Pretty lights, murder ballads and helping out

Ragnar Ólafsson – Cechownia, Gliwice; August 27th, 2021

The concert in Gliwice took place at one of the most beautiful venues on this tour so far, creating a relaxed atmosphere that made for a great show. Jaga supported again, brilliantly, the whole tour “crew2 ended up on stage and we all had a blast.

Gliwice was easy to reach so I had a nice morning in Krakow and arrived rather relaxed in the early afternoon. Went for lunch, edited pictures, didn’t take a nap, but should have and eventually made my way to the venue. Said hello to the gang, consisting of Kamila, Ola, Marta, Jaga and Raggi, found a nice seat and passed the time chatting. A. arrived and sat next to me. I also saw a few familiar faces from the previous day’s gig. The venue was gorgeous with small pretty lights everywhere like stars and lawn chairs to sit in.

Can’t even remember when the concert started and it doesn’t really matter. Jaga supported again, with more time and visibly more relaxed than the previous day. It was so good. We got one more song than we did in Krakow and I think I had misunderstood her about the cover and they were all her own. Each one of them was amazing, I loved the lyrics of the English ones and enjoyed the Polish song as well. At the beginning of ‘Rabbit hole’ she had a lyrics blackout and had to start over which was rather sweet. Aside from ‘Holding on and letting go’ I liked ‘Emotional Motion-sickness’ most.

Setlist

“The  Second he arrived”
Holding on and letting go
One Man show
Rabbit Hole
Emotional Motion-sickness
Polish song

The show started with ‘Wine’ and I immediately was happy with how great the sound was – perfect even without a microphone. It is one of those songs that never grow old and this night, it was really powerful. It felt like the great atmosphere of the place was rubbing off and Raggi was determined to make it a great show. He greeted us in Polish, ending with saying “I don’t speak Polish” – everyone laughed. switching to English, he told us he’d been on tour for 18 days now, feeling tired and warmed up at the same time. ‘SSDD’ was next and it really fit. Everyone was so quiet, I loved it.

He did the usual survey of people having seen him before and quite a few hands went up. Then he asked for another round of applause for Jaga and continued with telling us how he writes when he travels. He compared writing music and traveling to piroggi and cabbage going together really well, proclaiming his love for Polish food. 🙂

‘Deva’ was brilliant – some nights I really feel the song and this was one of them. He joked about forming a band with everyone he meets, because he loves making music with people and explained why he writes duets. Thus, Jaga joined him for ‘Dozen’. It was amazing, so amazing in fact that they did not get to finish this song, because people started clapping when it grew quiet and the last “We’ll raise our glass” got lost.

He joked about terrible Icelandic food resulting in sad songs and how travel had changed his songwriting after many years of only writing at home. He spoke of Mexico and how the jungle looked like it did in Avatar with flowers, butterflies and spiders, but also very non romantic monkey that killed the mood by screaming all day. 😀 ‘Palenque’ followed and it was really nice having it back in the set. This time I closed my eyes and let it take me to Mexico.

The next stop on our journey were the mountains of Colorado where Raggi wrote ‘Bravery’ on a mountaintop. He believes he could have written this song this was only in that place. I remembered that at the beginning of the tour we joked about me growing tired of the song by the end of it. Nope, hasn’t happened. Still love it and I have probably heard it at every single one of Raggi’s solo shows that I have seen. 😀 He talked of the time he felt the need to write a blues song and played an awesome version of ‘Muddy Waters’. The song still makes me smile every time. It is so much fun!

Somewhere during this first part I got up and walked around to take a few pictures, because it just looked so nice with all the light and I could not resist. 🙂 At this point of the show Raggi mentioned how amazing the building was that we were in, because it had a lot more than just a concert hall.

Before ‘Water’ he told us about traveling to his Mecca, Nashville and how much inspiration came from that, saying that he wrote his saddest song, but believes it saved his life. Like every night, it was glorious and like every night I could not focus on anything but the haunting piano and his voice. Everything about this song is perfect. Going straight into ‘Hugsanir’ there was not a chance to take a breath and I just let the emotions wash over me. This combination is still the highlight of the show for me every night. Magic happens. <3

We laughed a lot when he told us on what he wanted us to sing for ‘Örlög’, before he explained that musicians sing “lalala” when the forget the lyrics until they remember them again. He also let us in on the secret of sounding Icelandic “just breathe out with every vowel”. 😀 The song was gorgeous and the sing along beautiful. I love it even more since Raggi translated the lyrics for me.His was a good audience, attentive and willing to participate.

We learned that he does believe in happy love, but not in happy love songs, because there is nothing to say. Someone yelled “Jaja Ding Dong” and he didn’t play it, but noted that it was indeed a happy love song, if sexualized. We stuck with sad love songs and Jaga singing ‘Message’ with him. It’s such a masterpiece of a song and it sounded truly amazing. <3 ‘Petals’ followed and was just as perfect. I had noticed the previous night already that she placed some lines in the second verse in a different order, but this new order worked just as well. 🙂 I love how the singers who join him repeatedly get better with every tour.

He explained that a guitar should be tuned, but not perfectly, because great music lies in the twilight zone between perfection and imperfection. The goal should not be for everything to be perfect, but interesting and he declared his love for out of tune pianos. “I’m down to my last song” lead to some asking what “No” is in Icelandic and he replied “nej, but we say everything three times”. We heard the story of ‘Southern Nights’ and then the song. After  the first verse Raggi taught us the sing-along and it went well. In-between he told us about inviting his fans to sing and then divided the room into groups, inviting first Jaga and then Ola and Kamila to stage to lead their respective teams. For team Ragnar he invited Marta and me to the stage too. We all had a blast singing together. Biggest band on tour so far! 😀

We clapped and cheered him back to the stage and I wondered which cover song he would do this time or if he was going to ask for requests. He didn’t, but decided to do the murder ballad double, first of course teaching us a little bit about murder ballads. Someone asked who was going to be Kylie Minogue on ‘Where the wild Roses’ grow and he said he was gonna do both. It worked really well and quite a few people sang along to the chorus. It was a lovely choir. In-between he gave a running commentary on the song too. For ‘Sleep now’ he steppe off the stage and walked around the room while I tried to still film him. 😉

Finally, it was really time for the last song and the first happy love song he wrote, ‘Dragonfly’. He invited Jaga to help and asked me if I wanted to play the glockenspiel. Hell yeah! Kamila, in the giraffe suit got extra fanfare as she walked on stage and was ready to rock! He told everyone when our stage debuts were. We had great fun up there! Sadly, my camera battery gave up halfway through so there is no movie of this band. 😀 After a few final bows it was over. What a great night!

We chatted, I finally got a tour poster (that I had not wanted to carry for the entire tour), drank some of the wine that Raggi and Monika had given me and let him taste it. The night ended with big hugs and a long walk home. It turned out that A. and I were staying at the same hotel so we walked together. One more night!

First “we are all vaccinated now” Poland tour – 18 gigs down, 1 to go. Next stop: Nowa Dęba

Setlist

Wine
SSDD
Deva
Dozen
Palenque
Bravery
Muddy Waters
Water
Hugsanir
Örlög
Message
Petals
Southern Nights

Where the wild Roses grow
Sleep now
Dragonfly

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