Ragnar Ólafsson – Cafe Szafe, Kraków; September 22nd, 2019
Ragnar’s first of two gigs in Kraków was special on several levels and I loved everything about it, from the venue to the setlist. It was David’s last night on the tour so the second Kraków concert is going to be totally different. The guys gave everything and despite some technical difficulties – or because of them – they nailed it! I had so much fun and don’t think it can get any better than this. What a great night that was.
The day started early for me, because the only direct train to Kraków was at 7:40 in the morning. The only thing I hadn’t noticed that part of the route was replaced by a bus so I actually did have to change after all. Oh well, at least I got there earlier than expected and was even allowed to check in already so I could catch up on some sleep until noon. Spent the day relaxing and walking about until it was time to get to the venue. It was a lovely small cafe, with blue walls and large eyes drawn on many of them. They served good cake too.
30 minutes before the gig they let us into the room where the concert would take place. It was small and filled quickly. Like the previous night I sat very close to the stage. I could hear the guys banter and laugh with Ola so they were clearly in a much better mood than the previous day. It was going to be a good one.
Soon (by Icelandic standards) the guys were on stage and the show was on the road. With ‘Wine’ Ragnar told us how he likes wine and had several songs about it, then took a sip and immediately started coughing because it went down the wrong pipe. It was hard not to laugh. David teased him about it too. As soon as the coughing was over, the song was delivered beautifully and the audience was appropriately quiet. That was difficult, as some of the chairs in the room squeaked with every move. 😉
‘Deva’ still gets me and ‘Dozen’ was once again sung brilliantly by that day’s guest, Justyna. Poland has a great abundance of fantastic singers. <3 During ‘Deva’ they had some technical problems, i.e. some weird, partly distorted sounds from the speakers. Raggi claimed the guitar was farting. They guys joked about what else could be happening and David said something along the lines of “the violin player could explode”. Then Raggi specified he was going to spontaneously combust. Of course I had to comment that only drummers do that. 😉 The sound guy did his best to fix the problem, but it was back during ‘Bravery’ whenever the guitar or violin were especially loud. It was still an incredible version. <3
After some fiddling the seemed to work OK, so they started ‘Relations’ and Raggi had just taught us what to sing when the violin started farting again. They decided to take a break and figure it out, some fart jokes included. Since David went out for a smoke, Raggi had to play the violin at one point to figure out what was wrong. Eventually, everything was fixed. Since Raggi was getting another drink, David played a Norwegian folk song, specifically a bridal march, for us. Then the concert started up again and it was back to ‘Relations’. “Where were we?” Raggi asked. “Singing,” I replied. From there on in, it was as if some magic had happened. Wanting to make us forget about the technical difficulties the guys played and sang extra well. So great music was inspired by an initial fuck up. Every song was perfect, some probably the best versions I have heard. <3
Somewhere along the lines he told us how he discovered this particular venue. After an Árstíðir gig the band had ended up there in search for a drink and he’d found the piano that asked for being played. So he did and talked about the place to his tour manager Bartek, asking if he could play there. And thus here we were.
‘Urges’ was as good as it gets that night – the guys really pulled out all stops there. I loved what David does with the violin on that song. 🙂 Meanwhile I was multi-tasking, trying to film with one camera, while taking pictures with the other. I must say I failed ridiculously as a human tripod. 😀 At least I have learned to sing along quietly (or at least I hope so). Raggi noticed I was doing it for sure and we shared a few lines. Before ‘Petals’ he explained how the song is about the fact that it always takes two to mess up a relationship, even if we are trying to blame the other person after a breakup. Justyna did a lovely job on it too. That song is hard to sing and she nailed it. I love hearing my favorite, especially when it is done so well. <3
I had been hoping to hear ‘Lost Creek’ again, but got ‘Dragonfly’ instead. It had been stuck in my head all day so finally I got it out. “Do you wanna hear a sad song or a super sad song?” Raggi asked and again I opted for super-sad. This time I had support by someone behind me who said “Let’s go big and do super-sad” which led to a funny moment because Raggi got confused by the comment. 🙂 We got the intended result in the end and they played ‘Red Wine’ – I wondered if there had always been so much violin in the song, but could not remember. Either way, it sounded great.
In Raggi’s version of hell, we learned, one will get a Banjo and Jägermeister Cinnamon Vanilla. David claimed to have owned a Banjo once that got stolen. He claimed that was lucky. I’m glad the Banjo was involved in songwriting though. Who knows which song we would have gotten otherwise? ‘Scar’ is always amazing, but was something else that night. If I’d thought the song could not get any more powerful the guys proved me wrong. They really were on fire! I didn’t want to hear the words “We are down to our last song, but inevitably they came. I made the appropriate sad noise as if it was going to help. 😉 ‘Needle and Thread’ is always a song I look forward to though and every night I listen for variations in the story about being unable to buy clothes. 😉
Did we want more? Hell yeah! It always makes people happy to hear something in Icelandic and ‘Örlög’ is such a good song for that. One day I’m going to have to ask what it means. Like so many other songs that night it was an especially good version. After that the guys gave us one last song and one last chance to sing along with ‘Southern Nights’, including a story about red-neck pirates. The concert could not have ended any better. 😀
Post gig hugs happened and then both David and Raggi were talking to me in Norsk just for fun. I had no idea what they were saying at first, but eventually I understood. It is always interesting how language works. 🙂 The night was far from over though. With Raggi, David, Ola, Justyna and M. the photographer, we stayed at the venue, sharing stories and drinks until they kicked us out. I said goodbye to everyone with big hugs. Perfect evening was perfect!
Needle and Thread