Ragnar Ólafsson – Meskalina, Poznań; September 8th, 2020
So there it was, the last show of the tour, the grand finale, the day I had been dreading, because I knew it would be followed by post tour depression. And yet, I had felt so good all day and the music made me so happy that there was very little time for sad thoughts. I enjoyed it thoroughly, I laughed, I shed a few tears and I felt very lucky to be there.This was a concert how it should be and if tours have to end – as they do – they should always end like this!
It’s Wednesday morning, I’m on a train to Berlin and one of Kathia’s songs is replaying in my head on a loop. It’s a good haunting tune to have though, I rather like it. Of course I did not sleep enough last night (see a pattern there?) and of course I can feel the post tour blues heading my way, but hey – I’m not hungover and I have great memories to carry me through until I get to tour again.
Staying in the same city for two nights was perfect, because I really needed a good night’s sleep. Thus, I didn’t mind much that there was no party happening after the first gig and I got back to my hotel at a decent time. After seven solid hours of sleep the world looked a lot brighter than t had the previous day and as a bonus – said brightness did not hurt when it hit my eyes. 😉 Instead of playing tourist, I lounged about in my bed most of the day, went out for a great lunch and spent some time blogging. It’s not like I haven’t been to Poznań before.
Relaxed, I arrived at the venue around six and met N. who saw the first show on this tour. B., the Meskalina’s owner was also outside and said hello. This time the doors opened earlier than the previous day, we sat down and I chatted with M. for a while, who had decided not to bring her camera and just enjoy the show. Good idea! I personally vowed to take less pictures and I did. Pretty soon the room was packed – there seemed to be even more people than the previous day and surprisingly few of them had been there before. What do you mean not everyone goes and sees both concerts if an artist plays in their city twice? Why ever not?
Before the show started I briefly spoke to Kathia, who had barely slept and been to school that day . She didn’t look the part though and was as vibrant as ever. Ah, to have the energy of a teenager again. 😉 Shortly after 7 pm she was on stage, pro as every night and delivered a beautiful set. I loved all of it and even closed my eyes to listen a few times. We all clapped along in the end, her songs perfectly setting the mood for the night. *sigh*
Again we got a break for some air, while all the doors where opened and Bartek reset the stage. I took a deep breath and got ready for the last show of this tour. Considering that a few weeks ago I was convinced I would not get to see any more concerts this year it still feels like a miracle this tour even happened and even more so that I actually got to be there.
I had been hoping for ‘Deva’, but Raggi started with ‘SSDD’ – it didn’t go well though, somehow the guitar cable made distortion sounds. He joked about it, because what else can you do, but it wasn’t great. Bartek rushed to replace the cable and afterwards it worked better for most of the show. When it distorted again towards the end, Raggi decided it was “bad karma”. He talked about the honor it was to be back at Meskalina, thanked B. and then thanked Kathia’s parents for their hospitality, joking that their good food would be responsible if he sang out of tune.
Everything went well from then on. ‘Wine’, being unplugged, was great as always and Bartek changed the cable in the meantime. As every night, people were much impressed with Raggi speaking Polish. Mostly, he stuck with English though and introduced ‘A Prayer’ by telling us that there are many different ways of praying like their before the show ritual of “Who let the dogs out”. I really felt the music that night – it helped that I wasn’t seeing the show through my camera. 🙂
For ‘Minor Scratch’ he changed the beginning to “here I stand, with Kathia my friend” and she replied “I have no fear when I’m with you Ragus” – it was sweet and very fitting after so many shows together. I even teared up a little during the song, wondering how long I’d be able to go this time. There are a few precious shows on the horizon though, it won’t be as bad again as it was in March. The talk about traveling to find stories, i.e. songs to tell before ‘Mexico’ made me smile, because what I do is similar: travel to collect memories and hear stories so I can then write about it and thus tell my own. 🙂
It was time for some piano songs and the first was of course ‘Water’ – it once again brought tears to my eyes. I can still remember the first time I heard it and it hasn’t lost any of its power since. *deep, happy sigh* Before the second song, Raggi looked at me and as he started playing I knew why – I had suggested playing something different than ‘Shine’ and he opted for ‘Red Wine’. Perfect! <3 Afterwards he added that being a writer is a good outlet to channel negative feelings and have something good come out of it and he urged all of us to do the same – tell stories in whatever medium suits us and found a creative outlet for the bad things we experience.
When he talked about being in the city Tequila it turned out that someone else in the audience was there as well. Small world. 🙂 After ‘Time’ Raggi said he was going to play a request for me and asked how many shows I’d seen. I had to clarify he meant on this tour, because depending how you look at it the answer is 8 (on this tour) or 68 ( solos shows in total). Anyway, he played ‘Vegetate’ for me. I had actually requested it for my friend K., who loves it and could not make it to any of the shows this tour. Only I never got around to telling him that. What I did though is record the song and send her the video. It was a fun version too and the entire time the images from the song’s video were playing in my head. 😀
An equally great version of ‘Bravery’ was next before Kathia joined him again and they talked about the tour and how the worst thing was that they end. Oh yes, I feel that. Kathia had been at school that day and Raggi told us how he’d planned to surprise her at school and serenade her with Enrique Iglesias’ Hero. Someone in the audience wanted to hear the song and he just said “Be careful what you wish for”. I could hardly keep myself from laughing out loud. First we got a goose-bump inducing version of ‘Message’. They played and sang as if their lives depended on it. <3 He spoke about how he’d sung his duets with about 40 different singers before meeting Kathia and I remembered how different they all were. ‘Petals’ was lovely too.
It was time for ‘Dragonfly’ so Borow-cow joined them on stage after the first verse. They had so much fun with this and at one point Raggi leaned back across Bartek’s back while both were still playing guitar and piano respectively. 😀 The bowed, said goodbye and walked off stage so we could let them know with loud cheers that we wanted more.
Now he came back to “be careful what you wish for” and the woman, who had requested ‘Hero’ could hardly believe it. He totally screwed up the lyrics though, singing the same bits twice. It made me laugh even harder than the song usually does. Everyone sang along with a passion too. 😀 Last song of the night was ‘Southern Nights’ with one last sing along and the Kathia/Bartek choir on stage. They decided to go full country and when they started, Kathia had to laugh and they needed to start again. There was even a “yeehaa!” in there somewhere. 😀 At the end of the song Raggi even jumped up in the air. Then they all hugged for some time, happy with the night and the tour. For a moment I thought we’d manage to cheer them back to the stage, but people gave up too early. 😉
It had been a lovely evening and a perfect end to a wonderful tour. There were after gig hugs and me being too overwhelmed and speechless to say anything much but “thank you” which was all that needed to be said anyway. We hung out and chatted a little bit until they had to start packing because they were going back to Łódź that night. So we all said goodbye and hugged some more.
I was just going to grab my stuff and leave when Raggi’s friends, J. and W., discovered my ukulele and asked me to play. So I did. Then they invited me to come along with them for a drink. Why not? N., who was still hanging out as well, got the invitation too. We had to wait a while, because Raggi was doing a photoshoot backstage, but eventually he got there. Bartek and Kathia both decided they’d rather get some sleep and so did B..Thus, there was a lot of hugging going on and long goodbyes. Of course, they had been on tour together for 18 days so it was hard to let go. I said goodbye to all of them with hugs too – see you next tour.
At the bar, which was located at a theater, we proceeded to have shots, drinking to a successful tour. Raggi and M. still had to drive to Łódź the same night, but what was supposed to be one drink turned into some wine, four rounds of shots and a spontaneous photoshoot for the cover of ‘Lost Creek’ at the bar’s kitchen with a photographer who’d come with us. He showed us the resulting pictures and they were stunning. More happy chatting ensued before finally it was time to say goodbye for the last time. Safe travels, see you next tour! Some of us stayed a bit longer, but soon I felt the tiredness creep up on me, drank some water and finally decided to go. This tour has been great, I really hope we get to repeat it soon.
So this was it. I’m almost home, feeling restored in hart and soul and ready to face some more weeks or months of living mostly like a hermit. This tour was exactly what I needed for my mental health and I can’t even express how happy it has made me. A big thank you and a bigger hug goes to everyone who shared this tour with me.
For me, saying “thank you for everything” sometimes feels a bit like an excuse when you don’t really know what to say, but in this case it is the only way to express how grateful I am without turning this into a never-ending blog post. So, Raggi, thank you for everything. I love you and I owe you more than I will ever be able to give back. Cheers to many more tours!
Ragnar Ólafsson – m.i.s.s. is in town tour – eight gigs down, none to go. Last stop: home