Ragnar Ólafsson – Scena Fugazi, Warsaw; March 5th 201
My expectations were high for the last show of Ragnar’s Poland tour, not only because it was the last one, but also because it was taking place in Warsaw and the other two concerts there had been brilliant. It was a different venue this time around, so I wasn’t 100% sure if the special magic of Warsaw could be carried over to this new place, but I needn’t have worried. It was as perfect as can be, not only the longest show I saw on this tour, but also one of the best. A good end to a good tour and a last high before returning to real life the next day. It left me feeling happy and grateful.
My train from Puszczykowo was not supposed to leave before noon, but somehow I felt too restless to stay and opted for going to Poznan earlier than originally planned. Spent the extra time having tea before continuing to Warsaw. Was too tired to do anything but rest when I arrived and the hotel as well as the venue were in an industrial area with not much to see. So I relaxed, had some food and went to the venue just in time to hear the end of the soundcheck. Gave a quick hug to Ragnar and sat down with my book until P. arrived. We passed the time talking and just before show start Gosia joined us too.
Right at the beginning we learned that they would be playing two sets and use up all their energy because it was the last gig of the tour so things were looking good for a long show. The audience liked that. After a short introduction, they went right into ‘SSDD’. It still surprised me how much I had grown to like the song over the past concerts. It is generally nice to hear songs in a different version, but this one especially. Ragnar explained how the solo songs are tender and how silence is always a part of them, so they only work when the audience listens and he liked it how people did. He was right, it was rather quiet and the perfect setting for ‘Wine’. I like how I always get a closer look during that song, because he almost always plays right in front of me.
He mentioned how he and David would go back to the studio right after this tour to record songs like the next one, ‘Deva’. If all of the new songs are like the ones I already know it is going to be a great album. This one surely works for me and once again I marveled at David’s violin playing. <3 As a guest Ragnar introduced Dagmara from the band Dagadana with a story about opening for her band and her use of chaos pads for effects, six of them. It sure sounded interesting and since few people actually knew what chaos pads are they needed to be explained first. 😉 The start of the song dissolved into laughter because Dagmara realized she had the wrong lyrics with her so after Ragnar sang “I raise my glass” she answered “and I left my card” and walked off stage to get the right lyrics. 😀 It was still a great version of the song. 🙂
When it’s the last show of a tour I always try to take everything in even more so than I usually to, because I want some extra memories to take home and last me until I see the next concert. Ragnar talked more than he had at the past few gigs, giving a few explanations for the songs. He told us ‘War’ was “a metaphor for the war inside when you’re not doing well”. I loved that he was in a talkative mood and enjoyed watching him and David work. we looked at ach other a lot that night, always with a smile. A few times, I switched places because the light was nice and I wanted to take pictures from different angles. It was one of those nights where I felt every single moment of the concert.
“Do you like stories?” Well, of course we do, especially when the details change and they come alive. It had been a while since I’d heard about the bricks in Manhattan and how it looks a bit like Łódź. Not only was the poem that lead to ‘Every Brick in Manhattan’ written on a beer napkin, but it happened at a bar outside Chelsea hotel. 😉 I fell in love with the song the first time I heard it and here too, the violin makes it even better than it already was. If it does get recorded I hope this is the version that ends up on the album. Before taking a break he asked us how long we’d need to refill our drinks and decided on ten minutes. First it was time for ‘Bravery’ though with a little discussion about different motorcycles. The story still makes me laugh every night and I don’t think I could repeat it in a way that it’s as funny when it’s written. You’re just gonna have to go and see Ragnar play if you wanna hear it. 😛 The song has so much energy, it made me want to hear more right away. It was very powerful that night. <3
We spent the waiting time chatting and it felt longer than ten minutes, but I didn’t bother to check the time, was just happy to see them back on stage after a while. Ragnar asked how many people had hear his music before and there were a few. The started the second set with ‘Walls’, explaining how it was still in the making and they wanted to try it out. This song has been mine from the first moment I’ve heard it and it touches me more deeply every time. I still cannot figure out why, just know that it speaks to me on many levels and this rendition was as good as it gets with a haunting violin and beautiful singing. I sighed when it was over and gave them a thumbs up.
Before ‘Relations’ he explained that the album changed his way of writing music because instead of wanting to write smart and thinking of theories he just wrote what came to him and how he still does not know what the song is about but is moved by it. Those are the best songs. Since nobody answered when being asked if we were OK with singing along, he told us that in Iceland being silent means you agree. I beg to differ here. 😉 Guiding us to the call and response was funny though, because the guys showed us different ways to sing and assured that even mumbling along was OK. This song is another one that grew on me slowly and I like it a lot now. I remember that I thought the ‘oh, oh’ part was a tad too whiney when I first heard it, but it works really well with the sing along part.
The story for ‘Southern Nights’ turned into banter about being in the same room and car and on the same stage together for 15 days now and once they return home they are gonna be in the same studio for a while too. Good thing they get along. 🙂 Getting the audience involved worked nicely and left me smiling. It was a good contrast to the much sadder ‘Urges’ that followed. Compared to the first Poland tour this one feels a lot happier. A lot of water has gone down the river since and it shows. The sadness still has its place, but it is not as all encompassing. It all works for me – I loved that tour and I love this one as well.
Behind Ragnar on the stage there was a gap so they joked about him taking too many steps back and falling off. Luckily that did not happen though and he called Dagmara back for ‘Petals’. She noted that judging from the lyrics he must have “a very serious love life” and he replied that the stronger the love is, the stronger the hurt turns out to be. true that. For me the song is the master piece on the album (and it’s a brilliant album overall). They sang and played a beautiful version of it too. <3
Of course we could not go into the last song ‘Scar’ without hearing about hating Banjos but loving Banjo players, because they are the only ones who know how to handle the instrument. They told us about a photo shoot in the morning too and how cold it was with just their stage clothes on. Suffering for the art. 😉 They put everything into this last song of the set, making good on their promise from the start of the show. It was just amazing and lead to well deserved cheering in the end.
They came back to play ‘Needle and Thread’ for us and joked about unintentionally getting their hands on some new clothes this tour. 😉 We also learned that Polish people know more about partying and drinking than Icelanders and heard the story about the previous year’s Polish wedding where Ragnar sang Bon Jovi’s ‘Livin on a Prayer’. there has got to be a video of hat somewhere. 😛
Inevitably we were down to the final songs and as opposed to the previous day it meant time for murder ballads and the story, really made me laugh because it turned out that David thinks Ragnar talks too much. Considering just how much David talks this was funny. 😉 Anyway, it lead to Ragnar confirming with us that we did want to hear the long version of the story. they decided to play ‘Where the wild Roses grow’ too and we both had the same idea, asking Gosia if she knew the lyrics, after she noted “You should do this with Kylie Minogue”. She was game and joined them on stage. It was fun, especially because she lost her place in the lyrics while checking them on the phone and ended up telling Ragnar to “Be Kylie”. I love it, screwed up or not. 😀 ‘Sleep now’ ended in the audience again and that was just the way it was supposed to be. What a show! the longest ion this tour I saw too.
Even before the concert, Ragnar was visibly exhausted already and I did not blame him for not wanting to go out after. Eventually tour life catches up with all of us. Thus I thanked him, gave him a hug and said goodbye. P. and I remained for a while and talked until I had finished my last drink. The I said goodbye to David and Bartek until the next tour. It was a short night and long train ride home the next day, but total worth it. 🙂
Ragnar Poland/Slovakia tour winter 2018: 7 gigs down, none to go
Every Brick in Manhattan
Needle and Thread
Where the wild Roses grow