Ragnar Ólafsson – house gig, Warsaw; June 3rd, 2022
Seeing Ragnar play at A.’s house in Warsaw was pure joy. He was in top form and played and interesting setlist full of requests that he usually does not play. The audience was lovely too and helped making the evening perfect. I’m sure this on is going to be hard to beat.
My trip to Warsaw was a rather eventful on. Due to some ongoing construction work, trains supposedly did not start in Berlin, but in Frankfurt (Oder). No wanting to risk a too short connection time, I opted for taking a train from Dortmund to Berlin Thursday night and then having a 3 hour wait in Frankfurt. Thus, I did not get nervous when I learned the train was going to take a different route and arrive in Berlin an hour later. Once at the station in Dortmund, they announced a 10 minute delay, due to “repairs on the train”. It became 15 minutes, then 25, 45 and finally 65. At this point they announce, the train would take the normal route after all. Just after the delay time shortened to 58 minutes (Important, because they have to pay back part of the ticket price if it’s an hour or more), the train was canceled altogether. I was upset to say the least and went to the information counter to ask for my options, fully prepared to be told I’d have to take the morning train and hope for the best. Instead, they checked the connections and handed me a taxi voucher all the way to Berlin. I asked once, if they were serious, then I took the voucher and left, before they could change their minds. So I ended up taking a taxi to Berlin Ostbahnhof, arrived 5 minutes after the train was originally scheduled to get there and continued my journey without further trouble. The only bad part was that the taxi was cold and I could not sleep, so the two hour nap before my trip was all I got.
In Warsaw K. picked me up to the train station and we went to the apartment where she was cat-sitting for a tea and some rest. Got myself and energy drink on the way and felt fine by the time we were supposed to leave. We had a nice dinner too and arrived at A.’s place around 6 pm. A handful of guests were already sitting in the garden so we said hello to everyone, greeted Raggi and joined the garden party. Eventually we went inside, took up a place on the couch and watched as the living room filled up.
A. made a few quick announcements about turning off our phones and passing around a hat at the end of the show, then joined K. and me on the couch. Raggi stepped into the room and started the show with ‘Wine’. It was beautiful and the room remained very quiet and attentive throughout. He greeted us, using up all the Polish vocabulary he knew. He expressed being excited about the night because A. made interesting requests for the setlist. He fiddled with the amp for a bit, then decided to play without it, announcing a song he had not played in many years. It was ‘Cannon’ and I really loved it. It had really been forever since I’d last heard it. It was an awesome version too. Afterwards he told the story about the song that happened while “traveling and doing stupid stuff”, saying that his friend wanted him to shoot his riffle and then “the riffle shot me”, i.e. recoiled in his face.
While playing he had figured out the problem with the amp and changed some cables around. Then it worked. 🙂 He joked that every song has a story and sometimes the story was more interesting than the song. He continued with ‘Deva’ and talked about how she had fallen off a cliff and broke most bones in her body. He wrote the song as a spell for quick recovery and it worked. The song always has a special place in my heart and I really loved having it in the set. Afterwards he needed a drink and we had a funny moment because he had misplaced his wine glass.
He explained about writing democratic love songs and how two people fall in love and it takes two people to fuck it up. He invited Magda on stage to help him and they sang ‘Dozen’ together. She was wonderful. ❤️ ‘Bravery’ was up next and we heard more stories about travels with John. This time the infamous Jägermeister made an appearance again. The song never gets old, I always enjoy it.
The next request required a piano, leading to “the dramatic section of the evening”. The story started with “Remember that redneck friend I told you about?” so someone quipped “Do you have any other friends?” which lad to laughter before w got the serious story about Raggi’s accident in Lost Creek, falling off a cliff and how he had written a song about it before it happened. It was a gorgeous performance that left everyone in stunned silence for a moment. ❤️ Raggi’s singing was really powerful that day so every song sounded amazing.
Afterwards he decided that another piano song would be too much at this point and switched back to the guitar for “the section about forgiveness’. “To lighten the mood’ K. quipped. 😀 He wanted to premiere a song called ‘Bygones’ about forgiving yourself and explained how it makes your life when you learn to forgive yourself. The live premiere went well, it was a brilliant song. He asked me if I had heard it before and I knew he had played it at one of the Patreon concerts, but only once as far as I could recall. Next up was ‘Forgiveness’ on of the m.i.s.s. B-Sides. Also a good one. 🙂
While we were on songs written while going down the river, ‘Muddy Waters’ had to come out. He explained how being in the US and especially on the river makes you write differently. It was fun and broke the sadder mood from before. 🙂 A brief survey confirmed that we wanted to hear something in Icelandic and having to sing along did not scare us off either. Raggi explained about singing “nanana”, not to be confused with “manamana”. 😀 W managd the sin along well and ‘Örlög’ sounded fantastic on guitar.
He asked Magda back to the stage for ‘Petals’ and she did a wonderful job on that song too. In the end, Raggi even incorporated a reference to ‘Hallujah’.❤️ We got another opportunity to sing along with ‘Southern Nights’, the last song before the encore. Raggi told us the story of the song, then had to tune his guitar before he started. Singing along was fun and K. and I managed to keep with our part throughout. The song always works well to bring everyone together and hype up the audience to ask for more. We did so with loud cheers.
Once back on stag it was time to play a silly request for J., A.’s husband. Of course it was ‘Jaja ding dong’ and Raggi joked that it should be Icelandic law that this is a request that can never be denied. The song is so bad that it’s almost good. It certainly works. 😀 Then it was time to get serious again and Raggi returned to the piano for ‘Shine’. Before he played it, he told us the story of how it came about after after a deadly accident in the family of his ex-girlfriend and feeling helpless about it. It was a truly powerful version. ❤️
Deciding to do one more he asked us (the crazy couch) for ideas. K. suggested ‘Vegetate’ and he took a few moments to figure out the chords again. He could not remember all the lyrics, but it as still great and brought some comic relief after the darkness of ‘Shine’.
There was nothing left to play but the “murder ballad routine” and he did, including explaining murder ballads and being both, Nick and Kylie, on ‘Where the wild Roses grow’. We sang along too and then ‘Sleep now’ ended the concert. Perfect show was perfect.
Jaja Ding Dong
Where the wild Roses Grow
There was a long after party, talking and drinking wine and having some great food. At some point, when most guests had already left, J. even brought out the home-brewed wine. It was a bit sweet for my liking, but really good. Before we left, Raggi read us two chapters out of his book about recording music in the Faroe Islands and everything related to it. It was 2:30 when K. and I headed home. Such a great night!