Ragnar Ólafsson – La Boheme, Warsaw; September 10th, 2019
Happy. That seems to be my general state these days and I am absolutely loving it. Life is good, great things are happening, my friends are wonderful and it all looks like it’s going to stay that way for a while. 🙂 I just spent two great days in Warsaw among friends and it all can be summed up into a wonderful concert among friends, framed by great conversations, good food, generally good times and two rather short nights. As I am waiting for my flight back to Düsseldorf I cannot stop smiling, knowing these memories will stay with me. 🙂
The original plan had been to get to Warsaw on Monday evening, spent the concert day sightseeing with my friend K., who had kindly invited me to stay and then go to the concert together. This was my 5th time in Warsaw and I had never managed to see anything so far. Plans changed quickly when K. messaged me on the weekend before the gig, telling me that our friend Ragnar didn’t have anywhere to stay during the day and she was going to pick him up from the airport in the morning. My response? “I’m game, I’ll come with you.” Who am I to say no to spending the day with two of my favorite people?
As planned I got to Warsaw on Monday evening (more than 30 minutes early I have to add, since my train was unexpectedly fast). We had a wonderful dinner at an African restaurant and headed home. I learned that,since K’s place is small, A. + J. had offered their apartment for us to stay in the next day and in the evening they dropped by to bring us a key. We had planned to go to bed early, but chatting kept us up late. Sleep is overrated, right?
The next mornig neither of us felt very much alive, but there was coffee and tea to be had and we made it to the arport shortly after the flight from Iceland had landed. Ragnar, who hadn’t been able to sleep on the plane, was even more tired than we were. We got to the apartment quickly enough to say goodbye to A. who was just about to leave for work, J. was already gone for the day. We said hello to their two cats and had breakfast together, before Raggi went for a nap and K. and I had time for more tea and good conversations. It was quiet, relaxed morning on the sofa with two cats sleeping between us. Who needs sightseeing if they can spend their time talking everything from music to feminism?
Eventually, Raggi was back among the living so we had a lot more time to share stories before A. returned from work and we went to dinner at a small, wonderful Indian restaurant. The food was amazing and the conversations great. Onwards to the venue where David and Bartek were already waiting. I stayed while A. and K. went on a food run to get David something to eat. The venue was the same cafe Ragnar had already played three times and I had been too twice. To my surprise, David was at neither of the three gigs. Since the owners of the cafe had not arrived yet, the guys soundchecked one song outside. It was a new one. <3 Meanwhile, the owners arrived, we moved inside and soundcheck proceeded. K. and A. returned, the first guests got there too and I learned there is an app to make setlists with. What? Raggi had asked us for requests and I voiced that I’d love to hear ‘A Prayer’ again, but there was not enough time to rehearse that one.
As 8 was approaching the little cafe filled up quickly. Soon there was no space left whatsoever and a few people had to stay outside and listen from there. Everyone got drinks, settled down and we were ready for the show to start. The owner announced the show. I did not understand anything of what he said, but K. translated he claimed the CDs were free, but getting them autographed would cost 40 Złoty.
Ragnar and David stepped on stage. They had not played together since last year and were a little rusty at first, but soon fell back into the groove. It instantly made me smile. The first few songs were pretty much the same as they always are and still work well to get the audience into the mood and help they guys coordinate their playing. During his own introduction Ragnar spoke about always leaving La Boheme with a smile on his face and a headache the next day. Considering they have good wine in glasses that automatically refill for the artists that makes perfect sense. 🙂
Everything was wonderfully familiar – the venue, the people around me and the music. I felt very much at peace with the world. Raggi’s guitar was slightly out of tune at times, but that didn’t really matter. Being there was like coming home. 🙂 I loved everything about the gig. The stories, the songs, the banter between David and Raggi and the duets with the wonderful Julia Szkrobek, who’d sung with them a few times before, ‘Dozen’ being the first one. <3
We heard about the themes of the solo albums, since the second one is in the works and the third one already written. The songs that night were only from the first ans second one though, since the guys did not have time to rehearse any new songs. Even after hearing these songs and the stories to them so often, I can still discover something new occasionally and always enjoy them. Along the way they told us that David speaks Swedish and Ragnar speaks Norwegian when they talk to each other. As long as it works.
After ‘Bravery’ it got really interesting for me, because they decided to debut ‘Photograph’, the new song they had played outside, but until then only performed in the studio. David claimed to not quite remember it, but somehow he made everything fit. When they play it always seems to come together effortlessly. The song was still a bit rough on the edges, but beautiful – I instantly fell in love with it. I#m getting the feeling the M.I.S.S. album is going to kill me! <3
Julia joined them again for ‘Petals’ and then ‘The Message’. I love that song anyway, but this version was gorgeous. It really benefits from another voice and Raggi sang his heart out too. This song gives me goosebumps, I can feel every word. ‘Scar’ followed and they discussed using the song at the start of the show. I’m all for it! “We’ve come down to our last song” did not have the desired effect and I joked “Come on, you’ve only been playing for one hour.”
After ‘Needle and Thread’ they could not leave the stage anyway, because it was too packed and picked up their instruments again for the encore. Raggi noted that Nick Cave had been playing Warsaw one of the times he played at La Boheme and thus he played us ‘Where the wild roses grow’ followed by ‘Sleep now’. It works great for the end of the show, but we still would not let them go and clapped until they gave us one last song, ‘Southern Nights’. David jokingly asked if it was the time he had rum but no clothes. He told us to imagine him naked on a boat and I was like “I would prefer not to”. 😉 Then the show was over after all.
K., A. and I stuck around, waited until most of the other people had left and chatted with Bartek, David and Raggi until it was time for them to go. There were lots of hugs until they finally left. This was wonderful, see you soon! We all headed home, knowing it would be a short night once again. As I left for the airport the following morning we agreed it had been totally worth the lack of sleep. 😀
Needle and Thread
Where the wild Roses grow