Ragnar Ólafsson – Zajezdnia Kultury Pleszew; August 13th, 2021
Raggi’s concert in Pleszew was a pleasant surprise on every level. It took place at a wonderful outside venue on a railroad car near a train station, light and sound were amazing and the setlist was great too. I absolutely loved it.
Getting to Pleszew was easy as it is only about a one hour train ride from Poznań, getting to my hotel from the train station, however, proved to be slightly more complicated. There are no hotels in Pleszew so I was staying at a motel about 3 km from the train station. When I arrived I realized that it was impossible to walk (no sidewalks, busy road). Luckily there was a huge taxi sign with a phone number across from the station entrance. I talked to a woman standing there waiting to be picked up and even though I don’t speak Polish and she did not speak English she helped me call a taxi. 🙂 Got to my motel and finally caught up on some sleep since I had woken up way too early after a late night.
The motel doubled as a sort of truck stop/diner so when I woke up with a craving for fast food I was at the right place. 😀 When the time came for the concert, they called me a taxi too and I was on my way. The venue was right next to the central train station of Pleszew, which, as I understand, is no longer in use. The stage was set up on an old railway wagon and in the space in front they set up chairs. I had not expected an open air concert, but the weather was nice and I loved the train station backdrop. The only thing not so fun where the swarms of mosquitos attacking us, especially once it got darker. Oh well, summer. 😉
Bartek appeared from backstage, stepped up in front of us and made introductions while Raggi waited by the side, guitarlele in hand. He started with ‘Wine’, walking towards us as he played and stood in front of me for a while before he moved on. I immediately realized how good the sound was – loud an clear. Wow!:D
Once on stage, he continued with ‘Every Brick in Manhattan’ and it fit perfectly with the location, because there were brick buildings all around us. It’s a song I am always happy to hear and it sounded amazing. To my surprise, he played ‘Winona’ next. I had not expected the song to make another appearance so soon and I loved it. What a great show start this trio was! <3
Julia was the musical guest for the night and joined Raggi on stage for the next few songs. I always love having her, especially because she has worked with Raggi so many times that she knows a lot of songs, just like Kathia does. He spoke about writing a lot of love songs, because there is always a new angle. Having only one voice does not tell the full story though and therefore he likes writing duets. And I love listening to them. They played the lovely ‘Dozen’ first, followed by the beautiful ‘Minor Scratch’. It still gets to me every time. <3 This time he shared how he sat on the boat in the early morning, looking at the calm river and hearing the birds sing when he tried to capture the mood out came ‘Minor Scratch’.
After the sad love songs it got more upbeat with ‘Bravery’ and ‘Muddy Waters’ and of course we got some travel stories with them, but first he had to ask the word for mosquito in Polish, because they were biting his hands while he was playing guitar. He also told us about learning Polish and how difficult it is. Both songs rocked, even though his stomp box wasn’t working properly. To me it felt like he was much more relaxed after the Meskalina show, but I might have been projecting. 😉
Raggi moved to the piano, telling us how much he enjoyed the venue’s atmosphere. He then played ‘Water’ for us and I had goosebumps. It got even more intense when he followed that with the Icelandic version of ‘Walls’. <3 There were some dogs barking, maybe they felt it too. He spoke about singing in Icelandic and Árstíðir and how hard the name is to pronounce. People wanted to hear another Icelandic song so we got ‘Örlög’. ‘Lalala’ or, as he said that night ‘Nanana’ may not mean anything, but it sure creates a certain mood. It sounded great.
‘Southern Nights’ followed, but this time the choir didn’t work out. People were too shy to sing. Then Julia came back for ‘Petals’ and ‘Message’. About the latter he explained that on a beautiful day he wrote one of his saddest songs, because he thought of an old love. Both were amazing. I never grow tired of the duets and enjoyed them tremendously. What an amazing show this was. For me everything fell into place and I felt it much more than the previous one.
It was already time for the encores and Raggi talked about how we all were trying to remember what concerts should be like. He also said how the weather was shitty in Iceland and he has missed summer. To my surprise, he did not play ‘Rocketman’ this time but Neil Young’s ‘Heart of Gold’ since he has been inspired by him. I really liked it. 🙂 Of course ‘Dragonfly’ was last with Julia and Bartek, once again dressed in a Giraffe onesie. That is always fun!
Quite a few people bought CDs after the show, so I waited my turn for a hug. Bartek organized a ride back to my motel for me with Julia and since they were not leaving immediately I got invited backstage. We had pizza, chatted a bit and the venue owner gifted me tea. Awesome! Neither of us lasted long though, we all needed sleep. So we hugged goodbye, knowing we’d all meet again soon.
Every Brick in Manhattan
Hugsanir (Walls in Icelandic)
Heart of Gold (Neil Young)
First “we are all vaccinated now” Poland tour – 4 gigs down, 15 to go. Next stop: Ostrzeszów