Ragnar Ólafsson – house concert, Wilczyce; August 10th, 2021
The house concert in Wilczyce was Raggi’s first solo live show (as opposed to online) in almost a year and everyone was happy it was happening. It had been a long time without concerts for most of us and even with two Árstíðir shows already behind we both still felt a bit rusty. It was a good start with wonderful hosts, a good-natured audience and a solid setlist. At the end we raised our glass to all the shows to come this month.
Until a day before the concert I thought I was going to miss this one, because despite really wanting to see the full tour, I had a work meeting that I could not cancel. There was also a railway strike about to start in Germany so I was worried about getting there. Then, just as I wrote a message to Raggi, wishing him good luck, I got a phone call and the meeting was canceled. The universe had given me a great gift so I set everything in motion to leave a day early and was on a train at 6 am. By 15:30 I had made it to Wroclaw and a few hours laters I was on a bus to Wilczyce.
The concert took place at a lovely home with super friendly hosts, several kids, two dogs and a cat. Upon arrival I hugged Bartek, then Raggi and we talked for a little while, before he went to practice a bit more. Soon, everyone settled down, drinks in hand and waited.
Bartek stepped up to greet us, then explained that there was going to be a hat to go around at the end of the gig for everyone to throw money in and grab a ticket in return. At least that is what I took from the gestures. I have no idea what else he said, but that’s OK.
Raggi started with asking how many people spoke Icelandic and got a loud “You!” for an answer. Everyone spoke English though and he stuck with that. He admitted being a bit rusty and figured we all were, because there had not been concerts in so long. First song was ‘Deva’ and it felt as haunting, yet hopeful as ever. Right in the middle of the song one of the dogs decided to “sing” along. Raggi joked that he was in the right key and it all felt fine.
The dog got more excited for a while, but calmed down eventually and the show went on with ‘Meanderings’. It worked really well for me, even though it is an Árstíiðir song now and the solo arrangement is missing the harmonies. I loved it nonetheless, remembering it just this way from Raggi’s online concerts.
He taught us to say skál and switched to the guitarlelle for ‘Wine’, standing right in front of me, but never looking at anyone. The song always works well as an ice breaker, but this audience didn’t need one. They were already into it. Ragi talked about his love for travel and how different places inspire different songs. He played ‘Bravery’ for us and it rocked.
Then it was time for the evening’s musical guest, Dorota. She sang ‘Dozen’ and ‘Petals’ with him, doing a great job on both. It was nice having ‘Dozen’ back in the setlist and I always love ‘Petals’. I sang along quietly and felt like home. In between songs we learned the fun of the same words having different meanings in Icelandic and Polish.
We heard the story about traveling down the Mississippi and writing songs on the way. Then he grabbed his ukulele and played ‘Southern Nights’ for us. I immediately felt like playing it too, even though I still can’t sing to it. 😉 In the end he asked us to sing along and divided the room into three groups, singing three different parts. I felt like being at an Anatomy of Frank show. It worked really well and sounded like a great choir. 😀 Staying on the river for a bit we got ‘Muddy Waters’ next. It was great, but I have to admit that I missed Kjartan’s playing a little bit.
Raggi sat down at the piano next, telling us about the new albums he is working on and wanting to play one of these new songs. ‘Water’ still moves me every time I hear it. A true masterpiece. <3 After that he continued with ‘Walls’, but to my surprise played the Icelandic version. It was gorgeous. As much as I love the English original, I might love the Icelandic one even more. *happy sigh*
For the end of the show he turned towards songs written in Mexico and told us a little bit about the trip there are visiting ancient Inka ruins before playing ‘Palenque’ for us. He told us he imagined being a ruin in Palenque and being excavated. It was a brilliant version of the song. He ended the set with ‘Mexico’ hinting that of course he’d play an encore if we wanted one. The song was fun and of course we wanted an encore. 🙂
Raggi declared being in an Elton John phase, put on heart shaped glasses and played a great rendition of ‘Rocketman’ for us. It was so much fun! 😀 The show ended with ‘Dragonfly’ where Dorota joined him again and Borow-cow returned. At one point he winked at me, because I had recently confessed to not liking the song and he remembered why. It was still a lot of fun, because there is so much action going on. A good way to end a show for sure.
Afterwards a few people bought CDs, the hosts brought out a very yummy rhubarb cake and i got a chance for a chat and a quick review of the show. I still had to get my head around the fact that I even made it there and Raggi was dead tired from all the work he had to finish before the tour. We agreed that it had been a good start, I brought out the Salmiakki and we toasted to the next 17, hopefully 18 shows together with Bartek. Soon after it was bedtime for Raggi and after a final hug I hurried to catch a bus back to Wroclaw. See you tomorrow!
Hugsanir (Walls in Icelandic)
Rocketman (Elton John cover)
First “we are all vaccinated now” Poland tour – 1 gig down, 17 to go. Next stop: Jarocin