Ragnar Ólafsson – Dom Kultury, Żary; August 21st, 2021
Raggi’s concert in Żary took place at the park of the local cultural center. It brought an amazing guest singer, an unexpected cover version and many little things to remember. Not everything went according to plan, but in the end everyone enjoyed it.
Getting to Żary was one of the longer trips on this tour and I felt exhausted when I finally arrived. No time for a nap so some caffeine had to do. I was just on my way out to take care of that when I met Raggi and Monika, the new tour manager, who were staying at the same Hotel. There was time for a brief chat and a hug before they needed to go to sound check and I got some food before the gig.
When I arrived at the park, soundceck was still ongoing. I found a seat at the center in front of the stage and took a look around. Behind me, under the canopy, all the tables were filled and people were busy chatting and drinking. I left my proverbial towel in the seat and went back to the hotel for my tripod. When I returned, soundcheck still wasn’t done. Raggi told me later that the previous band had played until 7:15 so they had an hour less than planned. It was loud in general and the guitar was definitely turned up too much when I arrived, but seemed better later. At least from my seat, the sound was OK.
Finally, around 8, everything was ready and after a short break, someone from the venue got up on stage and announced Raggi. He introduced himself in Polish and we learned that he had a translator for the night. She did a great job all evening, translating bit by bit so I’m sure everyone could follow the stores. 🙂
‘SSDD’ started the show and it was definitely too loud for such a delicate song. After a while I got used to it, but the mix was a bit off throughout. At least it drowned out the chatter in the background and I enjoyed the music anyway. He played ‘Wine’ acoustically and people grew more quiet and really listened. 🙂
With the translator, story telling worked well and we got a little intro to ‘Deva’. I really felt the song that night. It was great. He told us how he likes to sing and play with others and invited local singer Oliwia to the stage for the first duet of the night. She sang beautifully on ‘Dozen’ – I loved her voice and her energy.
Raggi told us how he wanted to become a writer when he was younger and how writing songs is just another way of telling stories. Music, travel and stories become intertwined and every song has their own story. ‘Bravery’ was powerful and the sound seemed better at this point than at the beginning. However, throughout the show Raggi asked for the guitar and piano to be turned down in the stage monitors and apparently the soundguy did not listen. He talked about traveling to Mexico while retuning his guitar for ‘Time’. Hearing his description of the Mexican landscape made me want to go there. 🙂 When he started playing he had put the capo in the wrong place and told a joke about musicians always getting locked out of their houses because they lost the key. 😀 I really enjoyed the song this night. Afterwards he mentioned that travel also lets you meet different sides of yourself. Very true.
He switched to the piano for ‘Water’. Just as he started the song there were fireworks going off somewhere which made for a somewhat eerie mood. Bad timing though, they would have fitted much better in the end. 😉 The song was still wonderful and I closed my eyes at time while I listened. ‘Hugsanir’ followed without a break. I absolutely cannot get enough of that combo. <3
Introducing ‘Örlög’ he explained that it means “fate”. People were absolutely willing to sing along and they did so nicely. I loved it. We heard about being invited on a boat trip down the Mississippi and the blues. He told us he tried learning Polish and how he could pick up a little of what the translator was saying. What I picked up is that the name Żary sounds similar to the word for the color grey. ‘Muddy Waters’ alternated nicely between soft and powerful. It was a great version.
Oliwia joined him again for the beautiful ‘Petals’ and he told us how giving two voices to the love songs it made them more democratic. Afterwards they played a killer version of ‘Message’. When he introduced the song she said it was her favorite song. She put all of her heart and soul into it.<3
For the encores, Raggi started with ‘Rocketman’ and asked the soundguy to turn down the volume of the piano in the monitor. It didn’t work apparently, because we got really bad feedback. So much, that Raggi gave up and decided to play something else. He talked more about the Mississippi, how dangerous it is and that Jeff Buckley drowned in it. That gave him the idea to play ‘Hallelujah’. It was amazing, especially when after one verse, Oliwia joined him and sang a verse in Polish too. I cried.
They ended with ‘Southern Nights’ and this time Monika joined him and played bass. It was great. At the beginning of the second verse Raggi momentarily forgt the words and I sang the line to him, but don’t know if he heard it or remembered just then. 😉 The choir in the end, Oliwia came back to help us too. Throwing together a spontaneous band on tour ftw! The show could not have ended any better. 😀
We chatted a little after, I told both Oliwia and Monika how I had enjoyed their participation. One guys came up and offered Raggi a gig in Berlin at a small venue in the future. I hope that works out! eventually we said goodnight. Having a long trip ahead tomorrow we both wanted to get a good rest.
Rocketman (Elton John) – half
Hallelujah (Jeff Buckley version)
First “we are all vaccinated now” Poland tour – 12 gigs down, 7 to go. Next stop: Więcbork