Beautiful light, great singers and silly heroes

Ragnar Ólafsson – Herba Cafe Sklep, Łódź; June 21st, 2022

The last stop on my mini tour with Ragnar was Łódź, where he played at a cozy little café on the edge of town. It was a full house and a lovely show with an attentive audience that also sang really well. I felt right at home and loved it all. It was the perfect night to end the tour and reconnect with friends.

My trip started early so the first thing I did upon arrival was take a nap. Restored, I ran a few errands and made my way to the venue. It was too far to walk and even with the bus it was a 45 minute trip. I arrived just in time to get a good spot and watch soundcheck. Marta told me they had just gotten there as well. Everything sounded great and I immediately loved the place. To my surprise, A. showed up, having spontaneously decided to come to the gig. 🙂
Magda and Bartek came to see the show as well.

Soon, the owner introduced Ragnar and he walked in from the back, playing ‘Wine’, looking at everyone on the way to the stage. It was a perfect start, making everyone listen. <h told us he wrote ‘deva’ while his legs were dangling over the water in the sunshine and that’s why the intro to the song was sunny. Fitting for a song of hope. 🙂 His voice sounded appropriately fragile during the song and hat fits the content perfectly. ‘A Pryer’ was next, starting softly and going to full power by the end. I loved it. <3

He mentioned that we all looked really nice in the beautiful light streaming in through the windows. it was summer solstice after all. After recommending the green tea with mint that he tried before the show, Ragnar admitted taht he liked the red wine he had now slightly better. 😀 We learned our first Icelandic word of the night, “skál”, with a slight dribble in the end “because that’s what people do in Iceland when they are drunk”

It was time for sad love songs and for the first time in a while he mentioned that it started with a break-up. had anyone in the room ever been heart-broken. Of course we were. For a proper duet he needed support and Ewelina helped him out. She did so wonderfully. 🙂

Ragnar told us he always writes music when traveling and about the song that was written during a motorcycle trip and how you could hear it in the song. He joked that his Polish album might sound like “disco polo” and Bartek quipped “please no”. ‘Bravery’ was fun as always. We learned more words, “takk” and “ras” and he encouraged us to use the three words we now knew at any bar in Reykjavik and see what would happen.

He spoke about the pandemic and being very lucky to get a phone call from a director and getting to write for a TV soundtrack. His explanation of what a montage is was priceless, including Rocky music quotes. ‘Hugsanir’ is the most played song on his Spotify at the moment and rightfully so. It as lovely. <3 We voted for another Icelandic song and even agreed to singing along. He joked about the different ways of singing “lalala”, saying it was “all about the intonation. Like Italian. It’s not the pasta, it’s the sauce” – I cracked up at that point, because it reminded me of Fried Green Tomatoes. Anyway, we sang really well and afterwards he said that he’d like to think that his gransmother was listening and we just sang for her. 🙂

When he started talking about traveling to Mexico afterward and said he was going to play a newer song, I expected something from the – yet unreleased – Mexico album, especially when he mentioned traveling to Tequila, but then he switched to stories about the Mississippi and played ‘Muddy Waters’. Huh? Did he just forget which song he was going to play and change his mind? 😀 Either way, it was great and we cheered loudly. He told us just how huge the Mississippi is and claimed that rivers in Europe are not that wide. A. and I looked at each other and gestured that we thought differently. 😀 It was an interesting story about the dangers of the river and sudden storms that are very dramatic. This all lead to ‘Southern Nights’. With that the audience proved to be truly great singers. He and Marta agreed that it was the best singing audience yet.

Ewelina came back for ‘Petals’, which was wonderful and then stayed for ‘Dragonfly’. Of course, someone needed to play the Glockenspiel and since Bartek had already left, if was Marta. For a moment I had been hoping for the cow costume – maybe next time. 😉 with this, we had reached the end of the set and cheered for an encore. Ragnar gladly obliged and mentioned th murder ballads, explaining what ‘Where the wild Roses grow’ is about “Man meets woman, man brings flowers, they kiss, and at a picknick he kills her with a rock” – yep, summed up well. Someone asked where Kylie was so he replied “I’m a man of many voices” and sang her part during the first verse into Ewelina’s mic. 😀 Of course ‘Sleep now’ as the finale and even in the smallest room, he manages to walk around. 🙂

I thought the show was over and wantd to complain, because it was shorter than the one the day before and this audience deserved better. then, however, after a break and the owner saing something, Raggi was suddenl back on stage and treated us to an extra encore. He played ‘More will come along’ for Magda and then finished with a compltely silly version of ‘Hero’, going into a detailed description of how he imagined Enrique Iglesias writing the “oh yeah” line. It was hilarious. What a great way to end the show! A. joked about ‘Jaja Ding Dong’ and Raggi heard it, but decided that this could not be topped. I agreed, there could not have been a better ending.

Afterwards there were hugs and a few shared stories before they packed and everyone helped carry stuff to he car. Goodbye, see you soon! A. and I stayed behind and went for a long walk around the neighborhood, catching up. Our great talk continued in the car as she drove me home and we must have chattd for over an hour before I finally got out and she went home. It was truly amazing to reconnect on so many levels. <3

Setlist

Wine
Deva
A Prayer
Dozen
Bravery
Hugsanir
Örlög
Muddy Waters
Southern Nights
Petals
Dragonfly

Where the wild Roses grow
Sleep now

More will come along
Hero

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