For anyone who goes to see a concert at Joe’s Pub in Manhattan, you know the place runs like clockwork. They do two shows each night and they usher guests in and out, without being rude, like military efficiency.
In retrospect, this was probably not a great place for Luka Bloom to play last week, since his concerts are a prolonged communion with the audience peppered with stories and songs.
“I only have a little more than an hour,” he grumbled good-naturedly, “so there will be no s**** talking tonight. It’s a shame because I really love s**** talkin’ with a New York audience.”
Looking tanned and trim after a swing through Australia, Bloom wasted no time diving into the new songs from his latest collection, “Eleven Songs”.
He is clearly proud of all 11 of them, as he featured the majority of these tunes into his tight set. On “Eleven Songs”, Bloom experimented with jazz and flamenco textures, but in this live setting that found him alone with an acoustic guitar, he provided a greater focus on the powerful songwriting that exists at the core of the new album.
“I Love the World I’m In” is a love song to the planet, with the singer finding himself completely seduced by the smell of jasmine and the sounds of cicadas in the summer breathes.
“The scent is sweet and the flowers smile the way I love so much/I lay outside and let the moon make love to me,” he coos. “There Is a Time” encourages a friend set in her ways to “open the window and let the new breezes blow.”
He also unearthed some rarely heard classics out of his bag of songs. “Gone to Pablo” from his “Riverside” debut elicited sighs from the loyal fans in attendance, while “Sunny Sailor Boy” from “Turf” and “Rainbow Day” from “Between the Mountain and the Moon” turned into a massive sing-along as the audience swooned with the chorus.
“City of Chicago,” a song Bloom wrote that was later made famous by his legendary brother Christy Moore, came with a witty appraisal of the current state of the Irish economy.
“Some people called our economy the Celtic Tiger, but I think it was just this glorious glitch,” he joked. “For the last 20 years or so, we stayed home and got rich, but now we’ve gone back to the normal business of applying for visas to come here so that we can get the f*** out of Ireland right now.
“I think that’s a good thing for the music. We write a lot better when we are miserable.”
“1847 was the year it all began, deadly pains of hunger drove a million from this land/they journeyed not for glory, their motive wasn’t greed/a journey of survival across a stormy sea/as the evening shadows fall, there are people dreaming of the hills of Donegal,” he sings on the tune, which could very well become a modern day anthem once again in this time of renewed interest in immigration.
Bloom also comments on the fact that Ireland has been a destination for immigrants in his song “No Matter Where You Go, There You Are” from his album “Innocence,” where he tells the story of an Algerian carpenter who makes a new home in Galway from “the bosom of a desert town.”
“You must go, follow your star/no matter where you go, there are,” he sings.
“I told them that if I was forced to begin my 2009 tour of American in New York, I would have to end it here as well,” Bloom told the sellout crowd, which means you will get another chance to see him if you missed him last week.
Bloom never fails to deliver an entertaining show, and you are hereby advised to catch him at a town near you! After playing gigs in upstate New York that include the Turning Point in Piermont on June 17 and Cafe Lena in Saratoga on June 16, Bloom will conclude his tour at City Winery (55 Varick Street, New York 212-608-0555) on June 21.
He will also play Philadelphia’s famous World Cafe club and radio program on June 20.
For more information or to hear snippets from “Eleven Songs”, log onto www.lukabloom.com.