Japanese HHAL tour dates added

Five a-ha tour dates in Japan next year were announced today:

10 March 2020: Tokyo Dome City Hall, Tokyo
11 March 2020: Tokyo Dome City Hall, Tokyo
14 March 2020: Civic Hall, Fukuoka
16 March 2020: Festival Hall, Osaka
17 March 2020: NTK Hall, Nagoya

The band has previously toured Japan in 1986, 1987, 1988, 2000, 2009 and 2010.

This follows last week’s announcement that a-ha will also play in Dubai next year, their first ever show in the United Arab Emirates:

11 February 2020: Dubai Opera, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

The total number of shows on the Hunting High and Low Tour has now reached 24, with plenty more dates to be added.

Ticket info for all shows on the official site.

New book about Morten coming in September

Picture by Jakob

A new book about Morten Harket, written by Norwegian journalist Ørjan Nilsson, is set to be published in September 2019.

The book is called Hjemkomst (Morten Harket årene 1993 – 1998) [Homecoming (Morten Harket in the years 1993 – 1998)] and will focus on this particular period of the 1990s, which were Morten’s most busy years in terms of solo projects and political activism.

“I have long wanted to explore what happened to the activist and politically involved Morten Harket – the one who appeared when a-ha took a break and seemingly disappeared again when the band reunited. During those years he was everywhere, he had an entirely different edge than he’s had before or since”, Nilsson told VG in an article yesterday.

“It seems to me that he wants to speak in detail about these years – years that are important for him to shed a light on. He has become extremely involved in the book project and wants the end result to be good. I had envisioned three or four interview rounds, but by now it’s become more like 25.”

Among the other topics covered in the book will be Morten’s unreleased solo album from 1993, which was produced by Alan Tarney. It was eventually abandoned, in favour of Wild Seed. Although Morten has talked about the unreleased album in past interviews and two of the songs were leaked online fifteen years ago – “A Place I Know” and “Sounds of Rain” – the new book goes into more detail about the songs and recording process than ever before. Nilsson was even granted a listening session in Alan Tarney’s studio outside London.

Ørjan Nilsson has previously written Tårer fra en stein [Tears From a Stone] about Paul Waaktaar-Savoy’s life and music, which was published in Norway in 2017 and Germany in 2018.

South African tour dates announced

The first international tour dates of the 2020 tour have been announced today, and they will be in South Africa:

14 February 2020: Green Point A Track, Cape Town
15 February 2020: Marks Park, Johannesburg

This will be the first time a-ha visit the African continent since they played in Senegal in 2006, and their first visit to South Africa since the Memorial Beach tour in 1994, when they did a six-date tour of the country.

Tickets go on sale on Wednesday 26 June at 10am. For more info, visit the website of promoter BreakOut Events.

More tour dates for next year are expected to follow soon, including “areas the band hasn’t visited since their 1986 world tour”, which would mean North America or Australia – or both. According to one report, the HHAL tour will continue until December 2020.

Update: To promote the South African dates, Paul has been interviewed by Texx and the City and radio station KFM 94.5 (audio).

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.

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