AS the words of the timeless classic, Old Man River echoed over the rich, fertile hills of Kilmanagh, Jack L held the crowd in his hand. Lucky Lukeman weaved his special kind of magic in Ballykeeffe amphitheatre on Saturday night, meandering through the crowd like a gypsy king, paying homage to the 27 Club, including Amy Winehouse, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and Kurt Cobain.
Based on his performance, if there is a better outdoor venue in Ireland, I certainly don’t know it. The scene had been set with Kilkenny beating Waterford in the All Ireland hurling qualifiers, and from the moment he entered the “arena” Jack L proved himself to be a consummate professional and a great showman with a wonderful stage presence. He cajoled, flirted and had fun with the audience as they sucked up every note and he soaked up the adulation, even the band were in stitches such was the fun.
On several occasions he waltzed his way up through the crowd and you sensed that he was really enjoying it as he effortlessly reached notes lower than the Dead Sea while walking past an appreciative, almost captive audience. He did the encore and when he finished, there was a sense of satisfaction all around. At the end, local men and women ensured everyone made a safe exit while the car parking stewards made sure everyone got home safely. And with Matt Sullivan on the MC telling people to be careful you can see why it is one of the best loved places anywhere to enjoy any kind of show.
Ballykeeffe is a community run site, where everything is geared towards the patron, and where there is no big security presence.