Jim Kroft – Nochtwache, Hamburg; February 20th, 2020
Seeing Jim Kroft and his band play in Hamburg was a happy and fun night among many long term fans, who sang along to all the songs. The venue was nice, support Meiko a good warm up and I enjoyed everything about this gig. So much even, that I felt a little sad for not being able to join them in Chemnitz and Karlsruhe for the rest of the weekend. I do have other plans though and this was the perfect start to the week of touring I have ahead of me.
Went to Hamburg straight from work, left my suitcase at the train station (since I was taking a night bus, I had no hotel for the night). Like so many of the smaller and cool venues in Hamburg, the Nochtwache is located on Reeperbahn. When I arrived the doors had just opened and I got to the end of the line. Inside I saw A. and more familiar faces, if very few people so far. Luckily it did not stay that way.
To my surprise there was a support act, called Meiko, from Nashville. She and her family had moved to Hamburg the previous year. She played us some lovely songs, giving us little introductions to each of them. It was just her and a guitar, but she certainly could old her own. I wanted to buy her CD, but never got around to it and she was already gone when I got to the merch after the show. Her music was just the right thing to warm us up and get us in the mood for Jim. She deserved all the applause she got.
Reasons to Love you
How lucky we are
Leave the lights on
Stuck on you
Save me now
After about 20 minutes, Jim and the band walked on stage, starting with a rocking version of ‘Love in the Face of Fear’ – the audience was immediately with them and singing along. The crowd had noticeably grown since the last time I’d turned around and they’d also moved closer. Jim was visibly happy with all the familiar faces. They powered through ‘Try to reach the earth’ and ‘I hope you know’ without much of a break and once again I was smiling happily, caught up in the music. He greeted us and told us about the first time he had played in Hamburg and how he loved playing there. A few people in the audience had even been there. “Hamburg is actually one of my favorite places to stay,” he said, then added “and play… and rock the day”. 😀
For ‘Through my Weakness’ everyone clapped along, led by Dan. It is such a good song to dance to, sing along at the top of your lungs and feel better. Jim explained it was about learning and growing as a person. Yep, we all learn a lot of thing sin life and if learning how to love is one of them, it’s all going to be OK in the end. Sadly, some people, too many people seem to prefer hate as that days shooting in Hanau conformed. He spoke about that for a while and how terrible it is and how it is impossible to understand if we consider how much of a miracle life really is. If we all understood that, maybe we’d overcome our fears and there’d be more love. Jim tied this in with talking about the fundraiser he started for refugees in Lesvos, then played ‘Sara’ for us.
‘Birthrights’ lightened the mood after that and we were back to moving along with the music. It is a really good setlist to go from sad and thoughtful to happy and back again. 🙂 After ‘ Beautiful Ways’, Jim finally took of the jacket he was wearing, joking that it was raining as he did so – he was dripping in sweat. It turned out he only kept it on that long because he had made a bet with Jonas about it. The band was introduced and he spent some time talking about Lucas, who he referred to as “Bergmann”, because he “comes from the mountains of Austria” and since he “has the countenance of a billionaire” would from now on be referred to as “billionaire Bruce Bergmann”. Say what? 😀 It went on a bit, since Lucas apparently is always coding when they are in the van, so Jim claimed that he transplanted Hamburg to Potsdam, so they could make it to the gig in time. OK then, suits me fine. 😉
‘Obstacles’ was great and afterwards they surprised us with a new addition to the setlist, ‘Beyond the Bloodshed’. It was awesome and as w later learned from Lucas he had only played it once and it still all came back to him. He just had it in his blood (or muscle memory). I loved having that song back in the set. I had not heard it in four years or so. As I’d expected ‘Redemption’ and ‘The Jailer’ was party time as expected. Everyone was moving along and singing. We cheered loudly when he asked how we were feeling. Somewhere in-between he pointed to A.’s sheep backpack, claiming that Shaun was here and had been waiting for him, joking he might go missing that night. 😀 It was all a lot of fun.
Jim dedicated ‘Yes we are still human’ to a friend, then considered he should have been dedicating a more upbeat one and called it dedication one of two. Despite warning us they were prone to fuck that song up they did well. 🙂 ‘The Hero with a thousand Faces’ was dedication two and of course it rocked! They launched straight into ‘Bahnhof Friedrichstrasse’ after, keeping the rocking vibe going. It is a real feel good song. 🙂 Despite Jim’s earlier claims that his shows were 50% talking and 15% beer drinking, the music to non music ration was a lot better than that. 😉 Somewhere along the way, a beer was knocked over, but hey that is rock ‘n’ roll, right. The band was in a great mood and it showed.
A string broke along the way and after ‘Tell me’ he claimed he could not read the setlist because he’d spilled beer all over it. Someone commented and he joked about being heckled, apparently having fun with it. Someone got him a new beer and called him Darling. “It’s been a log time since someone has called me Darlin,” Jim responded and while a few of us said “awwwww” one woman replied “Willste auf’n Arm?” (roughly “do you want me to pick you up an cradle you in my arms?”) – it caused much laughter and he just responded “I’ll take a hug from anyone.”None of this broke his stride, he just rolled with it.
“The joy of the arts is building a bridge between contradictions and paradox.”Jim explained and that we have lost the ability to listen to each other, but we need to make light of all the bullshit sometimes, so ‘See how the Darkness grows’ still had the Brexit intro, perfectly delivered by Dan. 😀 The rhythm made me wanna dance, so I did or at least moved in my place. We went straight into ‘Favorite Type of Sinner’ from there – it was great to end the main set with.
We called them back to the stage not only with clapping, but by singing “My world, your world, our world is waiting for a healing” and thus the next song didn’t need to be announced. We made up a great background choir for it and kept singing for a bit when it was over. 🙂 Jim wanted to know if we wanted to hear ‘Gravity’s gone’ or something else and a guy requested ‘Memory Lane’. He promised to get that down until next time “but you must bring 25 people”. The other choice was ‘The Great Doomsday Story’ and of course we wanted that one. Another song I had not heard in a long time and loved hearing again. What a treat that was. Then they played us ‘Gravity’s gone’ anyway and then ended the show with ‘Not in my Name’, a song written to voice his opinion on all the polarity, anger and hatred in the world. So the end of the show took us back to the beginning and it all came full circle – beautiful.
Afterwards I had no place to be for a few hours until my night bus, so I hung out as long as possible. Said goodbye to everyone I knew, hugged Jim, talked to Jonas and finally helped them carry their stuff upstairs before saying goodbye. It was fun, see you next month.
Love in the Face of Fear
Try to reach the Earth
I hope you know
Through my Weakness
Beyond the Bloodshed
Yes we are still Human
The Hero with a thousand Faces
Tell me where to begin
See how the Darkness grows
Favourite Type of Sinner
Waiting for a Healing
The Great Doomsday Story
Not in my Name