Ragnar Ólafsson – Cafe Bergson, Oświęcim; June 6th, 2017
The concert in Oświęcim was the most powerful one on the tour so far. It was an evening with two special guests and the best singing audience yet. The venue had just the right size and sound as well as lights were perfect. I doubt that it can get any better than this. Ragnar and both of his guests, Weronika and Martin did one hell of a job, leaving me and everyone else in the audience happy.
The trip to Oświęcim was my first one on this tour that happened completely by bus and I was rather nervous about finding the right bus and once on it, the right stop. It all went very smoothly though and I arrived a lot earlier than I had originally intended. My hotel was lovely and the weather perfect for a stroll. However, since I had never been to Oświęcim or Auschwitz before and had enough time, I felt the need to take a look at the darkest chapter of my country’s history and visit the Auschwitz museum. I only did the first part of the tour, since making it back from Birkenau in time would have felt a rushed and this is nothing I wanted to rush. So I took a guided tour of Auschwitz 1 and found it difficult to breath at times. Such unbelievable horrors happened outside and in those old brick buildings that it is hard to wrap my mind around it. The gloomy mood I felt was a harsh contrast to the beautiful sunshine. It was important though and I’m glad I did it.
Had time to relax a bit before walking to the other side of town (it is small, it wasn’t far) to attend the concert. Walked too far and took the long way around, but finally found the café and immediately loved it. The staff was super nice and they had a great selection of tea. Thus, I had Mango Earl Grey and sat out in the sunshine for a while. The served delicious looking cake too, but I had just had dinner. The concert was going to take place in the basement, but we had to wait upstairs until soundcheck was over. I could hear it well though, even outside. Briefly said hello to Bartek and Ragnar before finding my place at the front. Strangely, nobody ever seems to want to sit front row and there is always at least one place left. This time, I had the whole row to myself at first. The venue was bigger than I though and had interesting art on the walls. I needed this to be a good one to lift up my mood and I felt that it would be.
Soon everyone was seated and Ragnar walked on stage, starting right off with ‘More will come along’. The sound was brilliant! <3 Also the lights were nice and made for some good pictures. The audience immediately liked it. It was indeed going to be a good one. 🙂 Between ‘Wine’ and ‘War’ he told us all the Polish words he had learned so far and everyone laughed. I should ask him what they mean. I sure didn’t expect not to understand every word on this tour. 😉 He is nicely settling into a routine of stories and songs now, that has just the right mixture of singing and talking for me. And the stories are still changing so it never gets boring. Not that it would if they didn’t, but it’s much better this way.
For ‘Dozen’ he asked Weronika on stage, who had already supported him the previous day. She is truly amazing, absolutely nailed the singing, the phrasing and didn’t mess up any of the words either. I was once again deeply impressed. She brought her beautiful voice and so much soul to the song that I really felt it. *sigh* The audience went nuts after her performance and rightfully so.
There was a keyboard available so Ragnar switched instruments and had some fun teaching us what to ding along for ‘Relations’. People were a little reluctant when he said he wanted us to sing, but then everyone joined in. This was also the first time nobody screwed it up. Perfect! He said that this must have been the best sing along so far and I agreed.
‘Every Brick in Manhattan’ got a longer introduction this time, not only about wanting to count all the bricks and writing a poem, but also about imagining an old man who told stories for it. I still cannot get enough of this song and I doubt I will hear it again after this tour so I’m enjoying the hell out of it. The story for ‘The Cannon’ got more dramatic yet again and also we learned the name of the woman he is singing about there. Or maybe, he just made it up on the spot. 😉 It was a great rendition of the song for sure.
“So, do you want another heartbreak song or something more upbeat?” Someone immediately answered “both” and he gladly obliged, playing ‘Urges’ and then ‘Vegetate’, giving the backstory to each song first. ‘Urges’ was really beautiful that night, I could feel it. ‘Vegetate’ made me smile again. It is so nicely ironic and it makes me happy how the song has grown on me since I first heard it. Maybe it’s just because I know so well how it is to feel sorry for myself and then laugh at myself because of that. 😉
When moving to the piano again for ‘Red Wine’ he told us not to worry that we would not have to sing again. He introduced it as the last and saddest song on the album. This, too, was a great rendition, probably the best of the tour so far. 🙂 Weronika was back for ‘Petals’ and again absolutely nailed it. What a great talent she is. Especially, because she is only 15 as I learned after the show. WOW <3 We even had a bass in the background,played by her father, Marcin, who did the sound for the show.
‘Scar’ was also amazing that night. Very powerful! Of course we wanted more, clapped and cheered him back to the stage. Ragnar asked Marcin to join him for the first encore and they played a killer version of ‘Bravery’ for us. Just as advertised Marcin is an amazing guitar player. I don’t know how much of his playing was improvised, but it was breathtaking and left me in awe. Another wow! They both had a lot of fun with it too.
That wasn’t enough and we called for more. A guy to my left loved it when Ragnar said he was gonna play us a metal song next. I can never get enough of ‘Sleep now’ either and I love that he’s doing it while walking around in the audience. It was amazing too. Sadly, people believed him when he said it was going to be the last song and did not clap long enough after. I was pretty sure he would have done one more and he confirmed it for me after the show too. Well, all good things must end and the show was one of the best on this tour. 😀
Some people bought CDs and talked, we chatted a bit, then I ended up at a table with A. (the guy who had loved the idea of a metal song) and we had a good conversation about lots of different sings. He had bought ‘the Order Of Things’ and eventually asked the staff to play it so we got to hear some more Ask the Slave with Ragnar singing along for a bit. Outside a thunderstorm was raging so we waited that out with Cider and beer. It was a wonderful evening overall. Thank you, see you tomorrow!
Urges tour Poland: 8 gigs down, 6 to go. Next stop: Kraków
More will come along
Every Brick in Manhattan