No Prayers today

Ragnar Ólafsson – Pogonka House gigs, Łódź; August  19th, 2021

The concert in Łódź was full of memories, because it took us back to the beginning of Raggi’s very first Poland tour four years ago. It was a nice evening among nice people with a solid setlist. An enjoyable show throughout.

It was an easy trip to Łódź. I only had to change trains once and on my way to the station in Kępno, the previous night’s host, Matti, picked me up and drove me there. <3 About two hours later, on my way to my hotel, I realized it was the same one I had stayed at four years ago when Raggi started his first ever Poland tour in the same place he was playing tonight.

Some food shopping and rest time later, I was on my way to the apartment where the gig took place, ready to celebrate, because Raggi had just finished his vocals for the next Árstíðir album. Sadly, he was still hangover from the previous night and not in the mood to party at all. It would be a quiet evening. For now, we were all looking forward to the show. I had a good feeling about it.

The apartment is small and I should have opted for a seat on the sofa, but I chose the floor. Big mistake! I didn’t have enough space to stretch my legs so I spent the entire concert in a rather uncomfortable position and had only myself to blame. 😉

Around 8:30 everyone had settled down and Bartek made introductions. It must have been funny, because people were laughing. Raggi stepped up and started with ‘Wine’. There was no space to stand in front of the stage this time so he stood between the two microphones. Somewhere outside, a dog kept barking strangely in tune.

Raggi told us this was the place where he had played his first solo show ever. That was true only if you take “solo” literally, because he had played at last three concerts in Reykjavik with the same material, just with a band (I know because I was there). He played ‘More will come along’ for M., Bartek’s girlfriend, which is a Łódź tradition of sorts. He explained that it contained three instruments: guitar, vocals and silence. It’s one of the songs that always make me happy when he puts them on the setlist. 🙂

He explained that ‘Deva’ the next song is not only the name of his best friend’s daughter, but also of a Hindu goddess of destruction. It was written as a song of hope and still gives me hope every time I hear it. Somehow, at this point I noticed that today’s Christmas lights were wound around a wooden giraffe. Of course, M. loves giraffes. Next he told us how he loves singing with people and invited Kasia on stage to help him on ‘Dozen’. She was nervous, but did well.

Raggi joked that Bartek’s stories, whatever he told us, were all lies ad we should not trust anything he said. 😀 He then told us about his approach to writing songs: “Grab a guitar, buy a plane ticket and go somewhere in the world to write music”. ‘Bravery’ rocked the house  there was even some clap-along going. In Mexico, he wrote ‘Time’, while waiting for their car to be fixed. First we heard the tuning song though, because it requires different tuning. While he did that, he told us about Ravi Shankar, the sitar player invited to London by George Harrison and how people mistook his tuning for the song. When he was done tuning, people clapped too. 😀 I had forgotten how nice ‘Time’ is. It was a good addition to the setlist.

The piano was next and I had to take my feet out of the way for the micstand to be moved. We learned how he wrote the saddest song on a really happy day. It was ‘Water’ of course, such a glorious song. <3 ‘Hugsanir’ followed and was just as beautiful. He asked who knew Árstíðir and there were a few of us in the room. We wanted to sing with him too and did so for ‘Örlög’. I always enjoy that part of the show. *sigh*

Back to the guitar and retuning it for ‘Petals’. Kasia joined him again and mastered it nicely. We heard that she would sing with him again the following day. That brought about stories about the wedding that Bartek dragged him to four years earlier after his first gig in that place. First Raggi told his version, then Bartel added some more, but I still don’t know this part, because he told it in Polish. Now we all knew he played ‘Living on a Prayer’ at a Polish wedding.

A great version of ‘Muddy Waters’ was next, again with audience participation, finger-snapping this time. 🙂 Raggi told us about the ‘Southern Nights’ and played the song for us. With help of Bartek the sing-along went great. Yay! We also heard that Bartek comes up with new nicknames for Raggi all the time. Raggi invented one on the spot which apparently meant something in Polish, because everyone was laughing, but we did not get an explanation.

When we had cheered him back to the stage for an encore and he said he was gonna play a cover someone called for Bon Jovi, but it didn’t happen. Damn! So ‘Rocketman’ it was. Perfectly done too! ‘Dragonfly’ closed the show as every night. It reminded me of how I don’t like fixed last song, because then I always know that the show is over now. 😉 Otherwise it was fun and both Kasia and Bartek were back on stage. We also learned the Polish and Icelandic words for  dragonfly. And Raggi learned to say “five” in Hindi, thanks to a coke commercial.

We hung out for a bit and chatted, but Raggi was tired so after packing the car we said goodbye soon. This was halftime. From tomorrow onwards there will be more concerts behind than ahead.

pictures of this concert


More will come along
Muddy Waters
Southern Nights


First “we are all vaccinated now” Poland tour – 10 gigs down, 9 to go. Next stop: Dłutówek

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