a-ha perform 6-song set in Oslo

a-ha on stage in Oslo, June 6th

a-ha performed a 6-song set in Oslo last night, as part of the closing party of the Nor-Shipping Ocean Leadership Conference 2019. They were joined on stage by Karl Oluf Wennerberg on drums, Even Ormestad on bass and Erik Ljunggren on synth. Serving as a preview of the upcoming Hunting High And Low Tour, all the songs were taken from the first album.

Setlist (with video links):
1. The Sun Always Shines on TV
2. Living a Boy’s Adventure Tale
3. The Blue Sky
4. Hunting High and Low
5. Train of Thought
6. Take on Me

This marked the first time “The Blue Sky” had been performed live since 2010, and only the fourth time since the 1980s. “Train of Thought” was the album version, instead of the demo version they did on the Electric Summer tour last year.

Other performers at the outdoor concert included the boys choir Sølvguttene, Sissel Kyrkjebø and Andrea Bocelli. The event was only open for invited guests with a 4-day Conference Pass which cost 4000 kroner ($460). Although the weather forecast had predicted heavy rain in the evening, the rain storm passed over Oslo earlier in the afternoon and there were only a few drops during the concert.

Update: The Nor-Shipping website has a few seconds of official footage from the a-ha performance here (at 2:35) and here (at 1:08).

Maria on Team Morten wins The Voice 2019

Morten and Maria Engås Halsne, preparing for last night’s season finale

Maria Engås Halsne on Team Morten is the winner of The Voice 2019, after two solid performances in the season finale last night.

The 22-year-old medical student was originally on Lene’s Team, but Morten seized the opportunity to “steal” her to his own team during the battle episodes back in April, after Maria had performed “Shallow” together with Oskar Øiestad.

Morten performing “Broken” together with Lene Marlin

Last night’s finale opened with the four mentors performing Isak Danielson’s song “Broken”, followed by each finalist doing one song:

1. Edward Mustad (Team Morten): “October 8” YouTube / TV2.no
2. Steffi Buie (Team Lene): “Kan Du Lære Mæ?” YouTube / TV2.no
3. Maria Engås Halsne (Team Morten): “Go Your Own Way” YouTube / TV2.no
4. Oskar Øiestad (Team Lene): “Kings and Queens” YouTube / TV2.no

The two finalists with the most votes would go on to the so-called “super final”, and it turned out to be Edward and Maria. They both did an additional song to determine who would be the winner:

1. Edward Mustad (Team Morten): “I’m On Fire” YouTube / TV2.no
2. Maria Engås Halsne (Team Morten): “Strong” YouTube / TV2.no

“You have so many qualities, Maria. I decided to bring you further along, and it turns out I was right. This was one of your best performances on The Voice this year”, Morten said after Maria’s version of London Grammar’s “Strong”.

Maria got the most votes from the viewers and is the winner of The Voice 2019. She gets a record contract with Universal Music.

“This is fantastic. It’s difficult to favor one talent over someone else, I’m not able to do that. But I have believed in my whole team and tried to bring out the best in them. And it’s been really fun to be a part of. So congratulations Maria! It’s well deserved”, Morten said after the victory.

Magne talks new exhibition and solo album

Magne in front of one of his artworks at Notodden

Magne was at Notodden yesterday, where members of the press had been invited to see a preview of his new exhibition IGNIS which opens this Saturday, 1 June.

The exhibition is held at Telemarksgalleriet, a gallery situated in a converted industrial hall from the early 1900s.

“This is my first solo exhibition here, and it’s really exciting to have my art on display in a room like this – an industrial cathedral – with such a fascinating inner structure. It affects how we install the exhibition”, Magne told newspaper Varden (paywall).

Exhibition poster

IGNIS features a variety of new graphic prints and ceramic sculptures, including an expansion of the chess-theme he’s been exploring in the last couple of years. A large dadaistic chessboard has 32 randomly placed sculptures – or chess pieces – where each one represents a city around the world.

Magne says he’s been inspired by chess world champion Magnus Carlsen.

“I have, like everyone else, been following Magnus Carlsen. That’s made him become a part of my works, except on this chessboard it’s impossible to understand the rules and who has the upper hand. After all, chess is a game where the pieces fight for positioning, conquest and domination. I have given the pieces city names, and the sculptures have been influenced by my own personal associations with those cities.”

Among the sculptures are “Moscow”, “Los Angeles”, “Aleppo” and “Berlin”, which could be interpreted politically, but Magne insists that the audience make their own associations when viewing them.

“I want my exhibitions to be an exercise for the brain. But perhaps the main thing about this exhibition is the large number of works that haven’t been on display before”, Magne says.

He was also asked briefly about his upcoming Christmas album White Xmas Lies, which was recorded earlier this year and is scheduled to be released in December.

“Yeah, I’m preparing a Christmas album – a grim and miserable Christmas with Magne Furuholmen”, he says with a grin.

“It will be an alternative to all the polished Christmas albums that are being released.”

There was also an NRK TV report about the exhibition, which is available here.

IGNIS can be seen at Telemarksgalleriet from 1 June – 1 September.

Magne will also be exhibiting at Rana Kunstforening in Mo i Rana this summer, from 20 June – 20 August.

The Voice: Semi-final

Morten applauding Maria on The Voice, 24 May

Six talents remained in the contest before the semi-final of The Voice on Friday 24 May, including Maria and Edward on Team Morten.

Here are the live performances from H3 Arena on Friday night:

1. Oskar Øiestad (Team Lene) YouTube / TV2.no
2. Maria Engås Halsne (Team Morten) YouTube / TV2.no
3. Endre Gryting (Team Yosef) YouTube / TV2.no
4. Amanda Rusti (Team Martin) YouTube / TV2.no
5. Steffi Buie (Team Lene) YouTube / TV2.no
6. Edward Mustad (Team Morten) YouTube / TV2.no

“There’s a great musicality in your performance”, Morten told Maria after her version of Sia’s “Bird Set Free”, while he commended Edward on having “an incredible voice” after hearing his take on Madrugada’s “Majesty”.

Ultimately, the two performers who received the fewest votes from the viewers were Endre and Amanda, which means Yosef and Martin are left without any of their talents in next week’s season finale.

Maria and Edward on Team Morten will compete against Oskar and Steffi on Team Lene in the season finale, which airs live on TV2 next Friday, 31 May at 20:00. The winner gets a recording contract with Universal Music.

The Voice: Live show 3

Morten and Yosef on The Voice, 10 May 2019

The fifth season of The Voice continued with the third live show last night.

Here are all the eight performances, with video links to both YouTube and TV2.no (the YouTube clips are blocked in some areas outside of Norway, it seems):

1. Endre Gryting (Team Yosef) YouTube / TV2.no
2. Oskar Øiestad (Team Lene) YouTube / TV2.no
3. Amalie Hamborgstrøm (Team Martin) YouTube / TV2.no
4. Edward Mustad (Team Morten) YouTube TV2.no
5. Amanda Rusti (Team Martin) YouTube / TV2.no
6. Kristoffer Edvardsen (Team Yosef) YouTube / TV2.no
7. Steffi Buie (Team Lene) YouTube / TV2.no
8. Maria Engås Halsne (Team Morten) YouTube / TV2.no

“You have a fantastic tone and range in your voice”, Morten told Edward after his performance, while he described Maria as being “musically very sharp and steady”.

At the end, each mentor was able to choose one of their talents to go through to the semi-final in two weeks.

Morten decided to be tactical in his choice:

“Last Friday three of my talents disappeared from the show. It was brutal for all of us. We were already at a stage where it was very, very even. Today we’re one performance further on, and we’re approaching the craziest part of this show where anything can happen. All of you, Maria, Edward, and the rest of you, have come a long way. You have gained a lot of experience from this, and are definitely all winners. I don’t want to lose any more talents, I want both of you to continue. The only way I can make a choice now, is that I know that the viewers have voted for Edward in the previous two live shows. That’s what I’m counting on this time as well, which means I’m choosing Maria.”

After Morten had chosen Maria, Yosef chose Endre, Lene chose Oskar and Martin chose Amanda.

The last two semi-finalists were decided by viewer votes and turned out to be Edward and Steffi.

So both talents on Team Morten are ready for the semi-final on 24 May. See pictures of all the mentors and their remaining talents on the shows’s official Instagram.

Magne steps down as chairman for Bergen International Festival

Magne was announced as chairman in February 2016

Magne has decided to step down as chairman for Festspillene i Bergen (Bergen International Festival) later this year, Bergens Tidende reports.

Three years ago, the Norwegian Ministry of Culture appointed him chairman for the period 2016 – 2019.

Although he was recently asked to continue for another three-year period, Magne has decided not to continue because other projects – including a-ha – will take up much of his time going forward.

“It was very flattering being asked to continue as chairman, but it’s true that I won’t be running for re-election for the next period”, Magne tells Bergens Tidende.

There was some initial criticism when Magne first got the position, but that has since largely dissipated.

“The work I’ve done as chairman should be up to others to consider, but I feel we have managed to successfully work our way through a period that started out quite turbulently – and we’re delighted that there’s a positive development and increasing enthusiasm for the festival in general”, Magne says.

Bergens Tidende mentions that the success of “Take On Me” being used in a number of big Hollywood movies over the last few years, means that it’s in the cards that a-ha will be shifting their focus to the USA in 2020.

According to a recent Dagbladet article, the upcoming Hunting High and Low Tour has been extended into a world tour, and a-ha will be doing various legs of the tour throughout next year, up until Christmas 2020.

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