Love in the Face of Fear

Jim Kroft – Auster Club, Berlin; November 15th, 2019

Three years! That much time had passed since I’d last seen Jim Kroft play live. He didn’t play all that many concerts in those years and whenever he did, it was either too short notice and/or just impossible for me to get to. So when he announce a CD release gig for his new album ‘Love in the Face of Fear’ I immediately bought a ticket and was looking forward to it for months. It was everything I had hoped for. He was in a great mood, had a good band and everyone in the audience was radiating happiness at seeing them live. The gig was wonderful, passionate and emotional. Just what I needed that night. 🙂

Since I had to work on show day, I got started early. In the morning I realized I had not booked a hotel in Berlin for that night and reached out to my friend A. who saved my sorry butt and agreed to house me. <3 She also told me there was going to be and afterparty, but not at the venue, not even in the same district of Berlin. After thinking about it we agreed not to go, because she had an early train the next morning and I knew I’d be dead tired by 11. The trip to Berlin was uneventful and only slightly delayed. Got to A.’s place, dropped my stuff and we got ready to leave. Arrived at the venue 30 minute sbefore the doors opened and were almost alone – that’s Berlin for you! Eventually, soundcheck was done, Jim an the band walked out, said hello in passing. K. arrived and I started seeing some other familiar faces. We got in, settled down, waited, the usual. Slowly, but surely the club filled with people.

There was a support act, Robert John Hope, a singer songwriter. He was OK, but his music was nothing special to me. Fine to pass the time, but I was happy he did only get 20 minutes, because he was not who I had come for. He had a few fans in the house, but they left after he was done.

After a break, the band stepped on stage, got seemingly read, but then left again for some reason. They were right back though and we greeted them with loud cheers. Not all the faces were familiar, but I knew bassist XXXX and drummer Dan Telander. It now occurs to me that Jim never introduced the band. He must have just forgotten in all the excitement. His supporters had made signs with “Welcome back” or “Welcome back on stage” written on them for everyone to hold up at the beginning and we all did.

The launched right into the first song, ‘Love in the Face of Fear’. The sound was terrible, at times I could hardly hear what Jim was singing. However, his enthusiasm made up for all of that. He was in it, heart and soul, singing with his eyes closed, so many emotions written on his face it was a joy to watch. I could absolutely not stop smiling. This was exactly hat I had come for, this was what I had missed. For ‘I hope you know’ I was already singing along and so was everyone else it seemed.It was already a great night.

He didn’t talk much, just played song after song with a band that has just as much fun as he did. More than once that night all the passion I saw on display drove me close to tears. Wow, just wow! After ‘Trying to reach the Earth’ Jim thanked us all for coming. He was so emotional, he hardly got the words out. <3 I wanted to hug him right then and there. ‘Yes we are still Human’, a new song was great and a powerful version of ‘Sara’ followed. It immediately brought back imaged of the ‘The March of Hope’ documentary. I felt a lump in my throat then and weirdly that made me happy. Good concerts are supposed to create a rainbow of emotions and this one did.

‘Birthrights’ was a lot more upbeat and I was moving with the music, noticing how much of the lyrics to Jim’s songs I had forgotten. He said that he was seeing many familiar faces that he knows and loves and also so new ones, thanking us again for coming back after all this time and supporting him. ‘Beautiful Ways’ was next and exactly that, beautiful. I looked at all the happy faces in the crowd, the people singing along and felt at home. There was absolutely nowhere else I wanted to be. Jim was clearly enjoying himself too. That made me even happier, because I knew he’d had some rough times lately, so I’m sure he could use a break.

“It’s time for a whiskey” he announced to no one in particular, but then made do with a beer for the time being. With the announcement of his new song ‘Obstacles’ he gave a shoutout to Jonathan Kluth, his friend and producer of the new album. Not knowing the new songs well enough to sing along yet, I made do with just moving along. They are all great. The next one ‘Gravity’s gone’ put goose bumps on my skin. 🙂 For ‘Redemption the entire band went into the crowd, singing at the center of the room without microphones and asking everyone to sing along. It was a lovely choir.

Back on stage they went right into ‘The Jailer’ and it absolutely brought the house down. “Yes I’m searching, still I’m searching, doing the best or the best I can” everyone sang and we did not stop when Jim stepped away from the mic for a moment and let us have the floor. It was a beautiful, magical moment and the huge smile on Jim’s face said it all. <3 The love in the room was palpable. “It’s good to be back on stage” Jim yelled, then announced ‘The Hero’, which sounded very Iggy Pop, the Passenger. Not a bad thing at all. 😀

He may not have spoken much that night, but his songs said everything. The setlist was nearly perfect – a great mixture of old and new. “You learn how to love, learn how to live…” we sang along to ‘Through my Weakness’, then listened to ‘Bahnhof Friedrichstrasse’, his love-letter of sorts to Berlin. ‘Tell me’ and ‘See how the Darkness grows’ brought us back to the ‘Lunatic Lullabies’, the former sparking another great audience sing-along. The main set ended with the new and amazing ‘Favorite Kind of Sinner’. It rocked and had us clapping to the beat.

We yelled and screamed for an encore and they gladly delivered. Or, as Jim put it “I guess we’ve got nowhere to go without being beat up.” 😉 He called several of his friends on stage to help him sing ‘Waiting for a Healing’. Some where more unwilling than others and tried to hide in the back, but in the end none of them escaped and they all joined the band at their microphones. They were also joined by a trumpet player, Milan (sp?), their special guest. While everyone was getting on stage, Jim told us about the after show party. The song turned out great. Last, but not least, the band ended the show with ‘Not in my Name’ – it was the perfect song to finish the night with.

Afterwards, Jim tried to get through to the merch table, but everyone wanted to talk to him, congratulate him, hug him, so his progress was very slow. I got a very sweaty hug on the way, then got in line to get the new album signed and have a few words with him,. I listened in to a few conversations he had and he sounded genuinely happy. he also spoke about the excitement and all the lyrics in his head at the same time, so he felt a bit overloaded. I had a lot of time to think about what I wanted to say, how to best express the feeling I had. I settled for “It was fantastic, you brought me to tears a few times” and that was just right. He thanked me and we hugged again. There was so much more I wanted to say, but I did not want to take up everyone’s time. Thus I thanked him again for the wonderful show and said goodbye. See you on tour next year! 🙂

Setlist

Love in the Face of Fear
I hope you know
Try to reach the Earth
Yes we are still human
Sara
Birthrights
Beautiful Ways
Obstacle
Gravity’s gone
Redemption
The Jailer
The Hero
Through my Weakness
Bahnhof Friedrichstrasse
Tell me
See how the darkness grows
Favourite Type of Sinner

Waiting for a Healing
Not in my Name

 

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