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.
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