Archive for September, 2015

a-ha make successfull return to Rock in Rio

Getting a big applause from the Rio audience at the end of the concert

Getting a big applause from the Rio audience at the end of the concert

a-ha made a successfull return to the Rock in Rio festival on Sunday night, playing in front of 90,000 people at the Palco Mundo (World Stage). Although the conditions were difficult, with heavy rain coming down as a-ha entered the stage, they put on a solid performance that thrilled the Rio audience.

Paul rocking out on his Fano ML6 guitar

Paul rocking out on his Fano ML6 guitar

The concert was streamed live online by AOL. If you missed it, the whole show has been uploaded by a fan on Vimeo.

VG’s Stein Østbø, who gave the Buenos Aires concert a 3/6 review, also attended Rock in Rio and was impressed by what he heard this time – giving the concert a 5/6 review:

“Tonight’s concert turned out to be completely different than the rusty viking ship that performed at the tour opening in Buenos Aires on Thursday night. This time they appeared as a revitalized band. (…) Suddenly Morten Harket was more focused and quicker in his movements, instead of the slightly lazy frontman and vocalist we saw in Buenos Aires just a few days earlier. It seems like he’s struggling harder to reach the highest notes, but by all means – he gets there!

Paul Waaktaar-Savoy was a monster on the guitar – hard rocking, brilliantly setting the mood and providing crystal clear riffs. And when Magne Furuholmen finally hits all the right keys on his synth – and we even hear the sound – it couldn’t go much wrong. Add to that an excellent arena sound with lots of oomph! in the basslines, you get an a-ha that fits perfectly on a giant stage like this.”

The setlist:
01. I’ve Been Losing You
02. Cry Wolf
03. Stay On These Roads
04. Move To Memphis
05. Scoundrel Days
06. Crying In The Rain
07. Sycamore Leaves
08. You Are The One
09. Forest Fire
10. Hunting High And Low
11. Foot Of The Mountain
12. The Sun Always Shines On TV
13. Under The Makeup
14. The Living Daylights
15. Take On Me

"A fantastic audience", Magne said after the show

“A fantastic audience”, Magne said after the show

The heavy rain made Magne a bit concerned, he told VG backstage after the show:

“My keyboard was swimming in water, and I was the only one [of us three] who was plugged directly into the electric system. The whole thing could have exploded, there was a lot of water in there. But it was a fantastic audience!”

The tour continues at the Cabana Club in Barcarena on 1 October and at Estádio Arena Verde in Paragominas on 3 October. These two shows, held in connection with Hydro’s anniversary, were originally only open for Hydro employees and contest winners. But due to high demand, both shows are now open for everyone. Tickets are free, but requires a donation of school equipment to local children.

Brazilian articles:
Rolling Stone: Rock in Rio: mesmo com chuva, a-ha prioriza… A-ha leva o rádio FM para o palco em show saudoso

Globo TV interview with Paul and Morten in Rio:
Entrevista exclusiva com integrantes do A-Ha

‘Cast In Steel’ Tour opens in Buenos Aires

a-ha on stage in Buenos Aires, 24 September

a-ha on stage in Buenos Aires, 24 September

a-ha opened their Cast In Steel Tour in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Thursday night, in front of 10,000 people at the Luna Park indoor arena. This was their first concert in almost five years and the first of 40 concerts on the 2015-16 tour, which is now set to end on 1 May 2016 in Oslo Spektrum, after an extra concert was added.

Picture by Marcelo

Picture by Marcelo

The Moods of Norway suits are gone, they have a new bass player, and some of the songs have a rockier edge, but – judging from the YouTube clips – the concert wasn’t too different from what they presented five years ago. And although this is the Cast In Steel Tour, the title track was actually not performed. Only a mere three (3) songs from the new album was included in the setlist on Thursday.

Before the show, Magne told VG that none of the songs on Cast In Steel are really working well enough in a live setting yet. Hopefully more of them will be added later.

Picture by Marcelo

Picture by Marcelo

Apart from “Sycamore Leaves”, “Soft Rains Of April” and those three new songs, all the other songs in the setlist were also played during the Farewell Tour in 2010. Although this time they played full band versions of “Crying In The Rain”, “Early Morning” and “You Are The One”, instead of the acoustic versions they did back then.

Breaking it down by albums, they played 3 songs from Hunting High and Low, 6 songs from Scoundrel Days, 3 songs from Stay On These Roads, 3 songs from East Of The Sun, 1 song from Memorial Beach, no songs from Minor Earth, Major Sky, no songs from Lifelines, no songs from Analogue, 1 song from Foot Of The Mountain and 3 songs from Cast In Steel. Quite an unbalanced setlist.

But the audience at Luna Park didn’t seem to care much what they played, giving the band a warm and enthusiastic response.

Picture by Marcelo

Picture by Marcelo

VG’s Stein Østbø gives the concert a 3 out of 6 rating in his review, saying that he had expected more from a-ha this time around:

“The tour opening in Argentina came across as a continuation of the Farewell Tour that ended in Oslo Spektrum five years ago. Where was the new a-ha? Where were the changes that would bring the trio into another new phase?”

As for the visuals, although there were plenty of new graphics on the three screens behind the band, much of it was also re-used elements from the Farewell Tour. Oddly enough, footage from the music videos for “Dark Is The Night” and “Lifelines” was shown during “Scoundrel Days”, for some reason.

Here is the correct setlist, with links to YouTube-videos:
(the setlist on is wrong…)

01. The Wake
02. I’ve Been Losing You
03. Cry Wolf
04. Stay On These Roads
05. Move To Memphis
06. Scoundrel Days
07. Crying In The Rain
08. We’re Looking For The Whales
09. Sycamore Leaves
10. Hunting High And Low
11. The Swing Of Things
12. Early Morning
13. You Are The One
14. Forest Fire
15. Soft Rains Of April
16. Foot Of The Mountain
17. The Sun Always Shines On TV
18. Under The Makeup
19. The Living Daylights
20. Take On Me

There were several moments during the show that didn’t work quite as they should, including Magne messing up the beginning of “The Swing Of Things” and the sing-along in “The Living Daylights”:

Magne and Paul interviewed by VG after the show

Magne and Paul interviewed by VG after the show

“It was really fun, a great atmosphere and much enthusiasm! But I feel I’m a bit out of practice. I guess I did every mistake you could possible do during one show, enough for the rest of the tour”, Magne told VG backstage after the concert.

“But those mistakes were really good! Let’s add them to the show!”, Paul joked.

“It wasn’t all smooth sailing, but there was a great atmosphere all the way through”, Magne said.

“A very cool audience and we got through it fairly well. It felt good to be on stage”, Paul added.

Norwegian press about the Buenos Aires concert:
VG: Konsertanmeldelse: Tidløse a-ha (25 Sep.)
VG: Furuholmen etter a-ha-comebacket: – Gjorde alle feil jeg kunne gjøre! (25 Sep.)
VG: a-ha med kontroversiell plakat under Buenos Aires-konsert (25 Sep.)
VGTV: Harkets dom over turnéstarten (25 Sep.)
Dagbladet: – Det overrasket meg at de spilte «You Are the One»… (25 Sep.)
Dagbladet: – Hvis jeg ikke besvimer blir dette den beste kvelden i mitt liv (25 Sep.)
VG: a-ha: En nygammel suksess (24 Sep.)
VG: a-ha frykter «gnål» før comeback-konserten (24 Sep.)
Dagbladet: – Det gjør en glad å komme hit… (24 Sep.)
VG: Argentinske Pilar (12): Har vært a-ha-fan siden hun ble født (23 Sep.)
VG: Kaos i Buenos Aires da a-ha ankom (22 Sep.)

TV2 also has an 8-minute video interview with Morten and Magne, which was done in Oslo before leaving for South America: Se eksklusivt intervju med A-ha

The tour continues with the big Rock in Rio concert on Sunday night. It looks like the festival concerts are streamed online at So keep an eye on that page. a-ha are scheduled to play at 10:30pm local time (3:30am CET).

Magne in ‘Datoen’ documentary

Magne returns to Manglerud where he grew up

Magne returns to Manglerud where he grew up

The previously mentioned episode of Datoen where Magne appears, aired on NRK1 in Norway last Sunday.

Each episode of the documentary series follows three different people who were born on the same date, and shows us how their lives took different paths.

Magne talks about some of the events that shaped his life; the death of his father, meeting Paul and later Morten, the early years with a-ha in the UK, and his relationship with Heidi. He also makes a visit to the house at Manglerud where he grew up, for the first time since he was 13-14 years old.

The whole one-hour episode is available to watch at

‘Cast In Steel’ in the charts – week 2

Cast In Steel

Cast In Steel

Cast In Steel climbs from #3 to #2 in its second week on the Norwegian album chart, while it’s down from #4 to #12 in Gemany.

In the UK, Cast In Steel is down from #8 to #31, with 2,694 copies sold. But there’s also another a-ha album on the UK album chart this week, as The Definitive Singles Collection re-enters for the first time since 2006, at #99.

And the while the album falls out of the charts in France and Denmark, it now enters the charts in Hungary and Greece.

Here are the first and second week chart positions so far:
Norway: #3 – #2
Germany: #4 – #12
Switzerland: #9 – #17
UK: #8 – #31
Austria: #13 – #37
Belgium (Wallonia): #24 – #37
Hungary: XX – #38
Czech Republic: #7 – #41
Greece: XX – #49
Netherlands: #5 – #55
Ireland: #33 – #94
Spain: #58 – #98
Belgium (Flanders): #35 – #117

a-ha to end ‘Cast In Steel’ Tour in Oslo

a-ha in Oslo Spektrum, December 2010

a-ha in Oslo Spektrum, December 2010
(Picture by Jakob)

A concert at Oslo Spektrum on Saturday 30 April 2016, was announced today. This will be the last concert of the Cast In Steel Tour according to the official site, and is to be held on the same day as the next a-ha fan convention in Oslo.

“It would have been very strange not to bring the tour back home to Norway. After all we’re touring with a big arena production and there have been lots of offers coming in here at home”, Magne tells VG today.

This will be a-ha’s ninth concert at Oslo Spektrum, and marks the 25th anniversary of their two opening concerts of the then-brand-new venue in January 1991.

“We have basically done it all in Norway; there isn’t much we haven’t tried, after having played everything from the gigantic concert at Frognerparken to small club gigs. Therefore it was natural to connect this to another anniversary”, he says.

Magne also says he’s really pleased with how the new album has been received:

“It’s fantastic to have the album go top 10 both in the UK, Germany and here at home, and it’s so exciting to see all the interest surrounding the band, 30 years after we started. We took nothing for granted in the years we were gone, but we’re sensing a very positive vibe around the band. This is the rewarding part of being an a-ha member; sold out venues, big enthusiasm and much affection from the fans”.

The member pre-sale for Oslo Spektrum begins Wednesday September 16 at 9am, while general tickets go on sale Friday September 18 at 9am.

Surprisingly, it looks like the concert will be seated audience only, with tickets for the first three rows costing 1500 kroner (£120). a-ha have never played a concert for an all-seated audience in Norway before, apart from the HHAL/SD concert with the Oslo Philharmonics in 2010. Not very rock n’ roll…

Tracklistings for upcoming Deluxe Editions

Stay On These Roads (1988), East Of The Sun, West Of The Moon (1990) and Memorial Beach (1993)

Stay On These Roads (1988), East Of The Sun, West Of The Moon (1990) and Memorial Beach (1993)

The complete tracklistings for the upcoming Remastered Deluxe Editions of Stay On These Roads (1988), East Of The Sun, West Of The Moon (1990) and Memorial Beach (1993) have now been posted on the Facebook page of “Campaign For More a-ha Remastered Deluxes”.

These much-anticipated sets, which will probably be released at the end of October, will include an impressive 102 tracks in total. All three albums will be 2CD sets, while East Of The Sun, West Of The Moon will also include Live In South America on DVD for the first time – it has previously only been released on VHS and Laserdisc.

In addition to a lot of demos, alternate versions and live recordings of the album tracks, there will also be several previously unreleased songs: “I’ll Never Find You In This Streetful City”, “Umbrella”, “Thus Ended Our Love Affair”, “Evitar”, “Sail On My Love”, “Trees Will Not Grow On Sand” and “Bar Room”.

Chart success for ‘Cast In Steel’

Cast In Steel

Cast In Steel

[Updated 16 Sep.]:
a-ha’s new album Cast In Steel is doing quite well on the European album charts in its first week.

Here are the chart positions so far:
#3 in Norway
#4 in Germany
#5 in the Netherlands
#7 in the Czech Republic
#8 in the UK
#9 in Switzerland
#13 in Austria
#24 in Belgium (Wallonia)
#33 in Ireland
#35 in Belgium (Flanders)
#40 in Denmark
#58 in Spain

In the UK the album sold 7,828 copies in its first week, making Cast In Steel a-ha’s sixth Top 10 album and 14th Top 75 album in the UK since 1985 (including “best of” and live albums).

The #5 position in the Netherlands is – together with 1988’s Stay On These Roads – a-ha’s best album chart position ever in that country. None of their albums since 2000 have been higher than #50 in the album chart, so this is quite impressive.

Meanwhile in France, Cast In Steel enters the album chart at #166, but there has been no physical release and no promotion, so this is only based on download sales. The album is actually #22 on the download chart.

The album failed to chart in Sweden, Finland, Italy, Hungary, Croatia and Greece.

BTW, here are a few more album reviews (in English):
Cryptic Rock (5/5)
Hit The Floor Magazine (7/10)
The Plymouth Herald (7/10)
The Herald Scotland

30-minute EPK interview video

From the EPK interview video

From the EPK interview video

A 30-minute long EPK video, in which Magne, Paul and Morten are each interviewed about the reunion and the making of Cast In Steel has now been posted on the website of Universal Germany.

The video seems to have been filmed in connection with the comeback press conference in Berlin back in March.

Watch it here: ‘Cast In Steel’ 30-minute EPK interview video

Drammen rehearsal concert, September 9th

Union Scene, Drammen, September 9th (Picture by Rune Tønnessen)

Union Scene, Drammen, September 9th
(Picture by Rune Tønnessen)

a-ha played a 50-minute rehearsal concert at Union Scene in Drammen, Norway yesterday, in front of around 600 people – most of which had won tickets at a Platekompaniet signing session in Oslo the day before.

The band has been rehearsing at Union Scene over the last few weeks to prepare for the upcoming South American tour, and this was the final dress rehearsal before heading to Luna Park in Buenos Aires, although the full shows are likely to include twice as many songs.

A 14-minute video with clips from all the songs performed in Drammen has been posted on YouTube, courtesy of Rune Tønnessen.

Three songs from Cast In Steel were played live for the first time last night, while “Sycamore Leaves” appeared in the setlist for the first time since 2004 – now with Morten singing it instead of Paul. “Early Morning” was played as a full band version, instead of the acoustic version they’ve usually done in the 2000s.

The biggest surprise was probably “Soft Rains of April”, which has rarely been played live since the late 80s – apart from the HHAL/SD concerts with the Oslo Philhamonics in 2010.

(with links to other YouTube clips)
1. The Wake
2. I’ve Been Losing You
3. Cry Wolf
4. Hunting High and Low
5. Forest Fire
6. Early Morning
7. Sycamore Leaves
8. Soft Rains of April
9. Under The Makeup
10. The Sun Always Shines on TV
– – – – – – – – – – – –
11. Foot of the Mountain

Just as on the two previous tours, a-ha are joined by Karl Oluf Wennerberg on drums and Erik Ljunggren on synth/programming, while new bassist Even Ormestad is going on tour with the band for the first time.

Reports from some of the fans who were at the show seem to indicate that the sound is less polished and more rock-oriented than it was in 2009-2010, with Paul bringing out his Gibson SG Fano Alt de Facto ML6 guitar for some heavy riffs.

Concert reviews:
VG: Konturene av et nytt a-ha – for tredje gang…
Dagsavisen Fremtiden: Gøy på øving
Rock and Roll Dreams: Klar til avreise

German TV-performances

a-ha performing at the Goldene Henne Awards in Berlin, September 5th

a-ha performing at the Goldene Henne Awards in Berlin, September 5th

a-ha have done three different TV-performances in Germany over the last few days.

On Thursday they did a playback performance of “Forest Fire” and “Foot Of The Mountain” at the German Radio Awards in Hamburg, where they also received an honorary award:
YouTube: Forest Fire and Foot Of The Mountain
YouTube: Receiving the honorary award
YouTube: Interview before the show

On Friday they did an unplugged live version of “Under The Makeup” on the ZDF talkshow Aspekte in Berlin:
YouTube: Interview and Under The Makeup

And on Saturday they did a playback performance of “Under The Makeup” and “Forest Fire” at the Goldene Henne Awards in Berlin:
YouTube: Under The Makeup
YouTube: Forest Fire

Over on Facebook, Peter Kvint has posted some pictures from the Cast In Steel recording sessions in Stockholm. One of the pictures shows a computer screen with various song mixes, which reveals five of the a-ha tracks that didn’t make it onto the album; “Digital River”, “Hold Me”, “Karma King”, “Open Face” and Morten’s well-known song “Did I Leave You Behind”.

At least two of those songs are likely to appear on Morten’s next solo album instead, Kvint says.

Additional UK radio interviews:
BBC Radio 2: Steve Wright in the aftenoon (starts at 2h 18min)
BBC Radio Lincolnshire: Melvyn in the Morning (starts at 2h 8min)
– plus the video stream of the BBC Radio 5 Live interview

And here are some more album reviews: (3/5) (4/5) (USA)
Daily Mail (4/5)
The Scotsman (3/5)
Adresseavisen (4/6)
Dagbladet (3/6)

German interviews:
Rolling Stone (Video interview – Part 1)
Der Tagesspiegel (Video)

UK promotion and VG interview

a-ha on BBC Breakfast, September 2nd

a-ha on BBC Breakfast, September 2nd

a-ha were in London yesterday, where they spent a few hours at the BBC Studios, doing a number of radio interviews. Some of them have already been broadcast:

– BBC Radio 5 Live: Afternoon Edition
– BBC Local Radio: The Mark Forrest Show (starts at 1h 36min)

Morten and Paul also did a video interview with Reuters.

Today the guys were in Manchester, where they were guests on BBC Breakfast. A video clip of the interview has been posted on YouTube.

Later on they did a signing session at HMV Manchester. A selection of pictures can be seen on the event page on Facebook.

For lots more links and pictures from the UK promo, visit my Twitter profile.

Meanwhile in Norway, VG had a 3-page interview yesterday, where each of them give their honest opinion on the process of making Cast In Steel. Here is a little sample:

A new album, Cast In Steel is ready, but the band members haven’t been together in the studio during the recording process. That is something Paul Waaktaar-Savoy regrets.

“I wish we could get together, that is the way we should be recording music”, Waaktaar-Savoy says. He was also eager to have one producer on the whole album: Alan Tarney, who produced a-ha’s three first albums. But that’s not how it turned out.

Morten Harket also feels they should have recorded the album together, after first doing a tour.

“In fact, from a band point-of-view, we should have recorded the album in one studio and lived together for three months. You are more tuned in after a tour, we should have done writing sessions, hung out together and made music.”

– That’s what Paul also said?

“Yeah, but he’s so slow to join! Bloody slow. So that’s not how it actually is.”

In the end, 12 songs were selected for the album, while many others were rejected.

“I came into the process very late, and I think Paul felt the album was already finished. But then the majority expressed a clear wish that we should go all in. a-ha is the three of us and needs those three voices”, Furuholmen says.

Waaktaar-Savoy describes the song selection as “total chaos” and says he really missed an A&R-guy like they used to have in the past. Someone from the record company who could interject and make a decision.

“How are we supposed to agree on things, when all three of us have different things that we care about? It ends up being so much noise, and it saps so much energy that I’m all like: OK, next album! I feel like I need another ten years before I can listen to this album again. And now I have plunged headfirst into another new project. That’s the way I manage to keep going.”

And here are the first Norwegian reviews of the new album:
VG (4/6)
Aftenposten (4/6)
Dagsavisen (4/6)
Vårt Land

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