Ragnar Ólafsson – Songwriter Festival, Sopot; June 20th, 2022
While so far, the weather gods had been kind to the tour, they did not feel like supporting us in Sopot and Ragnar’s open air concert at the Songwriter Festival took place in the rain. strangely enough, it was brilliant, despite many of us having to sit under our umbrellas for most of it. The tiny stage, that even contained a piano, the lawn chairs we sat in under the roof of large trees and the audience that toughed it all out, created a special atmosphere. “I’m glad you were here for this,” Raggi said after the show and I could only agree. Sometimes there is beauty where you least expect it.
My trip from Ełk started way too early and despite having a hostel right at the train station, I did nit get enough sleep. I tried to remedy it with naps on the train and felt a little better by the time I arrived in Sopot. Spent some time blogging in a café until check in, because it was already raining and that didn’t increase my desire to explore. The weather forecast did not look promising at so I stayed at my hostel until it was time to go.
Arrived at the venue around 7 pm and heard the piano long before I could see the lovely small stage. It had a roof and the lawn chairs in front of it were set up underneath some trees, so we were at least partly protected from the rain. Ragnar was rehearsing piano songs and asked me what to play so I made some suggestions. Jaga arrived and so did Beata, the second singer for the night. This was going to be interesting. I watched soundcheck, liked the great sound and then settled down to wait for the show. The rain stopped for a while, but it was bloody cold. I was wearing all the layers I had with me and still freezing. luckily I had brought some tea that kept m a little warmer.
They made us wait much longer than I expected or the event page had said it would start, so by the time Jaga Zawislak got on stage, I was cold again. As soon as she started playing, it didn’t matter any more. It sounded amazing. The songs were the same as the previous day, if in different order. this tim she started with the Seed Holden cover, then moved on to ‘One Man Show’ and played the two Polish songs again, one of which also a cover song of a current hit. Her set was beautiful. 🙂
Soon after, it was time for Ragnar to play and when the organizer announced him, even the dog in the audience showed their appreciation by barking. 😉 He introduced himself in polish and promised that one day he’d be able to speak more. As soon as he started playing, the rain set in again. It formed an interesting contrast to the first song, ‘Wine’, which in my head involves a warm and sunny day. It sounded great. 😀
The audience wasn’t huge, but appreciative and some had even heard him play before. We got ‘Deva’ next and I found myself singing along more than I had at the previous gigs. For some reason I had forgotten about it for a while. With ‘Bravery’ we got introduced to the drummer, aka Raggi’s right foot on the stomp box. The rain got heavier, so those of us with umbrellas opened them. As far as I could tell, everyone stayed despite the rain. 🙂 I was tapping along with the rhythm and rally enjoyed the show. Great sound always makes me happy.
He invitd Jaga to the stage who thanked him for the roof over her head. The mini tambourine made an appearance too and they treated us to ‘Dozen’, followed by ‘Message’. Especially the latter was absolutely amazing. I always love it, but this performance was absolutely spot on. <3
Ragnar talked about all his different bands and being a musical chameleon. This lead up to speaking about the Fractures Soundtrack and playing ‘Hugsanir’. It was exceptional that night. There was just something special in the air and each song was performed with just the right amount of energy, feeling and passion. 🙂
Since we were at Icelandic songs, ‘Örlög’ was going to be next. He asked if we wanted to sing with him on the next one and after we affirmed told us to repeat after him and spit out a rather complicated sentence. “That’s what he said!” someone quipped and we all laughed. “Lalala” was simple compared to that and we managed nicely. It’s always special when everyone gets into it and in the end we even sang on our own.
It was time to switch to the piano and after teaching us a few more Icelandic words, he asked if we wanted to hear ‘Water’ in Icelandic or English. The vote was mixed at first, but finally Icelandic won. It was the first time he played it on the piano with Icelandic lyrics and truly special. <3 A wonderful version of ‘Shine’ followed and he told the story about traveling to Mars and how those first astronauts will have to say goodbye to everything they love on earth. It’s a song I can never get enough of and I really felt it that night.
‘Southern Nights’ brought a story about traveling down the Mississippi on a house boat and another sing-along. He did not divide us into groups this time and we did just fine. “That’s the way that we wanna go” is definitely a good motto to have and to sing out loud.
Now it was Beata’s turn to join him on stage. They joked that they got drunk together before singing together. They delivered a truly amazing version of ‘Petals’, that she really made her own. <3 She stayed for ‘Dragonfly’ and I liked the song much better with her additional vocals. Of course Marta was needed to play the glockenspiel. 😉 It was fun!
Ragnar made sure we really wanted an encore and gave us the murder ballads, explaining how he wished he had written ‘Where the wild Roses grow’, because it fascinated him that something so beautiful can be so ugly at the same time. It was a killer version too! Even though it was still raining, he walked around for ‘Sleep now’, making sure to play to everyone. Even without the mic everything sounded great and the rain only added to the creepiness of the song. Perfect show was perfect!
Afterwards a few people bought albums and everyone said how good it had been. Indeed! I’d loved it. The past few nights had caught up to Ragnar and he could not think any more. Thus, we shared hugs, I lt him sign a postcard for a friend and it was tim to pack, say goodbye and get some rest.
Where the wild Roses grow