Passion is the name of the game

Ragnar Ólafsson – Scena Letnia, Więcbork; August 22nd, 2021

It has been a long time since a concert left me speechless. Last night’s show in Więcbork was one of those and it is not that I have nothing to say about it, but that I am so full of emotion it is just hard to find the right words. How do you describe something that was perfect on every level? Let me try….

So here I was, on the day of seeing Raggi on a stage for the 300th time. I’d been counting down to this one since the beginning of this tour and now that the day had finally arrived I felt a bit nervous about it.

For those of you wanting statistics, here’s how the 300 break down: 200x Árstíðir, 84x solo (including this one), 10x Sólstafir and one each with Pain of Salvation, Ragnar Zolberg, Faith No More Tribute, Sign, different Turns and In Siren – all this took exactly 8 years, 11 months and one day. And there is no-one else I have seen on a stage this often.

Left Zary in the morning and arrived ar Naklo nad Ntecia around 4:30 pm. Now this is not where the concert was, but the closest bigger city with a train station. Więcbork has neither trains nor regular busses. The woman at my hotel’s reception was more than surprised when I asked her to order a taxi to take me to a town 30 k away, but it was the only option I had.

After some relax time, I made to to Więcbork around 7 pm. The stage was located by a lake, which created a beautiful backdrop for the show. When I got there, they did not even have chairs set up yet. Thus, I sat on a bench by a lake and played ukulele for a while. They set up chairs eventually and a group of boys grabbed the ones at the center. Fine with me, I sat a little further to the right with a better perspective of the stage for filming.

Raggi came by to say hello and asked me how I felt. I admitted that I was a bit nervous, but mainly excited. He said he felt a little nervous too and asked me if I wanted to play the glockenspiel on Dragonfly. Sure thing, what could go wrong? I joked that I could only screw it up. 😉 Introductions were made to Agata, the singer for the night and a photographer he knew whose name I can’t remember right now. Right then I decided that I would not take pictures that night and just enjoy the show. Soon it was time for him to get ready and he left.

“Here we go!” I thought as he stepped on stage, the sky and the lake behind him dark blue. I immediately noticed that the lights were great, took a deep breath and the show was on the road. He started with ‘SSDD’ and it sounded amazing. Before the show he had mentioned that the soundguy here was a magician and he was right. Perfect balance. I sang along, hoping my camera would not pick up on it as I was filming. The kids to my left were a bit noisy, but not constantly, so it didn’t bother me. I fell into the music from the beginning and let it carry me.

After the first song Raggi asked the boys nicely to be quiet, then told us about his approach tow travel and writing music. Monika translated to Polish for him and I am sure it helped making a connection with the audience. The first stop on our musical journey was the Mississippi river and ‘Deva’. It was a powerful version of the song and I was already smiling hugely. A few people in the audience had heard his music before and he chose to give us his only blues song, ‘Muddy Waters’. Someone was clapping and I stoped my foot and snapped my fingers in rhythm. It is  such a great song to get the show going and it occurred to me how all the early tour rust had come off now and he was enjoying it just as much as I was. <3

“There’s two things I really love: Playing music for people and playing music with people.” Thus, he introduced Agata to us and she did a perfect job on ‘Dozen’. Every song really sounded perfect that night!

Then came the moment I had been waiting for. Four years ago, when he crowdfunded his first album, Raggi had written a song for me and I’d asked him to play it for me ever since. I had never worked out before so I’d challenged him to play it at my 300th show. And wow, did he deliver. First he told the audience that it was a special evening because I had seen him play more often than anyone else and today with the 300th concerts and he wanted to commemorate it with playing ‘Storm chaser’ for me. The original is on the piano, but he turned it into a brilliant guitar version, just as epic as the original. It could not have been any better. I was close to tears and smiling at the same time. Absolutely stunning performance! <3 As if that wasn’t enough I got a gift from him and Monika too. <3 I was a little wobbly in the knees as I got up to accept it and gave him a big hug.

‘Every Brick in Manhattan’ was next and so much fun. I love the song either way, but not being bothered with my camera made me enjoy it even more. 🙂 After that he asked us if we ever heard an angry love song and some people agreed. He talked about all the love songs on his first album and that the next song was the only angry one and how he was only angry with himself. It was ‘A Prayer’ and it was so so good. He was really playing all of my favorites. *sigh*

Piano time and teaching us “skál”. Monika said “skål” and she joked about her Swedish before we learned a little bit about Nashvlle and its music history. ‘Water’ was one of the best versions I have head on this tour. Every note was right. Then Raggi played ‘Walls’, not the Icelandic version his time. I had almost forgotten how beautiful the English version is. <3 He told us about traveling down the Mississippi and how he had sat next to water when he wrote it so it felt right playing it next to water.

Raggi wanted to play us a song in Icelandic and invited us to sing with him for ‘Örlög’. It was lovely in every way. He sang well and so did the audience. there were not all that many people, but they surely were into it. 🙂 Agata joined him again for ‘Petals’. What can I say? Stunning! She is an amazing singer.

The next song totally surprised me, it was ‘Vegetate’. I grinned the entire way through. Every time I hear it, it takes me back to the video shoot I was lucky enough to attend. I randomly remembered the jazz hands during the chorus and proceeded to do just that. Raggi smiled when he saw it. He mentioned that he was holding the record for having the most bands in Iceland and wanted to play us a metal song next. It as ‘Sleep now’ of course and had not made an appearance on this tour so far. It was awesome and very funny, because he screwed up the end, just seemed to have forgotten the lines. Not that I remembered them, but it really made me laugh. He noted that he saw two people in the audience smiling, because they knew he fucked it up.

For the last song he invited Agata back to the stage to sing and play piano and also called Monika to join him and play bass. ‘Southern Nights’ sounded amazing this way. It is such a versatile song. Of course we sang too and it was lots of fun!

Did we want more? Hell yes we did! I certainly did not want the show to end. He came back and played ‘Rocketman’ for us. Like always it was awesome! For the grand finale with ‘Dragonfly’ he invited ‘Agata, Monika and me to the stage. And you know what? I screwed it up and started playing too early. Nothing can go wrong with glockenspiel, right? 😛 We all had fun anyway. I might have even sung along. 😉 We bowed a few times and it was over. What an amazing show. It does not get any better than this! 😀

Just as the merch sale was finished it started raining on cue. We packed, then stood under a tree talking and listening to Monika’s band Vermona Kids. Great stuff. Monika had tried to call me a taxi, but it proved difficult. In the end, a guy from the local crew asked a friend to drive me. She was lovely, did the whole trip for some money for gas and got me there safely. <3 When she arrived at the venue, I hugged Raggi and Monika one final time and said goodnight Perfect night was perfect! 😀

First “we are all vaccinated now” Poland tour – 13 gigs down, 6 to go. Next stop: Warsaw


Muddy Waters
Chasing the storm (Storm chaser)
Every Brick in Manhattan
A Prayer
Sleep now
Southern Nights

Rocketman (Elton John)

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