Ragnar Ólafsson – house concert, Błażkowa; February 29th, 2020
On my way back home, I can feel the tears burning in my eyes. They are not unwelcome or unexpected for that matter. I could already feel them last night when I hugged Ragnar goodbye after nine days on the road with him. It was the most fun tour we’ve had together and I never wanted it to end. It did though, with one last beautiful house show in a small place near Kamienna Góra. A lovely last night that had all the good moments I’d hoped for and was a fitting close to nine days of adventures. It pains me to know that Ragnar is playing in Germany tonight (if in the middle of nowhere) and I cannot be there, but I am happy with what I had. 🙂
After a good night’s sleep I made my way to Kamienna Góra by bus, then stayed inside all afternoon, because for the first time on this tour it was actually really cold, mostly due to rough winds. It was fine, I didn’t have anywhere to go but the concert. Błażkowa is tiny and the only public transport there is small monorail train that runs a few times a day and for the last time at 19:14 in the evening. From the station it was a roughly 20 minute walk on a very dark and partly muddy road. Since I was on the wrong side of a creek I just hoped for a bridge and luckily there was one. House reached, warmth welcomed me and there was even a large buffet with food. 🙂 Said hello to everyone, had a bite to eat and settled down. It was a lovely place, I already had a good feeling about it. Ragnar asked for input on the setlist and I really could not think of anything I still wanted to hear that he had not played yet. Perfect. 🙂
First it was time for Kathia though. She played her five song set and it was once again wonderful. The sound in the room was amazing. I could even sing along a little bit already. Since she does not have any CDs yet, I might just have to start using Spotify to hear her music again. 🙂 It really made me happy that Bartek and Ragnar had talked her into joining the rest of the tour. We got a short break after her set and then it was showtime.
He started with SSDD and it felt like it was supposed to be, starting of the final show with something familiar. I watched and sang along and fell into the music from the start, set on enjoying the hell out of this last gig. There was an oven near the stage so the guitars suffered from the heat a bit and needed to be tuned quite a lot. Ragnar grabbed the guitarlele, said he wanted to try out the acoustics in the room and stepped out right in front of me to sing ‘Wine’. I loved getting the up-close view and tuned my singing down so people would not start hearing me instead of him. When the song ended, I sighted happily. It was indeed a good one.
Ragnar asked who had heard his music before and to my surprise there were a few people beside me. He told us about Deva, before he played her song, saying how you often realized how much someone means to you when they get sick or have an accident – “when our bodies get broken the love we all share becomes real”. Despite Kathia being there, he had another guest singer, called Julia. He joked about having trouble with Polish names and not being able to remember Bartek’s, “so I just call him krowa (cow)”. 😀 Julia then did a wonderful job on ‘Dozen’. Unfortunately I could not suppress an urge to cough and kicked over my tea cup in an effort to do so. There is nothing that could destroy the beauty of the song though.
‘Bravery’ was next and inspired some chit chat with the audience about bad alcohol and lots of laughter. People seemed to really imagine the horrible taste of Jägermeister cinnamon vanilla. He had started the story saying he was angry because of the drink – that was a new twist. 😉 It was an awesome version of the song, I loved it. 🙂 Then we heard about writing a full album on the Mississippi and how much better the drinks were on that trip – “Caribbean rum, not American shit”. 😉 He gave us a gorgeous version of ‘Walls’ and I closed my eyes as I sang along, feeling the song resonating within me. “I a crowd full of people, we pick out the few ones that hurt…” :’) As if that wasn’t enough already to break my heart, he went straight into ‘Water’ – there are no words to describe how gorgeous this song is – it really kills me every single time. What a masterpiece it is. <3
Ragnar asked us if we wanted to hear a bluesy or an angry song. One person said bluesy, one wanted angry and when we had a vote it was slightly in favor of blues. However, one woman brought up the Jägermeister again and finally he settled for playing both. Yay, that was what I was hoping for anyway. First was ‘Muddy Waters’. I wanna say it rocked, but it is a blues song. 😉 A great version, with much more power than the previous night. That same power carried through to ‘Scar’ as well. Before it, he had to tune the guitar again because of the heat and asked us if we were hot, then realized the double meaning, added that we looked good and he wanted to know if we were warm. 😀 ‘Scar’ was fucking brilliant – he really let all the emotions out that night and drew out the finale too. “When you wish upon a star….” After the show he mentioned that he sometimes expects people to walk out due to all the anger in that song. Why would they? It is awesome!
Earlier than I expected, Julia was back for ‘Petals’. I loved her singing. It was very different from Kathia, but just as amazing. Not for the first time I wondered how Bartek always manages to find such brilliant singers. <3 She got lots of well deserved applause for it. This audience was not only communicative, as they had shown earlier, but also willing to sing, even in Icelandic, and did so enthusiastically for ‘Örlög’. I really like the song and think it is a nice break from all the English songs in the set. Before he started playing it at his shows, people would often ask for something Icelandic and this one works really well.
When Kathia and Bartek joined him for ‘Dragonfly’, it finally became clear to everyone, why Ragnar had joked about calling him krowa earlier. It was fun watching them. Kathia sang and picked up the glockenspiel in the end, while Bartek took care of the mini keyboard. As always they were leaning into each other, rocker style which makes a funny contrast to the softness of the song. In the end, Bartek climbed on a chair next to me and they really dragged it out for a while, until he grabbed someone’s hand to play the last note on the keys. 😀
Ragnar could not leave us without an encore of course or without the latest single for that matter so ‘Southern Nights’ followed, expertly played on the ukulele. It really made me wish to learn finger picking. We tried the sing-along and it only really took off when Bartek suggested that we imagine being at a football match. Why is it always Poland versus Germany? It makes me laugh every time. Should I be shutting up then or sing extra loud, since Poland is winning? 😉 Luckily this is such a happy song, otherwise I might have been sad by now, because we were down to the last two songs at my last gig of this tour.
The murder balled intro is getting better every night. This time he spoke about how ‘Where the wild Roses grow’ is very beautiful and really ugly at the same time. True that. Kathia helped out again and I am still waiting for the day when she actually does sing the Nick Cave part while Ragnar sings Kylie’s, but so far it has remained a joke. 😉 It is much better as a true duet though. I was loving it. Sadly, I was pretty much the only one who sang along for the chorus, but that could not spoil my enjoyment of the song. ‘Sleep now’ was perfect, started so very softly it was barely audible and then growing so much stronger. Ragnar walked around the room, stepped on someone’s feet in the process (I think) and ended up on the stairs that lead to the upper floor. 😀 That was truly the last show I had been hoping for and it left me really happy.
Afterwards we sat down for a chat and I thanked him for the wonderful tour we have had. I can’t even put into words how grateful and happy I am about this. 😀 Side note: That night, as a ticket, a friend of the hosts had made a beautiful drawing of Ragnar – it will certainly get framed and put on my wall. Anyway, we agreed that we’d had a great time and loved the tour and talked a little longer until tiredness took over. One thing I have to mention, so it gets saved here for later reference, is that Ragnar started joking about me becoming a beer drinker yet as I was having flavored beer for lack of cider. I don’t think I will ever start to like beer, but went with it and challenged that the day he’d quit snus for good, I would become a beer drinker. I firmly believe this is never going to happen, yet he wanted to know how long he’d have to stay of the stuff. So the rules are as follows: If he mages to stay off snus for a couple of years (as in two) I will start drinking beer, but I get to stop as soon as he starts again and he’s not allowed to start smoking or vaping instead. We shook hands on it so it’s a deal. When I hugged him goodbye, some time later, I was really close to tears, but didn’t cry yet, not until today. With a final round of hugs I said goodbye to Kathia, Bartek and Ragnar. Thank you for everything. It was a great tour and I love you. Until next time. <3
Where the wild Roses grow
Ragnar Ólafsson – Something New / Permanent Hangover Tour – ten gigs down, none to go. Last stop: home