Interesting decoration, more new toys and a permanent hangover

Ragnar Olafsson – Pod Pretekstem, Wałbrzych; February 28th, 2020

The concert in Wałbrzych was my next to last stop on Ragnar Ólafsson’s tour, because no matter which way I looked at it, making it to the final gig in middle of nowhere, Germany was not possible for me. This show took place at a tiny cafe/bar in the city center, which was thankfully packed. It was a fun concert, if suffering a bit from hangover vibes. Still, I got some of my favorite songs and was happy. 🙂

After a late night in Vrchlabí (don’t ask me what time I got home, I have no idea), getting up at 7:30 was tough. I had a train to catch though and a long journey ahead of me. Luckily, I was mostly tired and only slightly hungover. 😀 The distance between Vrchlabi and Wałbrzych is around 70 km if you go by car, so why it takes 8 hours by train is still a mystery to me, even though I had to go the long way around (via Librec and Wrocław). Did I consider not going and saving me all the stress? Maybe for about a second until I knew I had to be here. I was right too, I would not have wanted to miss that night in Vrchlabí. Anyway, about 8 hours after I started I arrived, dead tired, but with not enough time to catch up on sleep. So I had food, got ready and went to the venue, where I met Bartek and Ragnar in such a pitiful state that I immediately renamed the tour from “something new tour” to “permanent hangover tour”. 😀 They weren’t really talkative so I left them alone, had a tea and waited for the gig to start. The venue was interestingly decorated with many knick-knacks to look at. 🙂 Eventually N. arrived and we spent the time chatting.

As the last few gigs, Bartek made an announcement and then Kathia started  what I thought would be her last support gig – I later learned that it wasn’t. All the better, I really like her music. 🙂 She played a beautiful set and if she felt any remainders of the previous night’s party, she didn’t show it. 😉 I fully enjoyed the songs she played. They were the same as the previous night, but I think the order was different – or I just could not remember. I’m truly impressed with her voice and her guitar playing. The new song she had played for the first time the previous night had gotten even better and I happily cheered for her in the end. 🙂

We took a short break and then it was time for Ragnar who still looked under the weather. Luckily none of it was noticeable in his singing or playing, other than him singing a little lower than he usually does. It helped that the sound guy was really good. The setlist was more or less the usual one. No new surprises there, but a few songs that made me really happy. ‘SSDD’ was the first song and not for the first time this tour it occurred to me that the lyrics have slightly changed – “ménage-à-trois” finally stuck. 😀 ‘Wine’ was more powerful than usual. He put all the possible emotions into it and it worked.

There wasn’t all that much talking that night and the stories were shorter than usual, but it was still a good gig. During the introduction of ‘Deva’ he said that his way of paying is making music – that is a nice way of thinking of praying. The song was played softly, which fit the mood really well. For ‘Dozen’ the tambourine attached to the shoe was used again and for ‘Bravery’ the stomp box made another appearance. It all creates a bit more variety. Not that I mind just the guitar – it’s always enough for me, but I like how he tries out new stuff. 🙂 The song was a bit more subdued than usual, but it still worked. Apparently the stage lights were so bright that it was hard to see any of the equipment on the floor. I can attest to that – when it was set up I as momentarily blinded.

“I wanna play a new song, ” Ragnar announced, then realized that all of the songs might be new to the people who had never heard him and asked, who knew his music. He then played a gorgeous version of ‘Water’, bringing me close to tears. <3 It was followed with ‘A Prayer’, announced as “a prayer for a good friend”. I loved that one too – would not mind having it on the setlist all of the time. I noticed that it does not end as abruptly any more as it used to, rather fades out. Nice.

We were told that we’d hear a slightly happier song next so we would not get too sad and heard the story about traveling on the Mississippi river, writing songs every day. When spoken about like this, writing a blues song sounds a bit like a rite of passage that just coms with traveling that way. 🙂 It was a good version of the song, sounding somewhat angry. Worked for me. 😀 After that, one of the women working at the cafe left and Ragnar called out to her “you’re breaking my heart!”

When he asked us to sing with him on ‘Örlög’ he asked us to do it just like singing in the shower or the car. ;I) It’s a totally different thing, but it worked. After that, he invited Kathia and Bartek to the stage to play ‘Dragonfly’ with a little help from his friends. It also brought back the glockenspiel from the previous night. Bartek, now nicknamed “Borowcow” claimed he was “born ready” to do this and Kathia just nodded. As the nights before, they had a lot of fun with it and towards the end Bartek even stood on a chair, asking when it was going to be over. 😀 Kathia sang on ‘Petals’ too of course and Ragnar did look relieved to have made it through the main set when they were done. It had all gone well so far. 🙂

For the encores we got the usual ones. ‘Southern Nights’ with a sing-along, ‘Where the wild Roses grow’ with Kathia singing Kylie’s part and finally ‘Sleep now’. Tried, tested and approved (by me ;)) combination. I like all three songs and it’s nice to involve the audience (again) in the end. In the end he thanked us all for the great night and it was over. I went for our usual post gig hug and he said he was happy he made it through. No worries dear, it all worked nicely.

N. and I hung out for a bit, chatted with Ragnar and learned that almost anything can be played on a glockenspiel – even Metallica’s ‘Nothing else matters’. It was fun, but everyone was tired and wanted to go to bed. Fine with me, I could still feel the previous night in my bones. One more show to go, see you tomorrow!

pictures of this concert


A Prayer
Muddy Waters

Southern Nights
Where the Wild Roses grow
Sleep now

Ragnar Ólafsson – Something New / Permanent Hangover Tour – nine gigs down, one to go. Next stop: Blazkowa

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