Ragnar Ólafsson – MDK Batory, Chorzów; September 5th, 2020
The tour was already going so well, I did not think it could get any better, but yet it did. 😀 Somehow the best concerts always happen when I least expect them and the gig in Chorzów was one of them. It was perfect in every way and apart from seeing Raggi and Kathia, I also got to see the wonderful Lucas Laufen. The entire evening was a treat. <3
So five days in I have gotten used to waking up too early and just living with being tired. Somehow I still managed to get a halfway decent amount of sleep and felt considerably better than I had the previous morning. Battling the shitty wifi in my room, I did some blogging and then played ukulele for an hour or so. Last minute I rebooked my hotel in Chorzow to one closer to the venue and train station – best decision ever! The train ride was easy and I made it there in good time to relax a bit before the show. Did I see anything of the city? Nope. Did I care? Not really. I love sightseeing, but sometimes touring is just that and actually seeing the city you’re in takes second place.
In beautiful weather I made my way to the venue around four, ran into Ola as I arrived, briefly chatted with Bartek and waited for the doors to open. It was a lovely concert hall, with a real stage and a grand piano! Our seats were lawn chairs, all placed at a good distance and below the ceilings there were strings of lights that looked like stars. For a moment there I was tempted to just take a nap in my chair.
Shortly after 5, Bartek stepped on stage and announced Lucas Laufen, the first performer that night. I knew his name, because he has been touring via Bartek’s agency for a while, but I had never heard his music. Big mistake it turns out. I immediately loved his voice and enjoyed all of his songs. In between he gave little introductions about why he wrote them and what they were about so we learned that he moved from Australia to Berlin and other tidbits. He even sat down at the piano for one song, because “If there is a grand piano on stage you have to use it.” Wonderful set all around and the perfect start to the evening.
We got a short break and then Kathia blew me away with her set. She always sounds good, but right then and there it was perfect. She was obviously having fun and it transpired in all of the songs. I didn’t count how many she played, but it was a long set, including two songs on the piano. I loved every one of them, but my favorite ones are still the ones with the loop station. I am continuously more impressed by how good she is. So happy I will be hearing more from her on this tour.
Another short break and Raggi was on stage. Knowing he’d had a hectic day I expected him to be tired, but he sure didn’t look the part. He really surprised me by starting with ‘SSDD’ – he had not played that in a long time. Now anyone who reads my blog knows that song doesn’t do much for me in general. This time, though, it was the best song to start with. He changed one small part, just playing the last lines of the song with a little more power and it made all the difference. 🙂
For ‘Wine’ he stood at the edge of the stage, playing unplugged. M. joined me for a while in the other lawn chair at my table to take pictures. The song sounded amazing in this wood paneled concert hall. Oh and the lights were brilliant too – nice and bright and colorful and really setting the mood right for the show. Raggi introduced himself and asked Kathia back to the stage. He spoke about sitting on a piece of driftwood by the Mississippi river and playing the first notes of ‘Minor Scratch right there. The performance might have been the best I have seen on this tour. It really got to me, taking me on a trip down memory lane for a while – “I have no fear when I’m with you”. <3
With ‘Mexico’ we got into the territory of travel memory songs. I like it better every night with Kathia’s voice in the mix. Of course the piano had to be played – Raggi declared that one of the simple rules of life. ‘Water’ was gorgeous. There are still not enough words to adequately describe the beauty of this song. :´) The equally beautiful ‘Shine’ followed. The low notes at the beginning sounded almost like church bells ringing – it sent shivers down my spine. I had gotten out of my chair to get a few pictures of Raggi at the piano, but had a really hard time concentrating on that. My emotions were just overwhelming. This was the concert I would have wanted on film, but I could not bring myself to do it – it would have taken too much of my enjoyment away.
‘Time’, the “other song written in Mexico” broke the spell and brought me back to the here and now. It sounded amazing too. Everything did that night! The sound people really knew their job. 🙂 Raggi told us that he was using Kathia’s guitar and joked they shared everything on tour including socks and underwear. 😉
He introduced ‘Örlög’, explaining how he wrote it for his grandmother after she passed away and that sometimes there are no words for the sadness you feel so he used “lalala”. When he asked if we were going to sing with him a few people agreed, but then nobody really did. They might have been afraid to sing. My observation was that the further away we got from Warsaw, the more people wore face masks and seemed to be conscious of Covid, whereas in Warsaw it felt like everyone pretended it didn’t exist. Thus, singing might not be the best thing to do. Either that or people were just shy. Sad, because the acoustics at the venue were fantastic. Everyone loved the song though and cheered loudly.
‘Bravery’ went without introduction this time which was just as well. The song never gets boring and I loved this performance. Kathia was back for ‘Message’ and it was so good that I still had it playing back in my head the next morning. <3 Both of them played with their voices, singing with all their might – absolutely brilliant. At that point Raggi realized that he had not had any wine yet since he got on stage, because he was having such a good time. He talked a little bit about his solo project and especially the new one.
‘Petals’ was next, and this too sounded and felt special that night. <3 Raggi thanked everyone and they closed the set with ‘Dragonfly’ with Kathia on glockenspiel and Bartek on the grand piano. It was great fun to watch. Luckily there was enough time for an encore and another try for the audience to sing along during ‘Southern Nights’. We didn’t do very well there either. 😉 However, Raggi asked the entire Borowka Music family to join him on stage for the final chorus and it was absolutely perfect. That’s the way that we wanna go!
After the gig many people bought CDs and got pictures taken. I took the chance to chat with Lucas for a bit and got his CD too – what a nice fellow. Said hello and goodbye to everybody. Raggi had another work night ahead so there wasn’t much time to chat, but certainly a few hugs. Someone else was taking a picture with Raggi, Kathia and Lucas and suddenly I felt that I wanted one too so I handed my camera over to M. It turned out nice. Usually, I prefer to be behind the lens and usually I feel I don’t need to prove to anyone whom I’ve been hanging out with, but this time it was right. 😀
Since the gig had started so early I actually got home at a decent hour and even had the chance for a quick look at my pictured before going to bed. I really did need a good night’s sleep. Over the past few days the circles under my eyes had grown considerably darker, but at the same time the smile on my face has grown so muh bigger and I finally feel alive again. I only needed live music and hugs to restore much of my mental health. I guess now I’ll be OK again for a while.
Ragnar Ólafsson – m.i.s.s. is in town tour – five gigs down, three to go. Next stop: Wrocław