Green Left Weekly - Issue #81 - November 25, 1992
Enmore Theatre, Sydney, November 20
Reviewed by Bernie Brian
This was Luka Bloom's first concert in Australia but judging by the audience response he already has many fans
here. He has built his reputation on two acclaimed albums, Riverside and Acoustic Motorbike
and his appearance in the television series on contemporary Irish music "Bringing It All Back Home".
Luka is a solo performer whose trademark is his thunderous and exhilarating acoustic guitar playing, his fine voice
and his warm and passionate delivery.
His songs reflect the experiences of so many exiled Irish people who have left for far shores in search of a new
life, dreams and love. This is reflected in his song "Dreams in America". As he writes there is always
the hope of a "reunion in the progress of time".
Bloom has just returned to Ireland after many years absence trying to establish his individual identity away
from the shadow of his brother, Christy Moore, and the stultifying effects of Ireland's theocracy.
While his songs mainly reflect personal experiences and are not overtly political, he is not shy to express
his concerns about sexism, bigotry and environmental destruction. He does not see his music, however,
as a force for change but as a comfort for people in a cruel world.
During the evening he dedicated a song to young Irish gays and lesbians and sang about the destruction
of Ireland's natural beauty in pursuit of the tourist dollar.
Bloom's influences are many and varied. During the night he performed covers from the Waterboys,
Prince, and the rap band LL Cool J.
Luka Bloom's remaining tour dates:
Perth - Wed November 25, Fly By Night Club, Fremantle.
Adelaide - Fri November 27, The Big Ticket.
Melbourne - Sun November 29, Athenaeum Theatre.
Canberra - Wed December 2, Tilley's.
Sydney - Thurs December 3, Birkenhead Tavern.
Green Left Weekly
The Australian - 22 October 1996
Acoustic journey to success
It took a rap song and a ticket to New York, but Luka Bloom has reinvented the solo performer.
Invigorated by an afternoon in the Bondi surf, Luka Bloom is describing a journey. It's the story of a singer-songwriter called
Barry Moore, who worked the Dublin folk circuit for years with little success.
At 30 - a battle with the booze behind him - he quit Dublin for New York. Ditching his old name, he finally discovered an enthusiastic
audience for his work.
"The reason I decided to change my name was that I wanted a new start," says 41-year-old Bloom (aka Moore), who is touring
Australia this month. "To not even be perceived as an Irish folk singer but just as someone with a guitar who sings his own
Moore's invention of Luka Bloom - an amalgam of a Suzanne Vega song title and the protagonist of James Joyce's 'Ulysses' -
was not, as some have suggested, a bid to escape the shadow of his celebrated older brother, folk singer Christy Moore. "My
brother is not a problem in my life any more than my left arm is problem in my life. We love each other," he says, accent thickening
Like Richie Havens, Richard Thompson and Billy Bragg, Bloom has redefined the notion of the solo singer-songwriter. His
acoustic guitar style ranges from brutally percussive open chords to fragile picking - his voice is full of melancholy power. Lyrically
he runs the gamut from French nuclear testing to fumbling teenage seduction.
Bloom jokingly describes his sound as "stadium rock for the bedroom". Not a bad analogy. Like Bragg, he was inspired by the
Clash, and his arrangements and performance are calculated to fill big rooms. "Put it this way, no one has ever said: 'I wish you'd
had a band with you.' The challenge of being a solo artist is holding an audience attention."
This stagecraft was learned the hard way. About a year after moving to New York he was asked to tour with the notorious Irish
folk-rock group, the Pogues. It was baptism of fire. "When you stand alone in front of their audience, they basically want you to get
the hell out of there," he says.
Bloom learned that by taking himself less seriously and poking fun at the audience, he could engage audiences who had written off
all solo singer-songwriters as second-rate Bob Dylan imitators. He not only survived the Pogues gigs, he began to thrive.
"Little by little, people who would never have gone to see a guy with a guitar started to show up at my gigs," he says with pride.
"Good lookin' women, for example."
Gradually, he was escaping the narrow boundaries of the folk scene, which had threatened to choke him in Dublin.
"You know what the folkclub scene is like," he says. "It's all beer bellies, real ale and bottle openers hanging off your belt."
Bloom recorded his first album, "Riverside", in New York before returning to Dublin in 1990. "I had to get away,
but I never wanted to live anywhere else. I want to be with my family [he has a son] and my mother was getting older."
The return to Dublin did not signal a capitulation to the folk circuit. His second album for Warner Bros.,
"The Acoustic Motorbike", featured a lilting version of "I Need Love", a song
popularised by West Coast rapper L.L. Cool J. It remains Bloom's biggest hit.
The reworking of a rap song was another attempt to break down perceptions of the acoustic guitar-toting solo artist. "I don't consider
it a cover anymore because my version is better than his [Cool J]. It's actually all about tranformation - a guy realising he's been an
asshole all his life."
The gamble paid off. "I Need Love" was a hit and substantially widened his audience, particularly among women.
His third album, the critically acclaimed "Turf", was his last for Warners. Despite his efforts to avoid being
pigeon-holed, the music industry's lack of interest in sensitive-guys-with-guitars appeared to have struck again.
Bloom, whose concerts sell out whether he has a new album out or not, couldn't give a damn. "I don't like the music industry," he
says. "They'll never change. It's like television - they perceive people as being stupid and assume they all want the same thing."
Armed with a batch of new songs, he's confident another album will be out in mid-1997.
Luka Bloom performs in Adelaide tomorrow night before concerts in Perth, Geelong, Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney.
- Richard Jinman
Picture: Chris Pavlich
|Article from Michael Power
Sun Herald - Timeout Magazine - Sunday, 11 October 1998
In full bloom
An Irish singer-songwriter pulls up roots and finds his guitar plucking fingers turning green.
In 1998 Luka Bloom discovered an extra finger. Lo and behold, it was a green one.
"I would have to say it's been a fantastic year," said the Irish singer-songwriter, best known in Australia for his seductive acoustic
interpretation of LL Cool J's "I Need Love" released earlier this decade.
The most amazing thing happened to me. I discovered the garden." With a Dubliner's gentle lilt, he makes it sound like a fairytale
adventure. Because I travelled so much I would never allow any plants or anything in the house, because I'd come back from a tour
and be devastated to find they had died. A while ago I took a look outside at this little green patch at the back of my house and I
suddenly realised, Jesus, this place is a mess. I got down on my knees and got into it. All of a sudden I started to plant things, and,
Jesus, they started growing."
Did he experience the non-gardener's fear of the big, green unknown?
"Absolutely. That's part of the condition that we contemporary urbanities, live in. We assume that, because our lives are so
removed from nature, we have no clue as to how to become involved in anything like an ecological process. It's quite a shock to the
system, but I now understand why when people get into this stuff they spend the rest of their lives cultivating it. It's worse than golf. I
planted about 500 things thinking about 20 of them might survive, and now I'm living in a miniature rainforest."
Luka Bloom was born Barry Moore (brother of legendary folkie Christy) 40-odd years ago and raised in a small village 50 km
from Dublin. He released a series of albums as Moore and in other bands before pulling up roots, changing his name to Luka
Bloom (after the song by Suzanne Vega and a character in James Joyce's 'Ulysses') and settling in New York. After a series of
solo albums and dozens of one-man-and-his-guitar tours - including a mindblowing Australian debut in front of 1,500 people at the
Enmore theatre in 1993 - Bloom "drifted home" to Ireland. While an artist such as Paul Kelly
says his environment has little to do with his songwriting, Bloom takes a different approach. He credits the rural surroundings in
County Offaly - where he wrote his new album "Salty Heaven" - as having a sizeable impact on the path the songs took.
"The writing process is absoultely affected by the environment you are in," he argued. "I would never have done a song like 'I
Need Love' had I not been living in New York. I found that going back home and being around the places I grew up in has had a
very obvious effect on the way I write. It's in the whole nature of the songs, the feel of the songs, the atmosphere, the mood and the
lyrical content. I think I've finally had to resign myself to the fact that whilst I'm perfectly happy to be in a city and live in a city, the part
of me that is most creative comes to fruition when I am in the countryside. It's just the way it is."
Not that Bloom deludes himself with the romantic notion of the Irish songwriter in velvety fields - armed with quill, paper battered
guitar and Guinness - plucking timeless meldodies and heartbreakingly beautiful couplets from thin air.
"I discipline myself because I have to, because basically I'm a lazy git," he said. "If I don't go away and leave myself with
absolutely nothing to do but write, I'll sit around and doss all day. I'm basically a frustrated corner boy and if I could make a living
standing on a street corner talking shite to people all day long, I'd happily do just that. The closest thing I can get to making a living
without having to actually work is to write songs, but I have to force myself to go away: no TV, no faxes, no computers, nothing. Just
myself and my songs. That's when you can get into the good stuff."
Luka Bloom plays the State Theatre on Saturday October 17 and Monday October 19,
and Brisbane's Tivoli on Tuesday October 20. Salty Heaven is out now through Columbia/Sony.
- Peter Holmes
Sydney Morning Herald - Friday, 16 October 1998
I love youse all
In 1990 Luka Bloom played Ronnie Scott's jazz club in the West End of London to launch his first CD,
"Riverside". I was there and I loved it.
"Oh no ... that night." he groans.
Well, I thought it was great. Life-changing even.
"Oh. Well, er, no it was great. Great."
For those who don't know, Luka Bloom is the brother of Irish folk legend Christy Moore and named after the Suzanne Vega song
and the good family of ,Ulysses'. And he is out here to tour his fourth album, the something charming, occasionally beautiful and, it
must be said, quite often treacly sentimental, "Salty Heaven". (Though Bloom has always
marched confidently along the line separating passion from corny sentiment, two tracks -
"Water Ballerina" and "Warriors Of The Rainbow", a super-sincere protest against French nuclear
testing - push the friendship just a little.)
But it is as a live performer that Bloom unfailingly excels and such is his charm, and talent before an audience that one suspects
even "Water Ballerina" could move the stoniest cynic to cough up a sob.
But back to Ronnie Scott's. So, it wasn't good for you, then?
"No. Well, it was an amazing time in me life. I was 32 years of age, I'd been writing songs and making records for 10 years and I
remember the guy introducing me as the next Tracy Chapman. I remember being a bit embarrassed [He was. He got up and said
so before he commenced his set. He also made the audience applaud him before he began and, then, when his guitar lead went
on the fritz, he sang us a poem he had written as an eight-year-old boy.] It was a whole new world for me, and very exciting.
Unfortunately, in the case of England, it never came to anything. I ended up spending the next couple of years in Europe, America
Which really wasn't such a bad thing. We love him here. He's no bog Irish spud in this country as he might be in Britain. All he
has to do is to ask which way to the gents and the nation swoons. Ah, but no. His antipodean success is far more complex to be
sure. Isn't it?
"There are a couple of countries in the world where things happened. It's like a good love affair. Timing is everything. [When]
"The Acoustic Motorbike" came out everyone seemed to go nuts for "I Need Love" [his L.L. Cool J cover],
I can still remember how I felt when I walked on stage at the Enmore. It was my first gig in the Southern Hemisphere. It was like -
I can't believe this is happening. This is an amazing country and theses are amazing people. And they want to be at my gig!
F---in' hell, this is great. And it's been as good as that, if not better, ever since."
Luka Bloom plays the State Theatre on Saturday and Monday.
- Matt Buchanan
Photograph by Jennifer Soo
Article from Michael Power
Sydney Morning Herald - 5 May 2000
If you think putting an athlete up front of a rock group is trouble, how about mixing folk and rap?
The perma-sleepy-eyed Irish singer Luka Bloom (playing the Enmore Theatre tomorrow
and Sunday) was sidestage during a show by herbal hip hop act Spearhead at a big Irish
outdoor festival, standing alongside REM's Michael Stipe - as you do. He takes up the story.
"They're just blowin' people away, and I'm just standing there completely mesmerised,"
Bloom told Stu Spence this week. "So when Michael Franti [Spearhead's lead man]
turns around, sees me standing there, he was so fired up, and he goes, "Welcome back
onstage your hero, our hero, LUKA BLOOM!" Bloom's reaction? "No f---in' way!"
A very large bass player from the band named Warrior changed Bloom's mind. "He just
kinda walked offstage, with a big smile on his face and pulled me onstage. I'm like ... do you
know when someone's smiling and you know it's pathetic, you know they have that smile,
but they've also gone to the toilet in their trousers." The smile remained, no rapping
ensued, the gig finished, Bloom went and hid. How did he recover? "It was perfect.
People were coming up to me going. 'Bloom, nudge, nudges, wink, winks. You were really
wasted, weren't you?'"
The Age - Monday, 8 May 2000
Irish singer defies easy labelling
Luka Bloom's ringing, open-tuned acoustic guitar playing, distinctive songs and clear voice
have won him a strong following in Australia.
"You know, it's a complete mystery to me," he says, laughing. "I just don't
get it with you Australians. You've got no taste at all."
The Dublin-based singer-songwriter is determined to pursue his career without the support
of a major company. Despite critical acclaim and popular appeal, he has found himself
dropped by two labels, Sony and Reprise, in recent years.
Undaunted, he will go it alone, dealing through agents in America and Europe. He has
decided also to do without a manager and talks of "collaborative rather than
controlling relationships". "I feel that the world has changed enough now
that, really, if you are careful and if you are determined enough," Bloom says,
"... the possibilities exist for people like me to be heard."
The youngest of six children, his brother is the revered Irish folk singer Christie Moore.
He recorded earlier as Barry Moore but bloomed as Luka, taking his stage name from
a song about child abuse by Suzanne Vega and a character in James Joyce's novel Ulysses.
He was last in Australia after the release here of his fourth album, Salty Heaven, in late
1998. The CD was finally released in the United States earlier this year and Bloom has
just made his first countrywide tour of America in several years.
"It was exhausting and daunting," he says, "but it was pretty exciting
to show up in San Francisco and Chicago and Denver and all these places and find
good numbers of people wanting to come and hear the songs and have the record."
Bloom's fans may have other favorites but his biggest hit was a 1992 version of LL Cool J's
rap recording, "I Need Love". He cites it when discussing a new project. He
has been recording other people's songs for release later this year.
"Some of the artists are people you might expect me to cover, like Bob Dylan,
Joni Mitchell and Robbie Robertson. But I'm also doing songs by U2, Radiohead,
Abba and the Cure, which are very, very challenging."
He reveals just one of the songs likely to be included - "Make You Feel My Love"
from Dylan's latest album, Time Out of Mind.
"The trick is not to in any way emulate what is already there but to interpret in such
a way that it sounds completely fresh."
Luka Bloom plays the Melbourne Concert Hall tonight.
- Larry Schwartz
The Age - 1 December 2000
Hunnas on time for Luka
A couple of things about Luka Bloom's new album,
"Keeper of the Flame". For one thing, in what may be a world first for an acoustic
album, the lengths of the songs are listed accurate to the nearest one-hundredth of a second.
For another thing, the album, which contains interpretations of tracks by
U2, Radiohead, Bob Dylan, the Cure and ABBA, includes Luka's rendition of
Hunters and Collectors' "Throw Your Arms Around Me". For the record, that song
runs for three minutes, 38 seconds and 33 one-hundredths of a second.
"That's very funny," says Luka, laughing down the line from Dublin. "I
haven't seen the Australian artwork yet. I didn't realise we'd been so
precise. We know you Australian folks are in a hurry. Time is precious, you
Time is precious to the Irish singer as well. He already had the new album
of covers (or "interpretations") pretty well worked out when he was touring
here in the middle of the year, but despite being halfway through the tour
he thought why not at least look for an Australian song.
"I asked a friend at Liberation records to get some songs for me. While I
was still on tour he sent me two CDs full of Australian songs by a wide
range of artists and I instantly connected with this song."
He loved the song, but was blissfully unaware of its almost folkloric status
here. "You know, I learnt it while I was still touring and I sang it at my
last show in Perth. I was quite astonished when people in the audience
started singing along with me. It was a bit of a shock."
But that shock pales compared to the surprise he's given some of his fans by
including his acoustic rendition of "Dancing Queen" (three minutes and 56.19
seconds). "People like me are taken very seriously, and sometimes I take
myself too seriously. It was important for me to have a song like that on
the album." ABBA is working for Luka at the moment, Madonna is working for
him too (he's been listening to her new album).
"If you're standing on a stage singing a song that was written by somebody
else, you've got to believe it. When I sing Dancing Queen, I absolutely
believe it, and I have a great time."
Luka Bloom's new album, "Keeper of the Flame", is out on Shock Records.
- John Mangan & Ema Quayle
Irish Echo - Australian's Irish Community Newspaper - 31 Jan - 13 Feb 2002
The Bogman returns
Luka Bloom has a fascination with Australia. To prove it, he returns for his eighth tour in ten years next month.
The acclaimed Kildare-born singer and songwriter comes armed with a new album and some sobering
observations on the Celtic Tiger. Tom Tuite reports.
In 2000 Luka Bloom did the unexpected, he released an album of cover
versions. The "Keeper of the Flame", was where he broke away from record
company giants, seeing him pluck songs from the diverse repertoires of
U2, Radiohead and ... Abba. It showed that he was going to do things his
own way. It was his first sortie into the world of independent record production
allowing him to break from the chattels of major record companies ?
leading to last year's follow-up, the acclaimed "Between the Mountain and the Moon".
By 1998 Bloom, had made three records for Warner Bros and one for Sony
Records. It was time for a change. He wanted to take back control, and
with "Between the Mountain and the Moon", his second independent release,
Luka is showing the world whose boss. "I spent two years recording
"Between the Mountain and the Moon". I also
financed it all myself," says Bloom, whose distinctive inflection is
instantly recognisable over a trans-global phone line.
"I was with Warner Bros for six years and then Sony. I felt it was
better to work on my own. Going independent is really satisfying because
nobody is boss except yourself."
Two years working in Dublin's famed Windmill Lane Studios led to an
album of powerful ballads blending traditional Irish, Indian and Middle
As much as the ballads serve as story-tellers, they also act as tributes
to people Bloom has come to respect.
"Love Is A Place I Dream Of", is a memorable duet with Sinead O'Connor
dedicated to Christina Noble, a Dublin woman, who spent much of her life
helping impoverished and disadvantaged children. O'Connor also joins him
on the other highlight, "Moonslide".
In, "Hands Of A Farmer", Bloom celebrates an almost unknown but pivotal
figure in Irish music, Clare man Micho Russell. Micho was a farmer who
realised that the world wanted to hear Irish music and stories. No doubt
an inspiration to Bloom.
Bloom is in Dublin, in the final throws of his publicity preparation for
his forth-coming tour. He has been fielding calls from all over
Australia; people want to know when he will get here.
There is an obvious link between him and down under. Quite simply he
loves Australia and admits that if he could live anywhere but Ireland it
would be here.
He will start his tour in Brussels at the end of January doing twenty
shows around Europe before coming to Australia in mid March.
"Australia would be one of my favourite places in the world to go. There
is a very positive energy around Australia and it is a privilege to do
This relationship goes back ten years when Bloom first arrived on these
shores surprised by the warm welcome he received. "The very first show I did in the
Southern Hemisphere in 1992 was in the Enmore Theatre, it was
a shock to arrive and find enthusiasm for my music."
To this day, he counts the Enmore as one his most favourite venues in
Australia and since 1992 he has been returning on an almost yearly
Unlike many acts, he does not use his nationality to sell tickets or
albums, which is unusual for someone who penned one of the all-time
great emigrant songs, "The City of Chicago".
"The fact that there are many Irish people there does not make any
difference. Anyway from my music people would not know that I was Irish.
I don't go to places like America or Australia just for the Irish
audience and most of the crowds I play to are not Irish."
In contrast to many performers, he refrains from doing only one
or two shows in Australia. Instead Bloom goes interstate taking in shows
in Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth.
"Logistically it is a lot easier for me to do that, all I have to bring
is my sound engineer. For most bands it would be very expensive to do so
many dates in Australia."
Last year he spent a week in the Margaret River area of Western
Australia to recover from touring across the country, and now it would
be unthinkable for him to leave immediately after his March tour ends.
"I will definitely take a break when I get to Australia, I will take a
few days off in the beginning and then some more after the tour ends.
This time I would like to go up the coast after the Byron Bay concert."
Other than the release of "Between the Mountain and the Moon", playing
at an anti-racism concert to a packed Point Depot in December, is one of his
prouder recent achievements.
The anti-racism concert had quite an impressive list of performers on
the bill: Sinead O'Connor, Kila, Francis Black, the Afro Celt Sound
System, Maire Brennan from Clannad and the actor John Hurt. And football
hero Paul McGrath also came on stage to address the audience.
For Bloom, this was undoubtedly a special night. "It was a diverse
evening, the Point was packed. It was wonderful and a realisation that
racism is not acceptable."
For Bloom taking such a stance on a political issue is very important.
Traditionally Irish anti-racism concerts were restricted to small pub
venues, organised by student unions or left-wing organistions, featuring
small-time underground bands.
This is in stark contrast to the major out-door anti racist concerts
that have been popular in Britain since the early seventies. But big or
small, concerts are a powerful tool in exposing racism, says Luka.
"Racism is despicable," he charges, "that a country which has sent so
many of its people out and been welcomed all over the world can be like
that is a disgusting aspect of Irish society and this the land of the
cead mile failte?"
"My first experience of Irish racism was actually in New York," he
recalls, "I remember when Bernadette Devlin was given an award by the
Ancient Order of Hibernians. She horrified them by then giving it to the
Black Panther movement. She said she identified more with them."
"For me that was an interesting insight into Irish racism. It showed
that there was the potential for racism in Ireland."
Despite some negative feeling for a multi-cultural Ireland, Bloom also
points to the potential to welcome refugees and asylum seekers. "There
are many small communities and little towns around the country that are
really making the effort to take these people in from Africa and Asia."
"The Irish government has taken a tough stance on this issue. In
fairness to them they have had a difficult task. Ten years ago you would
have had only a few hundred people applying for asylum.
Now its thousands and it is a bureaucratic nightmare, but they have
been too slow to adapt and adopt a humane attitude."
For Luka, Ireland's recent economic prosperity has a sinister and alienating
underbelly. "Have Irish people become happier? In most cases I would
say yes, but a nasty streak has arisen that was not there before. That
happens everywhere, greed is a powerful force.
"I find that Dublin has gone from being the most chilled-out city in the
world to a place I don't want to be. It's trying to be a fashionable
city like Zurich or Paris. I find it a strange place to be nowadays."
Perhaps Bloom's distaste for how Dublin has changed has prompted his
recent decision to move. Luka Bloom is getting onto the property ladder
and buying a house four miles from Newbridge where he (then known as
Barry Moore) grew up.
"I am moving home, to Kildare. I am going to live in the middle of the
bog, there is nothing wrong with that, it's a great place to be."
After all as track nine on the new album says, 'I'm a Bogman'.
Luka Bloom March 2002 Australian Tour
Sat 16 Adelaide Norwood Concert Hall
Tue 19 Perth Concert Hall
Fri 22 Melbourne Concert Hall
Sat 23 Canberra Tilley's
Sun 24 Canberra Tilley's
Tue 26 Sydney Enmore Theatre
Wed 27 Sydney Enmore Theatre
Thur 28 Brisbane The Tivoli
Sat 30 Byron Bay East Coast Blues Festival
- Tom Tuite
Irish Echo - www.irishecho.com.au
Article from Dirk Goris
db Magazine - March 2002
To support the release of his seventh album 'Between The Mountain And The Moon', Luka Bloom
(one of Ireland's most profound singer/songwriters) is once again heading our way to perform his
contemplations of simple epicurean pleasures, longing and belonging.
Intrigued by these vast but often overlooked themes, I asked the beguiling songwriter about his desire to reflect on
the places he's been and the place he calls home. "I have this saying that goes 'no matter where you go -
there you are'!"
In a warm Irish lilt, Bloom clarifies his point. "I am obviously affected by my environment but not consciously or
deliberately, I just know from experience that my lyrics and the sort of music I play is very much affected by where
I happen to be; be it in an intense urban environment like New York or an intensely rural environment like the west
of Ireland. Whatever the environment, it is not just going to affect me personally, it's going to effect the nature of the
music comes out."
Ever since the sleeping success of his 1992 album 'Acoustic Motorbike' (and spawning an unlikely hit in reinterpreting
rapper LL Cool J's I Need Love), Bloom has industriously assembled a formidable body of work, ranging from
collections of his own intimate ballads, to masterly interpretation of the work of others. Now, Bloom seems to be
content to be seen as a musician in the purest sense - as a simple communicator. "In some way people like myself
remind us of the richness of human interaction," he suggests. "There is something very special about a person
who is a troubadour who tells stories and writes songs from a particular part of the world coming to another part of
the world and expressing themselves."
Quizzing Bloom further on the importance of this communication there's a dour concern in his voice about the
price we have paid for the modern world's giddy ride of post-modernity. "People's experience of the world
has changed utterly. Even though obviously much of modern life is beneficial I think some really high quality
aspects of human life have been diminished. The basic simplicity of conversation is probably one of the
greatest art forms that have been lost, people worry about other art forms like music, painting and poetry
and so forth, but I think all those are thriving. The real art form that has been damaged in contemporary life,
I think is the quality of language. Even though people have more technological means of communication,
in many ways people experience less." Bloom elaborates on his observations. "In a world where people
are being bombarded with tele-visual images and technologically driven sounds I find myself increasingly
drawn to simplicity, the simplicity of what has worked for people for many centuries. Up until a hundred
years ago there was actually no choice, communicating to each other verbally in person was the only
way that people interacted, they didnít phone each other or email each other. Thatís how songs were
passed down and why they had so much importance." It's why he is drawn to the notion of the man and
his guitar travelling the world telling a story? "It is a great blessing to have an opportunity communicate
directly to people with the songs has passed through me," he confirms. "It is a fabulous way to live life."
Turning to other aspects of his song writing I asked Bloom whether he felt that he was drawing his focus
away from his signature acoustic guitar in favour a rich palette of orchestration apparent on 'Between
The Mountain And The Moon'. "What I feel really is that my voice is coming more to the fore. I have become
a bit more confident as a singer in recent years. I'm very happy about that. When I first came to Australia
I guess I would have been known as a thrashing guitar player who wrote songs. I have had to work at my
singing. I want to become more and more a singer in the world."
On the surface Bloom's graceful and impassioned songs seem draped in a folk style. Bloom, though,
is quick to distance himself from such simplistic pigeonholing. "I don't really have any ideological problem
in being called be a folk artist other than such categorisation tends actually limit the audienceís choices.
If they are not looking for are particular artist people tend to head for a category. I think that is very unfortunate.
I almost wish that these things were done purely alphabetically." Concluding our conversation, I suggest that
his alphabetical approach is astute as ĎBloomí sits very nicely near the front of the record store.
"Now ya talking!" chuckles Bloom like a puckish schoolboy.
So even though our lives may to be refracting in all directions, it is heartening to know that a pure dulcet
voice and clear ringing strum can still be intrinsically bonded to real sense of community. One of Bloomís
recent songs Perfect Groove reflects this potently: 'I love it when different people / come and gather
around / they dip into a different world / there's a singer in town'. Could it be that simple? Quite possibly.
Luka Bloom returns to Adelaide to play at the Norwood Concert Hall on Sat 16 March, 8PM as part of the 2002 Adelaide Fringe
- Jeremy Green
Sunday Herald Sun, Melbourne - Sunday Magazine - 17 March 2002
Luka the Irish
Australia's adopted troubadour
He might be able to reduce grown men to tears, but Luka Bloom will always be in the shadow of his older brother in Ireland.
Lucky for him, then, that Australians appreciate his "stadium folk for the bedroom". Jane Cornwell reports.
Luka Bloom concerts do
strange things to people. The warm, intimate singing style and open-hearted material of this handsome Irish troubadour has, in the
course of a performance, prompted outbreaks of hugging among strangers, reduced hard men to tears and had women wondering
(loudly) if he'd father their children.
© Sunday Magazine - Sunday Herald Sun
At his last appearance at Sydney's State Theatre, a couple got engaged during the encore. "Some guy from the balcony shouted
down, 'Hey Luka! Can you play I Need Love?' I want to propose to my girlfriend," Bloom recalls with a grin.
"When I finished the song I looked up into the darkness and said, 'Okay?' All I could see was this upturned thumb."
Australia was one of the first countries to fully appreciate what the 46-year-old playfully calls his "stadium folk for the bedroom".
Bloom's reworking of rapper LL Cool J's 'I Need Love' - in which a Lothario acknowledges that his promiscuous lifestyle isn't
bringing him fulfilment - was already a hit when he arrived in 1992; his debut gig at Enmore Theatre in Sydney was packed as result.
"That was quite a shock," he says in his mellifluous Celtic lilt. "I was used to doing hundreds of gigs in poxy clubs before anybody
knew I existed. It felt very strange to fly 1200 miles and feel completely at home, but that's what happened the first time I visited
Bloom has been a regular visitor here ever since and is more likely to be recognised walking down a Melbourne street than he is in
his hometown of Dublin. Bloom derives 95 per cent of his income from abroad. For the past decade or so he has toured almost
constantly on the back of a series of albums rooted unashamedly in the Irish folk tradition - of which his latest "Between the Mountain and the Moon",
is arguably his best yet.
An intense, self-contained and occasionally hilarious man, he has said that it suits him to be relatively anonymous in Ireland. A long
time ago he resigned himself to the fact that he will always be better known there as the younger brother of the legendary Christy
Moore. "If I had 10 No.1 albums in Germany, America and Australia, I'd still be Christy's wee brother in Ireland," he says, shrugging.
"That's okay, we are very close and I love him. These days I basically think I'm a lucky bastard who has got away with murder since
he was 16. I make my living from writing and singing - so all this other stuff isn't important."
It wasn't as if he didn't try to make it at home. During the '70s and early '80s he slogged away in Dublin bars and cafes and recorded
three albums under his real name, Barry Moore. Accompanied by his acoustic guitar, his self-penned songs told stories of love,
survival and real people battling the odds. Unfortunately, no one wanted to hear them.
In 1987 he got on a plane for Washington DC. When it touched down five hours later, he had become Luka Bloom. Unlike their
Dublin counterparts, American audiences adored him so he based himself Stateside for a while, then spread his net to Europe and
Australia. He released three critically acclaimed albums on Warner's Reprise label (most notably, 1992's
"The Acoustic Motorbike", which dropped him when the last, 1994's "Turf", failed to have the desired
commercial impact. On returning to Ireland he was picked up by Sony and spent a year writing songs in an isolated cottage
for 1998's "Salty Heaven". But that, too, had insufficient sales and Bloom was dropped again.
He cheered himself up by recording "Keeper of the Flame", his lauded album of cover versions -
ABBA, Radiohead and Hunters and Collectors among them - and releasing it on an independent label. It sold by the bucket load.
"The way I look at it," he muses, "is that the music industry is having its ultimate wet dream. The charts are full of young boy and girl
bands who are entirely malleable, do what they're told and don't have awkward artistic temperaments. But there's another way to
make music, whether through the internet or through cottage industries where people like me function in this crazy way. That suits me
For the first time in his career, the rights to his current album are entirely his. "It's all mine," he chuckles in the knowledge that
"Between the Mountain and the Moon" sounds all the better for it. Critics have praised its mellow
musicianship and Bloom's storytelling aesthetic. During the two years it took to record, Bloom would cycle from the Dublin home he
shares with his long-time girlfriend ("She's a wonderful human being who has a terrible taste in men") to Windmill Lane Studios, a
recording facility that has played host to everyone from the Rolling Stones to the Chieftains.
Since then he has built up his website, www.lukabloom.com for his international fan base, and been on tour, which brings
him back to Australia. "I can't wait to get back there," he gushes. "I call Australians Paddies with
suntans, cause I feel the Irish influence there runs very deep. I love the place."
Luka Bloom plays at the Melbourne Concert Hall on March 22.
- Jane Cornwell
Article from Alinta Davidson
The Advertiser - 18 March 2002
Music: Norwood Concert Hall
The Irishman and his resounding guitar, which are known to a devoted few and
deserves greater recognition, treated Norwood Concert Hall to an
invigorating two hours of natural charm and elevating performance.
Bloom puts not a strum wrong. His brogue soars through every facet of love,
while his guitar sings a chiming, heavenly accompaniment. Jumping from
inspired covers to toe-tappers and whimsical ballads, Bloom can even make
lesser works live. Banter with the audience and sly commentary complete this
consummate showman whose rich vocals will ring out for days to come.
Live Review by Ben McEachen
Time Off - Music Site - Tuesday, March 19, 2002
Irish singer-songwriter Luka Bloom is one of music's most-amiable chaps and has plenty
to say during an interview for his forthcoming Australian tour. Just donít mention the
weather .... "Don't be annoying me! What is it, 30º down in Brisbane?"
a chilly Luka Bloom asks from his Dublin home, albeit in the midst of a 35º-plus
"Oh, that's a bit too much," he remarks, "but I'm really looking forward
to [the tour]. I'm delighted I'm going back to the Tivoli and I'm delighted I'm also going
to the Byron Bay Festival. This is my first ever Australian festival and I don't know how
that's happened but I'm quite happy this is my first one - I believe it's a great festival."
So you'd be part of the roots component, then?
"I don't even know what 'roots' means. Maybe roots, these days, means someone
who can play a bloody instrument!"
Bloom has only just returned to touring after an extended Christmas break.
"My gigging year begins with a month in Europe and then I take a week off and
then head to Australia. I don't work at Christmas time. I find everyone in Ireland becomes
a performer at Christmas time and they donít need some guy up on stage singing songs.
I go back to work in January when everyone's depressed."
Now a familiar face in Australia, Luka Bloom enjoys similar popularity in Europe where
he plans to blow out any cobwebs before touring here.
"My two luckiest countries in the world, funnily enough, are Holland and Australia.
I also enjoy playing in Belgium, Switzerland and Germany. I would very much like to go
to South America - I'm always open to possibilities."
Bloom's tour is his first since recording his new album Between The Mountain And The
Moon, his debut independent release. In fact, he says it was a totally different recording
experience because he 'had to pay for it'.
"At no point did I have enough money to finish it off completely. This was done
in 24 sessions over two years."
But do you wish you'd gone independent sooner?
"If I hadn't signed with Warner Bros. in 1990, my first record "Riverside"
wouldn't have been released in Australia, so you wouldn't be talking to me now. My
experience with Warner Bros. was hugely positive and had a positive impact on my
working life. My experience with Sony was a complete disaster, but what it did was
brought me to the point of realising that I needed to be in an independent world.
That requires a certain amount of responsibility, which is something Iíve always run
By the time "Salty Heaven" was done, I had no choice. I'm really glad it
happened because I'm really enjoying this way of working. You'll never see me on
Top Of The Pops but I have a healthy working life and I also have a life outside music.
I like it."
Luka Bloom plays The Tivoli Thursday Mar 28 and the East Coast Blues & Roots
Festival at Red Devil Park, Byron Bay, Mar 28-Apr 1. Between The Mountain And
The Moon is out on Shock Records.
- Matt Connors
© 2001 Time Off Pty Ltd.
The Age - 22 March 2002
What happens when the tumult and the shouting dies down? What happens when, after nearly a decade of
accolades and deeply appreciative audiences, you suddenly find you no longer have a contract with a
multinational record company and your audiences are starting to thin out?
In the case of Luka Bloom, aka Barry Moore (younger brother of Irish folk singer Christy Moore), whose
three albums for Reprise Records - Riverside (1990), The Acoustic Motorbike (1992) and Turf (1994) -
were critically acclaimed around the world, you take stock, set up your own record label and quietly go
back to doing what you always did. You see, "the Luka Bloom years" were one of those freaky things
that sometimes happen in the record industry.
Moore had already released three albums in his native Ireland. He changed his name (mixing the title
of a Suzanne Vega song with the surname of the hero of Joyce's Ulysses), caught the zeitgeist and
was overwhelmed by his transient popularity. He admits his success was always based on "the fact
that I was a live performer who made records more than a recording artist who did shows".
He recorded one album, Salty Heaven (1999), with folk label Shanachie (Sony 1998), then set up his own label where,
over the past two years, he's recorded a fascinating album of cover versions of songs from the likes of
Abba, the Cure, Radiohead, U2 and Joni Mitchell - it works because of his reinterpretations - entitled
Keeper of the Flame (2000). It was, he admits, a peculiar process.
"I set out to challenge myself to learn songs by artists I'd never even listened to before," he says.
"I knew nothing about the Cure. I knew very little about Abba, except for what I had heard on the radio.
I certainly knew very little about Radiohead. I wanted to see if I could reinterpret that material in a raw,
simple way with my guitar and ensure the songs retain their integrity. I probably bought about 200 CDs,
and I spent weeks and weeks trawling through them."
"It also was my first move away from a major record label. I wanted my first record to be one that I
didn't have a huge emotional involvement with. That was the perfect way for me to learn about
the music business. I now feel enormously liberated."
Then, happily abandoning all inhibitions and restrictions, he recorded a collection of his own songs,
Between the Mountain and the Moon (2002), a tour de force that combines traditional Irish music
with Bloom's distinctive acoustic style and uses both string and brass arrangements - elements
he had previously never considered. And Bloom knows the album is important to his career.
"I didn't realise it was important when I was actually doing it," he says, "but by the time it got to
the point when it was done after two years of work, I realised this was a very special recording experience for me.
This is also the first record where I feel like a singer, as opposed to a guy thrashing a guitar."
Luka Bloom plays at the Concert Hall tonight and the East Coast Blues and Roots Festival at Byron Bay over Easter.
- Bruce Elder
Revolver - Free Weekly Music Magazine, Sydney - 25 March 2002
A rovin' we will go
Goin' solo with Luka Bloom.
Luka Bloom, 46-year-old younger brother of Irish superstar, Christy
Moore, chuckles at the familiarity with which he is greeted by some interviewers now. "There are about five or six
people in Australia who I have these once-every-18-months chats with. I must get you guys to send me photographs."
This is actually the third interview in two years so we've got the average down to about one every eight months. But who's
complaining? Not me.
Luka Bloom is as close to an adopted minstrel in the gallery as it gets without actually forcing him to take out Australian
citizenship. His is a story that's always worth telling.
Luka, real name Barry Moore, changed the moniker in 1987 - the Christian name is adapted from Suzanne Vega's legendary
song about child abuse, and the surname is taken from Leopold Bloom, the character in James Joyce's epic novel, 'Ulysses' -
when he flew off to the US in search of something, probably not exactly fame and fortune because those twins aren't big in the
Bloom way of thinking, rather just telling his folky tales to a larger audience. The Americans lapped it up and when he spread his
strum to Europe and Australia, well, they both fell for him too.
So much so, his reworking of LL Cool J's "I Need Love" bounded up the charts in '92 and
catalysed a tour of sold-out theatres around the country. Ever since, he's been welcomed back with open arms. Of course, not
everything has gone exactly to plan. Despite three critically-acclaimed albums on Warners - the legendary
"The Acoustic Motorbike", "Riverside" and "Turf" - Warners dropped him in 1994, then fellow major
Sony followed suit after 1998's "Salty Heaven" failed to sell enough to impress the notoriously chart-conscious company.
More fool them. Luka decided enough was enough, hopped on the Web, started up his own site and label
[www.lukabloom.com], and popped out a lovely album of covers,
"Keeper Of The Flame".
Praised? Of course. Better still is his first solo album for himself, "Between the Mountain and the Moon", by far his
best, a beautiful, modern, special updating of the folk and story-telling tradition that loses none of his trademark emotion and
lyricism. "I'm thrilled with it," he says. "Australia was the first country it was released in, and I'm so glad it was
because the feedback has just been so positive. In fact, we've just released it in Ireland (remarkably, his home market is his most
difficult market), and I feel very encouraged. Last year was quite remarkable for me because I set up the website, completed the
record that I actually own and put in place a new structure for my working life. This year is the year I go on the road and see what
happens. "Everything is in place so I've just got to get out there now, do the shows, reacquaint myself with old friends and
hopefully make a couple of new ones."
He's also ventured into the past in search of himself as Barry Moore.
Luka fanatics have long bemoaned the fact that the three albums he recorded under his own name have been impossible to get
hold off. "In the case of two of the albums, the record companies had gone bust and in the third case, the record company were just
complete assholes and wouldn't let me near the master tapes, so what I did was got my sound engineer to master a CD from really
good quality, reasonably clean, straight vinyl, just to make those songs available."
"The Barry Moore Years" is available from his website and at his shows. "It's another area of creativity that
has been opened up to me by not having to justify my existence to a record company." In fact, the sequence of
records has all been a blooming masterplan. Luka laughs, "I have to admit now that I used "Keeper Of The Flame"
as a test case to see how this new independent world worked for me. I wanted to make a record that gave me a
creative kick in the arse - I needed it - but also was one into which I didn't have a huge emotional input because I would have been
really devastated if I'd done "Between The Mountain And The Moon" first and it hadn't worked
out. As it turned out "Keeper Of The Flame" got such a positive reaction that it gave me great
momentum to do this second one."
And for once the world swung with Luka. In America a new acoustic consciousness is beginning to infiltrate an industry that has
been dominated by artifice and teen dreams for too long. "In the '80s and '90s the phenomena of stadium music was all pervasive,"
Bloom says. "In the live arena stadium rock had an impact on the ability of more intimate venues to thrive and survive. I think that for
a lot of people who love going to a live show, the experience of going to stadiums has proven to be somewhat shallow and
unsatisfying. For that reason alone, people are being increasingly drawn to a more acoustic-oriented music.
"Another interesting development - and I think jazz is partly responsible for this - is a side effect of the whole hip-hop movement. A lot
of hip-hop artists have collaborated with jazz musicians, so you these people who have worked with all kinds of house and hip-hop
music working with high quality acoustic musicians who play jazz. In turn, that has opened jazz up to a lot of young people who
previously would never have dreamt of buying a jazz record. These are some of the things that have drawn people back to
Perfect for a keeper of the flame and a storyteller whose acoustic motorbike is all revved up and ready to strum.
Catch the acoustic magic of Luka Bloom on March 23 & 24 at Tilleys and March 26 at the Enmore.
- Mike Gee
25 march 2002 - revolver
Article from Michael Power
Irish Echo - 11-24 April 2002
A sort of homecoming for Bloom
The Enmore Theatre in Sydney has a special place in Luka Bloom's heart.
It was on that stage, he told the sell-out audience at his second Sydney Concert last week, where he performed for the first
time in the southern hemisphere 11 years ago.
"So it always feels like coming home," he said.
Home these days, for the artist formerly known as Barry Moore, is Ireland - the place he left 20 years ago frustrated and poor.
Having reinvented himself as Luka Bloom in the ex-pat bars of New York, the Kildareman developed a unique sound and
style which has led to a loyal international following, nowhere stronger than in Australia.
At the Enmore last week, Bloom gave a low-key but attentive audience, a masterful smorgasbord of his impressive
catalogue of songs.
Also, as he is wont, the fortysomething singer songwriter included a few well-chosen covers - Mark Seymour's Aussie
ballad classic Throw Your Arms Around Me, Abba's Dancing Queen and U2's Bad among others.
For one of his three encores he delivered a reverential treatment of the beautiful Raglan Road.
Of his own songs, devotees were treated to a virtual "best of" with Bloom masterpieces I Need Love (by LL Cool J),
You Couldn't Have Come At A Better Time, Exploring The Blue, I'm A Bogman and the superb Delirious from his debut album, Riverside.
The set was delivered with wit and style. Bloom's stage craft and banter rounds out his show into a thoroughly enjoyable night out.
He apologised to "Irish people in the audience" for the poster outside the theatre which declared him to
be "Irelandís Foremost Songwriter".
"Can you imagine", he asked, "Bono, Sinead and Van driving through Sydney and seeing that?"
Despite the modesty, Bloom is a polished performer with the talent, the intelligence and the material to deliver a great show.
7news on Seven - News Stories - 17 March 2004
Luka Bloom cancels tour
Irish singer-songwriter Luka Bloom has cancelled his Australian tour because of illness.
"Luka had a throat operation earlier this year and it got infected and he
has been forced to cancel," tour promoter Adrian Bohm said.
"It is just one of those unfortunate things but we are hoping Luka will come
back at some stage over the next two years."
Ticket-holders should return tickets to the place they bought them for a full refund, he said.
Bloom was due to perform in Adelaide, Perth, Canberra, Melbourne, Brisbane and Byron Bay.
Brisbane New Magazine - Art & Culture - March 9-15, 2005
In our arts section this week we chat with Luka Bloom, the Irish folk
singer making the most of his 'second life'.
Portrait: Trent Dalton
The good folk of Newbridge, County Kildare, Ireland, were holding a singing
competition in the local cinema. It was a bone-cold night, December 1960,
and five-year-old Barry Moore was shaking in his duffle coat when he claimed
his prize for a stirring rendition of Irish ditty 'My Singing Bird'.
"I won a Christmas pudding," says singer Luka Bloom, recalling the first
really big moment in his first life - the life before Barry Moore changed
his name, beat the booze and escaped to America.
"It was the first time I'd sung in public. And that was the first time I
realised that you got rewarded for doing this. I'ver never really stopped
It's midnight where Luka's calling from - his isolated property 60 km south
of Dublin. He often does interviews at midnight to accommodate southern
hemisphere journalists. But he likes talking at midnight anyway. It's
peaceful, he says. He mentions that it's snowing outside. The moon is bright
and he expects to wake up to see snow on the mountains surrounding his home.
This is the second life, a life of relative comfort borne from writing
tender Irish-folk albums such as Riverside, The Acoustic Motorbike, Turf and
Before Sleep Comes, and pushing each one with a tour somewhere, anywhere.
"Happy days," he says.
And happy days are here to stay for the 50-year-old Irishman, just weeks
from a tour of his beloved Australia.
"Mad bastards with suntans" is how he describes Australians. "I lived for
five years in America and I feel a stronger bond between the Australian
psyche and Irish psyche than with America. The Irish psyche has had a much
deeper influence in Australia than in America; you just don't need to scream
and shout about it. You're very happy to be Australian. You don't
particularly want to rule the world, except maybe in sport, and that's OK."
Australia is the first country Luka is touring to promote his new album,
Innocence, and he wants every show to be unforgettable.
"I'll make sure that I'm happy and I'll make sure that I'm in a good space
in my head," he says. "The very least the people who have gone to the
trouble of buying tickets deserve is that the artist wants to be there."
"You've heard the stories. Some artist comes to Australia at the end of a
world tour and they're exhausted and they want to go home. F--k that, you
know. The audience will forgive a lot, but if the audience senses the guy
doesn't want to be there, then they'll be really p--sed off."
Luka learned to perform in his first life.
The youngest of six children in a musical family, Barry Moore followed his
brother Christy to the folk clubs of England in 1969.
"He (Christy) did a runner. Part of his punishment for doing that was he had
to put up his 14-year-old brat of a younger brother coming over to England
for two weeks' holiday in the summer.
I'd go out to these clubs where Christy would get s--t-faced and sing songs
to people that liked them. I'd sit there waiting to go to bed. But after a
while I got to enjoy it."
The music came quickly to Barry, and so did the drink. "I never really tried
to avoid it. Avoid wasn't in my vocabulary. And it wasn't for a long time after. "
The drink plagued him until 1983, when he saw a concert by Irish supergroup
U2 that changed his life. Bono and the boys gave a electrifying set, fuelled
more by passion than by whisky and Guinness. The concert inspired Barry to
swear off booze and focus on his music.
This moment of clarity coincided with a support slot on a tour with The
Pogues, led by modern music's most gifted drunk, Shane MacGowan. "He didn't
really like me that much. I wasn't drinking anymore and he wasn't interested
in me. And that's fine. That was OK."
Barry's mind was set. What's more, he had plans to step out of Christy's
shadow by changing his name. In 1987, Luka Bloom - a name borrowed from
Suzanne Vega's song Luka and the character Leopold Bloom from James Joyce's
Ulysses - moved to Amercia and began his second life.
"It was the start of a beautiful time," says Luka, that Kildare voice making
the sentence sound like the start of a bar-room legend. One to raise a tea
Luka Bloom plays The Tivoli (ph. 3852 1711), Fortitude Valley, on Mar 24,
and The East Coast Blues and Roots Music Festival (ph: 02 6685 8310), Byron
Bay, on Mar 26 and 27.
- Trent Dalton
db Magazine - Issue 353 - 9-22 March 2005
"I'm in Ireland, and it's not too shabby now I must say," enthuses Luka
Bloom down the line in his engaging brogue. "Spring is here, the daffodils
are up, the birds are singing." How can he even contemplate leaving this
bucolic idyll? "Ah, I'd only leave to come to Australia, that's the only
reason I'd leave," he chuckles.
Once we've dispensed with the pleasantries and discussed Adelaide's
less-than-stellar summer ("Ah, but you'd need some rain though. It's a dry
little corner of the world. And me, I get irritated when Irish people
complain about the rain; we've got the best climate in the world, if you
don't mind a little rain and grey") we get on with the reason for our chat:
the new album 'Innocence' and his imminent Australian tour. Or we would,
except that Bloom has a bit to say about his homeland.
"I was in the US for five years, but I've been home quite a while now -
nearly ten years. I'm well settled, I won't be living in America again,
that's for sure," he sighs. "It's going to take years for it to recover from
It certainly seems that Ireland has been a mite more sensible place to be
over the past five years or so.
"Sensible? 'Sensible' and 'Ireland' are not two words I've ever heard in the
same sentence before," he muses. "Actually, maybe 'sensible' isn't such a
bad word to describe it. I think we're very confused: I think we like to
think of ourselves as very liberal, very pro-European, very anti-war, very
peace-loving, but the reality's somewhat different I think. People don't
vocally in any way support the Bush war, but despite the unbelievably
protests against it we've still kept the government that supported it. I
sort of suspect that deep down most Irish people are quite happy to just
take the dollar and keep quiet about things." He chuckles darkly.
"Does that sound familiar?"
While Bloom's politics are clearly strong, he's wary about bringing them
into his music per se - although he still hardly fits the stereotype of the
tortured, personally confessional singer/songwriter.
"Well, I don't really think of my songs as being personal," he explains. "I
think my songs are more universal than personal, and I think the personal
side of them is only important to me in any way while I'm actually writing
them. I'm certainly not a 'political' songwriter in the way that someone
like Billy Bragg is, but I believe ultimately in the triumph of the human
spirit, and I think it's challenging to be in a world where people are so
dogmatic, so arrogant, so self-righteous... It's important for me to believe
in the essential simple things that I really believe in. I think people find
it so hard to see the brilliance within themselves, and I think ultimately
what I'm about is transforming the ordinary: making the ordinary
extraordinary, that's what my songwriting's about. I rarely tackle the big
issues of the day, I'd rather tap into people's spirit."
- Andrew P Street
X-Press Magazine - Issue 943 - 10 March 2005
With his 10th album Innocence in the can, Irish singer songwriter Luka Bloom
plays The Fly By Night Club on Sunday, March 13. The well-travelled and
articulate songsmith has decided to commence his world tour in Australia to make amends
for having to cancel his 2004 tour, due to a persistent throat condition. Luka Bloom
spoke to Chris Havercroft about touring, his new release and rap music.
Luka Bloom is no stranger to Australian audiences. This week he makes his
seventh trip to these shores as a performer since 1992. Bloom is also well
aware of the notion that many bands that do tour 'down under' generally
arrive after an extensive tour elsewhere and with the travel involved to get
here, many entertainers are exhausted and burned out by the time they are
required to perform. The affable singer/songwriter is well aware of the
rigours of the trip and generally arrives a few days early to settle in and
relax as a way to ease into the tour. It is Bloom's aim to be as healthy and
rested as he can when he plays his shows for the people of a country that
he is very fond of.
"I love your country. After having lived in America for a while and then
making the decision to come and start working in Australia, I really thought
I would find it incredibly different. Actually from the very first time that
I came here I felt a sense of belonging and a sense of connecting with
people much greater that I have experienced with any other place in the
world. I don't know exactly what to put it down to, because certainly the
climate is very different and the food is very different. I think what I am
going to say is that it is the Aussie black sense of humour and I think
Irish people really connect with that and really understand it."
Although proud of his country of birth, Bloom is not interested in touring
the world as a 'professional Irishman', it is his songs, and not his
nationality that he hopes interests people. Bloom does not consciously
attempt to present any kind of deep sense of Irishness.
In his case it is just innate. His accent is unmistakable as is the way he
sings. On the other hand he doesn't try to disguise it either.
"When I come to play a gig, I don't seek out the Irish community. I like to
think that my songs can appeal to people whether their backgrounds are Greek
or Vietnamese. I don't actively seek out people that are going to relate to
Irish culture. If I want to play to Irish people there are plenty of them at
home and I can play to them all day and there is no problem. Touring is as
much an experience to me as it is to the audience. I learn from doing these
gigs and I learn from going to Germany and playing to a German audience or
coming to Australia and playing to Australian people and I am very grateful
to come here and be affected in some way by visiting this country."
While Bloom may agree that a fellow who is about to turn 50, naming his 10th
album Innocence, may be skating on thin ice, he also sees it as a
declaration of intent. "When people have been singing for as long as I have
been, it's very easy to go into automatic pilot and to just churn out songs
and to do what you are used to doing. I always want to keep this interesting
and I always want to keep this challenging and there is a certain kind of
creative energy that you have to hold onto. If I ever lose that then I
really hope I have the good sense to stop doing this because I think it's a
bit of innocence and wonder at the world that makes my work interesting,
certainly for me and hopefully that translates when I make records and when
I sing to people in concert."
Bloom would insist that he is far more interested in "the phenomenon of the
ordinary" where he writes about people's daily lives, rather than venting
his spleen about political issues. It has served his art well, but at times
he has not been able to resist the urge to dabble in a bit of political
commentary through song. Even when raising awareness on issues through his
songs, Bloom is concerned with telling a tale through music more than
grandstanding on an issue for the sake of it.
"I'm more interested in a good story than a good cause and that's just the
way that it is. And yet having said that every now and again something comes
along that utterly moves me, such as the work that Christina Noble does
with homeless and abused kids in Mongolia and Vietnam. I don't set out to
write political songs but every now and again something happens like this
fucking stupid war in Iraq, and I will if I need to vent my own anger by
putting something to song. But I am a little bit wary of it because I don't
ever want to take the stage with a guitar in one hand and a manifesto in the other."
The song that first bought Bloom to the attention of Australian audiences
was his cover of I Need Love. A song originally penned by a rapper LL Cool
J. His gamble, that an Irish fellow with his acoustic guitar taking on a rap
tune written by a guy from the Bronx paid handsome dividends as the tune
gained airplay throughout the world and kick started Bloom's career. Bloom's
attempt at rap was not so much borne out of being a fan of the genre, but
more from the fact it was music that he could not avoid as he was living in New York at the time.
"It was not a music form that I was particularly interested in, although I
am glad I picked the song I did. There are people who work in the hip hop
and rap area who I am definitely intrigued by, particularly people like
Michael Franti of Spearhead, who I am a great admirer of and I totally
respect and acknowledge a lot of incredible work that these people do but I
couldn't pretend that it is a form of music that I am particularly intrigued
by. I just happened to be living in New York, I didn't want to be perceived
as just another Irish ballad singer in New York so I decided to do something
that would shock people a little bit and it worked."
- Chris Havercroft
X-Press Magazine is Australia's original and largest-circulation street
press. The magazine is available for FREE at over 1000 outlets throughout WA
every Thursday and has been on WA streets for more than 18 years.
The Sunday Mail - 20 March 2005
In the frame
One of the side benefits of the East Coast Blues and Roots Festival is that it enables a significant group of artists
to undertake tours here. While most of the festival has long since sold out, side shows spread the musical magic
outside the Byron Bay region. In the coming days, southeast Queensland is to be blessed with comparatively
rare shows by Irish singer/songwriter Luka Bloom, London-based acoustic blues aficionado Eric Bibb and
fast-rising Irish group The Frames.
Bloom is rightly proud of his latest album, his 10th, titled Innocence - so much so
that he's devoting the next couple of years to supporting it. "It's the first album that I've released in a while that I
really want to get out there and sing the songs and give it a good old lash," he chuckles down the phone line
from his new rural home-base outside Dublin. "What's interesting about this album is that I recorded it here in
my living room. I brought in some really great musicians and some really good equipment on loan from the Windmill
Lane Studios. It worked out really well but maybe it's just because of this group of songs. There's something
very intimate and personal about the record that I'm hoping Australians will really like. It's not always
easy to take people with you but you gotta do what you gotta do. The worst thing is for people to walk
into a show being performed by an artist like me and finding that the act is on auto pilot and singing by
numbers. The punters need to know that an artist is still fired up; still changing; still trying to make the
show more interesting."
Luka Bloom plays The Tivoli in Fortitude Valley on Thursday...... and is appearing at the
East Coast Blues and Roots Music Festival.
- Ritchie Yorke
BMA Magazine - Gig Reviews - Issue 225 - 07 April 2005
Luka Bloom @ Tilley's, March 16
Ok. I'm going to try and be objective. But oh. Luka, Luka, Luka.
Warm, endearing, unashamedly romantic Luka. Once again he entranced
and beguiled a fully receptive Tilley's
crowd. It must be said that at this gig of gigs, even the most cynical
of cynics would have melted into a gooey mess on the floor.
Promoting his new album 'Innocence', the audience was
captivated with every touching, funny, earthy song and every
cheeky, self-deprecating word Luka said in between. Both new
and old music was as usual hearty. Personal, often revealing stories
and earthy heart-felt narratives. Beautiful musings about love, renewed
friendship, life experiences, random meetings, random incidents and
world events. Songs to his girlfriend and songs written for his brother,
Christy Moore, were amongst the rawly honest mix. With an enduring
musical catalogue behind him, he impressed all with his sincerely expressed
songs. Together with his witty, loveable Luka-isms and his simply performed
music, he charmed all present.
No doubt, the audience there in the warmth of Tilley's, would heartily
agree that seeing Luka Bloom perform live is always, without fail, an
- Annie Colquhoun
Time Off - Queensland Leading Street Press - Wednesday March 7 to March 13, 2007
Émigré's Anatomy - Luka Bloom
Irish singer-songwriter Luka Bloom started off life with the name Barry Moore, and took
his by now well-known alias to avoid constant associations with members of his family.
Not that he was trying to hide from anything insidious - just that when your brother is
Irish folk legend Christy Moore, itís hard to escape from such a massive shadow.
So he took the name Luka Bloom ('Luka' from the Suzanne Vega song of the same name,
and ĎBloomí from the main character in Joyceís Ulysses) and set about carving his own
niche in the musical world, an odyssey which has just seen him release his tenth studio
solo album Tribe.
"We were all singers in my house, and I was writing songs from when I was about 12,"
Bloom explains of his musical heritage. "I performed them at home, and at school and
at concerts. We did pretty well on a televised competition with school when I was
about 14. Itís all Iíve ever done - Iíve never had a job. My sonís about 24, and Iím
always telling him that I still havenít worked out what to do when I grow up."
"It came down to not having a choice really, and I really did struggle for a long time.
But I was inspired by so much music: things like Neil Young, Bob Dylan, James Taylor,
Joni Mitchell - basically just sad bastards with guitars. Thatís the sort of stuff that
got me going."
I was forced to head over to the States pretty early on out of pure desperation.
In 1986 Ireland was a pretty grim place, and a lot of people were emigrating. There
were no job prospects, no employment and no interest in songwriting. I gave myself
two years to make it work, after which I was going to go and get a Ďnormalí job.
Luckily right as that time elapsed things started happening, and the rest is history."
While Bloom travels the world as part of his job, he has always had a significant
rapport with Australian audiences - one which began when his cover of LL Cool
Jís 'I Need Love' was a smash hit here in the early 90s.
"That song hit the Top 20 in eight different countries," Bloom recalls.
"I remember my first tour to Australia was in 1991
[Nov 1992], and now this is
my ninth [8th] tour coming up! That really created an audience for me here in Australia,
and I just keep coming back for more because I love it down there. Australia is
my blessed land."
"There were other countries like England where I couldnít get a gig, and then
I arrived in Sydney for my first gig and there were 2000 people there! I couldnít
believe it! Iíd only just arrived in the southern hemisphere and I was dying of
jetlag, and it was just like ĎWho told these people? This is not supposed to
happen to me! Iím supposed to struggle and scrape for two years in each country,
and then get invited to do a theatre or a clubí. I really had an immediate audience
down there - things really do happen upside down in your country!"
Luka Bloom plays The Tivoli Thursday 22 March. Tribe out through
Big Sky Records/Shock.
- Steve Bell
BMA Magazine - Issue 272 - Mar 08 - Mar 21, 2007
WHO LUKA BLOOM
WHAT ACOUSTIC WONDERMENT
WHEN MARCH 19, 20 & 21
Heís fresh out of the recording studio with the album Tribe and Iíve got to love
a man who describes his latest release to me by admitting that, "Iíve always
had a fascination with pretentious music." After a history of eclectic
musical endeavours ranging from a stint with The Violent Femmes to an entire
album recorded for insomniacs, Luka has returned with his latest little nugget,
a collaboration of his own vocals alongside the instrumental delights of Simon
OíReilly. "To be really honest, I have no idea how to market this album,"
Luka explains. "Itís a little bit of everything. Thereís an ambient, trippy kind
of feel to it, but then it also gets quite unexpectedly political." We can
expect a few guest performers on Tribe, including Lukaís own 22 year-old
son who is, like his father, "a beautiful singer". Known for his infectious
personality and intimate shows, Luka is a favourite amongst the Tilleyís
music crowd. Okay, so I think my mumís got a bit of a crush on him, but
if you like witty Irish banter and acoustic delights, then Bloom is your man.
Daily Telegraph - March 09, 2007
Perry's frock star status
Irish folk singer-songwriter Luka Bloom describes himself as a solo troubadour.
Touring Australia for the eighth time in March, Bloom is well-known to local audiences.
"I like the feeling of being a troubadour," Bloom told Insider. "There
aren't an awful lot of people left in the world who do this thing that we do.
We tell our stories and sing our songs and connect with audiences in a way that's
a completely different energy than when a band connects with an audience.
This is very intimate and personal and I guess it's a troubadour's life."
Bloom has been playing music for more than 30 years. His real name is Barry Moore.
"Luka Bloom is like a brand name," he explains. "I've gotten used
to being called it but it's not what's on my passport."
- Jonathon Moran
db Magazine - Issue 408 - Mar 23 - Apr 3, 2007
Irish singer-songwriter Luka Bloom is no stranger to Australian audiences thanks to the
popularity of his regular live performances. A rare musician indeed, Bloom has constantly
changed his persona and continues to do so on his new album 'Tribe' - written
in tandem with Dubliner, Simon O'Reilly - suggesting something new musically whilst
further investigating his well known political beliefs. With its suggestion of both ambient
and film music, the new album could perhaps be best described as introspective and
subliminal in feeling - an idea with which Bloom concurs when chatting prior to his
latest round of concerts from his home in Ireland.
"That is an interesting way to describe it," he suggests. "It's the kind of
record that I have wanted to make for years. I've always had a bit of a strange affection
for pretentious music and electronically driven tunes, soundtrack music and ambient
music. You know, certain kinds of work that I've always loved to listen to but
which I have always wondered whether I'd have an opportunity to make such
a record myself - one that dips into this area of music. You know, very removed
from the life of a singer-songwriter."
The collaboration with Simon O'Reilly, according to Bloom, "Came about due to my
hearing an instrumental album that he had created about 18 months ago and I just
loved it. I loved the textures of it. I loved the way he constructed the tracks on it.
So I thought that I really wanted to meet this guy; and I went and met him and we
really hit it off and decided to try to collaborate. We had one conversation about the
nature of the record we wanted to make and we never spoke about it again and we
never even once sat down in a room and played music together," Bloom admits.
From listening to 'Tribe' I suggest to Bloom that perhaps he and O'Reilly were trying to
create a whole musical landscape within each song. "Well," he laughingly
replies, "that's precisely where we wanted to go, actually. Simon is a visual kind of
musician and he writes a lot for film and so he was able to create these kinds of
landscapes for me to work with and that is what made it really exciting for me.
"So I would wait at home for the post to arrive with his music. He would send
me a CD with like ten or twelve tracks every month or two and I would work away for
weeks and weeks just trying to make sense of what I had been listening to - trying
to find my way in. I completely created all the melodic links."
In short, O'Reilly gave Bloom the mood, as it were..."Yes, it was the first time in
my life where I completely handed over the responsibility for the creation of music to
somebody else and there is a fair bit of trust involved in it but he's a great guy
and it was really nice working with him."
As with his last album, Bloom's new one will be launched here in Australia "And
I'm bringing a wonderful Irish woman, Sabrina Dinan, along with me. I think Australian
audiences will really, really like her. But basically I will come to Australia armed with
my repertoire and that's what I do. You will only get to hear a couple of the songs
from the new album because I don't really want to travel alone with a laptop...
So there are a couple that work really well solo."
Asking about his constant need to change and experiment, Bloom explains that
first and foremost, "It has to be an interesting journey. The easiest thing would
be to keep strumming my guitar and writing the same kind of songs but I think
I would die of boredom. I have to be challenged. I don't want to be put in a box
or a particular category - file under 'folk'. In fact file under 'Irish folk'. It's a narrow
niche audience and I have always tried to push out the envelope. That's the joy
and beauty of the life I have. I can explore all sorts of possibilities."
Luka Bloom plays at the Governor Hindmarsh on Mon 26 March with Sabrina Dinan.
'Tribe' is out now through Shock.
Australian Musician - Issue 408 - Mar 23 - Apr 3, 2007
LUKA BLOOM-DREAMS IN AMERICA
E-NEWS FEATURE STORY
Celebrating 20 years in the music business, Irish troubadour Luka Bloom has released
a brand new album called 'Dreams In America'. It features 14 beautifully recorded
re-interpretations of tracks from previous Bloom discs. In a preview of the interview
appearing in the upcoming Spring issue, here's a taste of the chat between AM's Greg
Phillips and Luka Bloom.
AM: You have a new album out. It's being promoted as both a celebration of 20 years of
Luka Bloom as well as a tribute of sorts to America. Do places effect your songwriting?
LB: Completely and totally. There were changes that took place to my songwriting as
a direct result of going to America. I would never have thought in my wildest dreams
that I would incorporate a form of rap into my arsenal of songwriting until I found
myself in New York with rap everywhere. When Is decided to have a crack at LL Cool
J's 'I Need Love', it just bought a whole new dimension of songwriting which has stayed
with me on and off. Then when I am at home I tend to be influenced somewhat lyrically
and musically by the traditional music I hear in Ireland. So I like to think that everywhere
I go, something happens to me that finds it's way into my music.
AM: A song in every city?
LB: Maybe not every city, but every landscape has something to offer. That's for sure.
AM: Given the title and the fact that you were re-recording songs, 'City of Chicago', and
'Irishman in Chinatown' would have been obvious choices for this album in a title sense,
did you consider those at all?
LB: I think the title of the album is maybe causing you to see too great a connection
with America with the overall album. The reason for the title of the record is not really
to celebrate America. It's to celebrate a particular moment in my life that happened
to be in America where things kind of took off for me and where dreams did come true
and I never really wanted to make a record celebrating my life in America. There are
quite a few songs on this album which were recorded and written here in Ireland. But
there are a few well known songs of mine like 'You Couldn't Have Come at a Better
Time' and 'Exploring The Blue', 'City of Chicago" that didn't go on the record because
I never wanted it to be anything like a "best of'. Some of the those are already pretty
well covered. I wanted this to be about taking songs I had previously recorded and
freshening them up. Maybe there were songs that were hidden away on records,
that people wouldn't be too familiar with, that I felt justified that they should be given
a second opportunity to shine.
AM: You've said before that you are not into nostalgia, but I'm sure a lot of your fans are.
Fans traditionally get attached to songs. They remind them of times and places in their
lives. Apart from the praise, do you also expect any flack?
LB: Because of songs that were left out?
AM: No, because they have grown to love the original versions.
LB: Well I have no way of knowing what songs are special to people in that way.
It is very important when making a record that I make the record that I want to make.
It's none of my business whatsoever what people think of it. I have to do the best I can.
My intention with this was not just to lift tracks off old albums but to make a new record
which was very fresh and that's really what I set out to do, rather than give people some
sense of familiarity. And also to ask people to listen to some lesser known songs, hear
them in a different way and maybe get more from them. At the end of the day it is really
none of my business what anyone thinks of it. I just do the best I can and hope that people
AM: When you write a song, it's at a certain period in your own life and things change.
Is it possible to grow out of a song?
LB: Most definitely and you have already named one. I never sing the Irishman in Chinatown.
What happens with some songs is that they have a great deal of urgency and excitement
about them for a particular moment. I can remember singing An Irishman in Chinatown in
New York in 1989/1990 and it was perfect. Within 3 years I was absolutely sick of it and
it meant nothing to me. I actually think it is appropriate to stop singing songs at that point
because there is something hypocritical about singing and to be excited about something
that doesn't effect you anymore. You now there is a pretty good version of that song on the
album Riverside and that is the only place for that song for me now. There are other songs
like 'Exploring the Blue', 'The Man is Alive' and 'City of Chicago' and I sing them every show
and I never get tired of them. There's a song 'Black is the Colour of My True Love's Hair'
which I have been singing since I was 14 years old and I keep finding something new in the
song and I never get tired of it.
You can read more of this interview in the upcoming Spring (September) issue of Australian Musician