Ragnar Ólafsson & Isabelle Saadat – Cafeé galao, Stuttgart; October 8th, 2019
Café galao in Stuttgart is one of those venues that I’d only been to once, but remembered so fondly that I was looking for a chance to return. Raggi’s and Isa’s concert was the perfect opportunity and even though I knew it was going to be exhausting, not going there was never really an option. It was absolutely worth it for the sheer joy I felt being there and the lovely music I got to hear.
As I told someone before the Milow concert in Nuremberg: “I rarely do the sensible thing” and I wasn’t. The sensible thing would have been to go to work, return home and get a good night’s sleep to finally catch up on what I’d lost on the previous weekend. Instead I got o work early (after waking up an hours before my alarm, i.e at 4:30 am), left early and took a train to Copenhagen, where Raggi and Isa were going to play Café galao that night. I’d been wanting to go back there ever since I’d seen Árstíðir play that place about three years ago and this was my first chance. Never mind the fact that I had to be back in Dortmund at 7:30 the next morning and a team training thing all day. “I know I really shouldn’t, but ich will” was my motto of the day, taken from a Gayle Tufts song.
WhenI arrived at galao around 7 in the evening I was already exhausted and felt that I’d woken way too early. First order of business was getting some caffeine into me, then food. Isa arrived so I said hello briefly, set down and spent my time blogging. The food, an African vegan dish with veggies, cous cous and peanut butter sauce was great and after two tall glasses of coke I finally felt more awake. It was surprisingly warm outside after the last weekend’d cold so I spent some time in front of the doors. The show would not start before 9 and I was slightly worried I’d have to leave early to catch my train, but it was a risk I was willing to take.
Raggi didn’t show up until shortly before the gig and we did not get a chance to say anything but “hi” before they were on stage and about to start. Rainer, the Café’s owner briefly announced them, I settled down, smiled at them and waited for what they would play this time. They started with ‘Karma’ again and by now Raggi was singing a lot of harmonies on it. It sounded really nice. They told us the story of meeting at this very cafe three years earlier and how they’d sung the next song, ‘The South’ together, while very drunk. 😀 By now, Isa’s songs felt very familiar to me and I could even sng along a little bit. I loved it.
The audience was really appreciative and quite, especially considering this was a bar audience and the café has such good vibes that I immediately felt at home there. <3 As they switched guitar and piano Isa said her piano was acting strange sometimes. Raggi, now at the mic, wanted to know if anyone spoke Icelandic and someone jokingly raised his hand, but in the end he settled for speaking English and played a beautiful version of ‘Dragonfly’ – it has evolved so much since I’ve first heard it, I like it much better now. 🙂
“Songwriting is just storytelling in disguise” Raggi said. Why in disguise? His point was hough, that music is more interesting if there is actually a story to it and that songs get better when the songwriters had a good reason to write them, a story that inspired the music. ‘Dozen’ is always lovely and I like the way they sing it together a lot. ‘Wine’ was done unplugged and of course it worked. It always impresses me how quiet people can get when Raggi unplugs his guitar and steps away from the mic. THe song is surprisingly powerful too, for being essentially quiet.
They switched places again and continued with the slow and beautiful ‘Running Down’. Isa explained how she usually has a band, but thinks the songs work this way too. She asked Raggi for his opinion and he hadn’t listened so we told him to just say yes. Next was ‘Outer Space’, which is so far my favorite of Isa’s songs. It truly rocks and I really want to hear the full band version of it. 😀 Raggi jused about songwriting and how sometimes you have know idea where something comes from. He was talking about ‘Relations’ of course. I still have an idea about the song, but won’t share it in a blog. We managed a good sing-along too that he commented with “Hammer!” (one slang term to express that something is very good/impressive).
I loved that ‘Red Wine’ is still on the setlist. It is such a sad song and somehow that makes it all the more beautiful. Some nights I can really hear tha pain he must have felt when writing it. Isa picked up the guitar again, spoke about a walk with a friend, resulting in watching documentaries about insects and the song ‘Flying Mantis’. It is a fun song for sure, with a melody that easily gets stuck in your head. It ends with a lovely piano outtro.
There is no concert without ‘Bravery’ and asking people if they know Jägermeister cinnamon vanilla. Nobody did, not even Rainer, but one guest choose that moment to comment that he’d rather have them speak English because he was English. Raggi offered speaking Icelandic or Norwegian instead. 😀 The Jägermeister is of course still terrible and this time there was none of the ginger variation to kill the memory. It is always one of my favorite parts of the show and one of my favorite songs still. 🙂 ‘Örlög’ followed and we managed that sing along too. <3
Many people said they had been heart-broken in response to Raggi’s question and he spoke about how, if you want to experience real passion you have to risk getting burned. True that. ‘Urges’ followed and again I smiled about how the song has changed subtly since they first played it together. Isa said that the next one was her favorite song, ‘Petals’ – I agree. Raggi explained how he wanted to tell both sides of the story with the song, because it does take two people to fuck up love. It was a great version of the song too,
They ended with ‘little Lights’ and Isa explained the story of the raindrops on the window reflecting all the lights. One last sing-along and it was over. As announced it was indeed their last song, no encore. They stuck around of course, toasting with Tequila. I had enjoyed all the goos vibes at the cafe and was happy I still had enough time to make my train. I said goodbye to both of them, getting an extra hug from Raggi “for the road” and left. It was going to be along night, but I had some good memories to carry me through.
Karma (Isabelle Saadat song)
The South (Isabelle Saadat song)
Running Down (Isabelle Saadat song)
Outer Space (Isabelle Saadat song)
Flying Mantis (Isabelle Saadat song)
Little Lights (Isabelle Saadat song)