Early on during his gig in Geneva last night, Luka Bloom said he was more inclined towards sad songs and somewhat suspicious of happy ones. That may be true, but the songs he sang for us filled the room with warmth and joy, albeit with a few bittersweet moments along the way. From the wry Irish humour of his storytelling to his sweet songs that beseeched and gently preached with messages of hope and peace, he was on top form for probably his best GLAS performance yet.
This was the fourth time GLAS has welcomed Luka to Geneva, where he has a loyal following – it took just two emails to the GLAS list for this one to sell out. As John Spillane demonstrated last December, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the heart of the Old Town provides a perfect environment for a guitar-wielding troubadour with a rich collection of stories and songs.
Luka took the rapt audience from the wilds of the Burren to heart of the Dakota desert, via Raglan Road and the City of Chicago. Those latter two songs were among the many highlights, the first holding the room entranced and the second raising the roof as the audience sang their hearts out. Indeed, right from the very first song he invited us to sing with him: “I am not at war with anyone“. It was a deceptively simple, even naive song that was all the more powerful for that.
Probably the most surprising moment of the evening was his cover of Coolio’s Gangsta’s Paradise (“You can’t beat the oul ballads“, says he), perhaps destined to become as popular as his classic version of LL Cool J’s I Need Love. He also sang songs by his heroes Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen.
Of course Luka’s own back catalogue featured strongly too. He spoke of his recent hesitation about playing the song he wrote for Paul Hill’s then eight-year-old daughter Saoirse, who died tragically in August at the age of 22. Her father, he said, has encouraged him to keep her memory alive by singing the song, Thank You For Bringing Me Here. It was a poignant moment in Geneva last night.
He delighted the crowd with lively renditions of Heart Man, Ciara and You Couldn’t Have Come At A Better Time, before coming back for an inevitable encore that had the room singing together one more time before they floated off into the warm Geneva evening.
Luka’s first GLAS show, in 2012, happened to be the first that raised money for the Edith Wilkins Foundation for Street Children. In the years since, donations via GLAS have totalled more than EUR 100,000, having a positive impact on the lives of thousands of children.
Thanks to the support of the GLAS community and the generosity of our sponsors, last night’s show raised another CHF 6,300 for Edith’s foundation. You can find information on donating directly here.