Ragnar Ólafsson – house gig, Rzeszów; August 25th,2021
Raggi’s house gig in Rzeszów was one of those weird shows that felt just a little off to me and I could not tell if it was me projecting or or taking in the mood. The place was nice, the audience was good and it certainly was fun, but at least in the beginning it seemed like hard work and I was happy when it was over. Not a bad show at all though, I am sure everyone else in the room was happy with it.
Traveling started way too early in the morning, but when I arrived in sunny Rzeszów and found a nice cafe for breakfast, I immediately felt better. Took a lovely walk to the apartment I was staying at and even got in some sleep and cooked a meal before going to the gig. After the second nice walk of the day I arrived at the apartment, said hello to the hosts and Kamila. Found a nice seat, poured a glass of wine and waited as the room filled up. I was in a good mood and looking forward to the concert.
Soon the host announced the show and Raggi walked to the stage, wine glass in hand. Fittingly, he started with ‘Wine’ and out of the blue I felt sad. He sounded OK, if a bit lower than usual and I couldn’t figure out where the mood change came from. He mentioned that his voice was tired so he was gonna ease into it, but he also joked a lot. As he started playing ‘SSDD’, someone opened a drink and he joked about how the sound of that fit in and that it had all been rehearsed. The guitar cable was acting up too and making weird distortion noises.
‘Deva’ was next and Raggi’s voice was slowly warming up. He talked about all his different bands and that it was like having many wives… 😀 It lead to talking about duets and inviting Agnieszka on stage to sing ‘Dozen’ with him. Afterwards he talked about his breakup album and how writing love songs is selfish. From there we went to jokes about shitty weather and shitty food in Iceland and hence the need to travel to get different impressions and inspirations. Onwards to traveling Colorado on a motorbike and ‘Bravery’ and how it was influenced by the place he was in when he wrote it.
He talked a lot that evening, I enjoyed the stories. Next stop was New Mexico, where they were among cowboys who “work hard and party hard”. He went to great detail about that adventure, telling us how they handled knives and showed off their guns. From there he joked about Iceland not having guns or police, but gummy bears instead. Channeling Svavar for sure. 😉 Yet among these manly men he found a poet, whose poem ‘Dollar’s Worth’ he turned into a song. It was great to hear the song again. 🙂
Raggi talked about Mexico, Tequila and being stuck in the desert among cacti, where the car broke down. This was “a good time for introspection”. ‘Time’ was the result of it and he played it for us before switching instruments. The glockenspiel was sitting on his chair so he handed it to me to play later. I joked if he trusted me to remember how to. The joke was on me, because I was holding it upside down when I pointed out the notes to play and therefore was wrong. 😀 It was really funny!
He mentioned how he studied literature and once thought his calling in life was writing, but now tells stories through songs and joked about all the places you need to go before you die or after you die (Walhalla). ‘Water’, ‘Hugsanir’ and ‘Örlög’ were perfect, including a really nice sing-along. <3
It was a really funny gig overall and the audience was into it too. He invited Agnieszka again for ‘Petals’ and joked about her playing guitar instead of him. Then he went off on a tangent about learning Polish, with Kamila butting in about the words she taught him and him repeating some of them. 😀 He mentioned how great it would be to be able to learn languages like on ‘Matrix’ yep, I’d like that too.
He played his unintentional Blues song, ‘Muddy Waters’ next and it was powerful as always. We had arrived at ‘Southern Nights’, traveling down the river and the mantra about the way we wanna go. He told us about dramatic weather and storms they encountered on the way and his imaginary friend Jeff Buckley. For the sing-along he divided us into teams Jon Bongiovi, Joey Tempest and Kermit the frog. When I asked, if we had to sing like Kermit too, he went into ‘Mana Mana’ and we responded. 😀 Then we were renamed to team Mike Patton. However, this sing-along fell apart, because team Patton just stopped singing.
For the encores Raggi asked if we had any cover song requests so I called for Bon Jovi. He didn’t like it so we went back and forth about worse requests than that and how I wasn’t gonna say it, because then he would have to. He was the one who mentioned ‘Jaja Ding Dong’ and then of course had to play it. 😉 People really laughed about it. 😀 Then he played ‘Living on a Prayer’ too, which was great and we got a reprise of ‘Mana Mana’ as well. Nice!
Somewhere along the way I had noticed that two of the stage lamps standing on the floor looked a lot like lit up dildos. It became very obvious when I took a picture where only the top part of said lamp was in the frame. I looked at it and thought “oh, a glowing dick”. 😀 Anyway, the concert was coming to an end. Kamila, or “Rocky Balboa, the giraffe” joined him on stage for ‘Dragonfly’ and this time I didn’t even mess up the Glockenspiel playing. 😀 I enjoyed it too. When he called me to stage for bows it was a bit complicated, because i had the Glockenspiel and two cameras in my lap. 😉
I thought that was it, but he came back for another encore of murder ballads. ‘Where the wild Roses grow’ and ‘Sleep now” were both great. I always love it when they end the show. No walking around the room this time, but it worked just as well standing on stage. 🙂
After the show I chatted with Kamila about unicorn suits and cool T-shirts and told her I had brought the ukulele, because she wants to learn to play. I sat down with Raggi for a while and learned he’d had a sore throat all day. No wonder singing was hard. We talked about the setlist and I mentioned how much I enjoy ‘Örlög’, even though I don’t understand the words and he translated the poem for me. It was so beautiful it drove tears to my eyes. <3 Soon after he said goodbye and retreated. Kamila joined me for a bit and I played uke for her until it was finally bedtime for me too. Goodnight, see you soon!
Southern Nights / ManaMana
Jaja Ding Dong
Livin on a Prayer (Bon Jovi)
Where the wild Roses grow ( Nick Cave & Kylie Minogue)
First “we are all vaccinated now” Poland tour – 16 gigs down, 3 to go. Next stop: Krakow