Its hard enough to see the world as it is, and hold on anything.

Dido – Mitsubishi Electric Halle, Düsseldorf; May 19th, 2019

For years I had not thought about or listened to Dido when out of the blue I saw an ad announcing her new tour on a ticket seller’s website. Until that moment I wasn’t even aware she still made music. Each year I go and see at least one artist or band I have never seen live before so I got myself a ticket, even though I wasn’t sure about it. Long story short, the concert was amazing. Dido played a brilliant show and I enjoyed ever minute of it. She entertained me and she moved me and I left with a happy smile on my face.

It was a lazy and tired Sunday for me, still recovering from Friday night. When I arrived in Düsseldorf I briefly considered selling my ticket and just going home. However, I#d made it this far, so I got myself a coke instead and found my seat. Recently I’d listened to Dido’s first three albums again (i didn’t own more) and liked them so I thought I might like the concert too. The seat offered me a good view of the stage, the venue filled up quickly soon enough the lights went down.

First up was support Sonia Stein. I had never heard of her before and she walked out only accompanied by a keyboarder. With her first song she already blew me away. What a voice! The music was good too. I liked it already. The second song was not as good, sounding too much like the first at the start, but with ‘Drunk’ she had me listening again. Afterwards she delivered a beautiful cover of The Eurythmics’ ‘There must be an Angel’. She spoke a little bit about some of the songs and what inspired her to wrote them. I liked all of it and thought it fit in nicely with what was about to come. 🙂

Setlist

Party
Lover
Drunk
There Must Be an Angel (Playing With My Heart) (Eurythmics cover)
Symbol
London Used to Feel so Good
Do You Love Me

The stage was pretty much set up already when Sonia Stein played so it didn’t take long to change it. I appreciated Dido for not making us wait an hour before starting her Show. At 9 on the dot the intro started and the band walked out. The Sound was perfect and I leaned back to enjoy. She started with a song I didn’t know, ‘Hurricanes’ from her latest Album. Her voice immediately drew me in. She is a brilliant singer. The Music was catchy, I liked it already. After onemore siong taht did not eel familiar she played ‘Life for Rent’. Most People got up out of their seats to Dance along. It was wonderful. This was the Moment I knew I had made the right decision. I had so much fun already. 🙂

The band was really good too and I only wished I could see more of them, but they were mostly blocked by four tall screens on stage that were used for projections. It was nicely done though, juts the right amound and not distracting from, but supporting the music. I liked the lighst in general too – good lighting adds so much to a show. 🙂 Early on Dido told us she’d had a day off the previous day and spent it exploring Düsseldorf. She spoke about Walking along the river and being talked at by football fans. “That was fun” she joked and she did not need to go into detail to make us laugh.

‘Hunter’, one of my favorites was next and she delivered it perfectly. It was pure joy hearing her sing and watching her walk across the stage, looking happy. At one point she mentioned how much she liked this and noted that she should not have waited 15 years to go on tour again. I didn’t know all the songs and didn’t remember all of the songs I do know, but none of that spoiled my enjoyment. It was nice to just sit there, relax and feel entertained. Had I been standing I might even have danced. 🙂

Before ‘Sand in m shoes’ Dido asked if any of us ever had a holiday romance. One person stood up, but everyone else kept quiet. She noted how she’d never known this was such a British thing until this tour. She also shared a little story from her teenage years when a green haired boy showed up on her door step after a holiday and wanted to see her again. The song was wonderful, but she gave us a word of waring that those romances never end well in case we wanted to try it now. She performed ever song brilliantly, some more quiet and others more powerful. People cheered loudly for ever song and there were clearly fans in the house who knew each one of them by heart. The biggest cheers though came for the hits like ‘Thank you’

‘Sitting on the Roof of the World’ was something her brother had said to her that turned into a song and she introduced ‘Quiet Times’ as a “nice song about depression”. It was so beautiful it moved me to tears. She and her guitarist sat on the edge of the stage during the performance. <3 About ‘See you when you’re 40’ she said that at the time she wrote the song she had thought that was really old and was meant as an insult, but meanwhile she had realized that it wasn’t an insult at all. 🙂 A little later she asked for the German word for “mad” and while I still wondered if she meant “angry” or “crazy” people had already told her it was “verrückt” and she announced “verrückte Liebe” next. The words “mad love” appeared on the screens during the song.

The evening seemed light-hearted and easy going mostly, but it had some depth too. I thought Dido was lovely because she seemed very much like the girl next door sharing and evening with friends, rather than a pop star. Everything that night was just right. The mixture of songs from new to older hits, Dido’s amazing voice, her good band and the way she interacted with the audience. I was really happy I had chosen to go to this concert. From the new album I liked ‘Hurricanes# and ‘Chances’ best, but enjoyed everything else as well.

She ended the main set with ‘Take my hand’. “This is the first song I ever recorded. You might wanna get up for this one” – most people did and many were swaying with the music. She introduced the band before they all left the stage and soon enough we had clapped and cheered them back. She explained how she did not tour for 15 years because she had a kid and she’d written a song for him, the soft and beautiful ‘Have to stay’. Last but not least she asked if we had any requests. People shouted different songs, but she picked up on ‘White Flag’ claiming it was yelled the loudest. Of course she could not send us home without that one. It was the perfect end to a perfect sow and a song where everyone sang along. I walked out smiling, bought the new CD and already know I’ll try to see her again next time around. 🙂

Setlist

Intro
Hurricanes
Hell After This
Life for Rent
Hunter
No Freedom
Grafton Street
Sand in My Shoes
Give You Up
Thank You
Friends
Sitting on the Roof of the World
Quiet Times
Here With Me
See You When You’re 40
Mad Love
End of Night
Take You Home
Chances
Take My Hand

Encore:
Have to Stay
White Flag

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Lightning bolts imagination

Ragnar Ólafsson – Centrum Kultury Euroregionu Stara Rzeźnia, Szczecin; May 17th 2019

Just as I was wondering when Ragnar would tour with his solo material again, tour dates for September were announced. None of them were convinient for me though and I wondered if I’d be able to see even one show. Then, out of the blue a concert was announced for May 17th, about a week before it happened. After I got over the initial “Why oh why do you always have to to announce so late?” I knew I really wanted to be there and thought to myself “challenge accepted!”. Soon I had everything arranged, went to work early on Friday morning and left after four hours to hop on a train towards Szczecin.

I was looking much forward to seeing Ragnar again, not only because I love his music, but also because I could use some distraction from following the anti-abortion laws in the US too closely and watching in horror as women’s rights are being destroyed one state at a time. Visiting a friend and hearing him play some music was just what I needed. Little did I know it was going to be such a great evening! <3

Getting to Szczecin involved changing trains in Berlin and luckily I checked before I got there and realized my original connection wasn’t going to work so I opted for three changes instead of two and got there on time. The weather was beautiful and I enjoyed walking to my hotel (a ship) and about an hour later to the venue. I wasn’t sure where the concert was going to happen (i.e. in which room), but then I heard soundcheck. Nice!

Ragnar was just finishing up and left the stage as we walked in. I had not told him I was coming and sat down quietly. He came back to pick something up and it still took him a moment to see me – he was genuinely surprised. 🙂 We spent a few minutes catching up until it was showtime.

He started with ‘SSDD’ and I realized it had been over a year since I’d last seen him play on his own without David or anyone else by his side. Except for the duets that is, but we were not there yet. 🙂 He introduced himself and told us if we’d come for happy music this was the wrong place, but if we came to something comforting and soothing for the soul this was he right place. Good thing I came for the latter. With ‘Wine’ I was already smiling. I had missed this. The small, intimate shows where it is possible to play unplugged and sing without a microphone. <3 The room wasn’t even that small, but it felt that way and everyone there sat near the front.

‘Deva’ made me choke up. For me this song will always be connected to my dad and it was almost exactly a year since he died. Another good reason for needing some distraction. I was soon smiling to myself because Ragnar screwed up the lyrics. The funniest part was that I drew a blank on the correct ones as well. Next Alizia (sp?)  joined him on stage for ‘Dozen’. She mentioned later that she had been nervous during rehearsals, but all of that was gone and she did a great job. A few people in the room had obviously come to see her. 🙂

The show continued with ‘Õrlög’, the song Ragnar had written for his grandmother. I had totally forgotten about that one, but loved hearing it again. It was the first time that evening that we were invited to sing along and while someone shook her head indicating she would not do it, most people joined in. It sounded nice. ‘Bravery’ was awesome, even without the violin. Before he told us how traveling is a good inspiration to write songs. That song works in any possible version. 🙂 He moved to the piano for the beautiful ‘Red Wine’ and another sing along for ‘Relations’. He explained that the need to write songs usually does not come when you are happy and thus all the songs were inspired by heartbreak. I do know some happy and good love songs though. 😉

Nobody seemed to mind the sad songs, in fact people even voted for super sad instead of sad when he asked. ‘Urges’ was the result. ‘Walls’ still really gets to me the same way it did when I first heard it. <3 “In a crowd full of people we pick out the few ones that hurt…” He asked Alizia if she was enjoying the concert and she confirmed. She also said she had sang along while Kamilla, the tour manager said she had not. Ragnar concluded that we need good singers as much as good listeners. 🙂 ‘Petals’ followed and was great as always.

We were asked again what we wanted to hear and this time someone said “happy!” so we got ‘Southern Nights’ and the Mississippi story to go with it. The singing along was a bit subdued there at the beginning, but got better. 🙂 An unusually soft version of ‘Scar’ was next. “Soft” as in without any instrument but the guitar. It still had a lot of power. In-between songs he told us a few more stories, the funniest one before ‘Needle and Thread’ where we heard about Bartek’s mom doing his laundry and exchanging all the old clothes with holes for some of Barteks. 😀

Already it was time for the encores that took us back to the Mississippi with ‘Muddy Waters’ that even moved some people to clap along. A perfect version of ‘The Message’ followed. We also heard that the second album was going to come out later this year. I cannot wait to hear it. Last but not least was ‘Sleep now’ where Ragnar walked around in the room. I still think it’s a great way to end the show, because it forms a connection with the audience. I also love the song. <3

Ragnar was not 100% happy with his performance, feeling he was a bit rusty with his guitar playing. That might be true, but the show was still exactly what I needed. After everyone else was gone we sat there for a while continuing our conversation from before. Then he asked me if I wanted to join him, Alizia and Kamilla, for drinks and I gladly agreed. Alizia, being local led us to a great bar. There was a party going on and while the music was loud enough to dance it wasn’t too loud to talk. We had some good drinks and even better conversations that lasted until closing time. When I stumbled back to my hotel under the full moon I had a big smile on my face and felt deeply grateful. What a wonderful night that had been.

Setlist

SSDD
Wine
Deva
Dozen
Örlög
Bravery
Red Wine
Relations
Urges
Walls
Petals
Southern Nights
Scar
Needle and Thread

The Message

Muddy Waters
Sleep now

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