Ragnar Ólafsson – Szklarnia, Kościan; October 28th, 2017
My second trip to Poland in one week didn’t go so well. At the train station in Poznan my wallet was stolen (yes, for the second time in as many years) and I only have myself to blame for not being more attentive). Either way, shit happens, I made it to the concert anyway and hearing and seeing Ragnar and Baldvin play made it all better. I had a great night, despite the fact that I had no money and yet no idea how I was gonna make my trip to Iceland Airwaves the coming week. I was among friends and they made me forget which was exactly what I needed.
The main thing for me was making it to Kościan in time for the gig. Everything else would work out somehow. I cancelled my credit card, told my landlord for the night my dilemma and he even drove me to the police to report it and offered to lend me some money. Luckily I had plenty of food and Ragnar had already promised to provide drinks for the night so I was all set. The venue was really surprising – a greenhouse. From Bartek I learned that the owner started having concerts there just for friends and some fun and more people came every time. It was certainly a cool place and I was greeted with big hugs when I arrived and invited to dinner. I had eaten, but still felt like I was starving (telling Ragnar I was “a little bit hungry” was the understatement of the year). I felt much better after that. <3
There were lots of tables and all the seats close to the stage were reserved so I decided to alternate between standing and sitting on the floor in front of the stage. There was another band that night, Yellow Son, and I thought they’d go first, but actually it was Ragnar’s turn. He and Baddi played a short but intense set before leaving the stage to the second act of the night, but I’m getting ahead of myself here…
After a short introduction by the owner and a longer one from Bartek they guys were greeted loudly and warmly when they walked on stage. I took my place in front of it and smiled at them, hoping this would be a good one so I could forget my worries for the night. The audience reminded me a little bit of the one at that manor house back in June, at least in terms of not understanding much English and I feared they might not be the most attentive audience. I was so wrong! As soon as the guys started playing they were totally quiet and really listened. Wow! They stated with ‘SSDD’ and the acoustic ‘Wine’, but my first highlight of the night was ‘War’. I don’t know why Ragnar did it, but he sang much lower than he usually does and it worked very well on the song. I loved it!
This night’s singer was someone who had joined him before back in June, I believe it was in Myslovice. Her name is Natalia and she did a great job on Dozen. She was there with her parents and brother, who watched with pride. 🙂 On this song he sang rather low as well – perfect. He always sings it in a way to compliment the voice and range of whoever sings the song with him. <3 ‘A Prayer’ was the perfect contrast after the duet. Powerful singing and powerful guitars. It has been one of my favorite songs from the first time I’ve heard it and I still cannot get enough.
There were not as many stories as usual, since he thought he might not be understood, but he spoke a few introductory words to the songs nonetheless. Just playing works just as well for me. I loved the setlist and I loved the audience reaction too, cheering in just the right places. ‘Bravery’ was amazing as always and Natalia nailed ‘Petals’ after that. Hearing someone sing really well sometimes makes me wish I could do that, but I cannot carry a tune for the life of me. Singing along is the best I can do. Oh well, at least I do it from the heart, always hoping nobody listens too closely. 😉
‘Scar’ and ‘Needle and Thread’ ended the set much too soon. I loved both, but I hadn’t had enough yet. Luckily, the rest of the audience felt the same and we asked for more. We got the two murder ballads, Nick Cave’s ‘Where the wild Roses grow’ and Ask the Slave’s ‘Sleep now’. I loved both, but had sure hoped for more. Oh well, it was time for Ragnar to leave the stage to Yellow Snow and time for me to go and hug him.
We sat side stage, together with P., who seemed to be a friend of Bartek. She brought vodka so there was lots of drinking. Yellow Snow where pretty good, played well and rocked the house for about an hour. I enjoyed watching them and just hanging out. After they were done there was a jam session with different player. Ragnar had told me before the show that it was dedicated to Club 27 ad he’d perform a Doors song. He had counted on using a keyboard, but that was taken down after Yellow Snow finished playing so he had to figure out something else, claiming he was too drunk to play guitar.
That did not matter though as there were already two guitar players on stage among others. He joined them for The Doors’ ‘People are strange’ and Jimi Hendrix’ ‘Hey Joe’ then traded vocals with a female singer on Nivana’s ‘Smells like teen spirit’. He got really into it too so when he walked off the stage I joked “Who is that drunk Icelander thinking he is Kurt Cobain”? Afterwards he watched and I told him “I have the feeling you are not done yet”. He did not deny and the moment I choose to take a bathroom break he was back on stage. I don’t remember that first song, because I only caught half of it, but after it was Jimi Hendrix’ ‘Foxy Lady’ (“I have never sung that song, but I know it”) and finally The Doors’ ‘Riders on the Storm” for which he called his “Dragon slayer / Sidekick” Baddi to the stage. It was awesome! People were dancing and pogoing too. This was exactly what I needed!
Some more people performed before the whole thing wound down past midnight and it was time to say goodbye. I did not want the night to end, because I did not want to be alone with my thoughts, knowing they would hit me hard as soon as I was back at my hotel. Thus I dragged it on and hugged Ragnar many times before I finally left. Luckily I was too tired to think when I finally got home, grateful for the distraction I’d had. <3
Needle and Thread
Where the wild Roses grow (Nick Cave cover)