Ragnar Ólafsson – Meskalina, Poznań; October 29th, 2021
A bit over two months after the last tour I was back in Poland yet again to see my friend Raggi play and really happy I could see three of the five concerts he played. The first stop was Poznań, where the Meskalina is like Café Rósenberg in Reykjavík – no matter where the location, it always feels like home. The shows there are always great and this was perfect, light hearted fun all evening. I thoroughly enjoyed it and the after party was legendary. 😀
With Poznań being only a 2.5 hour train ride from Berlin the trip was easy for me this time and didn’t involve getting up in the middle of the night for a change. I arrived in the afternoon, checked in, changed and went straight to Meskalina to have dinner before the show. Soon I was greeted by Bartek and then by Bennek the owner of the club, the food was amazing and after they let us in I got a perfect spot. Greeted Raggi with a hug, said hello to Monika, who had sung with him on the last tour and saw a few more familiar faces. I already had a good feeling about it.
The show started with Raggi walking towards the stage from the back playing ‘Meanderings’ on the ukulele. <3 It was awesome! He was all smiles, looking very relaxed. I felt none of the tension of the last show at this place. This was going to be fun. He greeted us in Polish, bantered with the audience and continued with ‘War’. I loved it and he seemed into the grove already.
He asked us if we had seen him play before and how many of us were there in August. It wasn’t many, but he still promised a different setlist. This one was going to be a bit Halloween themed, i.e. including songs about murder for lack of songs about ghosts in his catalogue. Fine with me. 😀 ‘Sleep now’ was the first of said songs and performed perfectly with just the right intensity throughout. It is always a highlight for me.
Monika joined him for ‘Dozen’ and they reminisced about the house show in Obrzycko where they had sung together for the first time, especially about the afterparty of which Raggi claimed to have no recollection. He explained about the democratic love songs and how the banner came about (yes, he had brought it back to Poland!). They sang beautifully and I noticed just how good the sound was that night. Monika stayed for the second song about murder, Ask the Slave’s ‘Catch 33’. We heard the story of John Wayne Gacy who worked as a clown and strangled 33 people. So there might be a reason to be afraid of clowns. 😀 It was great with Monika singing wonderful harmonies. <3 After the second verse, people started clapping along – it worked nicely.
‘Bravery’ was announced as the song he always plays, but still finds ways to explore. Before “starting the engine and seeing where it goes” he asked what bravery means in Polish and learned a new word. As he started playing, the mic stand on his left dropped and Bartek joked that he was doing magic. 😀 Since we were already laughing he played the start of Survivor’s ‘Eye of the Tiger’ and then Bon Jovi’s ‘Living on a Prayer’ just for fun which lead to the story about playing it at a Polish wedding.
Raggi switched to the piano and needed a drink of wine first, telling us how he was hungover because “mixing red wine with vodka was a bad idea”, wishing Bartek had told him. Bartek countered “100 concerts in Poland and you still learn something new”. ‘Red Wine’, “the saddest song I have ever written” followed. I still love it very much. The song after, I loved even more. It was a new Árstíðir song called ‘Endatafl’. What a gorgeous piece of music that was. It’s in Icelandic, so I could not understand, but I felt it. In the end, he even invited us to sing with him – not “Lalala” this time but “ohhhhoooohooo”. There is something very powerful about singing together. <3
He joked about planning to name every song on the first album something wine, but not doing it in the end. There is ‘Wine’ though and he played it for us, unplugged and stepping down onto the first step that leads to the stage. It was amazing how quiet everyone was. Monika returned for ‘Petals’ and did a killer job on it. I loved the power in her voice and how they harmonized.
Raggi spoke about traveling down the Mississippi, how it felt and how much the atmosphere influenced him until he eventually wrote a blues song, never planned to put it on the album and liked the recording so much, it ended up there anyway. It’s always fun and this was no exception. In the end there was a clap along going too. He commented on how much power we held in our hands and how much energy that gave him. It lead to mentioning Patreon and how he asked us to use clapping emojis so it’s not too quiet after the song.
“This is the last song before the encore,” Raggi said and I responded with “awwww”. He laughed so I said “Someone’s gotta do it!” Of course it was ‘Southern Nights’. He explained about the sing-along and asked us to go crazy. Raggi joked that singing is therapy and has kept him sane for years. It does help. 🙂 We did our best, clapping along and everything. It sounded really good too.
There was lots of cheering for the encore and just hearing it, one could have thought the show was sold out. We were loud! He was back soon and talked about the tradition of playing a silly cover and, in case of Meskalina, playing ‘Hero’, but he felt that two months before he had taken it as far as he possibly could, describing the scene of balloons on stage and everything, so he wasn’t gonna do it that night. Instead, he tried something different, but just as silly. “If you know the words, sig along” he spoke and launched into a Polish song. Everyone sang with him. It was really fun and they forgave him for only knowing one verse. I later learned it is called ‘Wehikuł czasu’ by the band Dźem – what a great surprise! 😀 Afterwards he asked people if they actually liked the song and someone told him that it was the true Polish national anthem. 😉
We got one more murder song, ‘Where the wild Roses grow’ and Monika helped him, explaining how this was the first time she was going to sing it and Bartek added they had decided on playing it ten minutes before the doors opened. either way, it was great! Last song of the night was ‘Dragonfly’ of course with Monika on Glockenspiel and Bartek, in his cow costume, on the piano. He even brought a confetti cannon shooting flower petals. Woohoo! A fun end to a good show.
The night, however, was far from over. A group of us gathered at the bar for drinks and stories, talking about all types of things, including the planned birthday gig in January, Àrstíðir’s new album and how different people experience music differently and even clap along differently. We even moved on to another bar later for shots. I left after the first one so I have no idea how long the party lasted, but it sure was fun!
Wehikuł czasu (Dźem cover)
Where the wild Roses grow