Relations, Tom in the house and post show shots

Ragnar Ólafsson – Samorządowy Ośrodek Kultury, Nowa Dęba; August 28th, 2021

Raggi’s last concert of the tour was a solid one with a good setlist, but suffered a bit regarding connecting with the audience. It might have been a language barrier or something else, but the show never fully tool off. I enjoyed it nonetheless, happy to have one more night before having to go home.

Because Nowa Dęba was a bit hard to reach despite having a train station I decided to stay in Tarnobrzeg, from where it would be easier to get home on Sunday. We were far east once again, near the Ukranian border. The day started with a delayed train and me missing the bus I had booked, but luckily they went frequently so I took the next one. I was physically exhausted and found it hard to drag my suitcase along one last time. Should have taken a nap, but was too wired for that. So I went for lunch, hung out and finally left for the train station, slightly worried the train might not arrive in time. It did though and I got to the venue around 7:45. To my delight they had decided to move the open air concert inside so no need for my peysa.

Said hello to Kamila, Raggi, Marta and special guest Tom, whom I had not seen since Árstíðir last played in London. Soon after B. and D., who had held the house gig in Żóltańce, arrived and as promised they had brought a T-shirt for me. Yay!

The evening’s support act was local singer Diana Ciecierska. She had the music pre recorded, but sang live which took some getting used to for me, but I really liked her voice. She sang only cover songs though, mostly by Sasha Sloan.

For the last time, a local host announced Raggi and he stepped on stage, grabbed the guitarlele and stepped right off again to stand close to the front row for ‘Wine’. I was surprised he didn’t go up on one of the chairs. 😉 It was nice having him stand right next to me. I sang along quietly, trying to forget that it would be the last time for a while. The audience was happy when he spoke Polish, but replied “yes” when he asked if they spoke English so he stuk with that.

This early on, people laughed at his jokes a lot, but later I felt a bit of a disconnect there. Not sure why though. We kept looking at each other a lot. Since I was the only person who had dare to sit up front, I was always in his line of sight and hope I managed to be an anchor of sorts. ‘Deva’ was good, but the sound was definitely not as great as the previous day. I sang along and he noticed that I did. It was a night of singing along adn taking few pictures for me. Once in a while I need a break.

A surprise ‘Every Brick in Manhattan’ was next. I had not expected the song to make another appearance and was happy it did. 😀 He pointed out the banner and invited Diana for a democratic love song and they sung ‘Dozen’ together. She said she was really stressed out and excited about it. No need to worry, her voice really worked nicely with his, it was very enjoyable. All the music worked well with the audience that evening, but the stories seemed to fall flat. Maybe they did not understand so much English after all.

We heard stories of travel and how he sometimes surprises himself with the songs he writes while he does, like writing a samba in Mexico. I thought he was going to play ‘Palenque’, but he continued with speaking about motorcycles and Colorado so I knew ‘Bravery’ was next.  For the last time i tapped my foot along with the rhythm, enjoying the power of the song. Then, of course he took us to Mexico with ‘Time’. He asked if people had been to Mexico, but there was not much of a response. The song was heartfelt though and people liked it. 🙂

He taught us some Icelandic and especially the different ways of saying “Já”. Then he sat down at the piano and spoke about camping in lost creek and writing a sad song on a happy day. ‘Water’ was beautiful of course and for the last time I closed my eyes listening, then did the same for ‘Hugsanir’. <3 Afterwards he talked about ‘Fractures’ and the montage where the song is used. I can’t wait until that series appears on TV, hopefully somewhere I can see it.

Raggi surprised me with bringing back ‘Relations’ and when he asked if we’d like to sing with him, someone at least replied “yes”. It was hard that there was rarel any interaction with the audience or any answer to questions. I did my best and nodded at least or replied in some way, but barely anyone else did. People did sing though and it sounded quite nice. We managed the sing-along for ‘Örlög’ as well and I enjoyed doing it.

‘Petals’ was next and Diana managed it well. Again, her voice fit the song really nicely and she said she really liked it. 🙂 The he spoke about sailing down the Mississippi, the house boat and played us ‘Muddy Waters’. I tapped my foot and snapped my fingers along to the song. !t was great. The announcement of the last song brought no reaction other than from me. He talked more about the boat and invited us to sing along again. We did so joyfully and the even the harmony singing sort of worked, even though he did not invite anyone to the stage to help this time.

For the first encore he played ‘Rocketman’ and asked Kamila for the glasses he needed. She did not bring the heart-shaped ones, but cool ones as well and handed them to him. I had not expected to hear the song again. It was fun. Last, but not least was ‘Dragonfly’ with special guest Kamila (in a Breaking Bad meth cooking suit) and his friend Tom from the UK on glockenspiel. Of course Diana helped too and they all enjoyed doing so. With this, the final show of the tour ended and I felt just a little sad.

We took a picture with everyone for the venue, packed up, briefly gathered backstage to get all the stuff from there and went outside to pack the car. I did remind Raggi to pack the banner and he did so hopefully it will make it to Iceland. Before we all said goodbye, I got out the Salmiakki and we did some shots in Tom’s camper van (minus the two drivers, Kamila and Mart, who did not want to drink of course). While Raggi showed off his Polish skills, Tom got out some real licorice to share with everyone. Yummy. Then Raggi realized he had left his phone at the venue. Of course everyone was gone so Kamila had to call the sound guy and he came back. Yay for nice people. We said goodbye, hugged over and over again and finally had to go our separate ways. Tom stayed in his van, Kamila and RAggi were off back to Krakow and Marta drove me back to the apartment I stayed in before continuing towards her parent’s place. It was a beautiful tour and I am happy I got to share it with all of you. Safe travels and see you all next time!

First “we are all vaccinated now” Poland tour – 19 gigs down, none to go. Last stop: home

Setlist

Wine
Deva
Every Brick in Manhattan
Dozen
Bravery
Time
Water
Hugsanir
Relations
Örlög
Petals
Muddy Waters
Southern Nights

Rocketman
Dragonfly

Pretty lights, murder ballads and helping out

Ragnar Ólafsson – Cechownia, Gliwice; August 27th, 2021

The concert in Gliwice took place at one of the most beautiful venues on this tour so far, creating a relaxed atmosphere that made for a great show. Jaga supported again, brilliantly, the whole tour “crew2 ended up on stage and we all had a blast.

Gliwice was easy to reach so I had a nice morning in Krakow and arrived rather relaxed in the early afternoon. Went for lunch, edited pictures, didn’t take a nap, but should have and eventually made my way to the venue. Said hello to the gang, consisting of Kamila, Ola, Marta, Jaga and Raggi, found a nice seat and passed the time chatting. A. arrived and sat next to me. I also saw a few familiar faces from the previous day’s gig. The venue was gorgeous with small pretty lights everywhere like stars and lawn chairs to sit in.

Can’t even remember when the concert started and it doesn’t really matter. Jaga supported again, with more time and visibly more relaxed than the previous day. It was so good. We got one more song than we did in Krakow and I think I had misunderstood her about the cover and they were all her own. Each one of them was amazing, I loved the lyrics of the English ones and enjoyed the Polish song as well. At the beginning of ‘Rabbit hole’ she had a lyrics blackout and had to start over which was rather sweet. Aside from ‘Holding on and letting go’ I liked ‘Emotional Motion-sickness’ most.

Setlist

“The  Second he arrived”
Holding on and letting go
One Man show
Rabbit Hole
Emotional Motion-sickness
Polish song

The show started with ‘Wine’ and I immediately was happy with how great the sound was – perfect even without a microphone. It is one of those songs that never grow old and this night, it was really powerful. It felt like the great atmosphere of the place was rubbing off and Raggi was determined to make it a great show. He greeted us in Polish, ending with saying “I don’t speak Polish” – everyone laughed. switching to English, he told us he’d been on tour for 18 days now, feeling tired and warmed up at the same time. ‘SSDD’ was next and it really fit. Everyone was so quiet, I loved it.

He did the usual survey of people having seen him before and quite a few hands went up. Then he asked for another round of applause for Jaga and continued with telling us how he writes when he travels. He compared writing music and traveling to piroggi and cabbage going together really well, proclaiming his love for Polish food. 🙂

‘Deva’ was brilliant – some nights I really feel the song and this was one of them. He joked about forming a band with everyone he meets, because he loves making music with people and explained why he writes duets. Thus, Jaga joined him for ‘Dozen’. It was amazing, so amazing in fact that they did not get to finish this song, because people started clapping when it grew quiet and the last “We’ll raise our glass” got lost.

He joked about terrible Icelandic food resulting in sad songs and how travel had changed his songwriting after many years of only writing at home. He spoke of Mexico and how the jungle looked like it did in Avatar with flowers, butterflies and spiders, but also very non romantic monkey that killed the mood by screaming all day. 😀 ‘Palenque’ followed and it was really nice having it back in the set. This time I closed my eyes and let it take me to Mexico.

The next stop on our journey were the mountains of Colorado where Raggi wrote ‘Bravery’ on a mountaintop. He believes he could have written this song this was only in that place. I remembered that at the beginning of the tour we joked about me growing tired of the song by the end of it. Nope, hasn’t happened. Still love it and I have probably heard it at every single one of Raggi’s solo shows that I have seen. 😀 He talked of the time he felt the need to write a blues song and played an awesome version of ‘Muddy Waters’. The song still makes me smile every time. It is so much fun!

Somewhere during this first part I got up and walked around to take a few pictures, because it just looked so nice with all the light and I could not resist. 🙂 At this point of the show Raggi mentioned how amazing the building was that we were in, because it had a lot more than just a concert hall.

Before ‘Water’ he told us about traveling to his Mecca, Nashville and how much inspiration came from that, saying that he wrote his saddest song, but believes it saved his life. Like every night, it was glorious and like every night I could not focus on anything but the haunting piano and his voice. Everything about this song is perfect. Going straight into ‘Hugsanir’ there was not a chance to take a breath and I just let the emotions wash over me. This combination is still the highlight of the show for me every night. Magic happens. <3

We laughed a lot when he told us on what he wanted us to sing for ‘Örlög’, before he explained that musicians sing “lalala” when the forget the lyrics until they remember them again. He also let us in on the secret of sounding Icelandic “just breathe out with every vowel”. 😀 The song was gorgeous and the sing along beautiful. I love it even more since Raggi translated the lyrics for me.His was a good audience, attentive and willing to participate.

We learned that he does believe in happy love, but not in happy love songs, because there is nothing to say. Someone yelled “Jaja Ding Dong” and he didn’t play it, but noted that it was indeed a happy love song, if sexualized. We stuck with sad love songs and Jaga singing ‘Message’ with him. It’s such a masterpiece of a song and it sounded truly amazing. <3 ‘Petals’ followed and was just as perfect. I had noticed the previous night already that she placed some lines in the second verse in a different order, but this new order worked just as well. 🙂 I love how the singers who join him repeatedly get better with every tour.

He explained that a guitar should be tuned, but not perfectly, because great music lies in the twilight zone between perfection and imperfection. The goal should not be for everything to be perfect, but interesting and he declared his love for out of tune pianos. “I’m down to my last song” lead to some asking what “No” is in Icelandic and he replied “nej, but we say everything three times”. We heard the story of ‘Southern Nights’ and then the song. After  the first verse Raggi taught us the sing-along and it went well. In-between he told us about inviting his fans to sing and then divided the room into groups, inviting first Jaga and then Ola and Kamila to stage to lead their respective teams. For team Ragnar he invited Marta and me to the stage too. We all had a blast singing together. Biggest band on tour so far! 😀

We clapped and cheered him back to the stage and I wondered which cover song he would do this time or if he was going to ask for requests. He didn’t, but decided to do the murder ballad double, first of course teaching us a little bit about murder ballads. Someone asked who was going to be Kylie Minogue on ‘Where the wild Roses’ grow and he said he was gonna do both. It worked really well and quite a few people sang along to the chorus. It was a lovely choir. In-between he gave a running commentary on the song too. For ‘Sleep now’ he steppe off the stage and walked around the room while I tried to still film him. 😉

Finally, it was really time for the last song and the first happy love song he wrote, ‘Dragonfly’. He invited Jaga to help and asked me if I wanted to play the glockenspiel. Hell yeah! Kamila, in the giraffe suit got extra fanfare as she walked on stage and was ready to rock! He told everyone when our stage debuts were. We had great fun up there! Sadly, my camera battery gave up halfway through so there is no movie of this band. 😀 After a few final bows it was over. What a great night!

We chatted, I finally got a tour poster (that I had not wanted to carry for the entire tour), drank some of the wine that Raggi and Monika had given me and let him taste it. The night ended with big hugs and a long walk home. It turned out that A. and I were staying at the same hotel so we walked together. One more night!

First “we are all vaccinated now” Poland tour – 18 gigs down, 1 to go. Next stop: Nowa Dęba

Setlist

Wine
SSDD
Deva
Dozen
Palenque
Bravery
Muddy Waters
Water
Hugsanir
Örlög
Message
Petals
Southern Nights

Where the wild Roses grow
Sleep now
Dragonfly