Ragnar Ólafsson – house concert, Puszczykowo; February 24th, 2020
Oh my, I was barely done raving about the concert in Bielsko-Biala, when Ragnar Ólafsson gave me another show to rave about in Puszczykowo. My second house concert on this tour was totally different from the first one regarding the vibes in the room and it was also the opposite of the previous day’s show, concerning the general mood. This night we saw a happy, smiling Ragnar who went with the flow and bantered with the audience all evening. It was a joy to be there. 🙂
My trip from Bielsko-Biala proved a bit more difficult and nerve-wrecking than I had imagined with severe delays due to the previous day’s storm. Luckily I had gotten a good night’s sleep, so it was all a lot easier to take and in the end it all worked out. Every train was delayed so I didn’t miss any of them and arrived a total of 30 minute later than I had planned. This time I stayed at an Air BnB and had some really lovely hosts, who greeted me with hot tea before I went to the concert.
Since I am never sure if the time I have is the starting time or the time the doors open, I arrived too early. It was doors, not show start. The hosts did not mind though, I got to choose a spot and busied myself reading until other guest arrived. Raggi was in a much better mood than the previous day and we joked right from the start – I already had a good feeling about this. Soon the room filled up and so many people came, I wondered where they were going to sit. There was food being passed around, everyone got a tea of coffee and soon it was time for the show. 🙂
Bartek introduced Ragnar and he was greeted with loud cheers. When he asked us who spoke Icelandic, someone answered “everyone” and he replied “well, in that case I speak fluent Polish”. Everyone was laughing already and we did so again when he wondered if it was Monday. I feel you brother, it’s easy to lose track when you are on tour. He told us he’d start at the beginning and I expected ‘SSDD’,but was surprised with ‘War’ first. Nice start! ‘SSDD’ followed and I really enjoyed it too. Some days every song is just right and this was one of them. 🙂
We learned that silence is his favorite everything – sound, word and color. It is a fitting introduction to ‘Wine’ and it worked – people were really quiet. That song almost always gets them, i.e. the audience becomes really attentive when Ragnar unplugs his guitar and takes a step closer. It’s a simple trick, but very effective. Once again I saw a few mesmerized faces. For ‘Dozen’ special guest Kasia was invited to join him and after he’d announced the song he felt the need to say “this is not the song, I am just tuning the guitar”. So much was light hearted banter that night and the audience response was great. Kasia had performed with him before, but I wasn’t at that concert, so this was my first time hearing her and I was impressed with her singing. 🙂 After the song he asked her how to pronounce her last name and when she replied, realized he could not say it. More laughter. 🙂 He still promised he would learn Polish.
The Jägermeister Song (‘Bravery’) was next and the description of the drink morphed into “it was called Donald Trump recommends…” and the taste “blew the scale” of terrible. Even after all these times it is still funny and even though he has to suffer every night due to the memory of the taste coming back, I would not want to miss that song. It is always a highlight in the setlist. This time he had a new addition to it too – a pedal board, just bought as I found out after the show. It worked really well as a drum. 😀 Everyone else loved it too!
Ragnar moved over to the piano and I wondered which surprises he would have in store for us this time. When asked if we wanted to sing with him, the immediate response was “sure!” ‘Relations’ was referred to as “a dramatic song”, hence the “oooh”. The sing along worked from the get-go. This audience was really great. “I wanna play you a song from my band Árstíðir” – were we going to get a repeat of last night’s ‘Shine’? No, it was ‘Systir’ instead and it worked beautifully. I adore this song. We got a choice between “sad, dramatic or angry” for the next song and the vote was for “angry” – “be careful what you wish for!” he warned us, gave us a short introduction about the Urges album and all the emotions you go through after a break-up. ‘Scar’ was the angry song and it was so good!
That night absolutely every song made me happy. The general mood was so good I could not help but smile all night and I sang along to all the words I knew. Finally this fully felt like life on tour again, where you forget what day it is or where you are and just live in the music. <3 At that point he introduced me and asked how many shows in a row it was now. I actually had to think about it before replying “four”. He said that I’d taught him a lot as “a professional listener” and kept him on his toes, because he felt he had to keep changing the setlist for me. “Sorry,” I answered. Then he wanted to know if I’d heard him play ‘The Dancer’ and everyone laughed when I said “Yes”, so I qualified that it was only two or three times. He explained he’d seen a play and loved the dancer he saw there so he wrote this song about her. It was a lovely version of the song. 🙂
Ragnar announced ‘Urges’ and tuned his guitar. Just as he said that it is a breakup album, the high e string broke – right on cue. He decided he could do the show with just five strings and continued. It worked too. 😀 ‘Örlög’ turned into a very funny song that night. He was trying to teach us the pronunciation and we ended up with a lot of “chrrr”. Some repeated it so much that the usual wink he gives the audience to indicate when it’s their turn to sing turned into him saying “chrrrrr”. Everyone had a hard time not laughing, Ragnar included. It turned the whole song around, because it usually creates a somber mood and this time just lead to suppressed giggles and some loud laughing in-between. I loved how he just rolled with it and didn’t let it throw him off. <3 The whole concert was very much an interactive experience.
With ‘Dragonfly’ came surprise guest Bartek in a cow costume again, clearly having fun with it. He joined Ragnar on stage, grabbed the tiny keyboard and was ready to play. Watching them playing this mostly soft and quiet song like they were rocking the stage, leaning into each other, was so much fun. It is a highlight I look forward to every evening. We all loved it and cheered loudly for them. It was time for the last song and Kasia was back for ‘Petals’. He explained that it was him trying to see both sides of the story, because his ex isn’t a musician and could not write twelve songs about “how much of an asshole I was”. It took a moment to start the song, because it proved difficult to play with only five strings, but eventually it worked. Kasia sang this one brilliantly too. <3
Did we want to hear more? Hell yes! When he picked up the ukulele for ‘Southern Nights’ someone said “Finally” as if he had been waiting for it all night. The single had been released Saturday and we got to hear the story of the song as well as the backing vocals on it. “A song about good times on the river and the people who share the good times with me” was the perfect description for the song. After the first chorus, we needed to know that we had to sing as well. 😉 Everyone did so joyfully and loudly. 😀 The second time around someone said “la!” in the end and we were back to “lalala” for a moment. This was my favorite version of the song so far. 🙂
We’d get two more songs and nothing more, unless we’d go “chrrrrrr” instead of clapping and he dared us too so I quipped “challenge accepted”. First though, we heard about murder ballads. He had just started talking about Nick Cave, when the pone of the guys next to me rang and everyone started laughing. Ragnar commented that he at least had a good right tone and he might have snatched the phone if it’d been an old Nokia. The best option, he told us, would have been one of his songs as a ringtone. 😉 ‘Where the wild roses grow’ was fun and ‘Sleep now’ was even better, very dramatic. Despite best efforts by me and a few others, our “chrrrrr” got lost in clapping and we didn’t get another song. He did play the beginning of “Always look on the bright side of Life” as he walked off the stage though. 😀
It had been the absolutely perfect night and everyone seemed happy with it. Somehow, I ended up staying for a long time and despite only having white wine to drink (not the usual red) we sat down and chatted for a while. Then I even got invited for a late dinner by our hosts and was told I like I could be Sigourney Weaver’s sister. I’ll take it. 😀 We had a wonderful time and there were many hugs goodbye before I finally went home. Perfect night was perfect. <3
Where the wild Roses grow
Ragnar Ólafsson – Something New Tour – five gigs down, five to go. Next stop: Poznan