Rooftop, attic and a loud fan

Ragnar Ólafsson – house show, Ełk; June 19th, 2022

In Ełk I managed to see two of Ragnar’s gigs – a live streamed Patreon show and a regular house gig. Both were lots of fun if under the influence of a massive hangover. The venues were amazing though and the atmosphere was just right.

I got to Ełk in good time with a direct train, checked in to my hostel and relaxed. Google showed me the site of the day’s house gig was a 15 minute walk away and the Patreon gig was supposed to take part in the same place so how hard could it be to get there? I left at 5:30 and at 5:45 I was looking for the house, but all the number were wrong. So I asked people and found out Google had sent me to the wrong side of the road. Nobody really knew where th right house was and people kept sending me back and forth. It was six when Marta saved me by texting a picture. <3 Now I only had to go through to the courtyard and up too many stairs. 😉

Once all the way up it turned out the gig was taking place on the roof. :O It was an amazing view and I had only missed the first song. The wonderful Jaga Zawislak was guesting and we got treated to a bunch of great songs accompanied by birds and church bells. It was really special. 😀

After an hour of music in the sunshine we went back inside where the main gig was taking place in the attic below. It was the perfect space for such a concerts with lawn chairs to sit in and enough space on the floor too. The concert was being streamed so anyone could watch. For now though, it was time to take a break, chat with the host and other guests and replenish some water.

A bit after 8 pm a nice crowd had gathered and it was Jaga’s turn to play. She started with a song called ‘One Man Show’ which I found really touching. <3 What a great start. Next was a Seed Holden cover, which I also loved. I should really check out the original. Two Polish songs followed to end her short set. It was wonderful overall. I really enjoyed listening to her music.

Setlist

One Man Show
Seed Holden cover
Polish song
Polish song

Ragnar was up next, without a break. He did the usual introduction in Polish and when asked if anyone spoke Icelandic once person actually did. He still settled for English though and dedicated the first song to his hangover. It was ‘Wine’. Before he started playing, he asked the host to shut off the noisy fan in the room. Nobody ever switched it back on so it got really hot afterwards. Only later in the evening it cooled down.

‘Wine’, however, was great and deserved to be heard without interruption. 🙂 He told us about his love for travel and continued with ‘Deva’. To my surprised ‘A Prayer’ was next. It made m really happy to hear it again. <3 Ragnar told us we needed to know that he was a bad poker played and then admitted it had nothing to do with the songs he was playing. I had no idea wher he was going with it…

He spoke about his many bands and using music to channel his feelings. The two options to deal with emotions were “I drink myself silly or I write music, usually both at the same time.” This lead to the breakup album and democratic love songs. Jaga joined him on stage for ‘Dozen’. 🙂

The Jägermeister was back in the story for ‘Bravery’ as “the drink that has changed my life – for the worse” 😀 He spoke more about travel too and how each place influences the music. It can definitely be heard once you know the songs were written in different place sin the world.

We got a little lesson in Icelandic and ‘Hugsanir’ followed. It touched me as it always does. It’s on of those songs that never get old. We voted to hear another Icelandic song and got ‘Örlög’, lovely sing-along included.

It was time for Mississippi stories wbout John wearing a Captain’s hat and smoking a pipe while Ragnar was drinking rum and writing songs all day. It clearly worked out and ‘Muddy Waters’ was proof of it. We got “The most important song of this trip”, ‘Southern Nights’ next and did not manage that sing-along quite as well. It was still fun.

He talked about learning Polish and how difficult that is. He demonstrated all the different s-sounds that now he can tell apart. 🙂 Jaga added how different these sounds are in Icelandic versus Polish. Then she sang ‘Petals’ and ‘Message’ with him, doing brilliantly on both. <3

Already it was time for the last song in the main set with ‘Dragonfly’ and Marta guested on the glockenspiel. Before we got to hear it, we had to rehearse clapping for the encore though. 😀 Ragnar referred to Dragonfly as one of his “undemocratic love songs”, only justified because it is a happy one and not about a particular person.

Anyway, we demanded an encore and got the murder ballads, singing along to ‘Where the wild Roses grow’ and then watching him walk across the room for ‘Sleep now’. Always a good finale.

We hung out for chats and drink afterwards, changed places to the hosts apartment in the end until the short previous night caught up with me and I said goodbye. Luckily I have two shows to go. 🙂

Setlist

Wine
Deva
A Prayer
Dozen
Bravery
Hugsanir
Örlög
Muddy Waters
Southern Nights
Petals
Message
Dragonfly

Where the Wild Roses grow
Sleep now

Excited ducks, fire on the water and an extra encore

Ragnar Ólafsson – Przystań Wschód, Siemiatycze; June 18th, 2022

Ragnar’s concert in Siemiatycze took place by a lovely lake with dragonflies and ducks among the guests. The atmosphere was beautiful and after a short while he had drawn everyone in an people listened. I loved every moment of it.

My trip took longer than expected, but I still mad it in good time. I had spent the night in Gdansk, because originally Saturday’s concert was supposed to b in Torun, so i had a long way to go. It got a little more complicated when the bus from Warsaw was not running and I had to take the train. The train station for Siemiatycze is almost 9 km outside of the city. wither way, I got there eventually and while I would have loved to take a swim in the lake I spent the remaining time resting and getting ready for the show.

When I arrived, Raggi and Marta were just finishing setting up the stage and demonstrated how good the sound was. They set up directly at the lake, in good view of all the tables at the restaurant/bar. It instantly made me smile and after I had felt tired and a bit queasy all day, it was all better now. I had a good feeling about this. There was still an hour to go, so I git drinks, settles down and read a book while a waited.

Shortly after 8, Raggi stepped on stage, tuned his guitar and started off by breaking a string, just as everyone turned their attention to him. So we waited a moment and excited chatter resumed and I listened to birds singing in the background. Raggi greeted us in Polish, then switched to english and decided to warm up with ‘SSDD’. The soft song made people really listen and showed just how good the sound was. A great start.

The night’s goal was to teach us Icelandic with “skál” being the first word. After a few tries, the audience responded. They were chatty at times, but as soon as a song was playing they mostly listened and whenever somebody was too loud they got immediately shushed by everyone else. 🙂 Raggi was in a good mood and he sounded great too. <3 Behind him, on the water, here was a swimming fire that was fed by a guy from the restaurant from time to time. It created a very lovely atmosphere, especially when it got darker.

‘Deva’, the song about hope was next and made me feel hopeful as always. I exchanged glances with Marta throughout the show as we both tried to capture the mood with pictures. We learned more Icelandic with “takk” and heard about words that sound the same but have different meaning in Icelandic than in Polish. H continued with ‘Ljósaskil’ and it was lovely hearing him sing the song in Iclandic instead of English. It is beautiful in either language and I can almost sing along to both versions too. 😉

Raggi spoke about his travel and also mentioned his plan to write an album in Poland. He tried four time and the first three he kept saying “I’m gonna write a Poland in album” to much laughter. Behind him, on the lake, a few ducks were making a bit of a racket as they were trying to get away. Apparently they did not care for it so much. 😉 He thought they were excited and told them to pre save the album on Spotify. Then we got to hear ‘Bravery’ without any stories about Jägermeister this time. 😀

“Here is a drinking song. There are two types of drinking songs – stupid Irish ones that you fall over to and then there is the more sophisticated, kind of intellectual, soft-hearted one. This is one of those.” It was ‘Wine’ of course and a great version too.

He taught us “vitjanir” and explains that it means having a sixths sense to see ghosts and elves. Now finally I know what it means. Of course he told us about the Tv series (Fractures in English) and played ‘Hugsanir’ for us. *happy sigh* The song always touches me, no matter which language I hear it in. <3 Afterwards he wanted to know if we liked the sound of Icelandic when it’s sung and people affirmed. Therefore he continued with ‘Örlög’ and I could not help but laugh when he asked us to sing and said he’d teach us more Icelandic words. After a slow start, most people sang along and formed a beautiful background choir.

“I wanna play you a song about myself,” Raggi said and launched into ‘Vegetate’. I have no idea if he kept it on the setlist since my last concert, but he certainly remembered the lyrics better this time. 🙂 Staying with the more upbeat songs, we got one from the river, ‘Muddy Waters’. Never mind it’s the only Blues song he has ever written, I am sure glad he did. It is always fun and was absolutely perfect that night. Turning around he checked out the view we got and mused about turning the mic around and singing to the lake instead.

He spoke about this being his solo project and having many different bands and continued with Árstíðir’s ‘Cannon’ – that was certainly unexpected and I absolutely loved it. <3 We got ‘Dragonfly’ next and Raggi introduced it by talking about his pilgrimage to Nashville, Tennessee, where he wrote the song in a forest that was full of huge dragonflies. I had seen some behind him earlier, but of course they were gone now. “And if you’re lucky, you’re gonna have a musical guest”. With that, Marta stepped up and grabbed the glockenspiel to play with him. He introduced her as his “boss” to which she quipped “as in life” before he could say “as in my tour manager”. 😉

Raggi told us about Minnesota and how people there often speak with a Swedish accent. That’s where the Mississippi starts and they started their trip down the river on a house boat. Before they started he wrote ‘Southern Nights’ to cast a spell for a good trip and asked us to sing with him. We did so pretty nicely too. It is always a great song to end the main set with.

We cheered loudly, even the present dog demanded an encore, and after joking about diving into the lake and staying underwater instead of going backstage, h came back with the murder ballad double. ‘Where the wild roses grow’ was lovely and for ‘Sleep now’ he walked into the audience. They really loved it, especially when he sang “I love you” to people.

There were so many cheers that h decided to play one last song and did ‘Always look on the bright side of life’. It was fun and there could not have been a better finale.

The night ended with great food, more drinks, nice chats and on final encore before it was time to say goodnight. It was an amazing evening. See you tomorrow!

Setlist

SSDD
Deva
Ljósaskil
Bravery
Wine
Hugsanir
Örlög
Vegetate
Muddy Waters
Cannon
Dragonfly
Southern Nights

Where the wild Roses Grow
Sleep now

Always look on the bright Side of Life