A sweeter Groove, Luka Bloom live in Berlin

 In Reviews

“I learned something that day. She had the right philosophy of cycling, and I had the wrong one. Always take time to taste the blackberries.” Luka Bloom’s introduction to his Blackberry Time is only one of the little lessons about life the singer generously shares with the audience during his show at Columbia Theater. His witty, spot-on way of delivering anecdotes with a moral ensures there is never any moralizing involved.

Blackberry Time is a touching and personal recollection of a fleeting encounter with a woman who refused to cycle just to reach a destination and took time to enjoy little things along the way instead. But the artist doesn’t shy away from History, Politics and Society related topics. Whether it’s emigration from Ireland during the famine, the case of life-time imprisoned Indian Activist Leonard Peltier or the attempt to reclaim a life beyond consumerism that informed the title song of his new album and tour, Frúgalisto: Bloom has the words and the chords for any subject that matters to him.

A man, his guitar, and stories. That’s all Luka Bloom needs to keep the audience spellbound for a two hour set full of laughter and reflectiveness wrapped in skillful musicianship and the craft of entertainment. Born into a highly musical family, Bloom states he wrote all of his “old man” songs at a very young age – notably Wave Up To The Shore, a compelling ballad of the circle of life and death. It took him 44 years to “find my voice for this song”, but the result was well worth the long maturing time. Written by the boy of 16, it was recorded by the man of 60 who doesn’t make a secret of how many advantages he sees in getting older.

Having moved past impressing people and being tough, he now embraces vulnerability – a word he recently learned in German from his audience in Stuttgart – as a catalyst for creative output, starting to “do things the right way”. Warrior is a powerful call for more vulnerability: “You want to be a warrior, you better learn to cry.” Bloom has doubtlessly found the “sweeter groove” the song promises in exchange for playing it less cool and more honest.

It’s not only in his songs he wears his heart on his tongue. “I hate workshops. They involve being in a tent at nine in the morning to talk about songwriting,” the artist admits. But he grants that a Tønder Festival Workshop with Arlo Guthrie was worth setting the alarm for and happily shares Guthrie’s bottom line of songwriting: “It’s like fishing. You throw out a line, haul it back in slowly and hope something good will be on the hook. And you must never fish downstream from Bob Dylan, as he gets all the good fishes and never throws one back into the river.”

Bloom’s is the kind of audience who has followed the artist for a long time and is familiar with his lyrics. While he treats his listeners to an exquisite selection of Frúgalisto songs, he is well aware the audience won’t let him away without some of his classics. Songs like The City of Chicago and You Couldn’t Have Come At A Better Time are recognized from the first chords and welcomed like old friends. As they quickly develop into enthusiastic sing-alongs, Bloom’s declared mission statement for writing and performing music – “I want to make a connection from my heart to your hearts” – becomes a reality.

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