A night on the river

Open Water Concert – Batuga, Berlin; July 26th 2022

Of all the cool locations and weird places I have attended concerts at, Batuga boat on the Spree in Berlin was one of the coolest for sure – figuratively and, after sunset, literally. 😉 While seated on deck, facing the water, we got to hear four brilliant musicians, playing for us as the sun went down behind their backs. It was a kind of magic.

After the concert in Ełk a few weeks ago, Ragnar had suggested to Jaga that they could play a gig in Berlin on this day if he reached out to Lucas and she reached out to Seed. For the longest time I did not know if it was going to happen, but last Friday I got confirmation and immediately booked everything. After all, Jaga Zawiślak, Lucas Laufen, Seed Holden and Ragnar Ólafsson sounded like a great combination of musicians to me.

To get to the venue, we all had to be picked up by a motor-boar so it was an adventure from the start. At the pick-up point I met S., who was there for Lucas and we chatted away while we waited. Once on Batuga, Ragnar told me they would get 25 minutes each and asked me which songs to play. Strangely he concert was supposed to start at 8:30 and end 9:45 – tht math didn’t check out, but I didn’t realize it until later. Anyway, we got drinks, settled down and soon more people arrived, among them L. and I. – nice to see you again.

Once every seat was taken, the show started with Seed Holden – he was the only one of the bunch I had not seen live before and I immediately liked his music. He started with Bob Dylan’s ‘Worried Blues’ including some great guitar playing. I took in the beautiful scenery and music, feeling happy. Next up was ‘Calella’, starting with an amazing solo – just wow! He asked how it was going for us (great of course!) and if it was too loud at the front, but I thought it was just right.

The water was splashing in the background and the sun was slowly going down – it all reateda beautiful atmosphere, while we listened to ‘Hibernia’, “a song about Ireland” – t was a lovely tune. Seed joked the next song was his most biggest hit, according to Open Mic audiences. It was ‘Rabbit Hole’, which I had heard Jaga cover before. He ended his set with another cover, Gregory Alan Isakov’s ‘Words’. All of that was a perfect start of the evening.


Worried Blues (Dylan cover)
Rabbit Hole
Words (Gregory Alan Isakov cover)

Lucas Laufen stepped on stage to greet us all, since the organizer of the show was busy mixing drinks at the bar. He thanked us for coming and mentioned how the musicians from four countries met through a Polish booking agent.

Next up was Jaga Zawiślak. She joined Seed on stage, because her first song was a duet with him, ‘One Man Show’. So far I had only hear her sing that song on her own and Seed’S voice added an additional layer of awesome. 🙂 He stayed for ‘Chelsea Hotel’, a Leonard Cohen cover they had recorded together. It was great as well.

She did the rest of her set alone, but exchanged guitars with Seed. Since it had gotten cooler, Jaga deemed her song ‘Wind’ to be appropriate. It was wonderful. She ended with a brand new song called ‘Evening Skies’ and I really enjoyed that too.

From time to time, boats came by, some with loud music and making quite a lot of waves. At one point the water splashed over half the stage and we all feared for the sound mixing board, but luckily it was spared. Much nicer were the paddleboats that came close to listen to the music for a while.


One Man show
Chelsea Hotel (Leonard Cohen cover)
Evening Skies

Lucas announced they would take a small break so we could all get more drinks and maybe some blankets because it was getting cold. I checked my watch and realized the concert could not be over at 21:45, because it was already 21.21 then.

It was slowly getting dark when Lucas Laufen stepped on stage, starting with the beautiful ‘Dublin’. I just loved watching him step away from the mic, raising his guitar high in the air. His fingerpicking was great. “This song is about being quiet, but you are very quiet so it doesn’t apply to you. It applies to that boat that just drove past,” he said and played ‘I know where Silence lives’. 🙂

He told us how Berlin sucks in winter especially for someone from Australia introduced ‘Beside me’ as being about a particularly hard winter. It must be from his newer album. Great lyrics. 😀 ‘bottom of the Leaves’ was next, with his voice ringing out clearly. <3 He ended his set with ‘Weathering’ and mentioned he wrote it in 2020. I enjoyed it very much.


I know where Silence lives
Beside me
Bottom of the Leaves

When Ragnar grabbed his guitar from the stage I knew he was going to start playing in the back. Not only that, he went one level p and stood on the stairs to play ‘Wine’. Sadly it took people some time to even realize he was playing and I had to tell the women next to me to shut up. The people in the back sure loved the close up view and he only stepped to the front after the song was over.

Once on the stage he mentioned how he has never played in Berlin with his solo project and thanked everyone for making it happen. He did his usual poll f who had seen him play before and told us a little bt about himself before he continued with ‘Deva’. Everything sounded great that night. Maybe it was the sound being reflected by the water.

Ragnar explained democratic love songs and asked Jaga to help him out on ‘Dozen’. As always, their performance was spot on. We got ‘Bravery’ of course and the rocky mountain travel story. It was  a powerful version and everyone loved it. He told us about the house boat trip and played ‘Muddy waters’ for us – that one is always a win, especially with a new audience. 😀 During his show it had gotten fully dark and the candles that had been set up earlier created some low atmospheric light. Also, the stage lights he had brought came in handy.

Ragnar then gave us a choice between a cover song and a song in Icelandic and people voted for the latter so we got ‘Hugsanir’ and it as so good. He really ante dto play ‘Proud Mary’ though and threw bits of it in when he played ‘Southern Nights’ as the final song of the evening. We did a fun sing-along too and brought the concert to a perfect ending. Jag, Lucas and Seed came back for a final bow and we cheered for them loudly. If they had been allowed, I am sure there would have been encores. 😀

pictures of this concert


Muddy Waters
Southern Night

After the show I didn’t stay all that long because I had a train to catch and did not want to cut it too close. I told everyone I had loved the show, hugged them goodbye and got ready to go.I ended up on the same boat back to sure that S. was on and since her daughter picked her up they gave me a lift to the train station. Thus I was there a lot earlier than expected and had time to get a drink before my train left. I was really happy I had made it to this special show.

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