Ragnar Ólafsson – Sirkus Føroyar, Tórshavn; February 8th, 2018
I have a thing about seeing my favorite artists playing first concerts anywhere in the world and especially when this takes place somewhere I have never been. Seeing Ragnar Ólafsson play at Sirkus Føyonar was one of these occasions. It was lots of fun, especially because I managed to completely surprise him by showing up. I was rewarded with a lovely evening and two new songs. It was also the perfect cure for the severe case of missing the north I’ve been suffering from lately.
Around Christmas I was out for dinner with my friend B. And her husband M. We were talking about travel and joking about meeting on Faroe Islands one day. I remember saying something along the lines of going there if there were a concert I wanted to see. Less than two months later I am here, spontaneously hopped on a plane and flew in to see my friend Ragnar play. He and his friend Kevin are currently traveling the islands to make an audiobook for Recording Europe and the moment I saw the first pictures on Instagram I was looking for an excuse to go there. When I saw the concert announcement on Facebook I had one – it took me less than a day to go from “if only this was a weekend I’d totally go” to “I’m so doing this!”
Flew via Copenhagen, arrived around noon and was already blown away by the beauty of the landscape before we even landed. On the drive into town I couldn’t stop staring and was glad I’d be here for a few days. Spent the afternoon walking the city, even in the rain and loved it. Arrived at the venue around 8 in time to have dinner and did my best to hide until show time. I lasted about 20 minutes. 😉
There was a lot of time to chat before the show at “Faroese ten” which is about the same as “Icelandic ten” i.e. 22:30. The small space was nicely filled with curious onlookers. I had not listened to the album in a while, so it made me happy to hear all the songs again. 🙂
For the first time in a long time Ragnar played a true solo show, just his voice and a borrowed guitar. It reminded me of the first time he played ‘Urges’ for me at a train station somewhere in Germany. ‘Wine’ was the first song and set the mood from the start. He didn’t say much by way of introduction other than stating his name and asking whether he should speak Icelandic or English. A few people voted for Icelandic so I added “as long as you translate to English once in a while.” In the end, he stuck with English.
Song number two came as a surprise to me, it was ‘Deva’, a song he wrote for his best friend’s daughter. It is still a little rough around the edges, but feels very true to me in the emotion it carries. There is a deep sense of hope in the words , of knowing that hard times only bring us closer together, that resonate deeply with me right now. We also got to hear the story of how and why the song came into being, after the audience agreed they liked storytelling.
‘A Prayer’ was another surprise for me, because I remembered Ragnar telling me he could not get it to work as a solo guitar version. It worked just fine this time. 🙂 ‘More will come along’ made me happy too. I think any song would have, because it was still incredible to me that I had made it there. Several times during the night I caught myself shaking my head because seeing this concert had seemed like an impossible dream just a few days ago. 😀
For ‘Dozen’ Ragnar got the support of Rebekka Petersen, an artist he and Kevin had recorded for Recording Europe a few days earlier. Her voice fit the song wonderfully. <3 ‘The Cannon’ and ‘Bravery’ brought the first set to an end as people had voted for a break.
I was getting mixed vibes from the audience. Two girls in the corner seemed rather bored and reminded me of the constantly talking pair in Myslovice last year. Luckily these two were quiet. The people at the center table and on the stairs were going along thought. Thus I was surprised when they did not come back after the break and felt really sorry for Ragnar. Some people stayed though and they even moved closer so he did make a connection after all. 🙂
The second set was a bit shorter then, starting with ‘SSDD’ and ‘Urges’. I fully expected Ragnar to walk around the room during ‘Sleep now’, but he stayed put this time. He told us he had two more songs before encores, played ‘Scar’ and then a beautiful rendition of ‘Needle and Thread’ with a bit of a background story this time. I really wanted to hear ‘Every Brick in Manhatten’, but somehow it did not feel like the right moment to ask. Much later, when I took a closer look at the picture I had taken of the setlist, I realized it was on there originally and could not help but smile.
The show looked to be over at that point, but then some magic happened and someone asked for the encore that was mentioned earlier. We were treated to another new song called ‘Southern Nights’ that was written as a joke about last summer’s trip down the Mississippi on a boat. It was fun too and a light hearted end to the evening.
I had hoped to chill and share a drink with the guys after, but it was almost midnight already and the bar closed immediately. Thus I said goodbye, hugged both of them and wished them a good time for the rest of their stay. I left with good memories and the knowledge I’d have two more days to explore the Faroe Islands before returning home.
More will come along
Needle and Thread
The night of sharing drinks happened after all, two days later. The guys were recording the CD release concert of Black Metal band Svartmálm and invited me to the gig. Second band that night were Solbrud. It was not my thing, but fun nonetheless and we ended up at Sirkus for some relaxed late night chilling and chit-chat. 😀