Ragnar Ólafsson – Karrot, Warsaw; August 23rd, 2021
The concert in Warsaw was a lovely show with friends and a few surprises. It was played acoustically throughout with very little amplification and without microphones. The audience was really attentive and everyone had a great time. Truly a night to remember.
After the amazing show the previous night I got very little sleep, not only because I needed time to unwind, but also because I had an early train to catch. I was on the way to Warsaw after all, where I would stay with my friend K. and we both wanted as much time as possible to catch up. Also, we had some “Arts and crafts” planned, but I’ll get to that in a bit.
Train ride was smooth with no changes so I arrived shortly after 11 and we went for a delicious late breakfast before heading to K.’s home. Back at the house gig in Kruszwicka Raggi had said “Ragnar Ólafsson, singer of democratic love songs, I’m gonna have that on a T-Shirt some day” and that had almost immediately sparked an idea of making that into a T-Shirt. Thus, I contacted K. and asked for input. We realized we would not have enough time to make shirts, since the paint needs to dry for quite some time to settle. So my second idea was making a banner instead. K. got the necessary supplies and came up with the design and now we started making it. She did the outlines for all the letters and then we both filled them in with red glitter paint and glow in the dark paint. When that was done, when picked up dinner and I sped up the banner drying with a hair dryer. It looked awesome.
We got to the venue early, said hello to Marta and Kamila and discussed were to put the banner. We settled for putting it over a picture behind the piano and got done before more guests arrived. We saw a few raised eyebrows and questioning looks and wondered how to keep Raggi from seeing it. A. arrived and sat with us, Raggi came out to greet us and we realized he was banner blind. He looked toward the stage several times and did not notice a thing. Thus, we made a bet how many songs it would take him to notice. 😀
When we arrived Kamila had told us the concert would be an acoustic one. Nice. Now she made introductions and it was showtime. He started with ‘Wine’, but before he asked us to close the windows, but the noise he was hearing came from the fan in the back (fan as in electric fan) and when someone pointed it out he joked how some of his fans won’t shut up. Fan turned off, he played for us and it sounded great. The audience was also very quiet. Nice!
K. looked at me and held up one finger when the song was over. 🙂 He plugged in the guitar and asked who had seen him before, then told us about his travels and how everything in a new place from nature to food to people influences his songwriting. ‘Deva’ was next and sounded really nice without mic. His voice was great all evening. 🙂 After the song I held up two fingers to K. This was getting interesting. About ‘Bravery’ he said that he could not have written it anywhere but in this place. He stepped off the stage to play it and tapped his foot on the floor instead of using the stop box. It sounded awesome! Three fingers up. 😉
Raggi called Julia to the stage to sing with him and told us it was the third time this tour they shared the stage. The first song was going to be ‘Dozen’ and he spoke abut duets about lost love and how it had dawned on him recently that writing a love song is an asshole move, because the other person does not get a voice so for him a duet was the most democratic way to tell the story. He concluded “On my tombstone one day it will say my name, Ragnar Ólafsson, writer of democratic love songs.” Then Marta called out “You have your tombstone behind you!” and he turned – the wrong way! So K. and I both were like “the other side”. He finally saw the banner and his reaction was priceless. “WHAT?” Everyone laughed. He asked if I had done it and I indicated K. and myself with her clarifying that it was teamwork. He was like “YOU did that? WOW!” He really loved t and said it was gonna stay on his wall from now on.
‘Dozen’ was great of course and Julia stayed for ‘Minor Scratch’. Always a great combination. <3 He announced ‘Mexico’ as a song with an unoriginal title, but with an essence that celebrates life, also spiritual sibling of ‘Southern Nights’. He spoke about his Patreon a little and how he wrote the song for us Patrons. It was written in the jungles of Southern Mexico and we learned about the one thing that ruins the perfect picture of calm nature: screaming monkeys that live there. The song was perfectly sung. I always love having Julia there, knowing she will do great. They totally did not need microphones at all.
He talked about how Mexico is higher up than people think and visiting the town of Tequila. As he tuned his guitar he also talked about using this as a trick to find new sounds and thus get different ideas. ‘Time’ was the next song and like everything else it sounded great. There was a special magic in the air that night.
Instead of retuning the guitar, he switched to the piano. ‘Water’ was the song K. had really wanted to hear and she pointed out to A. that this was the one she loved. Yes, it is absolutely one of my favorites too. It does not get old, even when he plays it every night and this was a perfect delivery! The magic continued with ‘Hugsanir’ and left me with a happy sigh. He told us about fractures and how he translated the lyrics to ‘Walls’ together with Solveigh to use it in the TV series.
For ‘Örlög’ Raggi asked us to sing with him and joked that we only needed to know three words “umferðar – öng – þveiti”, repeat after me. When people actually repeated it he was surprised and they did it well too. 😀 He explained that it was actually “lalala” and threw in that “la” means “no” in Arabic as Svavar Knútur likes to point out, but has no meaning whatsoever in Icelandic. As he showed us what to sing a car hoked outside and he joked that it was the wrong key. Everyone sang very nicely. 😀
He told us about the boat they were traveling on down the Missisippi, writing a song about it to wish them a safe journey and how he played it every time they stopped somewhere to get supplies. Mid song, Raggi told us how “That’s the way we wanna go” became a mantra for the journey and if hey had to leave this earth chilling on a boat would be the way to go. It lead to another good sing- along, where, thanks to K. I even managed to stick with the part my side of the room was singing. We had fun with this one.
Raggi mentioned he had been on tour for 14 or 15 days and looked at me so I was like “13… or 14 I’m not entirely sure” even though I had said to A. before the gig that it was #14. Momentarily confused I guess. Anyway, he said how he had forgotten how to be a stage performer and that the same goes for us since we have not had any concerts in a long time either. So we were all making progress together. 🙂 Julia joined him for ‘Petals’ and finally ‘Message’. Before ‘Message’ Raggi said that he sometimes wonders if the person he wrote the song about got the message, because he never told her. Both songs were absolutely amazing. I will miss Julia for the rest of the tour. <3
It was time for encores and we heard about his intention to play ‘Rocketman’ and that he got the shades he wears for it from B., who had lend them to him the previous year in Warsaw. He blamed the shades for playing Elton John. It was fun and if he actually did give the glasses back after the show, there might be a different cover song on the setlist tomorrow. I enjoyed hearing it. 😀 He told us that he has written one theme for the ‘Fractures’ TV series right there at Karrot and named it Karrot too.
The final song was ‘Dragonfly’ of course and Raggi had talked Kamila into joining her on stage. The year before, Bartek had his stage debut at the very same place and the song was never the same again. Julia joined them with the glockenspiel and towards the end of the song Bartek appeared out of nowhere in his giraffe suit and with a mini keyboard. It was the perfect surprise ending to the show. 🙂
Afterwards we went and hugged Raggi, told him ow the banner came about and took a picture with it together. He folded it carefully and packed it in his guitar case to use at future concerts. <3 K., A. and I sat around for some time talking and it was lovely. Marta dropped by to say hello, so did Raggi and eventually we hugged everyone goodbye and left. It was a wonderful evening.
Rocketman (Elton John)
First “we are all vaccinated now” Poland tour – 14 gigs down, 5 to go. Next stop: Żółtańce