Ragnar Ólafsson – Salonik 4 Muz, Oborniki Śląskie; March 1st, 2018
Every time I tour Poland to see Ragnar, he is playing in at least one place I have never heard of before. This time around Oborniki Śląskie was one of them. An early show, close enough to Wroclaw to stay there, it was the perfct start to my trip. The concert took place a a tea salon of sorts, filled with art. The place was lovely and so was the concert with nice hosts and an attentive audience. It felt a little weird at first, but brought great renditions of some songs and a brand new one to boot. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
An early morning flight took me to Wroclaw and once at my hotel I caught up on sleep first. There was still time for some sightseeing after. It was cold, but beautifully sunny. 🙂 In the late afternoon I made my way to Oborniki Śląskie and arrived a little too early. I was allowed to stay though and had tea while I waited. Said hello to Ragnar and David when they came back from their dinner and set back down just in time for show start.
The room was filled with people of all ages, a really mixed audience. The first three songs were the same as before, ‘SSDD’, ‘Wine’ (unplugged) and ‘Deva’. They work well in this order and ‘SSDD’ is constantly growing on me. This was my favorite version so far and put a big smile on my face, despite the rather bleak lyrics. ‘Wine’ is always great to hear and ‘Deva’ still subtly changes all the time, getting better and better. Especially the chorus speaks to me. <3
Ragnar noted how cold it was in Poland and that it is warmer in Iceland right now. True, finally I had the winter I’d been hoping for when I was in New York City in January. No complaints here. 😉 As long as the sun is shining I’m good. When introducing ‘Bravery’ he told us that he often writes music when he travels and finds inspiration wherever he goes, saying that he found this one in a forrest in the Rocky Mountains. The new angle to the story made me smile. So apparently there is more to it than Jägermeister Vanilla. 😀
Since there was a grand piano in the room, Ragnar just had to go and play it so we got a surprise rendition of ‘Red Wine’. <3 The violin went with it perfectly, made the song even more haunting than it already is. Up until that point of the show it was my favorite song of the night. Absolutely gorgeous. For ‘Dozen’ he asked Ania on stage to sing with him. She was from a local school and had brought many of her classmates to cheer her on. It was quite beautiful. 🙂
He told the story about living on a house boat on the Mississippi for a month and writing ‘Southern Nights’ about it, named after the boat. Again, he asked the audience to sing along for the chorus and after some initial shyness it went quite well. At one point though, after Ragnar had just told us we were singing beautifully, we totally screwed up and I ended up looking at the woman to my right and just cracking up laughing. The song still has a strong country feel to me, but it absolutely fits.
‘Urges’, the “love letter sent two years too late” was great and there was a big “Ooooh” from the audience when he announced the last song. An amazing version of ‘Scar’ brought the set to a close. There is so much power in that song and it works in every incarnation I’ve heard it so far, no matter if it is just Ragnar with his acoustic guitar or a full band behind him. The version with the violin is a killer. I adore David’s playing. <3
We hardly let them leave the stage and were rewarded with a big surprise. They played a brand new song for us, one that is so new they have not even finished it yet. I immediately fell in love with the melody and the lyrics resonated with me so much it brought me close to tears. I guessed the title might be ‘When the Wall comes down’, but it is actually just ‘Walls’. :’)
Since it was so short they decided to give us two more songs. ‘Every Brick in Manhattan’ was first and Ragnar introduced it as a song about meeting yourself when you are 50 years older. I’d never thought about the song that way, but it made a lot of sense. It was perfect until at one point they waited for each other to start the chorus and both stopped playing. They just looked at each other and laughed, then continued, but Ragnar couldn’t sing because he had to laugh. 😀 He then explained that he was too engrossed by David’s playing to go on. It was one of those moments that make a concert special. ‘Needle and Thread’ was last, ending the concert in a major key. 🙂 I would have loved to hear more, but all nice gigs have to end some time.
When I talked to Ragnar about it later, he felt that the spark with the audience wasn’t really there at this gig and I tend to agree, but to me personally this was very special. I loved it when I get the chance to see a new song being born and I love the small and funny mishaps that make a show more memorable. <3 Tired from touring the guys said goodbye soon. Before they left though, they signed the venue’s guest book and both of them made drawings in there. 🙂 We hugged one last time and off they went. I needed to wait for my train, but luckily the hosts of the concert kept me company until then.
Ragnar Poland/Slovakia tour winter 2018: 3 gigs down, 4 to go
Every Brick in Manhattan
Needle and Thread