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Concert Review: Sam Garrett in Hamburg, Germany @ Mojo Club 2023

10/30/2023 by Gardy Stein

Concert Review: Sam Garrett in Hamburg, Germany @ Mojo Club 2023

Join us for a spiritual journey of musical healing! Last Wednesday (October 25, 2023), singer-songwriter Sam Garrett visited Hamburg on his Forward To Zion tour for the first time ever, and more than 800 people (Sold Out!) heeded his call, patiently waiting in a long queue in front of the underground Mojo Club to see him live.

It was not the usual Hamburg Reggae-crowd who showed up for this concert, since Sam is not the usual Reggae artist. While his most recent album Forward To Zion actually is mostly offbeat-inspired, his musical socialization is much broader, and his earlier works stem from his fascination with and devotion to Indian philosophies, mantra meditation and the healing properties of collective music-making. His current tour was born from a performance at the Yoga United Festival in 2020, as the organizers decided to join forces and bring Sam Garrett and his message to several cities throughout Europe.

Tonight's opening act is a formation called Gemiko, consisting of Jenniffer Kae and Jemma Enderby who are also part of Sam's band. "Come and let the light unfold, come and let the truth be told!" they sing, thus putting us in the right mood for this special evening. We witness a memorable moment when the two singers divide the audience in three groups, assigning a note or melody for each group to sing. The result is an 800-voices strong choir, creating an intense feeling of bliss and belonging, and to this amazing backdrop, they sing: "One family, one heartbeat, together we are one!"

After a short changeover, Sam Garrett enters the stage to continue on that same note. "This evening, we bring you a message of love, a message of peace and the message that we are one family!" are the singer's welcoming words, and, congruously, the first song he and his band perform is We Are One. They are six on stage: Armin Metz on bass, Alex Hoeffken on drums, David Mages on keys (and flute) as well as above-mentioned Jenniffer and Jemma (introducing us to the mystical sounds of a Ragamala Harmonium) accompany Sam Garrett, who himself plays guitar and sings. And talks to us! He introduces the next song Aum Namah Shivaya by mentioning how old and powerful this mantra is, inviting the audience to sing along with him.

Most seem to know the words by heart anyway, and as the evening advances, his earlier works such as Om Ganesha, Laxmi or the mother-earth hymn Mama are again accompanied by hundreds of voices. "Let go of everything that holds you down, of your agendas and wants, just be your true self!" Sam encourages us, clearly enjoying this communion.

From his new album, he presents the songs When We Get Together, One By One and the spiritually deep I&I. Before starting to sing the latter, Sam tells us the story of its creation, of his first trip to Jamaica at age 16 and the deep impact this journey had on him, of the difficult lockdown and how he discovered the teachings of Haile Selassie during this time, and of his most recent visit to the island where he met an elder Rasta who inspired this song… "Rastafari is something deeper than Ganja and this image they like to make you see. There is a deeper truth to it, the Rastas don't just use Ganja, they use every herb, it's a connection with life itself, with all the plants! Our ancestors had this connection too, but we lost this wisdom. Rasta is a rebellion against the colonial establishment that keeps people in the dark about the truth of light. Everyone here has so much beauty and wisdom, let it shine!"

Laughingly, he apologizes for this long talk, but no one seems to mind, quite to the contrary. The visitors absorb every word he says, and when he starts to sing I&I and, a little later, the solo Higher Than The Mountains, loud cheers fill the place. Sam says: "My prayer is that people you meet are so inspired by your light that they will become aware of the I&I – we all are one!"

For Light Of Your Grace, a calm ode to his spiritual teacher Mooji Baba, the band is back, and they let the song flow into a fervent chant of Marley's "Everything is gonna be alright" into which all present join in. The band then delivers the uptempo Too Blessed To Be Stressed, igniting the dancing fever in the crowd once more, before going dub-wise at the end of the song. Then, all six musicians line up and take their bows, waving a final goodbye. Sam stays behind for a bit, shaking hands and hugging fans in the crowd, and his manager Jördis picks up the mic to say that there won't be an encore, as Sam is fighting off a cold and has to rest his voice.

At 11pm, this beautiful musical communion is over, and the people slowly pick their way home, elated and smiling. Singing together clearly does something very positive to our brains, a fact many scientific studies have proven, and it's small wonder that joint celebrations of music and dance are basic everyday activities for most cultures. It's what keeps communities sane and whole, in touch with each other, and it really is a tragedy that Western civilizations have almost lost this deep connection. Good thing that people like Sam Garrett and Gemiko are here to bring it back, to share this experience with all who are open, to join forces for building a better, a more conscious and more peaceful future. In his own words: "We will make a difference I believe!"