Murder stories, hungover voice and an old cat

Ragnar Ólafsson – house concert, Czernica; October 30th, 2021

Raggi’s house show in Czernica was a good show, featuring Monika on bass and introducing Helena Advent as the night’s duet partner. Starting slowly, it soon picked up momentum and turned into an altogether enjoyable evening.

My second concert on this short fall tour of Poland brought me to Wrocław. The concert happened about 20 km outside the city limits and I was happy to stay at the same hotel for two days. Sadly, I had to rebook short notice, but I found one that was in a convenient enough location for both weekend gigs. It was a two hour trip from Poznań during which I nursed my hangover from the great after party the previous night. 😉

Luckily there was some time for me to rest before I needed to leave for the concert. Instead of taking the train, I opted for an Uber to get there more quickly. Arrived a little too early, but was welcomed with open arms and got to see a little bit of the soundcheck. 🙂 Said hello to Monika and Raggi, who was even more hungover than I was. That’s life on tour for you. 😉

Had a nice seat on a comfy sofa and watched everyone else arrive from there. The day’s musical guest was Helena Advent, who already sounded great. Monika had brought her bass too and was going to join the party later. When we had all settled down, Monika made a brief announcement and Raggi grabbed his ukulele, starting with ‘Meanderings’. This stripped-down version of the song works really well and is a great way to begin the show. <3

He continued with an introduction in Polish and when he asked if we spoke Icelandic, someone asked him to say a few words, so he did. When everyone clapped, he told us it was the easiest applause of his life. 😉 Because of the Halloween weekend he promised is a themed show and we learned about murder ballads, with ‘Sleep now’ being the first example. He fucked up the first verse, singing the “bury the hatchet” line twice and smiled at me when he noticed that I noticed. 😀

For the next song Raggi needed his shoes to operate the stomp box and told us a little bit about traveling to write songs and how they are influenced by the places he see, the food he eats and the alcohol he drinks. The introduction lead to ‘Every Brick in Manhattan’, always a winner for me. When the song was over he admitted to being hungover and needing a bit longer to warm up and get into the groove. Thus, he needed more wine and Helena to help him with ‘Dozen’. I really enjoyed her version of it. 🙂

He talked about his many different bands, giving a little intro to Ask the Slave and ‘Catch 33’ “telling the story of 3 different murders”. It worked especially well with his hungover baritone voice. 😀 Afterwards it was time for motorcycles and camping in the Rocky Mountains travel stories and ‘Bravery’. Even the infamous Jägermeister Vanilla made an appearance. When he mentioned how he travels to get inspiration for his music, someone asked when he was going to write an album in Poland and he promised he would one day.

Raggi moved to the piano to play “a song inspired by a good drink” and the “saddest song of them all”. It was ‘Red Wine’ of course. I still love it just as much as I did when I first heard it. ‘Endatafl’ followed, bringing me close to tears. The piano melody is so beautiful and for me it feels even more special, because I cannot understand the words. In the end we all sang along with him, softer and softer until the last note rang out. <3

The host’s cat made an appearance and we learned that she is 15 years old. She also seemed to like my knee and sat on it for a while, later lying down next to me and getting angry when I tried to pick up my phone from beside her. Raggi continued with ‘Wine’, explaining how he’d thought about calling it white wine. I added that he had talked about all the potential wine songs, but he claimed to have no memory. He told us the song was inspired by a hike on the island Hvar. It made me smile that he plugged in his guitar, because he usually unplugs for this song. It still sounded nice.

Before Helena joined him once more, he introduced his banner to us and explained why it said “Singer of democratic love songs”. I was still surprised that he had brought it back to Poland. People really laughed about it, especially when he said it was going to be on his tombstone. Together with Helena he sang a lovely, delicate version of ‘Petals’.

Raggi talked about the Mississippi and played ‘Muddy Waters’. It was fun as always. ‘Southern Nights’ followed as the last song before the encore. Monika joined him, which made it even better. When asking us to sing with him, he told us that emotion is more important than technique so we had no excuse not to sing. Interestingly, the sing along went exceptionally well, because two women to my right perfectly held each note and thus helped me to stick to my part as well. It sounded great. 😀

Needless to say we wanted an encore and he surprised everyone with Dźem’s ‘Wehikuł czasu’. People laughed, but they were also delighted and sang along enthusiastically, helping him out when he forgot the lyrics. It was great fun. 😀 Helena was back for ‘Where the wild Roses grow’ with some people singing along and the grand finale was ‘Dragofly’, where she played the Glockenspiel and Monika joined them on bass. It always works well as the last song. 🙂

I had really enjoyed the evening and was happy to see people buy CDs and come to talk. Overall wasn’t a technically perfect show that night, but a heartfelt one and it perfectly matched my mood. When most people were already gone, we sat and talked for a while, all a bit tired. When Helena offered me a ride back to Wrocław, I took it, really looking forward to a good night’s sleep. We had a nice chat in the car all the way home. 🙂

pictures of this concert


Sleep now
Every Brick in Manhattan
Catch 33
Red Wine
Muddy Waters
Southern Nights

Wehikuł czasu (Dźem cover)
Where the wild Roses grow

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