Ragnar Ólafsson – Teatr Barakah, Krakow; Fabruary 21st, 2019
When Ragnar Ólafsson’s Tour was announced originally, I had planned to see two or three concerts, which then turned into three and eventually nine in a row. Krakow was only the first one of those and my second gig of the tour. The venue was really nice, the audience was a good one and i just enjoyed being there. I could not have wished for a better start to the tour.
It was a long trip to Krakow. After Jim Kroft’s concert in Hamburg, I took a night bus at 2:30, arrived in Berlin at 6:30 and continued towards Krakow 1.5 hours later. Once I got there in the afternoon, allI wanted to do was sleep, so I took a refreshing nap, a shower, grabbed some food and set out to the venue. It was a different one than the last time around and I wondered what it would be like. Ran into Bartek, Ragnar and that night’s guest singer, Karina, when I arrived, said hello, had a tea and waited. They liked the venue, a small theater behind the bar. That was a good start.
Once we got in I understood – it looked nice and the light was alright. If the sound matched that, it was going to be OK. As I settled in my seat A. and K. walked in. Had I known they were there, I could have kept them a seat. N. also arrived and I saw a few more familiar faces. By then it was almost showtime already and soon support Kamil Juszczyk started playing. All his songs were in Polish, but I really liked his voice and the music. He had two guests that joined him on selected songs and made it even more interesting. I enjoyed his set a lot.
When it was Ragnar’s turn, he started with confessing that he was terribly hungover and asked us to give him the energy to get through the show. OK then, it wasn’t the first time. He sounded really good, but his hands were shaking at times, so he really was in bad shape. He started with the trusted combination of ‘SSDD’ and ‘Wine’, easing everyone into the show. The acoustics in the room were great and he sang powerfully – it worked! 🙂 He then felt the need to tell us what he had been drinking the previous night before going on with the show. There was a lot of banter that night and it fit the show.
“I consider myself a storyteller more than a singer” he let us know and that making music was just an excuse to tell stories. Then he shared the dramatic one about Deva, who fell off a cliff and “broke everything but her spirit”, then played us her song. It rang true when he spoke about how when someone you love gets sick you feel the love for them even more. The song took me right back to the first time I’d heard it and I took a deep breath to deal with all the emotions.
We learned about words that are the same in Polish and Icelandic, but have totally different meanings like “takk” and “ras”, before Karina joined him for a beautiful version of ‘Dozen’. Next up was ‘Bravery’ and he declared it the result of “the biggest mistake I ever made in my life”. I could not help but thinking that if this is the biggest mistake of his life it’s not too bad (or the drink is a lot more terrible than I could ever imagine ;)). It sure made a good joke and the song was awesome as always!
He had a keyboard that night, so ‘Relations’ was next and the first time that night he asked us to sing and after precise instructions (If you are a football fan, go like this, whatever, just use your voice) 😉 it worked surprisingly well. The song does not always work for me, but that night it did. ‘Red Wine’ followed, but first he told us about the importance of silence in his music. It helps, I feel ever since he started doing this, people listen more attentively. It was a great version of the song too, I could really feel all the sadness. <3
Until a few songs into his set, more people kept coming in, until the theater was packed. They only came in between songs too – nice. ‘Urges’ and ‘Scar’ both got long introductions about breakups and what could have been done differently and doubting everything. Especially ‘Scar’ was a killer version. Next it got more quiet with ‘Örlög’ – people cheered loudly when he announced he’d play a song in Icelandic now. For the first time in a long time he told the story of how that song came about. It was lovely. We did well singing along to that one too – “better than Warsaw!”, he claimed
I tried to film much of the show and was multitasking with my dslr in the other hand, eventually realizing that I fail as a human tripod and cut off Ragnar’s head a few times in the process. After Bartek had showed up in a cow costume for ‘Dragonfly’ at several of the previous shows, I had been waiting for the song. Ragnar introduced him, calling him “my brother from another mother” to which Bartek replied “WHAT?” He was joining him on keyboards and yes, he was wearing a cow costume! 😀 They had a ton of fun with it and my ability to film or take pictures suffered, because I had to laugh so hard. In the end, Bartek went into the audience and had someone else hit a note on the keyboard.
The last song of the set was ‘Petals’, beautiful too. As instructed, we used our voting power and clapped for more. He gave us the two murder ballads, Nick Cave’s ‘Where the wild Roses grow’ and Ask the Slave’s ‘Sleep now’. For the latter he walked the room, all the way to the back and people loved it. He sang a bit to A. and K. over in their row before returning to the stage. It was a fun show overall.
We hung out, chatted and despite the hangover, Ragnar decided to go to a bar for a party he had been invited too and invited a bunch of us along. It was one hell of a night out and without spilling the beans on the details I can say we shared lots of stories and memories, were each given a rose that he spontaneously bought from one of those people that you always find in bars at night, trying to sell. I can also talk about the new pattern on my grey hoodie that happened after Ragnar spilled red wine all over it. It looks a bit tie-dyed now. 😀 What a great start to the tour that was. 🙂
Where the Wild Roses Grow (Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds cover)
Ragnar Ólafsson – Something New Tour – two gigs down, eight to go. Next stop: Orzesze