Halloween, journeys and late night darts

Ragnar Ólafsson – house concert, Wroclaw; October 31st, 2021

The last concert of Raggi’s short fall tour took place at the most interesting location and was a fun night all around. The setlist remained the same and everyone enjoyed the music as well as the Halloween decorations. It was the perfect way to end the tour.

Having stayed in Wroclaw overnight, it was a very relaxing day for me and I enjoyed having some time to just sleep late and edit some pictures of the previous days. Eventually I walked to the concert and found the right house after a bit of searching. Monika had warned me that it was a bit hard to find so I just asked at the place everyone seemed to be going towards. The friendly hosts greeted me and I admired the Halloween decorations they had put up everywhere. Wow! Raggi was nowhere to be seen, but he had hinted at getting his face painted for the show so I figured he was hiding. I found a good seat, greeted Ola (of Borowka Music) and passed the time watching people.

When everyone had grabbed drinks and found a seat, it was time for the show to start and Monika made a few announcements. Raggi walked in, playing ukulele and had his face painted like skeleton, white, with dark eyes and lips, plus a few scars painted on his arms. It looked fabulous. The concert started with ‘Meanderings’ once again and it really made me want to learn the song, because it works so nicely in this version. <3 Just as the song was over and after everyone had clapped, one of the Halloween decorations in the hallway made some noise, breaking the silence and making us laugh. 😀

Raggi introduced himself in Polish, then switched to Icelandic. Someone replied in really fast Polish, making everyone laugh again and he decided to stick to English. He wondered if he could be taking seriously with his face painted so he’d play a serious song for us – ‘War’. To me it is always great to take a look back at the songs from the first album that are not played all the time and this was a powerful rendition. 🙂

Occasionally, the kids in the house could be heard in the background, but mostly they kept quiet and everyone of the adults was listening attentively. We learned that the evening was going to contain a few scary songs to honor Halloween. The first one of those was ‘Sleep now’ of course. He started playing and immediately stopped again because he had started with the capo in the wrong place, joking about this being the single version. Then he started again and stumbled over the lyrics a little. It made me smile, but I don’t think anyone else noticed and he gave it all for the song. It sounded great! Afterwards he noted that he had never played the song with his face painted like that, but it totally made sense for the character.

Out of the blue he announced the good news that Iceland would not be taking part in the Football World Cup, because “It’s too hot for us”. The second good news was a musical guest named Ola, who joined him for ‘Dozen’ and sang it beautifully. I still find it fascinating how different the song feels depending on who is singing it.

He talked about writing while traveling and explained how each place he goes to and whatever he does there finds its way into the music by giving him ideas for new songs. Thus, in ‘Bravery’ the sound of the motorcycle can be heard. When he had played it, he explained that even the falling off the bike can be heard in the starting and stopping of the song. For ‘Catch 33’ he explained that it is about serial killers and told us about his different bands, because he loves every style of music. I really enjoyed the song and it does fit the murder theme of the night.

Raggi switched to the piano for a brilliant version of ‘Red Wine’. every song was extra powerful that night and I loved it. ‘Endatafl’ followed and I fell in love with it even more. it is such an epic, beautiful song. <3 We all sang along in the end, which made it even better.

He invited Ola back to the stage and took the opportunity to speak about his banner and its meaning. A lovely version of ‘Petals’ followed. He explained how, when you sing together, you can feel like you have known each other for years and how much you can learn about musicians by listening with your heart. ‘Wine’ was unplugged this time and Raggi moved closer to the kitchen because he wanted to grab a shot afterwards. Fittingly, the shots were served in syringes at this party and the host brought two of them when the song was over so they could drink together.

As we were moving towards the encore, he took us on a trip down the Mississippi river with more stories. The funniest part was hearing that “the Blues is my favorite way of feeling bad”. ‘Muddy Waters’ rocked the house and then we heard more about how nice the people on the river were and music brought them together. ‘Southern Nights’ brought Monika to the stage to play bass and was an invitation for all of us to sing along. He divided us into teams “Freddy Krueger” and “Mike Myers”. We did alright and the cheered loudly to get Raggi back to the stage.

He talked about singing one cover song, explained how it was a duet about a man bringing a woman flowers, then killing her with a rock and of course people guessed correctly what it was going to be. The he went “I’m kidding, this one is really silly” and surprised everyone with ‘Wehikuł czasu (Dźem cover)’ – people laughed a few times, but clearly appreciated it and did a great job singing along. It was so much fun and I really wished I understood. It sounded really good to my ears and every night he sang it more sure of himself. What a great gift. 🙂

Then ‘Where the wild Roses grow’ followed, as a solo number this time. It gave us another nice sing-along and some laughs for Kylie’s part. 😀 The last song, as always, was ‘Dragonfly’ with Monika and Ola back on stage. Bringing the family on stage is always a good end. It was an enjoyable evening.

Many people stayed, having food and drinks. I said hello to N., who had arrived after me, we took pictures with Raggi in full make-up and talked for a while. Soon, most people left and while one group stayed on the sofa to chat, Raggi the hosts and myself went upstairs to play darts. It was a fun game. We talked for a while too and Raggi mentioned how, at one point during the show, he had looked around the audience and realized how everyone was on their own journey, relating to his lyrics in different ways. That must have been amazing. 🙂 The night ended with soup in the kitchen before I made my way home. They had offered me to stay, but that would have meant getting up early so I declined. Thus, I thanked them for their hospitality, hugged Raggi goodbye and left, smiling all the way home.

pictures of this concert

Setlist

Meanderings
War
Sleep now
Dozen
Bravery
Catch 33
Red Wine
Endatafl
Petals
Wine
Muddy Waters
Southern Nights

Wehikuł czasu (Dźem cover)
Where the wild Roses grow
Dragonfly

Murder stories, hungover voice and an old cat

Ragnar Ólafsson – house concert, Czernica; October 30th, 2021

Raggi’s house show in Czernica was a good show, featuring Monika on bass and introducing Helena Advent as the night’s duet partner. Starting slowly, it soon picked up momentum and turned into an altogether enjoyable evening.

My second concert on this short fall tour of Poland brought me to Wrocław. The concert happened about 20 km outside the city limits and I was happy to stay at the same hotel for two days. Sadly, I had to rebook short notice, but I found one that was in a convenient enough location for both weekend gigs. It was a two hour trip from Poznań during which I nursed my hangover from the great after party the previous night. 😉

Luckily there was some time for me to rest before I needed to leave for the concert. Instead of taking the train, I opted for an Uber to get there more quickly. Arrived a little too early, but was welcomed with open arms and got to see a little bit of the soundcheck. 🙂 Said hello to Monika and Raggi, who was even more hungover than I was. That’s life on tour for you. 😉

Had a nice seat on a comfy sofa and watched everyone else arrive from there. The day’s musical guest was Helena Advent, who already sounded great. Monika had brought her bass too and was going to join the party later. When we had all settled down, Monika made a brief announcement and Raggi grabbed his ukulele, starting with ‘Meanderings’. This stripped-down version of the song works really well and is a great way to begin the show. <3

He continued with an introduction in Polish and when he asked if we spoke Icelandic, someone asked him to say a few words, so he did. When everyone clapped, he told us it was the easiest applause of his life. 😉 Because of the Halloween weekend he promised is a themed show and we learned about murder ballads, with ‘Sleep now’ being the first example. He fucked up the first verse, singing the “bury the hatchet” line twice and smiled at me when he noticed that I noticed. 😀

For the next song Raggi needed his shoes to operate the stomp box and told us a little bit about traveling to write songs and how they are influenced by the places he see, the food he eats and the alcohol he drinks. The introduction lead to ‘Every Brick in Manhattan’, always a winner for me. When the song was over he admitted to being hungover and needing a bit longer to war up and get into the groove. Thus, he needed more wine and Helena to help him with ‘Dozen’. I really enjoyed her version of it. 🙂

He talked about his many different bands, giving a little intro to Ask the Slave and ‘Catch 33’ “telling the story of 3 different murders”. It worked especially well with his hungover baritone voice. 😀 Afterwards it was time for motorcycles and camping in the Rocky Mountains travel stories and ‘Bravery’. Even the infamous Jägermeister Vanilla made an appearance. When he mentioned how he travels to get inspiration for his music, someone asked when he was going to write an album in Poland and he promised he would one day.

Raggi moved to the piano to play “a song inspired by a good drink” and the “saddest song of them all”. It was ‘Red Wine’ of course. I still love it just as much as I did when I first heard it. ‘Endatafl’ followed, bringing me close to tears. The piano melody is so beautiful and for me it feels even more special, because I cannot understand the words. In the end we all sang along with him, softer and softer until the last note rang out. <3

The host’s cat made an appearance and we learned that she is 15 years old. She also seemed to like my knew and sat on it for a while, later lying down next to me and getting angry when I tried to pick up my phone from beside her. Raggi continued with ‘Wine’, explaining how he’d thought about calling it white wine. I added that he had talked about all the potential wine songs, but he claimed to have no memory. He told us the sog was inspired by a hike on the island Hvar. It made me smile that he plugged in his guitar, because he usually unplugs for this song. It still sounded nice.

Before Helena joined him once more, he introduced his banner to us and explained why it said “Singer of democratic love songs”. I was still surprised that he had brought it back to Poland. People really laughed about it, especially when he said it was going to be on his tombstone. Together with Helena he sang a lovely, delicate version of ‘Petals’.

Raggi talked about the Mississippi and played ‘Muddy Waters’. It was fun as always. ‘Southern Nights’ followed as the last song before the encore. Monika joined him, which made it even better. When asking us to song with him, he told us that emotion is more important than technique so we had no excuse mot to sing. Interestingly, the sing along went exceptionally well, because two women to my right perfectly held each note and thus helped me to stick to my part as well. It sounded great. 😀

Needless to say we wanted an encore and he surprised everyone with Dźem’s ‘Wehikuł czasu’. People laughed, but they were also delighted and sang along enthusiastically, helping him out when he forgot the lyrics. It was great fun. 😀 Helena was back for ‘Where the wild Roses grow’ with some people singing along and the grand finale was ‘Dragofly’, where she played the Glockenspiel and Monika joined them on bass. It always works well as the last song. 🙂

I had really enjoyed the evening and was happy to see people buy Cds and come to talk. Overall wasn’t a technically perfect show that night, but a heartfelt one and if perfectly matched my mood. When most people were already gone, we sat and talked for a while, all a bit tired. When Helena offered me a ride back to Wrocław, I took it, really looking forward to a good night’s sleep. We had a nice chat in the car all the way home. 🙂

pictures of this concert

Setlist

Meanderings
Sleep now
Every Brick in Manhattan
Dozen
Catch 33
Bravery
Red Wine
Endatafl
Wine
Petals
Muddy Waters
Southern Nights

Wehikuł czasu (Dźem cover)
Where the wild Roses grow
Dragonfly