Luka Bloom » tour archive
Luka Bloom - Live in Concert
USA Tour 2006
 concert » reviewed by
07-04-2006  Outpost in the Burbs, Montclair, NJ
Deborah Sandford (NJ)
08-04-2006  Tin Angel, Philadelphia, PA
Denise Smith (Philadelphia, PA)
09-04-2006  Sellersville Theater 1894, Sellersville, PA
Rachael Irwin (Phillipsburg, NJ)
11-04-2006  Club Café, Pittsburgh, PA
Sandy Prusak (Pittsburgh, PA)
13-04-2006  The Ark, Ann Arbor, MI> Mary Barber (USA)
15-04-2006  Irish Cultural & Heritage Center, Milwaukee, WI
Uncle Flip (Birmingham, AL)
15-04-2006  Irish Cultural & Heritage Center, Milwaukee, WI
Cindy Pawelski (USA)
15-04-2006  Irish Cultural & Heritage Center, Milwaukee, WI
Sheryl Wiggins (USA)
21-04-2006  Great American Music Hall, San Francisco, CA
Frances Baye (USA)
21-04-2006  Great American Music Hall, San Francisco, CA
Lain Barbary (USA)
22-04-2006  E3 Playhouse, Santa Cruz, CA
Eileen Pinto (USA)
22-04-2006  E3 Playhouse, Santa Cruz, CA
Pam Middings (USA)
23-04-2006  The Knitting Factory, Hollywood, CA
Rob Mullally (San Diego, CA)
30-04-2006  Lannie's Clocktower Cabaret, Denver, CO
Cindy Reich (USA)
03-05-2006  Cactus Cafe, Austin, TX
Chuck and Karen Nagel (USA)
06-05-2006  The Handlebar, Greenville, SC
Uncle Flip (Birmingham, AL)
13-05-2006  B.B. King Blues Club, New York, NY
Deborah Sandford (NJ)
14-05-2006  House Concert, Staten Island, NY
Deborah Sandford (NJ)
16-05-2006  Regattabar, Cambridge, MA
Laura Harrison (USA)
17-05-2006  The Bickford Theatre, Morristown, NJ
Victoria Romani (New York)
19-05-2006  World Café Live, Philadelphia, PA
Denise Smith (Philadelphia, PA)
20-05-2006  The Turning Point Café, Piermont, NY
Mary Shustack (USA)
20-05-2006  The Turning Point Café, Piermont, NY
Tom Gramegna (USA)

Outpost in the Burbs, Montclair, NJ
Friday, April 7, 2006

The Outpost in the Burbs, in stately, cosmopolitan Montclair, NJ... the weather was very cooperative, as it was supposed to rain (and this is a venue where people line up outside), but didn't. You could actually see the moon opaquely through the clouds. Just a part of the magic, I guess.

This venue is probably the original sanctuary of the church turned into a parish hall. Vaulted ceilings, portraits hung along the walls, carpeted floor, a mish mash of about 140 chairs: some with arms, some folding, and along the side wall there were parlour chairs... all nostalgically eclectic. Later on Luka poked fun at the portrait that was facing him, basically staring him down - probably one of the original Elders, suited and balding, with a seemingly 'deer-caught-in-headlights' gaze that was cocked up to the side. Hah - maybe Himself got a wee bit of 'is own look back at 'imself! (sorry, I'm being fresh)

Sabrina is l-o-v-e-r-l-y! She came onstage smiling, dressed nicely with a lovely green blouse and necklace, dimples sparkling up the room like glitterstars. I could have listened to her speak indefinitely - the cutest accent. yeh, well, I am VERY aware of my own New Joisey nasally twang, so I'm appreciative of pleasant voices and accents.

Sabrina's sound struck me as similar to Suzanne Vega, but more filled in with guitar and voice, with a bit of a female Johnny Spillane: telling it like it is in a charming way that you don't expect, if you will. For her last song she wore a gleaming polished harmonica brace, and played guitar, harmonica, and sang as well. Sometimes little wisps of hair would be caught by her breath on the exhale. This was very endearing. She is the perfect complement to Luka's Innocence tour: refreshingly and simply innocent, untarnished by ego.

The crux of it all... The Priest of Love... yes, I gave him that moniker in a review I wrote last year... I stole it from the movie about D.H. Lawrence (with Ian McKellean).

Luka walked in to hearty accolades. He was definitely a wanted man! He began with I Am Not at War With Anyone to a very quiet audience. Actually, the audience was quiet for a long time, through these first songs. I have to remind myself that Innocence was just released in the US, so they are new songs to most.

Open Up Your Arms, written to celebrate a united Irish Republic, in response to the July 2005 happenings where the IRA decided to put down its arms.

At about this time Himself told the roving cameraman: "that's a very noisy camera!" He was not happy - said it twice, in a low growl. I have to say, the zoom lens on this thing was the size of a bazooka -- and the guy was at most five feet away from Luka! So, maybe it was more than the noise, but the distracting size of the thing.

Innocence - I always love to watch Our Man play the guitar for this song. It brings me straight back to a supper club in NYC around 1980 (plus or minus a year) where Teddy Wilson played the piano. Who cared about dining! I was fascinated to watch the hands of this master scramble over the piano keys like happy and innocent crabs scurrying in front of the teasing (sea) waves. I never forgot this image. Luka's playing of Innocence holds the same enchantment for me, with this airy effortless style.

Gypsy Music - Audience still very quiet.

Blackwater Side - Luka suddenly spoke up and said, "I hadn't intended to sing this song." He said his sister Anne sang it, and Anne Briggs sings it, but his sister's version is better. It was quite the unexpected thing. Here's the gist of it:

    One evening fair I took the air
    Down by blackwater side
    'twas gazing all around me
    When the Irish girl I spied

    All through the first part of that night
    We did lie in sport and play,
    When this young man arose and he gathered his clothes,
    Saying, "fare thee well today".

    That's not the promise that you gave to me
    When the first you lay on my breast,
    You could make me believe with your lying tongue
    That the sun rose in the west.

Primavera - A vibrant rendition. I was not always a fan of this song, but I liked this. What was different? More feeling to it, perhaps Between all of the songs, of course… 'a little gossip, a little chat, a little idle talk of this and that…'…

Here and Now - Ho Ho! The audience hooted for that! He asked, 'Is it for the sentiment or the song?' The song, they say! He played it good and hard (not delicate).

Diamond Mountain - Played gently and tenderly. He asked to have a window closed; someone closed another one. It was warm and comfy in this adorable venue.

To Make You Feel My Love - He introduced this by saying he was trying to read a review in Swiss-German, and all he could depict was that he was alluded to as 'the Irish Bob Dylan', and laughed saying, "It's a blast what they say just to sell tickets!" And then, "God knows he needs the royalties." We'll take his singing of this song any which way we can get it!

I would say at this point in the show he became more relaxed, silently stronger, more self-assured. These are all the wrong descriptors, of course: he just became more full, and exuded this fullness.

In Between Days - Hello! A real treat - I've never heard him do this live. I don't understand it any better because of seeing it live, but I love it nonetheless!

See You Soon - "Sabrina likes this song, and I've just written it." Fantastic! - a new song with very intricate finger picking.

    I hope I love you enough to let you go
    On the road that you can see.
    Loosen the hold that you have on me...

Miracle Cure - "A hard thing, forgiveness, especially when I know I'm right!"

Peace on Earth - Luka said that sometimes the words don't come when he needs and wants to express a sentiment. but the guitar always comes through. It certainly does. I've always called this song Joy... maybe Surprised by Joy...

June - Himself quite comfy on the drum stool, just rollin' around... must've been quite the lad at the soda fountain counter - well, he is back in his innocence!

Thank You For Bringing Me Here - Dedicated to the folks at Outpost in the Burbs.

City of Chicago - "This is a Christy Moore song that I wrote in 1984, and I'm happy to have finally recorded it on Innocence."

No Matter Where You Go, There You Are - "Ireland is the new immigration frontier!" This song wowed the crowd!

Sunny Sailor Boy - Aw, go on - I thought for sure he might get on without it. "For the four people in the audience who don't know the chorus, it goes like this..." How could he not? He turned his ear to the audience in perfect delight. And the luminous creatures in that sea of admiration breathlessly ooooo aaiiii'd back to him. Even the very reluctant twelve-year old girl next to me crooned the mermaids' tune with all her might. So, yes, that's Luka, he's gonna dig until he gets that response from every single person present. Our relentless priest of love... taking each one of us to a sacramental peak of ecstasy...

I Need Love (!) - He said he just got tired of singing this, "but it very kindly seduced me all over again!" (Well, thank you, Dear Boy, because that's just what you do to us.) In the middle of this song he whistled a lovely tune, and I'm sure I should know the tune, but I was just a puddle of melted woman by then, and so was everyone else.

He left to a standing ovation - people jumped to their feet - and quickly came back.

People called for Delirious, but he said, "I'm gonna sing a song from 1988 that I haven't sung in years. I don't even know why I stopped singing it: Cold Comfort

Exploring the Blue

Jaqueline's Gone to Pablo

He sat up straight, and pointing into the air said, "I'll do one more, okay?" He was really looking fine during this last set. He was as revved as the crowd.

Rainbow Day

Why is it that every new gig is better than the last one? I used the word 'fabulous' later on. But that description seems tame, almost lame. During this evening he brought me to a special, happy and intimate place in my life, a fully present and emotional recollection of something I hadn't thought about, perhaps ever. That's our priest, delivering quite the sermon.

You Couldn't Have Come at a Better Time - Omigod, I have never heard it sung better. I'm hooting and singing, and later... speechless. And he, the lover, whispers, no way, baby.

Have those puddles reverted to their human forms? Doubt it.

- Deborah Sandford

Tin Angel, Philadelphia, PA
Saturday, April 8, 2006

I never saw anyone walk on stage and hold an audience in his pocket from the first note the way Luka did last night. He just seems to fit with an audience.

It was a mature, respectful and eager audience. Luka gave as good as he got.

I did not write down the set list as, well, we were practically on the man's lap. Oh yes that funky, very looonnng room above the bistro was packed like a sealed can of sardines and yet within a few songs everyone had that "smile" on their face. Somehow each song just reaches into your heart and puts another stroke on that smiley face (-8 I think you all know what I mean.

So the song line up not exactly in order was:
Here and now --- sort of glistening and dreamy like the soft spring rain
or a canvas just waiting
I Am Not at War --- Nobody left (-8
Primavera --- eh, it really is spring, you could eh, feel it warming up
in the room, was it body heat or anticipation?
Sunny Sailor Boy --- a lovely little group of singers all around
Innocence ---- a good thing there's still some left in this world
The Cure Song ---> not the proper name, I never understood it either.
I do like the live version better than the recorded one.
June --- Sigh... butterflies are free
Gypsy Music --- the place was groovin
To Make You Feel My Love --- and who can do it better with a guitar
than Luka Dylan himself.
City of Chicago --- the Christy Bloom toon.
Miracle Cure - just exquisite
Peace on Earth - a nice ear-to-soul tingle
Colorado's Blue Sky ---- this one is brand new and not the official name
See You Soon --- the Sabrina song, yeah I think she's had a little influence
on his guitar picking. It's a bit bluesyLukaee.
No Matter Where You Go, There You Are
Thank You For Bringing Me Here

And out of the mothballs and into a simmeringly happy room came:
I Need Love

Exploring the Blue
Gone to Pablo
You Couldn't Have Come at a Better Time

Great Company - Vicky (yes the Chatty one herself) and big sis Susan
and a very appreciative audience
A chance to watch the man play only 3 feet away
No Smoking (-8
Sabrina the opening act, a pleasant Nora Joneish voice. She needs to open up more to
the audience but no doubt it was a bit imposing to have folks practically on stage with her.

There was a 10pm show booked after Luka's so he had to finish promptly.
The guy on the mic asking everyone to "Leave now". Poor guy so many nasty looks
in his direction from the ladies room line. ;-)

All in all another lovely intimate evening with an Irishman in Philadelphia.

May 19th can't come soon enough.

- Denise

Sellersville Theater 1894, Sellersville, PA
Sunday, April 9, 2006

Just wanted to say what a brilliant concert it was last night! I've previously seen Luka numerous times in Ireland as well as a couple times in the States and he was in top form last night.

Highlights abounded. E.g., he amazed with a whistle solo in the middle of 'I Need Love'.
'City of Chicago' was brilliant and moved me to tears as it always does. He mentioned that he wrote it years ago but his brother, "Christy Bloom", had been performing it for years.

He joked after 'I Am Not at War With Anyone' that he was surprised the audience hadn't left. I wish he had said something more about the horrendous invasion that is Iraq but I am sure he felt the song says it all and it is, indeed, a meaningful, spot-on song. Or, I wish someone had shouted support from the audience that many Americans are horrified at W and his War for Oil/Self-Interest.

Sabrina Dinan, the opening act, was a charming and talented young Irish musician who was delightful.

I was really disappointed because the theatre was only half full. I was wondering why more people didn't attend as the location is within driving distance of Philadelphia but those of us in attendance enjoyed Luka's usual magical musical spell.

Sellersville is quite a nice, typical smaller Pennsylvania charming town. Luka was telling the audience that he had watched a Little League (baseball) game that sunny afternoon as well as the fact that he enjoyed listening to birdsong from his dressing room.

Enjoy to all of you who have tickets for upcoming shows! "The Man is Alive" and delighting us all.

- Rachael Irwin
Phillipsburg, New Jersey

Club Café, Pittsburgh, PA
Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Luka finally returned to Pittsburgh after about a 6 year absence…..much too long for us to have to wait! In previous occasions I had seen him at a great venue called Rosebud, which no longer exists. This time he played Club Café, a much smaller venue (holds only about 100 people), so it was just like having him sing to you in your living room.

The evening started out just as I expected……when Luka walked onstage most of the room rose to their feet in applause to let him know how much he's been missed! We were all eagerly ready to see the man, hear his voice, and listen to his absolutely amazing guitar work.

Luka sang quite a bit off his new release, "Innocence", of course, but treated us to a nice variety of his other gems. This was the setlist (hopefully I haven't forgotten any), not in exact order:

Here And Now
I Am Not At War --- said he was glad to see nobody walking out.
He received a standing ovation by many.
Make You Feel My Love --- recounted the story about trying to read a German
review about him and all he could make out was "the Irish Bob Dylan"….
"yes, every singer who writes songs and plays guitar is compared to Dylan.
So here is a Bob Dylan song for ya….."
In Between Days --- "sometimes when I'm home I like to dress in my tight black
jeans, black boots, dye my hair black, and put some make-up on…. I secretly like
to pretend I'm Robert Smith of the Cure" (lots of laughs from the crowd!)
City Of Chicago
Primavera --- told us about a woman, whose music he fell in love with, who sang
a song called "Primavera". The only Primavera he knew of was the name of a restaurant.
He later found out that primavera means Spring in Latin ("you all remember your Latin,
don't you?"). He was so inspired that he wrote his own "Primavera".
Gypsy Music
June --- a favorite month
Diamond Mountain (another standing ovation)
Sunny Sailor Boy --- "time for everyone to sing along"
No Matter Where You Go, There You Are - (this new one definitely was a
crowd please…. standing ovation again)
Thank You For Bringing Me Here
I Need Love --- in the middle whistled many bars of "Can't Help Falling In Love"
(pretty sure this was the song he whistled, if I remember correctly)

Exploring The Blue
Cold Comfort
You Couldn't Have Come At A Better Time

The entire room was on its feet at the end and I for one was hoping for a few more. Unfortunately, there was a late show after Luka, so I know the club sticks to a time schedule. But Luka did hang around afterwards to chat with all of us and sign cds. He greeted all of us outside the club since the weather was absolutely beautiful (it was sunny and 70's during the day) instead of staying inside the club at the rather confined "merchandise space".

There were lots of other little stories from Luka during the evening (some that have already been recounted in previous reviews)… about the lovely "rainless" spring weather we were currently experiencing and a mention about the recent immigration protests here in the U.S. He said that after all the years of Irish "emigration", their prosperity in recent years has now brought "immigration" to Ireland, something they've had a bit of a hard time accepting…..and being more "accepting" is something they are now learning from us.

I wanted to mention, too, that Sabrina was an absolute delight to listen to and the perfect opener for Luka. It was great that he was able to bring someone who is obviously special to him instead of the club having someone "local" open. She was the sweetest thing and got a very warm reception from everyone as well. I particularly loved when she strapped on the harmonica for one song (that makes Sabrina another "Irish Bob Dylan", huh?).

An absolutely delightful evening to remember all around.

Luka, Luka, Luka……we luv ya, luv ya, luv ya!!!

- Sandy Prusak
Pittsburgh, PA

The Ark, Ann Arbor, MI
Thursday, April 13, 2006

Luka Bloom sounds both the same and different on his latest tour of the United States. His voice sounded as warm as ever when he performed April 13 at the Ark in Ann Arbor, Mich. But now Bloom projects an air of contentment, not the edgy yearning I recalled from first seeing him at Nightstage in Cambridge, Mass., nearly 20 years ago.

The difference was most clear on his cover of LL Cool J's "I Need Love", a staple of his early shows but out of his set list for several years. I remember watching him scan the women in the audience during that song at Nightstage, pausing dramatically (and humorously) to see if there were any takers.

At the Ark, he sang it for a couple in the audience, and indeed, he seemed more of a narrator than the man seeking love himself.

Bloom's humor, ability to connect with an audience and, particularly, his passion haven't dimmed. I overheard two couples after the show who obviously hadn't seen him live before. "I thought he'd be more mellow," one said. "Well, some of his albums are mellow," another replied. "Some aren't."

He did play most of the night on a nylon-string guitar, a far cry from his old, beloved, resounding Nora. That suited the many songs from "Innocence", which finally has been released in the United States, as well as a sampling of older tunes.

He also brought American audiences a gift - the presence of Ennis native Sabrina Dinan, who has lovely voice and wonderful songs. Thanks, Luka.

- Mary Barber

Irish Cultural & Heritage Center, Milwaukee, WI
Saturday, April 15, 2006

I had the great pleasure of catching a triple bill at an old church in Milwaukee on Saturday, April 15th. Pardon my longwindedness:

My evening actually started with a fabulous dinner at African Hut restaurant down near the Third Ward. The guy who runs it reminds me a bit of Papa Wemba in 'True Stories'. I'd been a fan of his since I fist visited this joint back in '04. The meal was just brilliant - an indicator of things to come in the next few hours.

My rental car's V6 got me over to the west side of the Marquette campus with speed (heh, but not too much speed, mind you...) in just a few minutes. I was quite impressed with the venue. The Irish Culture and Heritage Center is an old stone church building, probably from the 1800s. The big huge wood doors slammed shut behind me (I didn't know to stop them with my hand), causing a nice echo through the entry way. A little jog to the left, and through another set of wooden doors, and I was in a dark church sanctuary, filled with stained glass and a very mature looking HUGE wall of copper organ pipes. The ushers are all elderly volunteers, wearing green vest-like garments, making them look like the love children of leprechauns and Wal-Mart greeters. A wonderful old woman showed me over to my seat, in the third row of pews, then sat down and told me about the building, including directions to the bars behind the stage. I had two pew seats to myself, as I'd bought a ticket for my hostess in Milwaukee- but she had to have some work done on her motorcycle, and the only time a friend of hers could do it was that night. :( I got the impression most of the crowd was made up of season ticket holders attending the concert series of which Luka was a part - yet there did seem to be a contingent of folks who were there just for him.. I was a bit disappointed that the church was only about 3/4 full.

The show was opened by a guitarist by the name of Jeff Ward. His voice was all Wallace (of Wallace and Gromit fame), so imagine a 30 minute set of traditional and original acoustic tunes sung in that reedy tone. He really was quite good, though. I felt bad for him, as there were occasional people walking in front of the stage (coming from the bar or going to it) all during his set. It was kind of distracting.

After a short break, Sabrina came out for her set. She looked comfortable in flip-flops, a denim skirt, and a sweater made up of broad horizontal bands of pink and white. (The sweater made me think of the coconut candy I used to get as a child - it looked just like that.) She started her set with 'weatherman', which sounded just fine - yet she still called up one of the sound techs, and whispered something in his ear as she pointed to her guitar. Seeming bashful and modest, she apologized with a smile, then launched into her next song. To me, her voice seemed to have elements of Janis Joplin and Billie Holliday - but just bits of both - not as rough as Janis, and with the Billie just for texture in spots. Lovely. At one point, she got a sheepish grin and explained that she had to write her set list on her hand, because she couldn't remember what she wanted to play. It seems she wasn't kidding. I like her style - seemingly shy and rather funny. I look forward to seeing her again in Greenville!

Another short break, and then the bit for which we came. Luka walked out in black shoes, black denim pants, and a dark blue shirt. He carried a coffee mug that for some reason put the image in my head that he may have just come back from skiing. :) The crowd VERY enthusiastically cheered him onstage. He thanked us, saying he felt like Jerry Springer. He then sat down on the end of a piano bench, plugged in the nylon string, adjusted his mic, and started picking out a beautiful, seemingly improv, tune. After about twenty seconds he stopped, and with a smile said he just wanted to make sure the guitar worked.

First out of the barrel was 'I Am Not At War'. During this, I was distracted by a fellow behind me whose cell phone rang for a LONG time before he picked it up and started talking, seemingly doing nothing to be quiet. (The same fellow snapped off numerous pictures throughout the show, using a camera with an obnoxious flash and a digitally produced artificial shutter sound. I discovered during the show that I may have been the only person in Milwaukee who knows how to turn off the various bells and noises made by digital cameras.) At the end of IANAW, more thunderous applause. Luka said he likes to give up the game early on, and added he was happy to see that everyone was still there. This drew more VERY enthusiastic response from the crowd, which made me quite happy.

Next up was 'Open Up Your Arms', followed by his reflections on how he'd played in all sorts of places on the tour - rock clubs, folk clubs, and now a church. He added that he'd be on his best behavior, and went further, saying he and Sabrina would hear confession after the show. Then came 'Love Is A Place I Dream Of'. (At the beginning of this, he mentioned who it was about, and at the mention of her name, I reflexively let go with a light clap or two, to which he immediately shot back with a smile 'thank you very much!' That drew a light round of laughter.)

With an exclamation that the next song was dedicated to all the altar boys, he announced 'Innocence'. An introduction about how people don't see the beauty in the here and now led to the song...'Here and Now' (during which, the guy behind me was talking to his friend). Next up was 'Miracle Cure', then a lovely version of 'Diamond Mountain'. A short bit about his love of the month of June led guessed it , 'June'. ("Can you tell I work really hard on my song titles?") An intro about getting bored out of his skull and reading his own show flyer in Switzerland led into 'Make You Feel My Love', Then the gorgeous 'Peace On Earth'. He seemingly amused even himself in the next intro, explaining that his brother ("Christy Bloom") was playing that very night in London ("well, it's three a.m. there, so I hope he's done!"), and probably did the very same song. Of course, it was 'City Of Chicago'.

After this one, Luka told the story of a chat he'd had over lunch earlier that day with a Polish woman who worked in the hotel across the street. He said that even though the top 4 languages spoken in Ireland today are English, Mandarin, Polish, and Irish (in that order), the country still needs new blood. ("'Deliverance' could have been filmed in Ireland...") This launched him into 'No Matter Where You Go, There You Are', a song that didn't fail to get me a little misty-eyed, as it always does on a few select lines. (Music has often made me feel the way Mohamed did when he heard that fiddle wafting to his stand.)

I was a tad disappointed when Luka had to coax a bit to get the crowd singing on 'Sunny Sailor Boy'. I'd tried to get my section going (I also had tried to get them going on 'I Am Not At War'.), but they were slow to kick in. Once the crowd got going, they did well. At the beginning of the song, Luka had made mention of the "four people who don't know it", but it still seems there were plenty who did not get the idea. Next up was one I'm ashamed to say I didn't recognize ('Don't be afraid of the light that shines within you'), but was still just lovely. Luka got up, and we followed him, giving him a long standing ovation.

Short break goes HERE. :)

Luka came back up, and for the first time, switched to steel strings. 'Exploring The Blue' was first. This has always been a special song for me, and was a tune I *felt* more than heard that night. He followed it with 'You Couldn't Have Come At A Better Time' - but again, getting the crowd into it was tough. I think part of the lack of energy was the seating, and part of it was that it was an older crowd not entirely familiar with him. The crowd was, however, VERY energetic in a second lengthy standing ovation. Luka bounded back up a third time, and did his gorgeous a capella 'I'll Walk Beside You', which was met with a third standing O, ending the show.

Backstage in one of the bars, I caught up with Luka after waiting patiently for a long line of people to get through an autograph session. (One woman said she'd come from the upper peninsula of Michigan for the show, and I said I beat her, coming from Alabama. That was when Luka perked up a bit, and seemed to recognize me.) I chatted briefly with Luka, now adorned with a lovely green scarf a woman in the crowd had knitted for him, and got him to do an ID for my internet radio station. He did two takes, and then confessed he was horrible at IDs. (But then, he was very tired, and had to leave for Seattle in less than 8 hours.) I then went over and talked with Sabrina, who was still packing up to go (she got done with autographs far before Luka did). She and I talked for a good long while, and seemed to hit it off pretty well - she was really a lovely person to get to know! She did an ID for me as well, and then we continued talking as we walked out of the building and crossed the street - me to my very sexy little rental car, and Sabrina to her hotel. She said she looked forward to seeing me again in South Carolina. I'm fully expecting that show to be just as amazing as Milwaukee was!

- Uncle Flip
Birmingham, AL

Irish Cultural & Heritage Center, Milwaukee, WI
Saturday, April 15, 2006

On Sat April 15 (day before Easter) Luka played at an AMAZING venue in Milwaukee - the Irish Community Center is in a beautiful old church....complete with velvet pads on our church ew seats! It also has 2 convenient bars behind the "rectory"(!)

Milwaukee area musician Jeff Ward played about 1/2 hr, then Sabrina (who is travelling with Luka) played for about 1/2 hr - both were very good openers... Sabrina is VERY talented and her songs give a view of modern woman's day to day sentiments.

Luka looked great as ever and sounded WONDERFUL....opening with the 'I Am Not At War' song, which is so moving - I am so glad he did this one right away - very touching in these times.

I bought the CD, which he so patiently autographed (& posed) for all of us after the show. I really thought I should take he & Sabrina out to show them some of Milwaukee, but after 2 Jameson's I was fading...;)

- peace, Cindy Pawelski

Irish Cultural & Heritage Center, Milwaukee, WI
Saturday, April 15, 2006

Luka Bloom in Milwaukee

The Irish Cultural & Heritage Center is in what used to be a church. There’s an Irish pub in the basement and the concert itself was in the sanctuary which still looks like it could be used on Sundays for regular church services. We were in the third row with perfect site lines to see our Luka perform. He opened with 'I'm not at War with Anyone' and then thanked us for not leaving after that song.

Some of the songs he then sang, in no particular order, were:
Love is a Place I Dream of
- (he commented that it was a fitting song for the room he was in)
Sunny Sailor Boy - (he seemed pleased that we were all singing along on the
chorus and then HE thanked US!)
City of Chicago - (he mentioned that he had talked to his brother, Christy Bloom,
who was also singing This song at his gig on Saturday)
Diamond Mountain
No Matter Where You Go, There You Are
You Couldn’t Have Come at a Better Time
Make You Feel My Love
Miracle Cure
- (he said he’s not so good with coming up with unique song titles)

Then he came back out for an encore and the final song he sang was positively riveting. I actually had tears in my eyes b/c it was absolutely Beautiful. He just stood by himself at the front of the stage and sang by himself, no accompaniment, and blew the audience away. There was not a sound in the church while he was giving us this most amazing gift. The song was 'I'll Walk Beside You' - I was so overwhelmed by the sheer brilliance of it.

Then after giving so much of himself to us for over 2 hours he stood around chatting and signing autographs when I’m sure he was exhausted and just wanted to have some time to himself. He was gracious and seemed to genuinely want to chat with those of us milling around reliving the wonderful evening.

I unfortunately didn’t make it to the Chicago show on Friday night but there were some people at the show Saturday who were there and they indicated that it was also a spellbinding performance.

Luka Bloom is truly one of the good guys in this world and I cherish the songs, music, laughter and compassion he shares with all of us. His words really do uplift me in ways he can’t possibly know.

- Sheryl Wiggins

Great American Music Hall, San Francisco, CA
Friday, April 21, 2006

So where do I begin? There are very few words that come to mind where can express how wonderful last night's Luka Bloom experience was. It being my very first Luka Bloom concert experience, I wasn't entirely sure what to expect, and I was all over excited and just a teeny bit nervous. I haven't been to a concert (at all) in over fifteen years. I can't think of a better way to get back to it, and it was about time.

Simply sublime..
From the vibrant expectation as riding on a Muni transport from my home to the concert venue, to the first small, then larger crowd of people waiting in line to see our dear Luka play. Everyone was so friendly. It really did surprise me. Most times in San Francisco, I can't find someone who'll look me in the eye for long, and yet here, in line, we all shared the bond of Luka Bloom admiration and everyone was free and conversational, right down to avoiding the pigeons who poop non-discriminately from above. After about 10 minutes of standing in line, everyone sort of migrated outwards towards the parking meters, including myself and a Canadian who'd flown down especially to see Luka in concert and another first time Luka fan.

On to the concert hall, which seems to be going for a sort of 'grand baroque' feel, dimly lit and very red and gilt with balcony overhead and floor seating. (Later in the show, Luka joked about how he "loves to play at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco. A wonderful venue.. 'Hooer houses always make the best venues." This to very loud and hearty laughter from the audience.) I gained a seat right up against the stage, and wasn't I just pleased with myself. The doors opened at 8pm, we sat and ordered dinner. I, being alone, wound up seated at table with three people I hadn't ever met before, and we chatted about our anticipation and I was the only first time Luka fan (at my table.)

Reaching into my purse, I was wanting to bring out my camera so that I could take photos, only to find that my digital camera that I'd only had for a couple of months, was missing. I can only assume that I'd had my 'pocket picked' so to speak, because I was very certain I'd had it with me... sorry folks, this means that I didn't get any photos, though I did seriously want to.

Still, missing camera aside, the concert experience was brilliant enough that it swept away all the upset at not being able to take photos.

Sabrina was brilliant. I can't remember what she sang, but the crowd gave her as much appreciation as they, later, gave Luka. I wish I'd had more money on hand, because I certainly would have bought her cd. She's got this sound that reminds me of Susanne Vega mixed with Janis Joplin and Mama Cass.. smooth and lovely, but tough as nails. She joked about how up in Seattle, her harmonica piece got tangled in her hair and wound up all askew, and perhaps a bit of tension was relieved.

And then...and then..
Luka arrived, to a thunderous rouse of applause, stomping of feet, whistling, hooting and everything in between. It took a long time getting him back here, nearly three years.. and just shy a month. However, one could tell that absence only makes the heart grow fonder and everyone was very happy to see the wonderful Irish crooner work his magic upon them..

From the very first song to the very last in the encore, he held us enthralled. If it wasn't the music, it was the oft-times glib and tongue-in cheek humour I've often read about on his list. I finally experienced it first hand, and I haven't laughed so well and hard for a very very long time.. It was very appreciated and "It couldn't have come at a better time.. not if he tried."

I can't remember all the jokes, banter and chat he gave us. I only wish I could. It was extremely pleasant and filled the spaces between songs so well that I couldn't imagine the show without them.

Here and Now came first, played very enthusiastically.

I Am Not At War was next, after which, he joked about how he was "preaching to the choir" a bit, he knew.. and he'd wait to see how well it was received when he got to Texas.

Innocence.. the innocence of a man turned 50 just last year.. and I think he wrapped us all in that innocence and held us there. Dedicated to the "four alterboys in the audience."

Gypsy Music.. as he sat warming up for the song, and warming the crowd up for it as well, he teased us a bit with the strumming and picking and glibly spoke on how the EU had got several more countries added and how happy he was now that Irish radio now offered some very good Gypsy music for his ears to listen to. Not that he doesn't like the music from Ireland at all, but "I've had quite a bit of exposure to it for a very long time.. I don't know why.." and he quipped that he thought it might be 'post river dance stress disorder', which gained a very appreciative chuckle.

Miracle Cure.. more banter about how after 150 years (in 1997), Ireland was having memorial of the great famine, and maybe it was time that the British actually said they're sorry... though they'd probably be waiting a good long time before they got it, so why didn't they beat the British to the punch and "forgive them anyway, already."

Primavera.. a song about springtime..and love, perhaps.

Diamond Mountain.. very brilliantly played and very nostalgic.

To Make You Feel My Love.. Joking about while being on tour in the EU in winter.. can't remember how many countries in how many days... and sitting in his dressing room, reading any sort of "trash" they had available, most of which was in German. The only bit of which he'd understood was entitling him the "Irish Bob Dylan" and God knows the man needs the royalties from him playing this song.

In Between Days.. where he jibed about getting himself in the mood for this song, back home, by putting on tight black jeans, tight black boots, roughing up his hair, and putting on black eye-liner so that he'd look a bit more like the lead of the Cure. There was quite a bit of hooting and hollaring as he spoke of those tight black jeans and boots.. I think the man definitely was trying to get the audience worked up.. and succeeding.

At some point during the show, and I'm afraid I didn't notate it, but he also quipped about his other venues all being warm ups for San Francisco. We all laughed.

(New) See You Soon -- dedicated to any who might have an inkling of heart break. Defiitely a song that near brought tears to my eyes and played with such strong feeling.

Peace On Earth.. when words fail you for a song, let the guitar speak.

City of Chicago.. the song he wrote and his brother Christy usually sang.

No Matter Where You Go... inspired by a Muslim Man in Ireland.

Sunny Sailor Boy.. as usual, according to other reviews, Luka couldn't resist getting the audience involved.. "To the four people who might not know the words to this's got a lovely and simple refrain that sounds like this.." And he played, and sang and crowed "I can't hear you".. to which the audience enthusiastically sang louder.. and at the end, he said.. "thankyou! I think you really captured it! The whole warm, alluring, fridgity and all that... for a moment, I took meself off to a different place and found meself lost in the middle of an Enya video or somethin'."

Don't Be Afraid of the Light.. again, cheering the audience on to join in the refrain.. which was simple enough that even with the song being new (at least to me), we all managed to sing along to his very appreciative "thankyou" at the end of the song.

I Need Love... One of the songs he'd got sick of singing at some point in time or another, and in the past few months, was once again 'seduced' by it.. as he seduced the audience with grand enthusiasm.

Here, he bowed several times, thanked the audience, took the flowers from his vase and did a pose and flirt with the audience before handing them to a woman in the audience, and left the stage, to a standing ovation and thunderous it was, too. Stomping, hooting, chanting "Luka Luka Luka" for about five minutes. The man finally returned just after this person's arms and hands were getting sore from clapping.. He'd gone and changed shirts.. and was now switching to steel strings.

Exploring the Blue
Gone to Pablo
Rainbow Day
.. very enthusiastically and energetically played..
You Couldn't Have Come at a Better Time.. to very loud and enthusiastic applause.
Black is the Colour

Once more, he bowed and thanked the audience to very hearty and happy applause. It seemed to me as though the entire experience had gone by in such a happy, wonderful haze that it was over far too soon. Someone in the audience voiced, I think, the entire audience's hopes that he would "play all night".. As unrealistic as that might be.. He held our hearts in his hands and played them on his guitar and sang them with his wonderful voice.

I stayed long enough to hand him copies of a poster I'd made--of him--for one of my classes and to say hello.. which lasted far too short a time and was interrupted by someone behind me who had known him for years. He autographed a couple of my cd's, and was saying goodbye almost before I'd had chance to properly say hello.. It seemed almost ephemeral as a dream.. but wonderful none-the-less.

I'm still all a flutter from my very first Luka Bloom concert experience. I only wish that I could attend the one in Santa Cruz, which is (for me) several hours away by Bart and then bus.

One more happy, contented fan..

- Frances Baye

Great American Music Hall, San Francisco, CA
Friday, April 21, 2006

If You're Going to San Francisco Wear Blooms In Your Hair

Just back from the big gig at the Great American Music Hall, and despite it being a Friday night it was a fantastic performance.

Set list: Here and Now / I Am Not At War With Anyone / Innocence / Gypsy Music / Miracle Cure / Primavera / Diamond Mountain / To Make You Feel My Love / In Between Days / *New Song* See You Soon - Not certain of the title there but it's gorgeous! / Peace On Earth / City of Chicago / No Matter Where You Go, There You Are / Sunny Sailor Boy / Don't Be Afraid of the Light That Shines Within You / I Need Love

Encore: Exploring the Blue / Gone to Pablo / Rainbow Day / You Couldn't Have Come At a Better Time / Black Is The Colour

A few observations - before Gypsy Music Luka made noise about the trials and tribulations of applying for a work visa for America. "Jesus. I'll tell you right now, I'm with the Mexicans." That got quite the laugh and cheer here in California, as did his quip after I Am Not At War With Anyone: "We'll see how that goes over in Texas next week."

And during Black Is the Colour, a woman in the balcony made enough noise that Luka actually lost it, pausing the song to mutter extremely unkind things in her direction. He said later that she was behind the sound system, so he could hear every bloody word she said, all night, and she wouldn't shut up. But other than that, and it being a Friday night, it was a brilliant concert.

The GAMH is a good room and the audience was for the most part very receptive - especially to Sabrina! They loved her! That was nice to see.

I brought a friend with me who hadn't seen Luka before, and he left crowing about the show. He's a convert now; my work here is done!

- Lain

E3 Playhouse, Santa Cruz, CA
Saturday, April 22, 2006

After Friday night's show in San Francisco, we managed to make it down to the Santa Cruz show Saturday evening - two shows in two days - both nights fantastic in their own ways, but each with a unique feel to them. Being that Saturday was the day that Earth Day was observed here in the U.S., and being in Santa Cruz, which is very laid-back, a surfer/hippie/bohemian/university town by the sea, very liberal politics, and quite "organic". Luka had some fun customizing the gig and the banter to this audience. "Before the show, I was walking the streets around here, and I can see that this is a town that encourages people to be themselves... and for the most part, that's a good thing... <perfect dramatic pause>... for the *most* part." And here he gave one of "those > looks", sending the audience into cheers and giggles. Santa Cruz is proud of its idiosyncrasies! Set the tone nicely for an evening of music, mirth, and magic.

Was a brilliant evening, and both Luka and Sabrina were really "on" and very energetic - maybe even more so than in San Francisco. Small venue - 120 or so seats, folding chairs in a rectangular room with the small stage at one end and a small bar at the entrance. It got mighty toasty in the room and Luka made no attempt to cool it down...!

Throughout the evening, the audience was vocal, but in a warm way that never interfered or rankled. At one point, a woman playfully objected to Luka's use of "lads" at the end of sentences. He said "oh, you're all lads to me - men, women, children. Ok, lads?" When he said he was a bit tired of Irish music, he got some feedback. After all, this was sponsored by the Celtic Society. All in all, good natured fun.

I Am Not At War With Anyone -- "very much preaching to the choir"
Here And Now
Love Is A Place I Dream Of
Gypsy Music
Blackwater Side
-- "Anne's song, one of three she used to play,
but the one she played the best"
Make You Feel My Love
In Between Days
Colorado's Blue Sky
-- the song Denise had written about from the Tin Angel;
didn't get the title either.
First Light of Spring -- by request from someone in the audience "say Luka,
are ye up to playing...?" He pondered, said "let's see", and played it through.
I'm a Bogman
Diamond Mountain
-- just gorgeous last evening
June -- my favorite on the Innocence album - I was in heaven!
City of Chicago
No Matter Where You Go, There You Are
Sunny Sailor Boy
-- and the audience sounded like the "mermaids of Santa Cruz"
that Luka dedicated it to

Don't Be Afraid of the Light -- again, wonderful participation - everyone was in
a *fine* singing mood. And Luka talked about St. Brigid, describing her qualities
"patron saint to poets, love, a bit of divilment" and later said "I think her spirit must
have settled here in Santa Cruz" to which there was a big roar of laughter.

I Need Love -- no comment - well, except the heat did rise another 5 degrees F
in those 7 minutes or so.

- and here was the "break" after the first set and the encore - except there was really nowhere for Luka to go - no backstage at this venue. He would have had to leave the stage, walk to the back of the room, then walk back up to the front. He stood, looked at the standing ovation audience, shook his head and said "well, I could go through the pretense of leaving, but let's just consider it done and call THIS the encore". Very amusing - everyone laughed, and he sat down without a shirt change and switched to the black guitar and launched into:

Cold Comfort -- he said a long-time fan at the door before the show had reminded him of
this song, and he wanted to play it again.
Exploring The Blue (lush, lovely)
then wrapping up with
You Couldn't Have Come At a Better Time -- which had the audience clapping and whistling

And the evening was over. Sabrina was as lovely as Lain had described her in San Francisco, and in the smaller room, it was easier to catch her soft comments between her songs. She was really feeling the love there in Santa Cruz, and a lot of folks went up to the table to talk to her between her set and Luka's.

Luka was gracious in acknowledging the great job that the local promoter, The Celtic Society of Monterey Bay, had done putting on the show on very short notice and making it a success. It sure looked like a "sold out" gig, even without tickets being available online before the show - lots of foot traffic in off the street and word of mouth.

'Twas a gig to remember, and I heard more than a few folks wandering out into the cooler sea air and down the street singing the refrain:

    Ooh-wah ooh-wah
    ooh-wah ooh-wah
    my sunny sailor boy

- Eileen

E3 Playhouse, Santa Cruz, CA
Saturday, April 22, 2006

Having seen Luka previously at larger venues such as S.F.'s Great American Music Hall, L.A.'s Knitting Factory, and even Solana Beach's Belly Up, I was in for a treat when I arrived at the E3 Playhouse in Santa Cruz. It appeared intimate, maybe holding 100 or so people, like a smaller Freight & Salvage Coffee House in Berkeley. The head of the local Celtic Society says it was the first time they had hosted a show there; the venue still had its "Grand Opening" signs posted outside.

The club had the stage at one end, then the seats, then the kitchen/bar, then the dressing room and bathrooms. So wouldn't you know, when I arrived 1/2 hour before the show and then stood in line to use the restroom, there was Luka & Sabrina in the dressing room area, next door to the W.C. Not that I minded saying hello before the show (!), but this may be a locational kink the club could eventually work out; as in moving the dressing room to the other end near the stage. Also Luka didn't even leave the stage in between his set and encore; he decided not to bother walking through the audience aisle to the dressing room and stayed on stage.

After greeting us, Luka reminded me of my Galwegian boyfriend Stephen when he said "no messin'" and launched right into his first song, 'I am not at War with Anyone'. (Stephen likes to tease, then says "I'm ooohnly messin'." But anyway.)

Luka seems to be a lot like his brother Christy, who as an Irish friend tells me, demands it be very quiet at his shows. Them fiesty Irish, hee hee. Can't say I blame them. It's all about respect. What did you come for, anyway? As previously mentioned, he chastised a loud reveler to his left in the balcony at Great American Music Hall; at this show he said, after an outspoken woman in the front row loudly commented on the cover design of his songbook, and I paraphrase, "Two kinds of people are here tonight... those that want to hear a gig, and a fantastic woman who wants to have a personal dialogue with me... I'll be taking confessions after the show." Luka's witty-twisty way of saying "save it for later, if you please."

Don't they say artists "hone their craft" at the small clubs? Luka definitely enjoyed the intimate, appreciative audience and tried some new/obscure songs, and took some requests. My new friend Dyane said, "How about 'First Light of Spring'? Are you in the mood for it?" and he launched right into it without hesitating. Cool mayynnnn! One of my favorites on the new CD, and he hadn't done it in San Francisco the previous night. The aforementioned outspoken woman requested "Bogman", which he also granted, telling us how he gleaned the Finnish term for "Bogman" at a show in Finland, repeating it a few times in the song for fun & kicks.

Declaring us a fine audience, he played a new song about Colorado (he likes the sound of the word "Colorado"), and played a song his sister Anne sung at their Mom's house parties while they were growing up; I believe it was "Blackwater Side" (gleaned from an earlier Milwaukee show on this Website.)

Here are (most) of the songs he performed:
I Am Not at War with Anyone / Innocence / Gypsy Music (yay!) / Primavera / Cold Comfort / To Make You Feel My Love (Dylan cover) / In Between Days (Cure cover) / new Colorado song / his sister Anne's song (Blackwater Side) / City of Chicago / No Matter Where You Go... / Sunny Sailor Boy / I Need Love / Couldn't Have Come at a Better Time (always a favorite) / First Light of Spring (yay!) / Bogman.

- Pam Middings

The Knitting Factory, Hollywood, CA
Sunday, April 23, 2006

First time seeing Luka live, and to be honest had not heard any of his music before. I grew up in Luka's hometown, Newbridge, and was and am great friends of his sister, Terri. I last saw Barry when he was 10 or 12; Christy was just getting started with another local guy, Donal Lunny, in Planxty. However I had the greatest of pleasure and experience in knowing his mum, Nancy. A truly remarkable lady. Helped me greatly to get around 'the ban' on Catholics attending Trinity College, and gave me a copy of Ulysses, which was banned at the time. Yup, liberal place to live back in the 60's.!

I did not know any of his songs, but 'I am not at war' struck me as a great anthem for the anti-war/peace movement here. All his songs had a message, and his guitar playing was exquisite. He has a wry sense of humor, and seems to be a man of great integrity. Although he never sang 'The Bogman', I read the lyrics on his site and it resonated deeply with me who lived within sight of the Hill of Allen and the surrounding bog.

Having heard him I am surprised he is not more popular or as widely known. Maybe he is, and I am coming to this lately. However I also get the impression that this is how he likes it, playing in small, intimate houses with the audience right there.

I do know this. He is a much loved and admired guy, judging by the audience reaction that night. I left San Diego at 5pm. And got back home at 3am, a round trip of 300 miles, and worth every minute of it.

- Rob Mullally
San Diego, CA

Lannie's Clocktower Cabaret, Denver, CO
Sunday, April 30, 2006

Luka's Denver gig was the first one to sell out on his tour, which he was very proud to tell the packed house at Lannie's Clocktower Cabaret. This venue is in the basement of the historic Daniel and Fisher Clocktower, one of the last remaining icons of historic architecture in Denver. The venue is very intimate and decked out in velvet and gaslights -- invoking a bordello feel that we all snuggled into. Furthermore, the sound was the best I have heard at a gig in a very long time, which might just be because the venue is owned by a performer who knows how important the sound should be for a single performer.

Luka was in great form when he came out on stage and started right out with 'Innocence' before going into 'I am not at War'. The crowd lapped up every song and he gave a great retrospective that incorporated all of his varied repertoire.

'Thank you for bringing me here' alongside of covers of Bob Dylan and the Cure. 'No Matter Where You Are', 'Monsoon', 'I need Love' (which Luka said he had started to like singing again).

Two new ones got an airing. The first, a song about loving someone enough to let them go had the chorus of 'See you Soon'. Another new one was especially poignant, as it is about Colorado, but not just the majestic Rocky Mountains and soaring eagles. It is also about the pain of loved ones fighting a war in a distant land and longing to come home. It got a thundering reception, so Luka must be on the right vibe with it.

When he sang 'Sunny Sailor Boy' the crowd got into it right away and sang along beautifully. In fact, as the song ended with everyone singing, Luka actually shivered and said that the singing had given him goose bumps!! He was so delighted with the singing of the Colorado crowd that he immediately asked everyone to sing with him on 'Don't be Afraid of the Light'. The audience responded in kind and it was lovely to listen to.

At one point, a small boy came up to the stage and requested "An Irishman in Chinatown". Luka was genuine in his reply that he just couldn't do that song, and said he was really, really sorry. As the boy turned to leave, Luka told him to come back to the stage and reached into his pocket. "Do you play guitar?" Luka asked. "No", the boy replied. "Well, this is for you when you get started -- here is your first pick", Luka replied, as he handed the boy one of his guitar picks. With a grin from ear to ear, the boy went back into the audience.

A double encore that included 'Exploring the Blue' and finally 'Raglan Road' sent everyone home with an even greater appreciation for this superb musician. The buzz was mighty and the Luka longing has already started for another appearance!

- Cindy Reich

Cactus Cafe, Austin, TX
Wednesday, May 3, 2006

Karen and I arrived in Austin a bit early. We sat outside the Cactus Cafe and waited. Luka's manager came out and said hello and my wife asked if he would give Luka a present. He said wait a minute, went back inside and a minute later Luka came out and sat with us for what seem almost 30 minutes. Full of stories and fun. My wife presented Luka with a prayer shawl for him to use on those many cold Irish mornings. Added to the fun, Sabrina came out and what a funny full of energy women she is. I'm still laughing at her humor. Luka is blessed to have her on tour.

Indoor/outdoor? In the middle of the performance the fire alarm went off and we had to evacuate to the outdoors. Luka, the true professional that he is, gathered everyone around in a circle and continued his songs, he also included the crowd with sing a long song. What fun was had by all. That's stuff real memories are made of.

There are other memories but I'll leave these for now.

- Chuck and Karen Nagel

The Handlebar, Greenville, SC
Saturday, May 6, 2006

After getting lost when I bounded into Greenville, I found my way back to the Handlebar - a large-ish cinder block building which would look like a warehouse were it not for some exterior paintings with music themes, and a bunch of show posters plastered near the door.

After some confusion, my will-call ticket was located. I was told I could write my name on a slip of paper and go on into the concert hall to reserve a seat. I went ahead and did this, and got a front row seat. Most of the setup going on was for the blues band playing the late show after Luka. All of their gear was already set on stage, and it was hard to pick out Luka's rig in front. The hall was a big room with a concerete floor and blue that looked like they had been swiped from a hotel conference room. The metal rafters and cinder block walls made me feel like I was in a dark school gym or even in an aircraft hangar.

I was there quite early, and went back out to the pub part, for a locally made red ale. I noticed Luka and Sabrina sitting about fifteen feet away. Luka was happily plowing through a nice looking salad, and Sabrina appeared to be sipping coffee. I decided not to say hello at that point, thinking it better to leave Luka in peace as he ate. He chimed in when I walked past to go get my laptop (there's free WiFi at the Handlebar!). I briefly said hello to both of them, then excused myself to get the computer.

Checking my e-mail on my return, I noticed Sabrina writing her set list on her hand, as she likes to do! I was at the next table at this point, and leaned over to ask her if 'Bangkok Breeze' was written on her hand. With a glowing bashful smile, she told me it was, which made me quite happy.

When the house opened, some people remained at the bar, and missed some of Sabrina's set when she went on ten minutes early. She came out in faded overalls and a pink shirt. Judging by the last show, I think she has a thing for pink! She did five songs, and the only one I recognized was the previously mentioned 'Bangkok Breeze'. One song was dedicated ot the light guy, Herb, who was turning 60 the day of the show.

There were some slight annoyances during her set. The metal doors to the parking lot outside made far too much noise. Also, the air conditioning was not exqactly quiet. Here's the worst bit: the guy running the monitor board was not in place at the start of the set. He walked across the back of the stage behind Sabrina to get to his post.

When Luka went on after Sabrina, the hall was less than half full. This was disappointing to me - but I had to remember that it was his first time in Greenville, so he's not well known there. Most people I talked to had been fans for years - and for many, it was their first time seeing him live. Luka came out in black shoes, blue jeans, and a dark blue denim shirt. He planted himself on a bar stool, instead of a lower chair. He launched into 'I Am Not At War' cautiously, making little eye contact with the audience. I sang along, trying to get people to join in. No luck. The only other sound was the staticky sound and buzz of a bad contact on a cable somewhere, which popped up during the soft humming bit. (This was, unfortunately, a sign of things to come.) Luka said nothing about the song afterwards, merely saying he was happy to finally be in South Carolina.

He then introduced a song "about all we have", and launched into 'Here And Now'. During this song, the late monitor guy made his appearance, walking across stage again. After the song, Luka announced "I've got no vocal in my wedges." When the monitor guy tried to fix it, there was a deafening feedback spike. I think he brought up the guitar mic indstead.

Next up was 'Innocence'. Beautiful, save for the loud pop and buzz in the middle. I think the monitor guy was repatching things during the show. 'Diamond Mountain' was next, and Luka showed he still wasn't happy with the monitors with an annoyed shake of his head. Just after, the sound of the vocals went very hollow. Luka started pounding his guitar harder than I rememebred on this song, seeming rather unhappy. 'Make You Feel My Love' was more gorgeous than I thought it would be, and there were no audio issues! Just after this song, a woman sitting two seats away asked me if I would be quiet. I hadn't realized the under-my breath singing wasn't so under the breath! I apologized profusely.

Luka said the next song made him want to frizz out his hair, and wear black boots and makeup. It was of course, 'In Between Days'. Up next, Luka did one I didn't recognize. It had a lyric "I hope I love you enough to let you go". Somewhow, I've missed this one. He said he was doing it because Sabrina likes it. Apparently, some folks in the hall were not so crazy about it. They were laughing and talking loudly in the back during about half of the tune.

'June' was followed by 'Thank You For Bringing Me Here', which was announced with the story of a friend who'd inspired the song when he took his daughter for a walk on the beach after he'd been in prison for a crime he did not commit. The "immigration block" was next, with 'City Of Chicago' and 'No Matter Where You Go, There You Are'.

Luka then dedicated 'Sunny Sailor Boy' to the North Carolina mermaids - though he was in South Carolina! During the next intro, Luka couldn't get out the name "Greenville", and made a funny Spinal Tap reference, then launched into 'I Need Love', which sounded MUCH better than expected on the nylon string guitar. For most of the tune, the guitar was used just as an accent for the vocals. It was VERY well done. (Luka got a nice laugh when he over-dramatized and strung out the phrase "Suck on your neck, caress and hold you", and an appreciative applause after nicely whistling a few bars.) At the end of this one, Luka led us in singing Happy Birthday to Herb the light guy.

Switching to steel strings, Luka did one of my personal faves, 'Exploring The Blue'. Rather magical. 'Rainbow Day' followed, then 'You Couldn't Have Come At A Better Time'.

There was just one song in the encore, due to time constraints. It was the lovely 'On Raglan Road'.

After the show we had trouble getting out, as we had to walk through a large crowd assembled for the blues show afterward. It made for a very chaotic scene, and Sabrina seemed a bit irked at how the whole thing was being handled. (The incoming crowd for the late show was blocking the table for CD sales.) I got to chat with her just briefly - but Luka took more time, I think recognizing me more than he did in Milwaukee. We had a nice talk about a couple of his tunes and a few other things. Luka found I'd driven five hours to be there, and very sincerely told me to be careful and advised me stop in Atlanta to stay over with one of my friends. I took the advice - and it was a good move. The next day in Atlanta was a lovely way to end the trip!

- Uncle Flip
Birmingham, AL

B.B. King Blues Club, New York
Saturday, May 13, 2006

Alice and I met at BB Kings to enjoy dinner, drinks and a very special evening with Our Man. The venue is a generous size, with cabaret seating for about 650. The stage is large and long. The bar at the back was long as well, the length of the room. Luka filled up the stage quite nicely, and so did Sabrina, in her own right. By this I mean that it is the artist's stage presence which is discernable -- not the familiar entity, but a radiant, comprehensive eminence.

We got into the venue very late (7:45) and all the seats were full! We took a table on Luka's guitar side behind a secondary sound board, which I was very pleased with, as I somehow always manage to sit where I cannot see him pickin' and strummin'. The couple next to us finished their dinner and left, so we moved over to their table. The service was excellent at BB Kings, the wait staff extremely efficient and courteous, busy all during the show, but you weren't aware of them, didn't hear clinking bar noise, or the muffled voices of the staff talking. The manager was courteous as well, as he had two pushy females being very vocal and insistent about being seated properly, regardless of the packed house situation. Overall I was very impressed with BB Kings.

The crowd was very enthusiastic about Sabrina's music, and she was as sweet as could be, which endeared her to them even more. She wore a cute outfit of a short denim skirt with a short-sleeved hoodie. Her hair was pulled up into a knot, revealing her bright smiling face.

Himself looked very comfortable in a long-sleeved silk shirt. At least it looked silk, an exotic fabric to my mind that invites touching… "Could this be silk?" we ask, as we're stroking the wearer's arm!

Luka began with 'I Am Not at War With Anyone', and at this point I took out paper and pen to scribble a setlist: Here and Now / Innocence / Miracle Cure / Primavera / Make You Feel My Love / In Between Days / See You Soon / June / Thank You for Bringing Me Here / City of Chicago / No Matter Where You Go, There You Are / Sunny Sailor Boy / St. Brigid's Song (Don't Be Afraid of the Light That Shines Within You) / I Need Love

(an extremely short break-there was another show that night)
Cold Comfort / Exploring the Blue / Monsoon (!) / You Couldn't Have Come at a Better Time

By the way, it was nice and toasty in the venue. So, let's begin with this new song that has everyone guessing if it is autobiographical - 'See You Soon'. This song incorporates some mighty fine, new and unique guitaring! Awesome, I liked it better than even the first time I heard it! This is not a reliable account of the lyrics, but you get the gist:

    I hope I love you enough to let you go
    On the road that you can see.
    I hope I love you enough to
    Loosen the hold that you have on me...

    I want to bless you on your way and say
    Always to yourself be true
    I hope you know there is no sweeter place in the world
    Than the places I have been with you.

Luka's style of banter was more effected, being humorously contrived, short punchy sentences - not a comfy chit-chat style. I had seen John Spillane use this form on stage and found it to be entirely bewitching. Alice said that the design of this approach was typical for NYC. Because of this, it was a completely different show in tone than what I had seen at the Outpost in Montclair. It's edifying that I am beginning to see that the type of venue is important in establishing the mood for artist and audience.

This audience was composed of fans who know Luka and his work. They gave their deep and unabashed attention to him, and were very respectful as well. Luka smiled and said, "Thanks for reminding me of Santa Cruz, where they say 'aahhhhhh' at the end of songs, instead of clapping."

I must admit, this crowd waited until every guitar strain faded away before they clapped and yayed, and otherwise showed their appreciation. Not all audiences are as courteous - it is so annoying (to say the least) when Luka has finished singing, but the guitar is closing out the song, and some joker has got to be clapping and carrying on so the full intimate closure of the piece is spoiled.

Luka had us singing of course to 'Sunny Sailor Boy' and, as well, to 'St. Brigid's Song'. Here was our enchanting meditation… aahhhh, utterly captivating… Did you notice that he played 'Monsoon'? How about that? Wonderful!

In spite of the length and demands of this tour, Luka seemed genuinely at his ease and happy, too.

- Deborah Sandford

House Concert, Staten Island, NY
Sunday, May 14, 2006

Ray and Maureen Heffernan used to own a restaurant, and they enjoyed filling the selections on the jukebox with eclectic music. Thus their customers were introduced to music from the likes of Luka Bloom and Frances Dunnery. They had a vision to host small concerts using their home as a venue, to bring back the times when music belonged to the people in intimate groups and settings. First they presented Frances Dunnery. Then they had the good fortune to present Luka Bloom when he said yes to their brilliant offer.

In an old section of Staten Island, far from the madding crowd, there stands an 1864 Victorian home. It is tall and stately, with long windows, and clearly the recipient of tender loving care. The inside was charming, with nooks and crannies, the first of which may have been a tiny receiving room or letter writing room. A polished staircase wound its way up, and little views of the landing could be seen from the kitchen. A narrow hall from the entrance led straight to the back of the house, and to the right of this were the two parlors where the concert would take place. To the left of the hall was an attractive and inviting kitchen, its central counter brimming with "light refreshments" which included wine, soda, cheese and crackers, fruit and cookies, enough to please a crowd of about forty who cared to nibble, or maybe hadn't taken the time to sup.

Folding chairs were already in place in the two parlors, which opened into each other. Lighted candles were dancing in their places around the room. These rooms were chilly, and I wondered how Luka would fare, knowing he prefers it on the warm side. Most of the crowd seemed to be neighbors who had been introduced to Luka's music via the jukebox, and many had enjoyed the privilege of attending the previous concert. Perhaps a few were from out of town? I was. Later I met JoAnn and her guy, also from out of town. Don't know about any others!

Ray was very warmly insistent on inviting me. He said I really ought to try not to miss this opportunity. Maureen was a gracious hostess, but when I shook her hands, they were ice cold. She said it was the nature of living in an old Victorian!

When I arrived, most everyone was crowded into the kitchen, eating, drinking, and enjoying themselves. I walked down the hall and took a turn into the parlor. Luka was busy setting up his spot, so I took a hasty retreat back to the kitchen to get a glass of ginger ale. When I came back out, I passed him in the hall where he greeted me very cordially, so I figured it was safe to wander back to the parlor where I was not wont to bother anyone now! Sabrina was in the room, and I hadn't realized that earlier. When we saw each other we were delighted to be meeting once again. I cherish this darling girl -- she has got to be one of this planet's most endearing spirits…

It all began! Sabrina with her sunny smile warmed the crowd. Well, it wasn't a crowd, it was a group. She said, "This is kinda strange - I'm more nervous tonight than I was last night (at BB Kings). I usually hide behind a microphone!" She looked excellent in faded jeans and a bold red and white striped top, hair pulled up into a knot. I'm going to identify her songs, not by the titles, but by poetic slips of verse. She gave us the gift of thirteen songs. My God, her voice and presentation is even lovelier without amplification!
     - I didn't know where I was goin' to until I met you..
     - Not walkin' a tightrope anymore..
"This is funny, isn't it?", she says. From our perspective, it is great! I realize that she's sitting on the tall stool, whereas she usually performs standing up.
     - I'm rollin' outta here..
     - Dark night of the soul… (..go away and pull myself together)
"I'm sorry I can't lift my eyes when I'm singin', but I'm too nervous! I could do with a drink!"
     - One more drink will surely comfort me..
"Any Mother's in the house? Happy Mother's Day! This is my mother's favorite song."
     - I'm not the devil's plaything no more.. Sailing to leave you behind (See you around)
"K (okay) - I'm getting' used to it now!"
     - I'm missing your spark.. (harmonica song)
"Thanks a million, lads! I've got a lot of songs about rain…"
     - You pretend we're still in love.. All I see is sunshine today..
     - Sobering barriers in my passionate skyline..
     - Song without a movie.. (a friend was writing a movie which she wrote the song for. Then he changed the theme of the movie, and the song no longer fits!)
She struck a wrong chord and let out a slight expletive. Everyone, including Herself had gotten the biggest kick out of this! "For six weeks I've been playin' the same songs, so the old ones you kinda forget!"
     - I'm waiting for your message on the telephone..
     - Step into the light (who are you tryin' to fool? I can see you are lonely, too)..
     - Hard to lift your head to the sun..
"Thanks very much, lads, thanks for havin' us. The night's only young yet, so let's see what happens…"

There was a small intermission; more snacks in the kitchen, and then on to the main event! For all the angels who could not be here this lovely evening, you would have been so pleased! Luka looked very good, soft and relaxed, wearing jeans and a dark blue denim shirt.

I Am Not at War With Anyone - slow and meaningful, it brought me back to the first time I heard this song.

When the tide goes out, this beach is never the same Here and Now I could really get the imagery - what a beautiful song sung unplugged.

Innocence - I certainly had my perfect view, fourth row back, for guitar-watching (my favorite spectator sport), and everything-else-watching, too!

At this point, Luka rolled up his sleeves and spoke about his Mum and his family, how there was not much discipline, except for the music, and how none of them grew up to be lawyers or accountants. "We're all a bit mad, and very happy about it," he says. "Not that lawyers and accountants aren't a bit mad!"

Anne's song Blackwater Side - "She had three songs and this was by far the best of them."

Primavera - acoustic is good for this song! There is no labor, I suppose, toward trying to get an amplification system to pick up every nuance of sound. We hear the strains perfectly. He looks at ease in the light of the chandelier.

Diamond Mountain - quiet and tender, then bolder

"I've gotten two requests, and both are love songs! The first is from Maureen our hostess."

Make You Feel My Love - when he got to the line "go to the ends of the earth for you," he giggled! I'm telling you the truth! - we've all heard him laugh (great sense of humor), but this was a giggle! Well, he's got me guessing..

"The second request is from Mike," he said, "and Mike has asked for a love song, to which I'm not going to say anything, because he is my lift back to the city!"

Can't Help Falling in Love With You - Alrighty then! That caught everyone off guard, including me, but Mike was standing in the doorway beaming-you just had to smile at that! This song was nice! But why was it reverberating through me? I told my self to be calm, but the song was insistently resounding through my being! (oh, this priest of ours…!)


"I started writing this song before the tour - finished it here, and put a different spin on it." He gave Maureen a spiral notebook to hold, so he could see the words which were still new, and muttered a bit about wishing he'd remembered his glasses (gasp! our icon wears glasses?) A woman nearby craned her head over to look and said, Nice handwriting! to which he blew out an airy snort!

Colorado - an absolutely beautiful song in its visionary design, almost even more so for those who have never been there. It's a brilliant phantasm, a perfect poem by virtue of the imagery it weaves.

Bogman - to which he gave us words for 'bogman' in different languages! A great rendition of this song -- again, better acoustically - not done in a vigorous affirmative way, but more of a tender statement… this is who I am.. We were very pleased to hear this song.

Now, when he wasn't needing to use his guitar pick, he rested it on his thigh, and darn it if it didn't stay there! He was certainly 'cool, calm and collected' as some of us in America are wont to say, and took his own time sizing up the audience. But, regardless of the nature of this venue, it was still a show, a performance, not at all casual party.

City of Chicago - "I'd had this song written for a few days, and Christy said, 'I want that one!' You don't go arguing with an older brother!"

No Matter Where You Go, There You Are - again, not done in such a vigorous manner, and you could truly hear the mother's lament. Very touching in its ending (the aahs..), less wailing… more indicative of a broken heart.

I'll Walk Beside You - "I don't usually do this song at gigs." I think he said he patterned this song after the style of John McCormick, but I can't be sure. Oh, my annoying little notes have failed me!

Sunny Sailor Boy - I look at the people around me, many stumbling over a phrase they've never heard, yet wanting to put their whole heart into singing and sharing with this admirable man before them. It's a sacred moment, in retrospect as well..

Good Night! He gets a standing ovation.
"I'm going to take the liberty of accepting that as an encore!"

In Between Days - surely my notes have failed me now! I wrote down that he said, "I'm doin' me own thing!" But whatever that is, it is not for our disclosure!

The Joy of Living - he said he learned this last year from a mountain-climber friend and he very rarely does it in shows. It is by Ewan MacColl, who was famous for writing 'The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face'.

He stood up. He must have taken a bow, although I don't remember anything by this point, said, "This, to me, is where it's really at - singin' in homes!"

Well, thank you, Dear Boy. But where it's really at is wherever you are singing and drawing in people and opening up hearts. Thank you for bringing me there.

- Deborah Sandford

Regattabar, Cambridge, MA
Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Sabrina was on stage for 25 minutes and Luka was on stage for 2 hours and 15 minutes. Sabrina's performance was wonderful. She has a very powerful voice to go with her shy demeanor. Her songs were rich and vibrant. After a short break Luka came on.

The room was uniquely designed and as Luka put it probably designed by the same people who designed the New England Aquarium. The back section of the room was separated by a large amount of space. The show appeared to be sold out. At the beginning of the show Luka told the group at the back of the room that they had his absolute permission to move in closer and make it an intimate experience. He also added that for the next 90 minute this was our room and to do with it what we wanted.

Set list ~~ In order
I Am Not At War
Here and Now
Blackwater Side
~ Anne's song ~ sung regularly by his sister Anne as a child
Make you feel my love
In Between Days
Water Ballerina
See you soon
Miracle Cure
Peace On Earth
Diamond Mountain
City of Chicago
No matter where you go, there you are
Sunny sailor boy
Acoustic Motorbike
~~ Wow this was out of this world!!
Can't Help Falling In Love ~ Sung for Sabrina
Don't be afraid of the light that shines within you
I need love
~~ done full of innuendo

Pretend to do an encore
Exploring the Blue
Rainbow day
Couldn't have come at a better time

1 more ~ the poor sound man had to come back for this one
On Raglan Road

The show was amazing..... As this was my first I have nothing to compare it to but it was fabulous. The crowd was getting drawn in song by song. When Acoustic Motorbike was over the room was fully charged and electric.

Luka's sister Eilish and his brother-in-law were at the show and sang along with the crowd every chance they got. They were both very friendly talking to many of the people in attendence.

Thanks again to Uncle Flip and his S9 radio shoutcast for introducing me to the fabulous music of Luka Bloom.

~ Laura Harrison

The Bickford Theatre, Morristown, NJ
Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The parking lot looked packed...oooo, the word was out in Morristown! Lovely Sabrina did her usual GORGEOUS set (sorry I can barely remember the setlist for Luka but she was completely BRILLIANT!). Luka arrived to the stage (literally as there's a play going on at the Bickford) and the Bickfordians were at the ready with a warm welcome! Songs played with gorgeous Charles (named after the river in Boston!)
I have no idea if the order is right.... but here ya go:

I am not at war - all over the US people have reacted really warmly to the song...
so no warmongers going to L-gigs... though it might be good if they did!!
In between days - connected in Luka's mind... even though they're not really alike.
Here and now - dreaming again... yeahhhh.
See you soon - loving enough to know when you have to let go.
To Make you feel my love - and he always does.
Innocence - the beauty of believing and happy, carefree days.
Water Ballerina - moving with grace and beauty though the waters of the West of Ireland.
No matter where you go - following your star and finding opportunities in new lands
Diamond Mountain - Australia a sunny home away from home...
Primavera - gorgeous guitar as usual...
Peace on Earth - where words fail music speaks..
Miracle Cure - the most difficult thing is forgiveness whether it be conflicts between
nations, groups, or individuals...
Sunny Sailor Boy - good singers in Morristown! Lovely.
City of Chicago - He of the good ears for songs borrowed this but now he's playing it.
Bogman - looking forward to getting back home as it's been a long time away.
June - life is celebrations and goodbyes... GORGEOUS.
I need love - woops musta been thinking about another thing you need... ;-)
Thank you for bringing me here - thanks to the Bickford and especially Debbie!!!

Rudy time!!!
Exploring the Blue - sigggghhhhh...
Gone to Pablo - lost in pictures no place left to hide...she's gone to Pablo...
You couldn't have come at a better time - punchline! :-)))

I asked everyone who smiled at me (which was just about everyone I looked at!) if they enjoyed the show... and heard enthusiastic responses each time. Woohooo... Luka and Sabrina were busy signing and albums and there were lots of requests... hope that meant there were lots bought!

It was great to see and hear that dynamic musical duo do what they do so brilliantly, again! What a journey it surely had been since they were at the Outpost and now back, full circle, in NJ again. They were a bit tired, but happy musical travelers in the world! Two more to go and then HOME awaits.

- Victoria Romani

World Café Live, Philadelphia, PA
Friday, May 19, 2006

Oooo to see him Here and Now was such a thrill for me.

It may not be the best show I've ever seen him do but the room is as he said "lovely". The acoustics are wonderful with the ability to distribute the smallest tweak or the hardest thrum evenly. It suited Luka perfectly. I suppose it's only fair to give the sound man and the set up crew a nod on their part as well.

The stage is wide and deep but Luka sat up front in the middle as close to the audience as possible. There was a vase of beautiful white oriental lilies next to him with the necessary water bottles. The sightlines at this venue are almost as good as the sound so everyone got to see everything. Including the grimace in the middle of "Peace on Earth" when someone up front was thoughtless enough to take a flash picture. If I'd been closer I'd have whacked him upside the head myself.

OK, so I did write an accurate setlist up and here goes:
I Am Not at War
Here and Now
Miracle Cure
Diamond Mountain
Make You Feel My Love
End of Days
- a very Senior Moment occurred, with some funny faces and all out belly
laugh from the man himself.
See You Soon
Peace on Earth
- the perfect song for the perfect room
- for the folks from Kildare who were there
Thank You For Bringing Me Here
City of Chicago
No Matter Where You Go, There You Are
Sunny Sailor Boy - a bit timid response from the audience, perhaps a lot of newcomers
I Need Love

Exploring the Blue
Gone to Pablo
You Couldn't Have Come at a Better Time

Ha! Not if you tried, Luka. The show was just what I needed at just the right time.

I have to say that Sabrina has eh, bloomed. She's a much more confident artist than when I first saw her at The Tin Angel way back on April 8th.

What else can I say? I'm sorry ya'll missed it but I'm damned glad I didn't.
Come back to the WCL soon Luka, please squeeze it in anyol'time!
Safe journey home.

Gees was that a cowboy shirt he was wearing at the greet and grin? Ah, mad cows and Irishmen, don't they just go together like peanut butter and jelly?

- Denise

The Turning Point Café, Piermont, NY
Saturday, May 20, 2006

The venue was small. The voice far from it.

Luka's final night in America was spent with a lucky bunch of us at The Turning Point Café in Piermont, a village along the Hudson River in the suburbs just north of NYC.

The music room is in the basement of what was likely once a nice old house. Patrons can choose to eat upstairs first (which includes 1st dibs on seating - yeah!) or have more casual fare when the doors open and the communal tables fill closer to show time.

Luka first appeared on stage to introduce Sabrina, who charmed the crowd with her voice and her often-repeated "Thanks, lads."

Luka's set began with 'I Am Not at War', as he said he has started every show along the tour - and it was very well-received.

Don't have a set list - but highlights were many - 'Here and Now', 'Diamond Mountain', 'Thank You for Bringing Me Here', - 'Bogman' - great new (?) song 'See You Soon' - and a stirring 'Peace on Earth'.

'Exploring the Blue' and 'Couldn't Have Come at a Better Time' were other standouts, as was 'I Need Love' (which he said brought him a dose of fame in the early 90s).

Between songs, Luka spoke of Starbucks and hearing his own song on its in-house music system, a 'lost weekend'-type spell in Colorado... it just seemed like the tour was a good one filled with quite a few adventures.

He seemed really comfortable -- and ready to head home to his favorite month in Ireland ('June') -

As in the past, we know Luka likes a venue on the warm side - so it was no surprise when he pleaded for the air to be turned off -- ("The two things I hate about America: George Bush and air conditioning") - not a problem!

And there really was a bit of magic with 'Sunny Sailor Boy', - in the short intro, he told of the way it works "for the four of you here that haven't heard it before" -- and Luka really seemed swept away - afterward, he said we were the Piermont mermaids taking him to the land of Enya... the mist and... oh no, Michael Flatley... ((Of course, he told it better - but the laughs were there nevertheless.))

Luka was booked as an early (6:30 p.m.) show - and seemed to push the curfew to its limit - we could've stayed all night, as the several standing ovations made clear.

After a quick change, Luka was back sign CDs and take pix -- ever gracious. Ever appreciated.

- Mary Shustack

The Turning Point Café, Piermont, NY
Saturday, May 20, 2006

I have seen Luka regularly since catching him at the late and very much lamented Bottom Line in NYC in the early '90's. Vince Scelsa used to do a songwriter's show called "In Their Own Words" with four different singer songwriters and Luka was on the bill with I think David Byrne, Roseanne Cash and Lou Reed. I have probably been lucky enough to catch Luka live maybe 20-25 times since that first time at the songwriter's show. And I also got to see him at the tour opening Outpost In The Burbs show as well as BB King's on 5/13.

The gig at the Turning Point was certainly the most intimate of all the shows I have ever seen Luka perform, with the feeling that Luka was communing and playing just for me. Every subtlety was able to be picked up and I found that I certainly was transported to a place not of this earth... to someplace in an Enya video [to steal a punch line from Luka].

I don't think I can recall the exact set list, but he opened as he said he has done every show this tour with 'I am not a war with anyone'. After playing it, he said that though he has played it all over the world, he thought it remarkable that the song seems to really resonate most with people in America. He played many of the songs from Innocence [which I now believe is Luka's best effort to date] and also made a very funny reference to the experience of hearing one of his songs playing whilst getting his mocha latte venti at Starbucks which has picked Innocence to feature in their stores. The crowd applauded Starbucks intelligent choice.

While Luka's humourous side is always in evidence, it was in especially rare form at this show. Luka was as relaxed as I have ever seen him and had the audience captivated for the entire approximate 2 hour set. He made some very positive remarks about the lovely village of Piermont, NY which is on the Hudson just south of the Tappan Zee Bridge, saying something to the effect of someone visits Piermont and all of a sudden it's thirteen years later and you haven't left the place you came to visit. He said up until the point he arrived in Piermont that he was very much looking forward to flying home the next day, but knew it was trouble when he saw the Turning Point and Piermont that he'd have a great time at the show and would lament having to leave the next day.

I can probably reconstruct much of what Luka played during his set, but will do that at a later point when I have spoken with the five who accompanied me. One of the friends is a guitarist who really did not know anything about Luka before seeing him that night. He is among the enlightened now! The others in the group had seen Luka once or twice before and we all agreed that The Man was in top, top form.

I love Luka's choice of doing 'City of Chicago' and 'No Matter Where You Go, There You Are' back to back in performance. I would have to say that have become two of my 10 Desert Island songs, and played together became the apex of the show for me... I led the audience to a standing ovation for his especially stirring performance of those songs that night. Luka is always passionate, but he played those songs with an intensity that was white hot, almost as if it were the [god forbid] last songs he'd ever play... yes, truly that intense. I love the juxtaposition of those songs because they bring two different views on the topic of immigration. They are among the most moving songs ever written by anyone if you ask me.

Luka left the stage after playing the traditional song 'Raglan Road' and that concluded what was certainly one of the two best Luka shows I have seen. The other was at the Village Underground when he played with an a NY based woman singer songwriter [maybe Jennifer Jackson?]. I'm friendly with the owner of the TP and asked John to please have Luka do a return engagement. I told him to immediately save me 10 tickets as soon as he books Luka again.

- Tom Gramegna


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