Ragnar Ólafsson – Chata M, Dłutówek; August 20th, 2021
The concert at Chata M was one I had been looking forward to since the beginning of the tour. I had good memories of this place. This time around it took place at the barn, not the main house and it proved to be a great location with amazing sound. We got some setlist surprises and an energetic gig overall. It was a fun night.
Pabianice, where I was staying, is only a short train ride from Lodz. Dłutówek then, is some 13 kilometers from there, pretty much in the middle of nowhere. I was supposed to take a bus into the town center and walk the last 2 km, but I spent 15 minutes at the bus stop in the pouring rain (luckily under a roof) and no bus ever showed up. I finally went back to my hotel and took a taxi. With this weather, it was clear that there was not going to be an outside show and that was OK. After the hot summer we had in the first week here, the weather now felt more like early fall and a bit too cold for my liking.
I stayed at the main house, had some tea and some food and played some ukulele. All was nice and quiet. Raggi came by, saying hello and eventually I relocated to the barn, greeting everyone else. We were seated on mats on the floor as well as haystacks which made for great atmosphere. I liked it. I also immediately got cold feet – damn me for not wearing socks.
Bartek made introductions and talked for a long time, while more people kept coming in. The barn was full, I later learned there were 80 guests in total. What a crowd. ‘Wine’ was the first song and sounded amazing. The acoustics in that place were really great, especially considering he sang that song without a microphone or any amplification.
Raggi spoke all the Polish he knew and refrained from the bad words, because there were children present. He continued with ‘SSDD’, a song he had not played at all on this tour yet. To my surprise I really enjoyed it this time. It fit the general mood and is a good song for the start of the concert. He told us he had always wanted to play in a barn because Neil Young had recorded ‘Harvest’ in a barn. He mentioned that ‘SSDD’ was inspired by ‘Harvest’. He asked who’d seen him four years ago and some people raised their hands. I didn’t count, but I’d sure seen a few familiar faces.
‘Deva’ was great and then it was time for love songs in duet form. Kasia, who had helped him sing the day before, was back and less nervous this time. He explained that they were gonna sing about a relationship that had ended and blame each other. That sums it up perfectly. 🙂 Then, feeling like Neil Young, he played ‘Heart of Gold’, harmonica included. The audience wasn’t very reactive when he asked if we liked Neil Young so he joked he was gonna play us all his albums after the show. The song worked really well, it felt like he had found Neil’s spirit in this barn. <3
Raggi explained how every song he writes in Iceland sounds Icelandic and that due to bad weather and bad food all the music from Iceland sounds melancholic or in pain. 😉 Therefore, he goes away from home to write and finds a different sound that way. ‘Bravery’ was powerful as ever. Afterwards he picked up a guitar he had borrowed from the main house, already tuned differently for ‘Time’, written right before the pandemic. He set the scene with telling us about the mechanic in Mexico where they were getting their car fixed. It all sounded great. 🙂
He said he wanted to “sing a few songs on the piano” and when someone repeated it, questioningly, he mused that if he wanted to sing on the piano he might have to lay on top of it for singing, but since it wasn’t his piano, he would not want to try. He did tell us a story about camping in the forest near Nashville instead. ‘Water’ and ‘Hugsanir’ came without a break and were both gorgeous. Only after he talked about the ‘Fractures’ soundtrack.
Continuing with Icelandic, ‘Örlög’ was next and we even wanted to sing with him. It sounded nice. Just as he was going to pick up the guitar again, someone yelled “Play JaJa Ding Dong Song”. His reaction? “I will never forgive you for this, but since it is the Icelandic National Anthem I have to’. Said it, sat down at the piano and played it. The audience even insisted on hearing the second verse as well. People liked it and it was definitely funny. 😀
It was time for Kasia and ‘Petals’, always a highlight. ‘Muddy Waters’ brought us the blues and stories about heading down the Mississippi towards the delta. After, we got a little reprise and some more jokes about ‘Jaja Ding Dong’.Then we were at the end of the set already with ‘Southern Nights’. We “awww”-ed enough and got a good sing-along going too. Having Kasia and Bartek help with the choir sure makes it easier.
He returned for an encore quickly and we had fun with ‘Rocketman’. It really fits the show. At some point, I was sure I saw a dragonfly, but it was too early and did not make another appearance for the song. Maybe I had just imagined it. Either way, ‘Dragonfly’ ended the show with Kasia on glockenspiel, Bartek on the piano and Raggi on his knees playing guitar. Even the fireworks, i.e. the confetti cannon, worked this time after a fail the previous night. Perfect end to a great show.
After show hugs, some talk, good food and songs by the campfire followed. A bunch of people sang in Polish and a nice woman translated the lyrics. 🙂 Eventually it was bedtime and Raggi gave me a lift back to my hotel. <3 Goodnight, see you tomorrow.
Heart of Gold (Neil Young)
Jaja Ding Dong
Rocketman (Elton John)
First “we are all vaccinated now” Poland tour – 11 gigs down, 8 to go. Next stop: Żary