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Jack L at the National Concert Hall

If ever there was a natural-born showman, Jack Lukeman (aka Jack L) is he. Taking to the stage in the National Concert Hall to perform any number of classics, forgotten album tracks and even some new material, the performer managed a two-and-a-half hour set list which even included an impromptu version of The Stranglers’ Golden Brown performed during the intermission. Yes, that’s right, Jack L sang his way through his own intermission.

For those foreign visitors who might not be familiar with the artist, I’ve embedded a version of Georgie Boy below, the crowd-pleaser that he used as the final song in his encore last night. It’s powerful stuff, even when not backed by an orchestra.

I will concede I am not a huge Jack L fan. I’ve always admired and respected the performer, who also managed to seem both immensely talented and readily approachable – I recall a phase during the early point of the decade where he was a regular guest on Irish television and radio performing his own arrangements of modern pop songs, all of which somehow sounded intensely classy coming from the mouth of the Athy-born singer. I was there with my better half, a dyed-in-the-wool Jack L fan.

And, as a person with no special investment in the artist, knowing a few random lyrics and struggling to name his biggest hit, I had a fantastic time. Part of it was simply the fact that, as a stage performer, Jack L was giving everything he had. From subtle pantomime to the more theatrical lyrics to the use of the space on the stage, he knew how to maximise the impact of his performance. He also knew how to play to his audience, displaying a warm and charming sense of humour about himself and even the gig – in honour of the event’s primary sponsor, the ESB, he turned off the lights, electronics and even his microphone at one point to take to the stage with an old accordion for a rendition of Stardust Falling From Your Eyes.

 

Light entertainment...

At other times, he was working with a string section and pianist to create a rather powerful ambient sound. His voice is, simply put, incredible. My defining memory of the singer comes from listening to the Ray D’arcy Show on Today FM. I remember that he was discussing Brel, and he performed his own rendition of The Port of Amsterdam. I was just blown away by it – it’s a powerful song, but it would take years until I discovered a version which came close to matching Jack L’s intensity, in the David Bowie version from his oft-ignored Pin-Ups album.

The crowd surged with energy – despite a few early hints of hesitation when invited to sing along to the final lines of one of the first songs, the entire auditorium was on its feet and clapping along to the final few numbers by the end of the night. If we were still allowed to smoke indoors, I reckon we might even have seen a raised lighter or two swaying along to the singer’s words as he played. By the time he’s snuck out to the John Field Room (as much as the star of the night’s entertainment can sneak out to the bar area at his own concert), the audience was safely in his thrall.

Pour "L"...

I really enjoyed the evening. I’d been unable to get tickets to the surprise film at the end of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival, so this concert served as something as a finale to a fairly hectic (but highly enjoyable) weekend. And it certainly was a fitting one. Despite the exhaustion of trekking around the city centre for two days (after five days of work), the Kildare singer managed to energise me to the point that I was clapping along with the best of them – sure, I was out of rhythm, but at least I was trying.

A wonderful night. I’d see him again in a heartbeat.

2 Responses

  1. The interval was magic just like the rest of the night. The Golden Brown interval just shows how much he loves what he does & a huge bonus to all us fans getting an unexpected addition to the show whilst refilling our glasses at the bar.
    Great night!

    • Glad to hear you enjoyed it. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Jack L live a number of times and, each time, he has impressed. A great live act, if I do say so.

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