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Luka Bloom
The Man Is Alive
Union Station Productions
www.lukabloom.com


I owe an awful lot in my life to Luka Bloom. Even though I've never met the man, he's been a very large part of my life for the past 15 years or so… since the first time I heard him covering LL Cool J's "I Need Love", in fact. The words and voice of the Irishman have lulled me into sleep for more than 85% of the nights over the past decade, each nuance of his recorded works indelibly etched into my heart and mind. But nothing in his recorded catalog is as transcendent as seeing him perform live, especially in a small, intimate venue. And what, I ask, could be more intimate than hearing Luka Bloom perform in his own living room?

The new DVD/CD collection The Man Is Alive starts off with An Afternoon In Kildare. This set of music is intimate and inspiring, Luka performing for a very small crowd in his own living room. He begins the set with a wonderful version of "I Am Not At War With Anyone" that is truly inspiring, and a powerful reading of "No Matter Where You Go, There You Are." The small audience sings along wonderfully on the chorus of "Sunny Sailor Boy," adding the depth you can only get from the emotion of a live Luka show. While Luka plays "Lighthouse" the audience is enraptured, lost in the pure spiritual mysticism of the music. When Luka switches to the steel string and blasts into "You Couldn't Have Come At A Better Time" the crowd is energized and sings along heartily, finding a beautiful release from the introspective lull of the beginning of the set… truly showing why his shows are so inspiring and honest.

The second DVD segment is called An Evening In Dublin, and finds Luka playing in front of a rather appreciative small audience in Dublin. He performs many tracks from his most recent record Innocence, including the title track (which is simply brilliant) and a stunning version of "City Of Chicago" with the audience singing along wonderfully. "Here And Now" and "Don't Be Afraid Of The Light That Shines Within You" are notes of absolute bliss in the set, transcending the man and creating the mysticism for which Bloom has become so rightfully well-known. A stunning version of "Exploring The Blue" leads beautifully into the immensely powerful "Gone To Pablo" before Luka wraps up the set with the now classic "The Man Is Alive" teamed in medley with "Hill Of Allen."


The second DVD is a short film entitled My Name Is Luka. This is a wonderful documentary-style film that shows just how much Luka himself doesn't understand just why people want to know about him rather than his music. But this film is a rare and beautiful glimpse into the mind and heart of Luka Bloom, sharing time with him in his home, hearing a few stories, following his adventures, and seeing places that mean something to him. These glimpses into the heart of the man are a wonderful insight for fans, as well as for those who just need a short time of peace in their lives. There is a rare quality in the music of Luka Bloom that soothes the soul and brings peace, and this film makes it patently obvious that that quality stems not from the music, but from the wonderful and tender heart of the man who writes the songs.

The accompanying CD titled The Man Is Alive is a nice audio companion to the DVD set, bringing together performances from both intimate shows into one beautiful set of music. While the performances are varied, the continuity is amazing, really showing the keen musical abilities possessed by Luka Bloom. No matter where you record him, the music is amazing, intimate, and powerful. There are a few scattered tracks not included on the accompanying DVDs, including a tremendously moving version of "Thank You For Bringing Me Here" and the absolutely luminous "Love Is A Place I Dream Of." This is a brilliant package, and one that will be a treasured addition to anyone's music collection. For me, it breathes new life into songs that have never grown old, and allows me to relive the treasured memories I have of seeing Luka perform live myself.

-Embo Blake

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