" music in a church -- a hasty "sorry!" was inserted immediately after "everybody's gone online, where nothing is real - big f*cking deal" in Fire, as if he suddenly remembered where he was!! ;)

Some songs that particularly stood out for me were:

Primavera - slowed down almost to the pace of the studio recording. Luka sang the first verse particularly softly, tenderly, then built up power and volume with each verse that followed. The result was spine-tingling!!

Sunday - the irony of the sentiments were especially poignant in this setting! And I get a kick out of the way Luka introduces this song with "I've just thought of a little song I'd like to play tonight" as if it's not on his set list and it has only just popped into his head to play it... does he say this at every gig? :)

City of Chicago - there has always been a hint of melancholy and yearning in this song but this performance went further, with what I thought was a sense of mourning, hinting at proper old-fashioned Irish keening -- a beautifully controlled yet incredibly emotional performance.

Peace On Earth was exquisitely played -- he could have gone on for another 20 minutes and I wouldn't have noticed the passing of time, much less minded!

Then he went straight to I'm A Bogman, apologising to us for the abrupt change of mood!!

When Your Love Comes -- his tribute to his friend John O'Donohue who died unexpectedly in January -- what an intense song! Luka may say he's no good at writing "sexy songs" but I beg to differ!!

For the final song of his encore, Luka placed Rudy on his rest, stepped in front of the microphone, out of the lights, stood on the very front edge of the stage and sang I'll Walk Beside You a capella. Every note hung in the air as bright as any pane in the glorious stained glass windows and we hung there with them, hushed and prayerful. When the last note finally faded away, I am sure I am not the only one who wanted to say 'Amen'.

Afterwards, Luka and his new UK manager Jane Skinner manned a little stand at the back, where Luka signed CDs, DVDs and no doubt whatever else anybody wanted signed! And he was free with the chat and banter, very relaxed. Of course we are dying to know about the next album! He said he has finished recording it and is very pleased with it, but says it is not like anything he's ever done before -- which is a rather intriguing thing for him to say, after Tribe!! :) The mixing of the new album is about to start, and he hopes it will be released in the autumn. I asked him about Don't Be Afraid Of The Light That Shines Within You, since he mentioned it in a recent radio interview -- he said it is "the big song" on the album! Also on the album is When Your Love Comes. The recent gigs have certainly whet our appetite for that one.

Rena asked him about his touring schedule through the rest of the year -- LOTS of dates still to be confirmed. I didn't catch all of them and have a memory like a sieve anyway, so all I can say on that score is 'watch the website!!'

At 11pm the church had to close up so we went up into the bar, where we were very pleased to have a chance to speak to Claire for a few minutes.

The evening ended all too soon for me, though in fact I very nearly missed the last train home!! A fantastic evening - looking forward to the next time!

- Rebecca

Luka Bloom
Luka Bloom
photos by Rebecca

Union Chapel, London
Monday, 21 April 2008

The highlight of our trip to London was of course Luka his wonderful concert at the beautiful Union Chapel in Islington! It's indeed a great venue with an outstanding acoustic. Rebecca has already described the place and captured the great atmosphere of the whole night so wonderful, that I want to add just some of my personal impressions and favourites.

Claire Tchaikowski was a great opening act for Luka! I really enjoyed her performance, and I loved especially the two unaccompanied songs of her set. I don't remember the name of her first song, but when she began to sing, her beautiful voice filled the room and it sounded really amazing! Also her last song was performed a cappella. It was 'Ride On', written by Jimmy McCarthy, but probably better known is Christy Moore's brilliant interpretation of this song. Claire's version was very different, but really impressive too!

After a short break Luka came out. After four years I was so used to see him sitting on a stool during his shows, that it was a bit unusual at first to see him standing again. But actually it doesn't matter a lot, standing or sitting, his performance was as captivating as always: As I Waved Goodbye, Here And Now, Tribe, Miracle Cure, Make You Feel My Love, Primavera, Eastbound Train, City of Chicago, No Matter Where You Go, There You Are, Peace on Earth... and on top a brilliant version of his Bogman song!

It's always great to hear the 'oldies' again - Exploring the Blue and Gone to Pablo - and they use to get an extra applause!! And all the new songs he played tonight make you look forward to getting his new album hopefully very soon!! So beautiful the Australian inspired song 'I Love The World I'm In', 'Sunday' - a song about not going to mass, 'Fire' - inspired by his antipathy to earphones, and 'I'm On Your Side' - a song for everyone who needs a bit of solidarity!

Sunny Sailor Boy had a great audience participation and sounded wonderful in the church! After finishing the main set with a very powerful and energetic version of 'You Couldn't Have Come At A Better Time' - occasionally accompanied by some enthusiastic clapping - he left the stage, only to come back immediately to sing us some more songs... 'the dressing room would be miles away!!' :-)

But at first he told us the story how he met Claire in Switzerland. He began telling about his touring with the Cowboy Junkies in 1990, Lausanne, Good Friday, the club Dolce Vita, etc. etc., and knowing the story as the introduction to the 'Bridge of Sorrow', I expected to hear this song and wrote it down in the setlist. But this time the story had nothing to do with the song, it was also the first time that he met Claire. 18 years later they played together in London and it has become another unforgettable night! :-)

For me the most outstanding song of the night was his next song. A new song inspired by a very good friend who died some months ago, only one day after his 52nd birthday. He was a very special man, for some years a priest, later a poet and writer of some wonderful books. He had just found the woman of his dreams, the love of his life, when he died so unexpectedly.... He didn't mention his name, but I knew the story so very well. Luka said, he wanted to write a song for him, and it could not be a 'sad song', it had to be a 'sexy song': When Your Love Comes! I do not remember much of the lyrics, but the introduction was so moving and the song was so intense, that it took me a while to get back listening to the next song, Ciara.

The always so beautiful a cappella version of 'I'll Walk Beside You' was the perfect closing song for this special night at the Union Chapel and it ended with a standing ovation!

- Rena

Black Box, Belfast
Sunday, 4 May 2008

Bit of a mad thing to do, to fly from London to Belfast just for the afternoon... just for a gig... but when it's a Luka gig? Well... and, as it happens, quite right too!

This gig was part of the 2008 Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival, but when I arrived at 1pm, there wasn't much outward sign of a festival going on. It was raining and most of the events seemed to be taking place indoors, so perhaps the deserted streets should not have surprised me. The Cathedral Quarter is the oldest part of the city, near the docks, with narrow little cobblestone streets -- once the warehouse district, now home to a lot of artistic enterprises. Black Box is a fairly recent venture, housed in a converted warehouse. Outside, it is painted pristine white - though the ironwork e.g. gates are black -- but inside, it is indeed a "Black Box". The performing space is square, with entry coming in from the side, level with the stage. The lights were kept dim and the overriding impression is definitely one of Blackness. Seating for the audience was arranged around small tables but cosmetic decorations were absent: no candles, no flowers, the chairs being made of nasty perhaps-once-white resin ('garden furniture'), and the stage was likewise: just sound equipment, nothing extra. But it's the sound that's created in that space that's important, and wow, what a sound we got -- and made!!!

I met a few people outside before they started letting us in: Matt & Steph from Glasgow and Fiona from Tasmania now living in Dublin. Matt & Steph were the first to arrive at the venue and were waiting by the gate when I arrived. I'd never met them before but Steph greeted me by name -- shock!! Apparently the Forum and Facebook have made me famous! Once in the door in the 'holding area', we got to chatting with Fiona, another Internet booker without a bona fide ticket, like me. So the four of us sat together inside, right at the front in the centre. Perfect!!

Ruby Colley Support for Luka was Ruby Colley, originally from Essex (I believe she said) but now living in Belfast. She's been playing violin since age 3, was classically trained, has a degree in Composition, now an experimental composer & performer & artist-in-residence for the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival 2008, opening for many of the headline acts throughout the Festival. More info including downloads at She (and Luka too, later) were frequently stooping down to adjust the sound mix. [Luka didn't have Paul Scully, his usual sound man on the UK tour, with him and called out several times to the Black Box sound man at the controls, but didn't seem to get much real assistance. He made jokes about it -- as he did what he could with the controls on the stage -- but I don't think it was really all that funny for him...] Ruby seemed totally accustomed to doing it all herself. A very self-possessed young lady with an unusual sound. Not to everyone's taste but I was filled with admiration for her. She's creative, innovative and very brave to do what she does. And thankfully enough people seem to 'get it' that she is getting some recognition and support from both the public and other artists. Fair play t' her!

So, the Main Man.

Okay, this may be a girly thing to notice, but my first impression was that the ubiquitous black shirt from the UK tour is no longer quite so black and should now, in my opinion, be honourably but permanently retired! Though honestly, once he starts making music, who cares about the shirt!!

Luka Bloom Set List
(Martin classical guitar)
1  Here And Now
2  As I Waved Goodbye
3  Tribe
4  Primavera
5  Make You Feel My Love
6  City of Chicago
7  No Matter Where You Go, There You Are
8  Sunday
9  Eastbound Train

(switch to Rudy)
10  Exploring The Blue
11  Gone To Pablo
12  Fire
13  I'm On Your Side
14  Every Man
15  Sunny Sailor Boy
16  The Fertile Rock


17  You Couldn't Have Come At A Better Time
(back to Martin guitar)
18  Diamond Mountain
19  Don't Be Afraid Of The Light That Shines Within You
(accompanied by Ruby Colley on violin)

A few songs into the set, Luka asked for either the air conditioning to be turned off or the stage lights to be turned up, because "okay, I'm sweatin' up here, as I'm sure you can see, but I'm feckin' freezin'!" He then looked to the audience for backup -- unfortunately, most people seemed to want the air con to stay on! The stage lights never did get turned up any brighter for him. :(

The songs that really stood out for me, both at the time and looking back now, were:

WOW! What a performance from the audience!! Dare I say, better than the audience in the Carre on the live Amsterdam album!! I had shivers!! And NOT from the air con!! I wish I could have got a picture of Luka grinning with pleasure & astonishment!! :)

I think it's been a while since this song featured live... Luka said he was heckled for it last Friday night in Belgium by a BIG man at the front "who had all the hippie gear on, but 'PSYCHO' in his eyes....better safe than sorry!" Well, I say 'thank you' to Psycho Man in Belgium ;)

Please please please let this be on the new album. Third time I've heard it this year and each time I find something new in it to love. This time, 'a butterfly leaves the room', leaving behind it, grace.

Perennial sing-along favourite, enthusiastically sung by everyone!

Again, how the audience sang along -- every word!

Another fabulous old favourite, and an especially tender performance of it.

And lastly, the highlight (for me) of the entire day:
This is one of my all-time favourite songs by ANY artist. Luka described how he had been trying to write a song for St Brigid's Day and took inspiration from a line used by Nelson Mandela in his inaugural presidential speech: "it's not the darkness people are afraid of, but the light within".
Ruby's violin was an inspired accompaniment.


More shivers! :)

A few fragment memories of Luka's introductions and chat:

He explained how he wrote the song about the day the Dalai Lama left his home in Tibet on 17 March 1959 (to which he has not, to this day, been free to return) and how honoured he felt to be asked to play it for the Dalai Lama himself in Derry last year at the 10th anniversary of Children in Crossfire. Then Luka said that the Chinese government recently stated again that the Dalai Lama is a criminal - "Well, I have met him. He is NOT a criminal."

There were the usual lines Luka uses to make the transition from CITY OF CHICAGO (written 24 years ago about emigration) to this song about immigration - "Now Ireland is a destination for immigrants. This is a Good Thing! Because there are some places in Ireland, ladies and gentlemen, where the gene pool is a little too small."
And then he added: "Darlin', I'm so sad we're gettin' a divorce, but can we still be cousins?" (!!)

His intro was about Australia (Fiona could not suppress a cheer!) -- and he was going on at some length about something, until suddenly he said "See, I should shut up and just sing!" Steff & I exchanged glances -- I am sure we were both remembering when the DVD came out in February (the documentary having, in Luka's opinion, "way too much of me talking shite.... maybe it is best to sing the song, and then shut up") -- which resulted in a post on his website entitled "The Man Is Waffling"!

Altogether a very memorable afternoon and one of the best -- if not THE best -- gig ever!!

And when we came out of the Black Box at 5.45, we found the rain had cleared -- the sunshine was absolutely dazzling off all the wet shiny cobblestones! On the bus ride back to Belfast International to catch my flight back to London, I got to see all the scenery that had been hidden by gloom and rain that morning, which was a glorious ending to a fantastic day.

- Rebecca

Luka Bloom
Luka Bloom
photos by Rebecca

De Barra's, Clonakilty
Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Went to see Luka Bloom in De Barra's last night. What a fantastic repertoire and energy the man has. Energy? He sang full on, and I mean full on, for 2 whole hours....and that after a 20 mile cycle, kayaking in Ross and a swim. This guy is like a 20 year old....BRILLIANT!

I must apologise to the anoraks. I didn't make out a setlist. I like to live the moment! He played all his own material though. I Am Not At War struck me as particularly apt for the frustrating times we've been going through at present.

Next week he's going to do a gig of covers. This I find very frustrating. There will be 3 gigs in total at Music Mecca, West Cork. As everyone knows the first gig is always the best, is the last. So now. With this interesting prospect for next Tuesday it looks like I have to go to all 3 gigs

Oh, by the way....a new CD is finished and waiting to be launched. Happy days.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008 was absolutely WONDERFUL.

I spent the first hour enjoying the lovely collection of covers which spanned the whole spectrum including Dylan, Leonard Cohen and the Bee Gees. The second hour I spent wondering where the man gets all the energy from. He just went into overdrive and that was it. Spellbinding.

And what a lovely guy he is too. You'll just have to get over for next week's gig....... he promised the ladies that he would be taking off his shirt.

> setlist

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Well, its over.

The Luka trilogy has ended. But what a lovely ending. Three superb nights of entertainment by a pure pro. Three very different gigs. It's amazing the different atmosphere the slight changes to a set-list can make. At one stage last night I thought ...'this cant go on'. He sang Acoustic Motorbike and Delirious back to back - it was some adrenaline rush. He told us that he has to be completely wired to play Delirious and last night was so very ripe for a rendition.

The new Bee Gees song (Islands In The Stream) got an airing again so I reckon it might be around for a while. Luka really enjoys quality audience participation and everyone sang along with this one.

I didnt manage to 'borrow' the set-list last night. Somebody else got there before me. I wouldn't mind but the same guy even sat in MY place.

Anyway, as the night was closing Luka explained that the changing-room was just too far to go to and that he couldn't be bothered going through the motions. He assumed we would want an enchore (yeah, like we wouldn't!!!). So to finish up he invited the nephew up on stage to join him. No. It wasn't our resident Moore but the young and very talented Conor Byrne on the flute. They played Lonesome Robin, a few jigs and then finished with 'When Your Love Comes'. An absolutely beautiful and fitting end to what was a great few weeks.

Luka, come to Clon anytime for a holiday.

- Richie

Tom Malone's Pub - Market House Theatre, Miltown Malbay
Wednesday, 30 July 2008

What a night! The most unusual gig I've ever been to, of any kind of music by any artist. Why? How often does a "paying gig" feel as pure and simple as a night with your mates, all packed into someone's living room (or, in this case, sauna) having a great party?! But if strangers are simply friends you haven't met yet, then that's exactly what Wednesday night in Malone's was: a night with 100 friends, brought together by a love for the songs, singing together, laughing together, drinking together and, yes, sweating together! It takes a very special artist to make (or let) that kind of evening happen -- and that artist is Luka Bloom.

The venue was, how shall I put it... chairs for 60 people but about 100 tickets sold. 'Small' doesn't quite convey how truly close together we were... or how in-Luka's-face we were... or he in ours! 'Intimate' implies quietness... we were anything but that! 'Friendly' better pulls the concepts of 'small' and 'intimate' together but sounds far too tame... The bottom line? The room was a mosh pit. Without the dancing.

I was in the front row, centre, my feet ON the stage. If I straightened a leg, my foot was on the base of the mic stand. When Luka stepped to his left to listen to the audience, the guitar swung round at face level. Meself and the guy to my right kept ducking.

The toilets were behind the stage. To get to them, you had to cross the stage. In front of Luka. Some did it while he was singing. He didn't bat an eyelid. If someone approached just as he was ready to start the next song, he'd step back, wave them through, THEN start. He dubbed the stage 'Grand Central Station'.

And of course we had all the usual banter, but this night it wasn't Luka doing all the talking. Good-natured heckling flew to and from both sides of that small stage. Our chief spokeswoman was Angela from Belfast, up front and two chairs to my left. When Luka gave his usual intro to Lorelei "...lots of songs have been written about that rock -- this one's the best of them", she retorted "We'll be the judge of that!" It was exquisitely sung -- a stand out that night -- and at the end she said "Okay, Luka, yours is the best" and he saluted her. Fair play.

Likewise his intro to Miracle Cure: "Forgiveness can be the hardest thing... especially when you know you're right!" We hooted with laughter but he insisted "It's true! You know it's true!"

And Luka's astonishment to find, when recounting the first time he sang Eastbound Train, that we had a couple amongst us who were there, yes, in Heiligenhaus that night, part of that now legendary audience who sang along the first time they heard it.

It was just so bloody HOT... About half way through, Luka said he was reminded of a gig he did in New Orleans, opening for The Pogues in about 1988. The night was heavy with heat and humidity. He sat resting, sweating, after his own set, when, just as The Pogues took the stage, the storm broke, with the first crash of thunder chiming with the first clash of guitar. Said he hadn't thought of that night for 20 years. Until tonight.

He does like it hot though and no doubt would have happily played straight through the set without a break, but he could see we were suffering so at the point when he changed guitars, he suggested a short time-out and just sat down on stage while people headed for the bar. But once he'd stopped moving, he must have felt chilled in his soaked-through shirt, because he then decided a proper 10-minute interval was a great idea -- and went off to put a dry shirt on.
Luka Bloom
Thank You For Bringing Me Here
There Is A Time
Eastbound Train
Miracle Cure
Blackwater Side
Make You Feel My Love
City Of Chicago
No Matter Where You Go, There You Are
Peace On Earth
Water Ballerina
- interval -
Exploring The Blue / Te Adoro
Every Man
When Your Love Comes
I'm On Your Side
Sunny Sailor Boy
Fertile Rock
Acoustic Motorbike

Islands In The Stream
You Couldn't Have Come At A Better Time

As it was, he came on stage at 9:15, played til 11:45. Whew!
I said to him afterwards 'I don't know how you do this'.
He said 'Neither do I!'

The next day he was heard to describe the night as hilarious -- and he wasn't being sarcastic. Many singers would have felt distracted, annoyed and/or insulted -- by the heat, the closeness, the heckling, the to-and-froing across the stage, the complete anarchy. But I think Luka was laughing inside, all night! Because the whole scene was absolutely mad -- a truly unforgettable, special, once in a lifetime kind of night.

- Rebecca

Luka Bloom
photos by Rebecca

Royal Spa Hotel, Lisdoonvarna
Thursday, 31 July 2008

Following the informality and irreverence of the Malone's gig, the Royal Spa Hotel was a much more civilised setting for this, the last concert of the 'Summer Nights' Tour. The attendance was not much higher than in Malone's (about 130, I understand), but the Hotel venue is at least 4-5 times the size of the room in Malone's, with the chairs here set out in sedate rows with ample legroom, and a good-sized stage - which Luka had all to himself!

The mood was friendly and relaxed, with the audience giving Luka a warm, affectionate reception and their undivided attention and respect the whole evening – no interruptions or heckling tonight! Luka himself seemed in a mellow mood and chose to feature songs with connections to the local area: songs about places in Clare, especially the Burren, which reflect his attachment to the area, and songs he has written while visiting or staying in Clare over the years.

The introductions and stories were more or less the same ones he has been telling for these songs over some time, with possibly one notable addition: he related a funny anecdote about Mohamed (which had nothing at all to do with the song inspired by Mohamed's journey from Algeria to Galway, No Matter Where You Go, There You Are), about how he got to know Mohamed in Amsterdam and noticed that he didn't abstain from alcohol and the 'wacky baccy', so he asked him how that fit in with being Muslim. Mohamed's reply: "I'm an easy Muslim." Luka understood that immediately, having known a fair few 'easy Catholics' in his time – and perhaps counting himself amongst them!

Luka Bloom SET LIST:
Water Ballerina
Thank You For Bringing Me Here
Eastbound Train
I Love The World I'm In
Make You Feel My Love
Diamond Mountain
City Of Chicago
No Matter Where You Go, There You Are
Peace On Earth
Te Adoro / Exploring The Blue / Te Adoro
I'm On Your Side
Every Man
When Your Love Comes
Acoustic Motorbike

Islands In The Stream
You Couldn't Have Come At A Better Time
Sunny Sailor Boy

I was especially moved by Lorelei, both tonight and the night before. The tenderness and subtlety of Luka's singing raised goosebumps on my arms. I wish I had asked him if this song is on the new album - it is such a beauty.

Likewise, When Your Love Comes sounds better every time I hear it, if that's possible. Or maybe my love for it just keeps growing. Tonight it was sung with lots of contrast in power and pitch, running the gamut from whisper to full cry. I confess that I wasn’t too keen on the humming accompaniment when he first started that as an experiment during the UK tour last spring, but I am completely won over now! When it works, as tonight it so definitely did, the song somehow conveys both the earthy and the sublime. Outstanding.

Another memorable rendition tonight was Te Adoro, used as bookends for Exploring The Blue: when he picked up Rudy, he started with a few bars of Te Adoro, then went into Exploring The Blue, and then segued smoothly back into Te Adoro to play it in its entirety. And tonight he played it especially well. For a man who 'still has no clue what he's doing', Luka is quite a virtuoso on guitar. At one point towards the end of Te Adoro, I thought fleetingly "now he's just showing off" (!) and just at that moment an odd inward smile appeared on Luka's face and stayed there as he played out the song. Was that a sort of 7-year-old boy "look Ma, no hands" moment? Or was it all in my head? :)

A moment's forgetfulness during Tribe nonetheless showcased Luka's professionalism. If he forgets a word or a line, he seamlessly throws in a kind of Irish scat singing, inventing sounds to replace missing words so quickly and smoothly that, unless you are paying strict attention, you might not even notice he's done it. And it sounds charmingly Irish and makes the rendition unique to the night, converting his memory lapse from mistake to unexpected bonus!

As ever, the audience was willing yet shy about singing along to Islands In The Stream. On about the third or fourth chorus, Luka stopped singing to let us take over and here, as at the Cobh gig, I got caught out. Everyone sang out the first note, then, realising Luka had stopped, nobody sang the second one – except for that not-very-alert American in the front row (blush) who was left "high, wide and lonesome"! Thankfully everyone else recovered quickly! Within a short time we were all at full throttle again.

Peace On Earth – more goosebumps.

We all loved Diamond Mountain, introduced as the "only good song" to come out of a week-long stay in a cottage in Clare in the early 1990s, just after Luka's first visit to Australia. Personally I think this song is one of his all-time best, which makes me wonder if the others he came up with that week were really all that bad...

Since this was the last night of the tour, I tried to savour every song and how he played and sang them tonight, but still found myself a bit sad and nostalgic when it was over. As was the case during the UK tour, it was very easy to make friends with others who love Luka's work, most of whom have seen him perform many times and hope to again soon. Tonight I met some Americans who were having dinner in Doolins Cafe three years ago when quite to their surprise a Dutch television crew locked the doors and turned on the cameras... They bought the DVD set tonight.

So, another wonderful concert, more great memories. And a fitting end to Luka's little tour round Ireland. So nice of him to invite us to join him on his summer holidays! :)

- Rebecca

> photo by Rebecca

Bickford Theatre, Morristown, NJ
Friday, 5 September 2008

I was so lucky to be in attendance at The Bickford Theater this past Friday. I brought along three Luka "virgins" who are now among us that know the power that this man has mastered with his deftly crafted music and performances.

Every time I see Luka in performance, I spend time just thinking about all the talents that Luka brings to bear in the course of his performance. First, the man is a poet. His words convey such a deep and diverse knowledge of a myriad of topics and he seamlessly blends and weaves these elements into his lyrics. Marrying the words to music that brings home and further reinforces the message of the song is the next bit of wizardry he employs. There are many people who have mastered the art of music and lyrics, but now we come to the art of performance.

There are just a handful of artists can deliver their message with the virtuosity and mastery, as effectively and passionately as our man. Luka now gets a platform to exhibit the songs that come from within the silence and depth of his solitary being. He now gets to share his deepest, private thoughts with all of us both 'on record’ and in live performance. His live performances are all different in terms of sets, songs and location but the same in the essential elements and the way that the audience feels after a performance. The exhilaration of seeing a fellow human sharing and utilizing all his many gifts to bring us in touch with own our humanity is beyond powerful. It’s what keeps us all coming back to see Luka again and again. He always builds a show contrasting quiet and raucous, dark and light, serious and funny. He brings us to a place not bound to the confines of the actual spot we’re inhabiting. We’re in the Lukasphere of complete harmony and joy at the great mystery and perfect interconnectedness of all life and all experience. Despite his obvious mastery, he remains our humble friend, happy to be our guide to our better selves.

I was not writing a set list down, being so enraptured by each and every song, old and new. He did a great job of structuring the set [something that I really appreciate] with both old and new songs and building to a fever pitch toward the conclusion. Here are some specific recollections as to songs in no special order..

I Am Not At War…the opener very quiet and solemnly beautiful

Primavera…so passionate, so loving

Tribe…Luka had us humming along as background singers

City Of Chicago…always a favorite, then into the other side of Irish immigration, Mohamed’s story

No Matter Where You Go, There You Are…in my mind one of Luka’s masterpieces, played with extreme virtuosity

Exploring the Blue…gorgeous extended guitar instrumental

When Doves Cry…I love Prince but Luka owned it with this rousing version

I'm On Your Side…one of four or five new songs, all terrific and instant Luka classics

Monsoon…a prelude to the weather we experienced on Saturday showing off Luka’s passionate romantic side

You Couldn't Have Come At A Better Time...rave up set completer, a fitting send off with gratitude from Luka for all who were present

You…one of two encores, a song of gratitude and then to the final rave up, one of my favorites in Luka’s catalog

Acoustic Motorbike…beautifully re-energized and evolved, made relevant again by the world’s energy problems. Sometimes I think we could solve many problems in the world by electing visionary artists to top government positions. LUKA FOR PRESIDENT!!!

Obviously a most moving show. It was also great to finally meet Rena! I hope that I helped some of those who could not be there with the review. I bring such a high level of expectation to Luka shows. The man always meets and exceeds my high expectations. I have seen Luka 35-40 times beginning with the tour for Acoustic Motorbike. I may write again after the Turning Point show......

- Tom Gramegna

World Café Live, Philadelphia, PA
Sunday, 7 September 2008

The show at World Café was wonderful. It's always great to hear some of the new songs live before the recorded and stamped version sinks in.

It was a delight to meet our dear friends: Rena, Erwin and Vicky again and to meet some new faces to go with names from Lukalist and the forum at Deb, Eileen, Sheryl and Terri.

So I'm not good with the names of the new songs but here goes the set list:

1. Primavera - one of my all time favorites, love the rich guitar on this
2. There is a Time --> the new record's not ready yet...
3. Lorelei -- just lovely, one of the best
4. Tribe -- Sunday singers are shy, Luka
5. Just the Way She Is
6. See You Soon
-----> the air-conditioning rant, rolling the stage light around
7. City of Chicago
8. Wherever you go there you are
-- the Mohamed song
9. Eastbound Train
10. To Make You Feel My Love
11. Peace On Earth
----> good choice. I was afraid Vicky was going to be the middle person in a Sunday night brawl. One should not drink so much that you don't know you are talking too loud and bothering everyone around you. Not Vicky or Luka mind you, just some embarrassing young lovers. Shame on them for destroying the vibe for many around them, so selfish...

And the man was just warming up...

12. Dreams in America -- Oooo so long since we heard this one
13. Gone to Pablo
14. Te Adoro
15. I'm On Your Side
-- more lovely surprises
16. Everyman
17. When Your Love Comes
18. When Doves Cry
---------> the hula dancer was great on this one
19. You Couldn't Have Come at a Better Time

20. Acoustic Motorbike
21. Sunny Sailor Boy
22. I'll Walk Beside You
- a capella

Gorgeous, Lovely. Sensuous. Brilliant. Heart-warming. Amusing...well just damn GREAT!

The Man and his music have done it again...the smile is back

I believe the difference in set list was because the written list wasn't on stage and he started without it and just went with the room vibe. Great choices!

Funny when Luka was getting the crowd warmed up to hum and oooAhh and sing along, he rehearsed it but during the song a lady kept singing and he said "no more wine for you"... it just gave me the giggles, he didn't blink, it just came out. I guess he knew it was bound to happen on a new song.

I don't know which new song is my favorite. Do I have to have one? It may take some time after I get the album. See You Soon is the melody that stays with me the most and probably reverberates with me after seeing Rena, Erwin and Vicky again.

He did promise to see us in May, so there will be another opportunity for all to come to Philly and visit the World Cafe. It's a terrific venue for him and You!

Thank you, Luka!

Pedaling on...

- Denise ---> still smiling that smile

World Café Live, Philadelphia, PA
Sunday, 7 September 2008

Just wanted to second Denise's enthusiasm for the World Café show and to thank her for the great set-list/review. It really was a great show, start to finish, despite a few unpleasant distractions in the Philly audience and the arctic air-conditioning which had some of us shivering in our seats and set Luka off on a (good-natured) rant.

Highlights for me:

1) a delicious, reasonably-priced (after the sticker shock in NYC the night before!), organic-healthy dinner in the upstairs cafe before the show, in the company of other lukalisters... nice to have time to catch up or meet for the first time and to have the anticipation for the evening ahead build through the conversation.

2) the opening act was a nice surprise -- I had never heard of Rachael Sage before, and was, of course, just waiting for Luka's time to hit the stage :-) But Rachael came on and pretty much dazzled the audience with her avante-garde retro outfit and tunes, charming banter, flirtateous eyes and knowing lipsticked-smile, her sure, strong voice, and her chair-dancing, boot-tapping, finger-snapping playing at the keyboard. But even before she began playing, she won some of her audience over by saying how honored she was to be opening for Luka, since she was a HUGE fan of his... (If anyone wants an idea of Rachael, there is an interview and her singing a few songs here: - Homophonic: Rachael Sage)

3) Luka played some of the songs from the new CD that he hadn't played the two nights before... plus playing once again the song which had become my very favorite from the first listen in Morristown: 'When Your Love Comes' - indescribably sensuous and moving played live... will see if it's still my favorite when the CD version arrives.

4) And finally, the evening finishing with 'I'll Walk Beside You'. I had always wanted to hear Luka singing an a cappella song; this was my first, and it was tender, lovely and strong.

Thanks to all the nice folks I had the good fortune to meet and share good moments with during my three days and evenings of musical journeying!

- Eileen

Tupelo Music Hall, Londonderry, NH
Thursday, 11 September 2008

I can jump in with a little bit about Thursday, my only show of the tour so far -- fantastic!!! as you might guess from the new songs, there's energy we haven't seen in a few years, his voice and guitar playing sound great with no sign of strain, and he seemed happy and relaxed through the whole evening. Black shirt and jeans, since you asked :-)

Great venue, too, I think the structure may have been a private house originally, there's a beautiful porch out front - the performance room is large with a peaked roof, stage at one end and the audience had a choice of sitting in several rows of chairs up front, or at tables toward the back of the room.

Surely someone will have a complete setlist, but a few of the most memorable were Dreams in America, Acoustic Motorbike, When Doves Cry, and Gone To Pablo>Te Adoro>Exploring the Blue.

Today we're off to the ICONS festival, where at 9:30 pm we'll be seeing an outdoor gig, and looking forward to another (probably shorter) performance tomorrow afternoon.

- Paula

Tupelo Music Hall, Londonderry, NH
Thursday, 11 September 2008

I was also at the show on Thursday in Londonderry and had a great time. It was a 2 1/2 hour drive down from Vermont, but I got there in good time a grabbed a seat nice a and close to the stage. A nice thing about really enjoying a musician who cruises below the mainstream radar is that the show are small and intimate and you don't have to struggle to get a good seat or crane your neck to see.

I'm guessing its been two years since I last saw Luka play and as we can all guess I left feeling very happy, inspired and completely glad to have made the trip. The show started off somewhat slow and then built slowly with the tunes. (I noticed that his acoustic nylon string guitar had a big piece of duct tape running along its underside and later hear Paul (Luka's sound man extrordinaire) saying something about a crack and maybe it happened at the airport....).

Luka said he'd played all over the world: New York, Ansterdam, Austrailia, but he'd never played in New Hampshire and it was good to be finally be there! And then he said something about "Londonderry" being just a little more then he could handle, and would it be okay if he just went with "Derry"? Everyone laughed and clapped. I felt like there was a reference there I didn't get having to do with Ireland. Oh well....

After a nice mix of new and old tunes on the acoustic he switched over to Rudy, his electro-acoustic guitar for a mix of tunes that featured a large percentage of early tunes. Paula mentioned some of them: Dreams in America, When Doves Cry, Gone To Pablo-Te Adoro-Exploring the Blue.

He also played Acoustic Motorbike, a big favorite of mine being something of a cycling nut!

Others I remember are: Peace on Earth, City of Chicago, Innocence, No Matter Where You Go, There You Are, Diamond Mountain, Tribe, Sunny Sailor Boy.

Other (new) tunes that I remember him playing are: I'm On Your Side, I Love the World I'm In, Lorelei, Eastbound Train, Everyman.

There were many more, but these are the ones I recall. He played a bit over two hoursI was impressed by the lasting power of his old tunes at the same time I was completely taken in by the new ones.

After the show he generously signed CD's and chatted with folks. I had the pleasure of meeting fellow Lukalisters Rena, Paula, Vicky, and Deb. It was good to meet you all and fun to put faces to the names after many years of Lukalist residency!

Pedal on!

- Dave

Vicar Street, Dublin
Saturday, 1 November 2008

My friend Sandra and I travelled to Dublin, as we are not able to attend any of the concerts on the continent later in the year. Dublin was possible, we booked, went and were stunned!

After meeting Rena and Erwin in the hotel, at least I was a bit worried: other musicians were supposed to join in, yuks....

I have aired my dislike of "Salty Heaven" more than once on this list, so I will not repeat how much I hated the string quartett in the background of "Water ballerina"!

Then we went to Vicar Street Rena and Erwin were there of course, Adeline made it last minute, we did not meet anybody else, most likely because we did not know how ye all look like ;-)

Luka started very punctual (Germans like that, ye know :-) ) on his own, courting for the audience's acceptance, very strange to see that again, but I reckon this is him in Ireland.

Over here with us, he seems to be much more self-confident and high-profile....
Enough of kitchen psychology!

We were singing with him about "not (being)at war with anyone" followed by "City of Chicago" and "Primavera", "where ever you go, there you are" was not more than a "succes d'estime", I reckon the current discussion about immigration was not wanted by all the listeners at this stage of the concert - it felt strange to look into the stony faces around us during that song, which I love sooooo much.

"Make you feel my love" had the audience swinging and humming finally, followed by the very Irish: "Thank you for bringing me here". "Exploring the blue", "Gone to Pablo" and "Acoustic Motorbike" concluded the solo part of the evening.

Four words about the venue: lovely accoustics, shite seats!

"Lorely" opened the second part of the evening, when finally the double bass and the percussions on stage made sense, as two fellows joined Luka, have to admit I forgot their names (somthingHutchinson was the bass player, but the name of the drummer escapes me completely, sorry lad, you were great!)

"are you busy being right" - the official Sabine anthem was played, followed by "see you soon" and "I love the world I'm in". Then I heard "Tribe", and liked it for the first time, we all sang to it...

An "Eastbound train" left "down the line" (I am making up song titles, while I am going along here :-))

"when your love comes" finished the new album's part of the evening. Now we could listen to well known songs in a new arrangement: "Monsoon" sounds lovely with a double bass, "sunny sailor boy" was nicely sung by the audience, XXXX can't read my scribble on the bear mat for this song, then the "perfect groove" was perfectly adapted by bass and drums and then things got hectic and Connor Byrne came onto the stage, all together played "You couldn't have come" and the audience was completely enthused!

Connor left and Robby came: "Where's the fire now" was the perfect father and son duet, bejeasus, it turned into a rock concert and I just loved every second of it!!!!!!!!!!!

I think we have heard more after that, but I was too stunned to write down the next songs.
I only know we ended with the Bridget's day song and rocked the house :-)

Here endeth my accord of the evening, Sandra and I went away with a smile on our faces, had one or two proper pints and then quickly to bed, as the weekend was over next morning with an early flight.

Now we are back home and still smiling.
Hoping the same for all of you, going to see a show later this month/year.

- Sabine

Vicar Street, Dublin
Saturday, 1 November 2008

Did you ever have one of those evenings, where everything just works.
Seconds after I arrived at the venue I bumped into Adeline.
She was literally just off the plane from Paris, pulling a suitcase behind her.
My mate had had a flat tyre in the mountains of Cork with no spare and couldn't make the show.
"I'll sit with you", she sez. The Luka Listers are such a friendly bunch.
In no time at all, an announcement was made over the PA and we took our seats.
Only to find Rena and Erwin sitting at the exact same table.
Unbelievable. Small world.

It was strange to see a drum kit set up on stage.
And a double bass set up on the other side.
You just knew that to-night was going to be special.

The lights faded and Luka took the stage.
He was relaxed. He was at home.
He said "Hello" to a few people in the crowd.
Welcomed us all for coming and soon we all felt at home too.
With the American election on his mind, and the end of George Bush's reign coming closer,
Luka let us know that "I am not at war with anyone".
He was off.
"City of Chicago" and "No matter where you go" followed.
He was in fine voice. Powerful and strong.
At times, he stood three or four feet back from the microphone and let rip with those vocal chords of his.
Any closer and we would have been deafened.
"Turn down those amps, I'm not feckin' AC/DC", he sez.

Towards the end of the first set he picked up Rudi and played four of the old songs.
"Exploring the blue" was mighty.
Every time I see him sing that song and pull those sounds from his instrument,
he reminds me that he is a true artist at work.
It is not just the chords that he plays it's the dynamic of the music that shifts as the song progresses.
It's like he leaves some notes hanging in the air, waiting, for the next notes to catch up with them.
Creating harmonies and resonances.
I have often looked for the second guitar player, hiding in the wings.
Never did find him.
"Gone to Pablo" and "Te Adoro" left the crowd quiet, awesome.
"Acoustic Motorbike" brought smiles and bum shaking.
It was the Luka of ten years ago.
He was back. Throwing shapes.
The tendonitis that has plagued him was gone.
A really nice way to end the first set.

And we knew that there would be more.
The anticipation brought huge smiles to our faces.
It's like having two Luka shows in one evening.
And the next one would be different.
Very different to anything we had ever heard before.

Soon we were all back at our tables with the most uncomfortable seats in the world.
In the next hour or so, Luka would premier nine of the "11 Songs" in the way they were perceived.
Stand-a-lone Luka would often use his guitar percussively, to drive the song along.
In the setting to-night, he does not need to. He can play the softer lines. He can wait.
He will worry that his own guitar tuning is going haywire, only to be told,
"Don't worry we're tuning to you."
There are many laughs and in jokes between the musicians.
It is fantastic to see Luka so relaxed and not carrying the whole show on his shoulders.

He begins with "Lorelei". An ethereal song.
I remember watching the drummer and stand up bass player play, and thinking.
"I can't hear them. I can't hear them".
Luka is playing and singing quietly, a tone so soft and sure, and then I heard them.
Like ripples on the water. An undercurrent. Gentle breezes. Flourishes.
A huge grin grows on my face. That was so so sweet.

More songs from the new album followed and the next highlight for me was "When your love comes".
He says he wrote it for a friend who discovered love in his later years.
Rubbish. This is Luka doing sexy. Rock and roll sexy.
He nails this song. Really strong vocals, getting more and more intense.
The music rises and rises throughout and Luka just soared above it all.
I was laughing out loud by this stage.

For the first encore he was joined by Robbie for a version of "Fire".
I often wondered how he could do this one live. Now I know.
Powerful voice has our Luka but Robbie matched him.
Phrase for phrase, note for note. Take a bow, young man.
All I can say is, amazing.

Tonight, those were my highlights of a truly remarkable show.
A show that will stay with me for a very long time.
Although, we knew the songs from the album, to see them being played live,
with the band, was to bring them to a different level.
After the show, everyone was on such a high.
It would take some of us a week to come down from it.
I'm remembering it to-day. A month later.
I've got a far away look in my eye and a huge grin on my face..

- Dolf

Vicar Street, Dublin
Saturday, 1 November 2008

"The magic of VICAR STREET" or ... "a recipe for hapiness" according to Adeline ... erm ...

.... aaaah, Dublin, Dublin ... One week before the concert I was still not sure at all to go to Dublin ... the gig was taking place right in the middle of the autumn holidays and I was in Brittany with my family ...but the &urge for going& became too strong, so, on our way back to Paris my family dropped me directly to the airport ... fingers crossed, if the plane was late, even a little bit, I would miss the gig !!! ... I got to Vicar Street 10 minutes before the beginning of the concert, a bit out of breath and giddy, but warmly welcomed by Rena, Erwin and Dolf, and by the adorable Luka's sister Anne .. the venue was amazing, the huge lounge bar gorgeous, and in the auditorium, plenty of little tables where you could bring your beers, very large scene, perfect sound ... a very festive and exciting atmosphere, for an exceptionnal event .. and it was, by far, very far, the best and most exciting Luka concert I ever saw .. Actually I didn't attend that many Luka concerts, but the ones I saw were rather quiet ones, he was always seated, and also they all took place during the calm "Before sleep comes" and "Innocence" period, so ...

There in Vicar Street, when the 3 musicians came on stage, I held my breath, realizing that this was a unique occasion to get to know a new dimension of Luka, that I hadn't seen yet ... and .. WOW .. I saw him enjoying himself to the full, jumping and swinging and stamping his feet, glowing with pleasure to play and sing and laugh, and it was wild and incredible, really .. performing together, they were so tight on stage, exchanging knowing smiles and giggling, this was just fab to see ...and Monsoon, Perfect Groove, You couldn't have come at a better time, Eastbound Train : performed this way, those songs just rock, they kick ass !!! Sometimes rock nd roll, sometimes jazzy and swinging, the variety of atmospheres was so exciting ... and the emotion when they were playing emotional songs like "Everyman" was tangible and magic ... emotion which has gone up a notch when Luka started a duet with his son Robby .. so unexpected, touching and beautiful .. the audience was exulting and overjoyed, and at our table we were more than aware that we were living a GREAT moment, and Rena had her big big smile :-) ...

After the concert there was this friendly moment with Luka and sisters and the musicians, and the Lukalisters Gang, Rebecca and her friends, ( waves to Rebecca and her charming Australian friend !!! ) and Sabine & Sandra, Rena, Erwin, Dolf ... drinks at the bar and drinks at the nice Brazen Head pub, and, no rain at all ( !! ) but only stars in the Dublin sky, and myriad of twinkling stars in our eyes ....well, the recipe of an outstanding and unforgettable night, no ? ... :-) .. so, next year, big big get together there, ok, dudes ??? ... Vicky, Deb, Murray, eeeheehee, start to put money aside ... :-)

- Adeline

Luka Bloom Robbie Moore
Trevor Hutchinson Dave Hingerty
Luka Bloom with Robbie Moore (vocals), Trevor Hutchinson (bass) & Dave Hingerty (drums)

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Erbdrostenhof, Münster
Friday, 5 December 2008

I just wanted to tell you that the concert in Münster was just great!

It took place in a baroque style-room which did not only look great and inspiring but had also very good acoustics! (Btw, the building Erbdrostenhof is not open to the public usually, so this also made it very special) I don't know how many people this room seats, perhaps 200-250, but on the one hand it felt like it was a very little intimate circle, and on the other hand it felt like a bigger audience than it was due to the acoustics.

Rebecca Collins, the suport act, was so charming! Her voice is great, she can use it in so many different ways - incredible! And the songs she sang did not have "easy" melodies, they are really special, I found. She said in the beginning that she was a little nervous because only five minutes ago one string of her guitar broke. But I can tell you that no other string broke - so the one broken string must have been a good luck-sign :-)

Luka was in great shape although you could hear that he had a little cold. He said he would nevertheless give 100 % and he did :-))) Amazing. He even sang a cappella right at the very end (I'll walk beside you)! Wow, amazing what tea, hot lemon-water and a sniff from time to time at his tissue could do :-)) And he was witty as always, e.g. telling a lady in the front row who fixed the cable which got loose of his guitar that she should attend to him if she ever needed a job :-) And Luka was so sweet to give her the bunch of flowers which stood in the vase on the table :-)

I am not good with the set list, so I won't try (There is a good chance, Rena might have it) but I know that he started with "I am not at war". I think that this is a great way to start a concert! He sang many songs from his new album "eleven songs" but also old songs like Lonesome Robin (looking up a the lovely painted ceiling this song "flew" to him, and he sang it instead of the one he had initially wanted to sing), the Acoustic motorbike, Gone to Pablo (with a fantastic Te Adoro; I felt I had never heard him play that so well and in such length before!) and songs the audience could sing along with (Eastbound train, Sunny Sailor boy), and even one song someone had requested for a couple of people (a family?). He said he doesn't know why he is asked to sing it but he would just do it, and so he did :-)

Due to the fantastic acoustics the voices coming from the audience were just incredibly nice and sweet and full ... :-) I came with a friend who had seen Luka only once a couple of years ago but who has almost all his Cds, and when it came to a song my friend especially seemed to like I heard him quietly sing along with Luka. That was really nice :-)

It was an incredible night!

I am very much looking forward to seeing Luka play again in Berlin next Saturday :-)
This time it'll be in a jazz club, so the absolute opposite regarding the venue :-)

All who still go to a concert this week - enjoy!

- Gudrun

Luka Bloom

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