Ragnar Ólafsson – house show, Ełk; June 19th, 2022
In Ełk I managed to see two of Ragnar’s gigs – a live streamed Patreon show and a regular house gig. Both were lots of fun if under the influence of a massive hangover. The venues were amazing though and the atmosphere was just right.
I got to Ełk in good time with a direct train, checked in to my hostel and relaxed. Google showed me the site of the day’s house gig was a 15 minute walk away and the Patreon gig was supposed to take part in the same place so how hard could it be to get there? I left at 5:30 and at 5:45 I was looking for the house, but all the number were wrong. So I asked people and found out Google had sent me to the wrong side of the road. Nobody really knew where th right house was and people kept sending me back and forth. It was six when Marta saved me by texting a picture. <3 Now I only had to go through to the courtyard and up too many stairs. 😉
Once all the way up it turned out the gig was taking place on the roof. :O It was an amazing view and I had only missed the first song. The wonderful Jaga Zawislak was guesting and we got treated to a bunch of great songs accompanied by birds and church bells. It was really special. 😀
After an hour of music in the sunshine we went back inside where the main gig was taking place in the attic below. It was the perfect space for such a concerts with lawn chairs to sit in and enough space on the floor too. The concert was being streamed so anyone could watch. For now though, it was time to take a break, chat with the host and other guests and replenish some water.
A bit after 8 pm a nice crowd had gathered and it was Jaga’s turn to play. She started with a song called ‘One Man Show’ which I found really touching. <3 What a great start. Next was a Seed Holden cover, which I also loved. I should really check out the original. Two Polish songs followed to end her short set. It was wonderful overall. I really enjoyed listening to her music.
One Man Show
Seed Holden cover
Ragnar was up next, without a break. He did the usual introduction in Polish and when asked if anyone spoke Icelandic once person actually did. He still settled for English though and dedicated the first song to his hangover. It was ‘Wine’. Before he started playing, he asked the host to shut off the noisy fan in the room. Nobody ever switched it back on so it got really hot afterwards. Only later in the evening it cooled down.
‘Wine’, however, was great and deserved to be heard without interruption. 🙂 He told us about his love for travel and continued with ‘Deva’. To my surprised ‘A Prayer’ was next. It made m really happy to hear it again. <3 Ragnar told us we needed to know that he was a bad poker played and then admitted it had nothing to do with the songs he was playing. I had no idea wher he was going with it…
He spoke about his many bands and using music to channel his feelings. The two options to deal with emotions were “I drink myself silly or I write music, usually both at the same time.” This lead to the breakup album and democratic love songs. Jaga joined him on stage for ‘Dozen’. 🙂
The Jägermeister was back in the story for ‘Bravery’ as “the drink that has changed my life – for the worse” 😀 He spoke more about travel too and how each place influences the music. It can definitely be heard once you know the songs were written in different place sin the world.
We got a little lesson in Icelandic and ‘Hugsanir’ followed. It touched me as it always does. It’s on of those songs that never get old. We voted to hear another Icelandic song and got ‘Örlög’, lovely sing-along included.
It was time for Mississippi stories wbout John wearing a Captain’s hat and smoking a pipe while Ragnar was drinking rum and writing songs all day. It clearly worked out and ‘Muddy Waters’ was proof of it. We got “The most important song of this trip”, ‘Southern Nights’ next and did not manage that sing-along quite as well. It was still fun.
He talked about learning Polish and how difficult that is. He demonstrated all the different s-sounds that now he can tell apart. 🙂 Jaga added how different these sounds are in Icelandic versus Polish. Then she sang ‘Petals’ and ‘Message’ with him, doing brilliantly on both. <3
Already it was time for the last song in the main set with ‘Dragonfly’ and Marta guested on the glockenspiel. Before we got to hear it, we had to rehearse clapping for the encore though. 😀 Ragnar referred to Dragonfly as one of his “undemocratic love songs”, only justified because it is a happy one and not about a particular person.
Anyway, we demanded an encore and got the murder ballads, singing along to ‘Where the wild Roses grow’ and then watching him walk across the room for ‘Sleep now’. Always a good finale.
We hung out for chats and drink afterwards, changed places to the hosts apartment in the end until the short previous night caught up with me and I said goodbye. Luckily I have two shows to go. 🙂
Where the Wild Roses grow