Ragnar Ólafsson – Karrot, Warsaw; September 1st, 2020
With day two of the tour I was back in full concert mode and loving every minute of it. It’s alway surprising how quickly I mange to leave “real life” behind and get into the groove of touring. The concert felt like any other tour too, in the best sense. It was all good fun, the house was full and the music was just as it should be. Good stories, good song selection, all the requests played and just general positive vibes, despite everyone being tired.
Second gig in the same city meant sleeping in and the luxury of a lazy day. Sure, I could have finally taken the time to go sightseeing in Warsaw, but I didn’t feel like it. All I wanted to do was enjoy the afterglow of the previous happy night, sit by myself and reminisce. Also, I needed to get rid of that headache. 😉
Eventually I felt ready to go and arrived at the venue in time to share pizza with the gang. Not that I hadn’t eaten, but who would say no to cold pizza when it is so generously offered, especially because one of them had pears (!) on it and they needed me to confirm that it was indeed pears and not pineapple. 😛 While we’d had a loose arrangement of chairs and tables the previous day, there were rows of chairs this time – it was sold out after all. I didn’t count, but maybe 30 or 35 seats.
By 7 pm, everyone had arrived and shortly after the lights went down and Kathia stepped on stage. Her set was beautiful. I really enjoy seeing her live, even though I have no idea what she is singing about half the time. She brings so much emotion into the song that it really doesn’t matter what the words are. I can feel them. She played 5 songs on guitar and piano, but she did not get an encore this time around. Not for lack of cheering mind you, it was more of a timing issue. What a good start.
There was barely enough time for Bartek to switch some cables before Raggi started. Again he greeted us in Polish, but switched to English much quicker this time. I think he asked if anyone spoke Icelandic before he did that. He seemed a bit tired, but as soon as he got into playing all of that disappeared and he put on a great show.
Again the show started with ‘Deva’ and it feels like an especially fitting opener these days. “When our bodies get broken, the love we all share becomes real” has always spoken to me, but especially now I realize that it goes for anything that can get broken in our lives – body, mind or spirit, because as long as you have people you love around you it will help you get better. <3
‘Wine’ was unplugged, as always, played standing right next to me. We shard a few smiles during the song and , as always, I could not help singing along (or rather mouth the words quietly). Raggi told us that this was the 101st gig in Poland and as if that wasn’t enough to celebrate it was also album release day. He told us about traveling on the Mississippi river and how travel inspires his songwriting. It brought is ‘Muddy Waters’ the first request of the night. I loved how it changed the mood of the show to more upbeat. It is such a great song. Afterwards he told us how the title refers to the color of the river, aka The Big Muddy.
Julia joined him for ‘Dozen’ and no matter how many times I hear them sing the song together, it is always spot on and always beautiful. 🙂 Raggi started playing the intro to ‘Miner Scratch’ and explained how that was the lick he played when the cover picture of ‘m.i.s.s.’ was taken. As the song began I felt the tears well up in my eyes. It will always be special to me. :´)
Raggi told us that he wanted to be Hemmingway when he was younger and started traveling to “get into trouble”. It’s funny, how my mind works, because at that moment I had the phrase “Kissa on pulassa” (Finnish for “The cat is on trouble”) pop into my head – thank you Duolingo! 😉 It made me smile and ‘Mexico’ is a happy song so it fit the mood. Hearing Julia sing the harmonies made me smile even more. 🙂
He switched to the piano, had a little trouble with the cables giving feedback and joked about his love-hate relationship with cables. “Sometimes they attack you for no apparent reason.” – WHAT? 😀 We then heard the story of the Lost Creek accident, just told matter of factly as if no big deal at all. ‘Water’ followed and completely tore me apart. All the emotions Raggi held back in telling the story, he poured into the song. I needed to close my eyes to feel the song. It sends shivers down my spine every time. Without any break he went into a killer version of ‘Systir’, my request for the night. <3 I feel the song with my heart, even though I do not understand the words – pain, sadness, anger. It clearly transpired, leading to huge cheers. He explained to us how the song never made it on an Árstíðir album, but is very dear to him.
Back on guitar, ‘Time’ lightened the mood a bit. A much needed breather. Raggi thanked Kathia again and joked about borrowing everything from her on the tour. Right after though, I was close to crying again with ‘Walls’. That song spoke to me and moved me deeply when I first heard it and it hasn’t changed since. <3
“Do you want to hear a song about bad alcohol or one in Icelandic?” – we voted for “both” and that’s what we got. 😀 First was ‘Örlög’, language jokes included. – “the Icelandic language sounds like someone falling down the stairs” – not wrong! Laughing finally relieved all the tension and the sadness I had felt moments ago. We still weren’t afraid to sing in Icelandic and we managed the “lalala” part really well. 🙂 ‘Bravery’ came without the usual story and it works on its own too. Very powerful!
He invited Julia to join him for ‘Message’ and ‘Petals’, both stunning. I love how much ‘Message’ has evolved since I first heard it. It seems like all of the duets are perfection and everyone who sings them puts all they have into it. Just amazing! For ‘Dragonfly’ then, everyone got to play, including Bartek “BorowCow”. They always have so much fun with that song, adding little details here and there all the time. By now it’s guitar, piano, mini synth and glockenspiel. Of course they all sing too. Such a good last song in the set.
We clapped them all back to the stage and they gave us ‘Southern Nights’ as an encore with everyone in the room singing along too. Raggi declared it the most important song of the evening, because he wrote it to cast a spell for good luck on their journey down the Mississippi and shows how such spells can work. It was a good way to send us off into the night. 🙂
Afterwards quite a few people bought CDs and came for a chat, but soon the crowd dispersed. After the previous night’s wine and long chats, this was an evening of packing and getting on the road towards the next city. I told them how much I had liked the show and hugged everyone goodbye. It was fun, see you tomorrow!
Ragnar Ólafsson – m.i.s.s. is in town tour – two gigs down, six to go. Next stop: Łódź