Physically below ground, emotionally flying high up in the sky

Ragnar Ólafsson – Kopalnia Guido, Zabrze; June 2nd, 2017

Ragnar’s concert in Zabrze was so far the best of this tour. It had the most interesting venue, so far the best supporting singer (and they were all pretty amazing), a very lovely audience and just overall good vibes. I could not stop smiling all the way through, loved every second of it. <3

It was a long trip to Zabrze, so I had to get up early, after spending another semi-seepless night due to pain in my still broken arm. Thus, the trip didn’t exactly start under the best conditions and I wasn’t in the greatest of moods when I got on my train. I didn’t really know what to do with myself there, but didn’t feel tired enough to sleep. That only happened shortly before I arrived – the usual. However, Zabrze greeted me with beautiful sunshine and my mood brightened instantly. Once at my hotel, I rested for a while and felt a lot better by the time K. arrived. We got ready and walked over to the venue.

Once there we were glad to get out of the sun, because this concert was to take place in a former coal mine and we had dressed accordingly which was a bit warm for 28 degrees. We had to wait for a while, then were picked up by a guide, instructed to grab a hard hat and let to an elevator that would take us 320 meters down underground. The elevator had three compartments on top of each other, so once we entered, we stopped twice, to fill the other two compartments. It was an open elevator, like a metal cage, but the ride was pretty smooth and once down we had to get out in reverse order. It was all brightly lit and more spacious than I had expected when we walked out. Along some floors and into the venue which was a nice hall with roundish ceiling that could have been anywhere except for the fact that it had no windows. Somehow it already looked like the acoustics were going to be amazing. 🙂

We got our spots in front row and settled down, chatting, waiting for the place to fill. I spotted people who clearly must have been on the Pain of Salvation tour in 2013 and smiled. One or two of them always show up. It would have been a good place to walk around and take pictures, but I did not feel like doing that today. I just wanted to sit down and enjoy. There was one photographer who got all the interesting angles though.

Just after 8 Ragnar walked though the audience and on to the stage. He started with ‘More will come along’ and ‘Wine’ again before he even said a word. Those two songs make for a good start of the show and especially ‘More will come along’ seems to be getting better every time and I have always loved ‘Wine’. He is settling into a routine by now, everything is running just a little more smoothly and he is just a little more relaxed than he was at the first concerts. I noticed that he kept his eyes open a lot more at this one than at any of the previous ones. 🙂

He asked again in anyone spoke Icelandic, but I don’t think anyone raised their hand. He was also excited about playing below ground and talked about how cool that was, especially after playing high above ground in a water tower the previous day. I loved ‘War’ too, the sound at the venue was just amazing, very crisp and clear.

For ‘Dozen’ he asked Kasia on stage and before they started singing there was a lot of laughter about Ragnar’s wrong pronunciation of Polish words and them both checking their phones before the song (for the setlist and the lyrics). Kasia was amazing. It sounded so beautiful, especially during the chorus. They were both really into it too. <3 As always I was singing along and this time Ragnar noticed and we even sang a few lines together. That was a first on this tour.

There was a keyboard on stage too, so we got treated to a change of instruments. It wasn’t set to piano sound though which made it more interesting. After the show Ragnar told us that the piano sound was terrible so he used Glockenspiel instead. Whatever works. It wasn’t a real e piano after all with pedals and such. Once again the ‘Relations’ sing along worked well and until the very end I thought this would be the first time the audience actually did it correctly and would not sing in the wrong place, but then we screwed up again and sang once to often. It was quite funny. Also I totally missed my cue the second time around and didn’t sing. 😀

‘Bravery’ was great. I love how much power this song has even when only played on guitar. Yes, it is an angry song and I can feel that anger every time I hear it, but that is how it’s supposed to be. It was time for stories again and I still love how they change from day to day, with little details being added or left out. Slowly, but surely I am learning the words to ‘Every Brick in Manhattan’. For the first time on this tour the story to ‘The Cannon’ included the information that he hit the target. I was waiting for that, but all the other days it had only been about shooting a rifle and being hit with the scope. It really made me grin. Needless to say the song is always great. Always a treat to the Árstíðir fans in the audience.

He messed up a line during ‘Red Wine’  which made me smile and I think he noticed that I noticed. It never matters any way, most people would not hear a minor change. It’s these little things that make concerts special. It was a beautiful rendition anyway. 🙂 Kasia was back for ‘Petals’ and did a great job there as well. I looked around at one point and saw two kids on the balcony in the back, waving their arms in tune with the melody. Awwww! Then, to my surprise she stayed and Ragnar explained how during soundcheck he had played a cover of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ and she had immediately sang harmonies so they decided to play it for us. I could not help but think of Svavar Knutúr’s version and had to grin for a moment. They did an amazing job though. I really loved it – great harmonies, trading verses and just sounding gorgeous. <3

‘Scar’ ended the set again. It fits well in this place just before the encores and we got a nice long intro story too. Whenever I hear Ragnar say that listening to a Banjo for five minutes is too much I wanna respond something along the lines of “unless you are listening to Mumford & Sons”, but so far I have resisted. 😀 This song has really grown on me since I first heard it and I think it is one of the strongest on the album. It has also changed a lot since that first listen, but only in good ways. 😀

The audience was attentive the entire time, laughed in the right places, clearly enjoyed it and absolutely wanted more. It got loud when he left the stage and we would not stop clapping and cheering until he was back. He decided to play ‘Sleep now’ without any amplification, just walking through the audience and smiled at K. and me and he walked by. It was the perfect way for that song to be played. When I turned to watch where he was going my phone slipped off my lap and dropped and I felt like everyone was staring at me. Ooops. It could not touch the song though. It was the best rendition I have heard so far. <3

We clapped loudly for another one and Ragnar gladly obliged. He explained how ‘Urges’ is a breakup album and then said “It deals with the complicated feelings you experience after a breakthrough”. K. leaned over and noted “Interesting slip of tongue”. I agree. He thanked us again for coming and asked how many of us had been to a mine before. Quite a few raised their hands so he joked about it. ‘Urges’ was a good choice for last song and again a great rendition.

After this he tried to leave us, but we would not let him, so he called Kasia back to the stage and they asked us if we wanted to hear ‘Dozen’ or ‘Petals’ again. The vote sounded like 50:50 and then someone suggested playing both and they did. *happy sigh*. Ragnar told us to feel free to sing along and demonstrated singing high first and the very low adding that this was for the guys.

We both went and hugged Ragnar, then stayed for a while, chatting, sharing Salmiakki and beer, just having a good time. Everyone else had already left by then and we left last together with the musicians and the sound guys. On the way up it was darker than on the way down, because nobody had a light or phone in their hands and even when we were almost up there was no daylight any more. We joked about it. Once upstairs we got to chat for a little longer, then it was time to say goodbye. It was a lovely evening and K. and I talked until late into the night before going to sleep.

pictures of this concert

Urges tour Poland: 4 gigs down, 10 to go. Next stop: Dłutówek

Setlist

More will come along
Wine
War
Dozen
Relations
Bravery
Every Brick in Manhattan
The Cannon
Red Wine
Petals
Hallelujah
Scar

Sleep now
Urges

Dozen
Petals

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