Ragnar Ólafsson – Dwór na Wichrowym Wzgórzu, Przybysławice; June 9th, 2017
When I first looked up Przybysławice on a map, I thought it was just on the outskirts of Kraków. I could not have been more wrong. Turns out, there are several towns by this name and I had to go look for the venue to find the correct one. The name, as K. told me translates to “the mansion on a wuthering height” and I have to say it is a beautiful mansion indeed. It does not feel the least bit haunted though. I knew it would be difficult to get to, but it was worth it. I don’t think I’ve ever stayed at a manor house before and I got a nice concert there to boot. 🙂
I had an early start in Kraków and the trip went smoothly until I reached Klimonów, the closest town with a bus stop. From there, the manager of the manor had promised to pick me up and I recruited a few kids at a kebap place to help me call him. They did and he promised to come, but did not show up for 45 minutes. Finally, the kids said they had a car and offered me a ride. Wow. That was really nice. I was prepared to walk, but 3 km with luggage in 28degree heat would have been quite a challenge. The house was lovely wth a nice garden and lots of attention to detail in the decorations. I had food and then lounged in the sunshine until it got to warm for me. It was wonderfully relaxing.
The concert did not start until 9 pm and this time there would not be another singer, so no duets. I wondered what the setlist was going to be like. During soundcheck I got a little glimpse of it as Ragnar was joined by a local musician on the harmonica for ‘Bravery’. It sounded great. Eventually I found myself a nice place at the front and listened to the house band play. They were good, playing Polish songs, always accompanied by a group of women at the center table who sang along beautifully. I listened while editing pictures from the previous days.
Around 9 it was time for the concert I’d come here for. Ragnar greeted us in Polish – that was a first. People loved it! The venue was a tent of sorts attached to the side of the house, so it was almost an open air concert. The sound was really good though, whereas the lights were shitty. Whoever thought red lights were a good idea? ‘More will come along’ ended with laughter because just as it ended a kettle in the background was releasing steam so he claimed it was all rehearsed. 😉
Magda, who had taken over for Bartek for two days, had to translate all the stories that night so those people who did not know English so well would have a chance to understand. He said he was gonna play us a “shitload of love songs”, but Magda refused translating the “shit” part, saying it didn’t fit with love songs. 😀 After ‘Wine’ I learned that “Takk” means “yes” in Polish. I had not figured that one out yet, so the concerts are widening my vocabulary.
Since there was nobody to sing the duets with, ‘War’ was followed by ‘SSDD’ this time and Ragnar asked Darek (sp?) on stage to accompany him on the harmonica. He also told us that he would ask people to close their eyes and imagine a beautiful green landscape during the song, but there was no need of it here, because said landscape was just outside the window. Darek did an amazing job. It was perfect! I’m not gonna claim I was sad that the song was dropped from the setlist until then, but that night I thoroughly enjoyed it. The harmonica was like an echo to the words, intensifying the song, transforming it into something new.
When he said he had a surprise for us someone asked “Pizza?” “Sure, I just happen to have one squeezed in my pocket”. Of course he just wanted us to sing along and just as I had expected it worked nicely. People were already warmed up from singing along to the house band and really embraced it. Despite some of it probably lost in translation, people seemed to enjoy the stories. They were appreciative in general if not as quiet as some others. Nobody knew Árstíðir, but they wanted the story and liked ‘The Cannon’. It does fit in well with the other songs. It is a love song after all.
At the beginning of the concert Ragnar had been a bit under the weather, but he got better during it and I doubt anyone knew to begin with. It’s only noticeable in comparison with the other concerts and this was not the first hungover one either 😉 By now he has settled into this so much that he does not need to fins his pace or place any more. He just knows what to do and is no longer nervous. The phase of figuring out how to best do this is over, the flow of the show established. It just works now and it works well. 🙂
“Have you ever been heart broken?” “No! We are happy people”. Later they offered to hook him up with a Polish woman so he could be happy too, especially because he said Polish weddings were so much more fun and interesting than Icelandic ones. 😉 ‘Urges’ seemed especially sad that night so ‘Vegetate’ was much needed, “the only song on the album that’s not super-depressing”. To continue the emotional up and down, ‘Red Wine’ had to follow, “the most depressing song on the album”. He promised to do ‘Always look o the bright Side of Life after’ to lighten the mood and he did. 😀 Some people even whistled along.
As always the set ended with ‘Scar’ and as always we did not have enough yet. Darek was back on stage for ‘Bravery’ and it worked well, but somehow it had been better during soundcheck. He might have played a different harmonica then. With two murder ballads, the evening was over, at least as far as Ragnar’s set was concerned. The house band took over again
We chatted for a while, some people bought CDs, many wanted pictures. It was a lovely night, if really cold (it felt like 20 degrees colder than during daytime). Somehow Magda, Ragnar and myself ended up in the backyard, listening to frogs loudly calling to mate. It sounded very much like and orgy. 😀 tehn it was time for me to get some sleep since I would have an early start the next day. Goodnight!
Urges tour Poland: 11 gigs down, 3 to go. Next stop: Kazimierz Dolny
More will come along
Every Brick in Manhattan
Always look on the bright Side of Life
Where the wild Roses grow