Film premiere, a-ha convention and more concerts in Norway announced

Photo by Stian Andersen

The official site has announced the world premiere of the documentary film a-ha – The Movie, directed by Thomas Robsahm and Aslaug Holm, which will take place at Colosseum Cinema in Oslo on 26 November 2020. The main auditorium at Colosseum has a capacity of 978 people.

a-ha – The Movie has been in production since 2016, and the filmmakers have followed the band on the road during the Cast In Steel Tour, the MTV Unplugged Tour and the Electric Summer Tour. They have also filmed other events, such as the Savoy concert and signing in Oslo last year.

“We will tell the whole story, from when two 12-year old friends started their first band together in the seventies, on to a-ha’s massive hit Take On Me in 1985, all the way till now where they are still touring the world selling out arenas. It’s a film about strong personalities, creating something unique together, but also about how their internal struggles have made it hard to reach their full potential. And, I must add, it’s a film about one of the most underrated bands in pop history. I want more people to discover their music!”, Thomas Robsahm told nordiskfilmogtvfond.com earlier this year.

He also talked about what the audience can expect from the film in a recent interview with Variety. In addition to Norway, a-ha – The Movie will be distributed in Germany and has been purchased for TV broadcast in a number of European countries, including Sweden, Finland, Belgium and Switzerland.

The film premiere will be followed by two a-ha concerts in Oslo Spektrum on 27 and 28 November, which will mark the end of the Hunting High And Low Tour. There will also be an a-ha convention in Oslo on 28 November, with Robsahm and other guests.

Although the concert in Trondheim on 7 February was supposed to be the only show in Norway on this tour, two additional dates have also been announced today: Nordlandshallen in Bodø on 1 February and DNB Arena in Stavanger on 24 November.

Tickets for the Norwegian concerts and the film premiere will go on sale this week, along with more German dates for next year. Be sure to sign up for the official a-ha mailing list for pre-sale info.

According to a VG article today, the band will play more than 60 shows on the HHAL tour, which means there are still more than 20 shows to be announced. The article says that a-ha will also be returning to South America in 2020.

Additionally, a-ha manager Harald Wiik tells VG that the setup of the HHAL concerts has been changed. The full HHAL album will now be performed first, followed by various other songs after the break. Initially it was the other way around.

Update 15 Oct:
These are the added German dates for 2020:
31 October: Lanxess Arena, Cologne, Germany
02 November: Festhalle, Frankfurt, Germany
03 November: Barclaycard Arena, Hamburg, Germany
05 November: Leipzig Arena, Leipzig, Germany
06 November: Mercedes-Benz Arena, Berlin, Germany

Magne planning solo concert

Promotional photo by Nina Djærff for Drabant Music

Magne’s upcoming solo album White Xmas Lies can now be pre-ordered from Amazon UK (CD / 2LP), Amazon Germany (CD / 2LP), plus Tiger and Platekompaniet in Norway. Release date 25 October in Norway/Germany and 1 November in the UK.

The final album tracklist seems to have a different running order compared to the initital announcement. It also includes an additional song; a cover version of The Kink’s “Father Christmas”. So 17 tracks in total. A selection of pictures of the regular vinyl edition have been posted on Instagram by Magnus Rakeng, who designed the cover together with Magne.

A limited edition of the album on vinyl (200 copies), which includes an exclusive art print, is now sold out. A YouTube video filmed in August 2019 documents the process.

Single cover

The secong single from the album, “The Light We Lost”, was released by Drabant Music on 4 October and can be streamed or downloaded here. There’s also another lyric music video.

In an interview with Dagsavisen (paywall) yesterday, Magne says that the album project started with the title track, which he originally had intended for a-ha.

“The songs were written during a-ha’s Electric Summer tour, and recorded during Christmas. I started out alone, not thinking that it would end up as a double album, but it just kept growing.”

“This is meant to be a melancholic winter album, which will hopefully be uplifting. Some songs are specifically about Christmas, while others are loosely connected to winter.”

According to the interview, Magne will do one exclusive solo concert in connection with the new album. The concert will be held for an audience especially invited by the Norwegian Salvation Army – plus a few lucky fans.

Single cover

“I didn’t intend to portray Christmas as all misery, but to make songs that can include everyone that aren’t as fortunate in life”, Magne says.

“I have an ambition to do the same in other cities later on. Meaning this project won’t come to an end once Christmas is over, but will return next year as well.”

The next and third single from the album seems to be “There Goes Another Year”, which is released in collaboration with the Norwegian Salvation Army on Magne’s birthday, 1 November.

No further details on the solo concert have been announced yet.

Three dates in Los Angeles added

Next year a-ha will return to the US for the first time since 2010, to play three shows at The Wiltern in Los Angeles.

The dates are 25, 26 and 27 September 2020, and will be part of the band’s Hunting High And Low Tour. The Wiltern has a seated capacity of only 1,850 people, so these will be very intimate events.

The Los Angeles shows will be the only US dates next year, but the band is hoping to return for more in 2021.

Tickets are available now from ticketmaster.com.

Book release in Oslo

Morten and Ørjan signing books at Tanum

Ørjan Nilsson’s book Hjemkomst, about Morten’s solo projects from 1993 – 1998, was published on Thursday, 26 September. Ørjan and Morten marked the book release with an hour-long conversation with Audun Vinger at Tanum Karl Johan in Oslo, followed by an extensive signing session.

One of Vinger’s questions was about how it felt for Morten, who is used to being misquoted, to let someone else write about this important period of his life and career:

“I liked Ørjan’s approach to this project. I also liked the fact that he had written the book about Paul, and thought that he could do the same with me. Then both books would have one thing in common, and any differences would appear naturally. That’s important to any book. So we met up and talked, and took it from there. It’s been a lot of work. We had quite a lot of interview sessions, and that was something I pushed for in particular. Because if I’m going to do something like this, I want it to be as thorough as possible. It’s also been vital for me that Ørjan has to write his own parts, and I have to speak my own parts. So whenever I’m quoted in the book, I have often added my own written quotes afterwards to supplement the interview sessions. The rest has been up to Ørjan and the various other people who have been interviewed for the book. Just having it properly organized like this, that’s been important to me”, Morten said.

Dagsavisen’s reviewer Geir Rakvaag has written quite a positive review (paywall) of the book:

“Morten Harket has just turned 60 years old. The new book Hjemkomst provides an interesting look at six of those years, when his life and career took a new turn. (…) Much of the content is detailed info for those with a particular interest in Morten Harket as a musician, about other musicians he has worked with, producers, studios and record labels. (…) But Hjemkomst is just as much about Morten Harket as a person as it is about music. In particular his activism for East-Timor. (…) With this, Ørjan Nilsson has completed solid books about Paul Waaktaar-Savoy and Morten Harket. It’s fair to assume the next one will be about Magne Furuholmen.”

Morgenbladet’s reviewer Ando Woltmann also likes the book (paywall), although he’s not really a fan of Morten’s solo music:

“Nilsson’s book is full of lively interview subjects, often with opposing views, and is a good example of a topic that’s more fun to read about than listen to. Still, Morten Harket remains an enigma in Norwegian pop as he turns 60 – he’s a dreamer we all should be grateful to share this ride through the cosmos together with.”

To promote the book Morten was a guest on the NRK talkshow Lindmo on Friday night. The episode can be viewed here (starts at 19:30).

Ørjan Nilsson also appeared on NRK’s Nyhetsmorgen to talk about the book (starts at 01:49:00), as well as Kulturstripa.

Hjemkomst book launch

Book cover
(Photo by Julian Broad)

Ørjan Nilsson’s new book Hjemkomst – Morten Harket 1993-1998 will be launched with an event at the Tanum Karl Johan bookstore in Oslo on Thursday 26 September, where Ørjan and Morten will talk about the book with music writer Audun Vinger. There will be a signing session afterwards.

Ørjan and Morten will also discuss the book at the literature house in Bergen on Friday 27 September, as part of the Vill Vill Vest music conference.

There will be a number of additional media appearances as well.

Hjemkomst delves deep into the making of Poetenes Evangelium, Wild Seed and Vogts Villa, as well as unreleased projects such as Morten’s 1993 solo album produced by Alan Tarney and his 1998 collaboration with Swedish-Irish drum’n’bass duo Boolaboss.

In addition to extensive interview sessions with Morten, Ørjan Nilsson has talked with a large number of key players from this period, including Håvard Rem, Ole Sverre Olsen and Kjetil Bjerkestrand.

The book also goes into detail about Morten’s work to shed light on the conflict in East Timor and his passion for renewable energy solutions.

Hjemkomst can be pre-ordered from Norwegian book stores such as Tanum, Norli, Haugenbok and Bokkilden.

Morten turns 60

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday to Morten Harket, who turns 60 today, September 14th!

In connection with his birthday and the new book Hjemkomst, he’s on the cover of VG’s weekend magazine today. Inside there’s a 9-page interview by Stein Østbø, with new pictures by Janne Møller-Hansen.

“How I feel about [turning 60]… It’s an inherent process, the body keeps renewing itself. At the same time there’s a program in our system that controls aging. And that program hasn’t been written by us. I have just asked my body to delay the aging process until I’m a bit wiser”, he jokingly tells VG in the interview.

The interview is also available online here (paywall).

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