Jim Kroft and friends – Boat for Sara concert at bi nuu, Berlin; April 8th 2016
When Jim Kroft first announced he was going to play a fundraiser concert for refugees I knew I’d do everything in my power to be there, not only to support a good cause, but also to have a fun night. Luckily it took place on a Friday so going there was easy and so worth it. It was much more than I expected, because not only did Jim play with his full band for the first time in a long time, they also treated us to an extra long show. A belated beginning was followed by a fun night of dancing, singing and smiling with great vibes everywhere in the room and the feeling of being among one big family. This could not possibly have been better and I am glad I made my way to Berlin to be there.
For his Journeys project, Jim traveled to Lesvos and later Idomeni with friend and fellow photographer Bastian Fischer to see with their own eyes what the situation is for the refugees who arrive there. What was planned as a short stay on Lesvos turned into three weeks during which Jim and Bastian got involved with the rescue workers there. PROEM AID, rescue workers from Spain who help unpaid and on their own time, take care of refugees coming to Lesvos on overloaded boats every night. Jim decided to help them by raising money for a new boat of their own. He planned this concert, wrote songs and recorded an album in 48 hours with all the proceeds going towards buying said boat. He named his campaign boat for Sara after a little girl he helped saving one night. From the first day they started their journey towards Lesvos, I followed them on Instagram and Jim’s Blog, impressed with the work of everyone who helped there and deeply saddened by the fact that so many people feel they need to flee their homes and so many die in the process. When Jim announced his fundraiser it seemed the most natural thing to support. Having a concert was just an added bonus, if a very welcome one.
I was looking forward to seeing Jim live again, even more so when he announced he would play with his band for the first time in two years. He might have been even more excited about this fact than I was and with the timing of the concert I knew I’d see a lot of familiar faces on stage as well as in front.
We arrived less than an hour before the doors opened, had food and were still close to the front of the line. Said hello to everyone we knew and waited. It took a while before they let us in. The venue was bigger than I expected and we were not quite enough people to fill it. It was still some time until show start though and slowly the place filled a bit more. We spotted Jim and several other musicians that have played with him at different points in time. All the musicians in the room seemed to be buzzing with excitement while the audience gave off a vibe of not really knowing what was going to happen. It felt a bit strange, but as soon as somebody stepped on the stage, the mood and the attention in the room shifted.
Host for the night was musician Espin Meta, who has worked with refugees in Berlin for some time. He told us a little about the night’s purpose, but most of all he introduced four musicians to us: Alice Hills, Ben Barritt, Jonas Lieber and Eric Penny who were playing a brief support set each. First order of business was determining who would go first and it was decided by drawing numbers. Ben Barritt was first, followed by Eric Penny whom he supported on guitar. Jonas Lieber played songs of his band Arionce and finally Alice Hills sang for us. Each of them played two or three songs before handing over the microphone. It was a nice warm up and I enjoyed each performance.
Espin was back to announce Jim and his band consisting of George Moore (keyboards), Dan Telander (drums), Ben Barritt (guitar), Lucas Dietrich (bass) and several others who came and went during the course of the evening. It seemed Jim’s goal to have all of his friends on stage at one time or another. Thus, he turned the concert into one big family jam session. The happiness seen on stage was contagious and it did not take long for everyone in the room to be into the concert, move with the music and sing along.
I alternated between watching Jim and his friends on stage and looking at the audience. It was great o see so many happy faces and I saw my own positive feelings reflected everywhere. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and when it was time for a big sing along (or a few), everyone did so loudly and happily. Towards the end, when Jim asked all fellow musicians and friends on stage, some members of the audience went up there too, joining the big choir. There were a lot of friendly jokes going around, like Jim introducing Ondrej saying he wasn’t invited but came to play anyway or pulling a few people on stage who didn’t want to sing. There was a lot of love going around too and despite the rather sad cause there was joy in the air.
Of course between all the music there as some serious business to conduct too. somewhere at the beginning of the concert, Jim asked two members of PROEM AID to join him on stage. He explained briefly about the fundraiser again and told us the initial goal was met. He then used a map to write out a symbolic cheque over 15,000 € to PROEM AID. They gladly accepted it, thanked everyone and sang the next song with him.
The setlist was a perfect mixture of songs from Journeys and Jim’s three previous albums. The songs from Journeys included the songs just written and recorded before the concert. Hearing the Journeys songs performed with the band was a great treat. They really brought them to life and made each of us feel he music. Each and every song that night was performed with so much passion, it was impossible not to be moved. I felt like I was witnessing something truly special. It as a magical night, where nothing could go wrong. The brand new songs, even though they may not have always been perfect in playing and lyrics, were so heartfelt that minor errors didn’t matter. It simply felt right to be there and sing along, cheer for the people on stage and be connected to everyone in the room.
We got to see many guest that night like Jakob Nebel of Livingston, many backup singers, some originally invited and some joining spontaneously and a few duets too. Alice Hills shared the microphone with Jim for a few songs and that was only one of many highlights. The energy in the room was unbelievable and there are not enough words to describe what was happening. you just had to be there! Everyone felt involved, anything seemed possible. I was singing along at the top of my lungs, smiling, sometimes crying too and right then and there life was good, the world was a better place for a while because of the music and the people who had brought us together.
Many little things made the night even nicer, hugs, friendship, beautiful words, spoken as well as sung. For a little boy, who had been sitting on the stage, watching intently, the special moment came when he stood up, walked over to Jim and asked if he could play with them. Jim sent him to Dan and he enthusiastically played drums for a while. The happy smile on his face lit up the entire room. 😀 Later, he got Jim’s attention again, telling him it was bedtime now. Thus, he got a big hug before he had to leave.
Overall it was a fantastic night that ended with an after party for anyone who wanted to stay. We briefly chatted with Jim before we left and thanked him for the evening. Thank you Jim and thanks to everyone else involved. I have not had so much fun in some time!
Jonas Lieber (Arionce)
Jakob Nebel (Livingston)
and many more
Beyond the Bloodshed
I hope you know
Like a Human Heart
Guess that’s what the Gods say
The great Doomsday Story
Try to reach the Earth
Memoirs from the Afterlife
with Alice Hills:
See how the darkness grows
Children of the Moonlight
Let’s do this thing called Life
Through my Weakness
Waiting for the Gods
Waiting for a Healing
God knows where