Archive for May, 2022

All UK shows in May cancelled

Picture by Jakob has announced that all four UK shows this week have to be cancelled, due to Morten recently being diagnosed with laryngitis:

Unfortunately, due to illness, a-ha’s shows at London Wembley The SSE Arena on Friday 27th May and Birmingham Utilita Arena on 28th May have been cancelled along with the already postponed shows at Bournemouth International Centre and Liverpool M&S Bank Arena. Customers for all shows will receive a refund from their point of purchase.

A message from the band:
“The band is absolutely gutted that we have had to cancel our shows in UK – our second home – this week due to continued illness.
Our deepest apologies to friends and fans with whom we were hoping to celebrate. thank you for your kind understanding and continued support!”

This means the next a-ha concerts will be at the sold out Over Oslo Festival with Simple Minds on 10 and 11 June, by which time Morten hopefully will be ready to sing again.

a-ha’s touring schedule in June and July is already packed, which probably made it impossible to reschedule the UK shows before the tour ends on 31 July. And extending the tour into August may not have been an option, as many of the crew may be committed to other tours at that point, the venues may not be available, plus a-ha will soon be shifting focus to the release of True North.

But they are scheduled to return to the UK to play at the Scarborough Open Air Theatre on 3 July and at Cardiff Castle on 5 July, where tickets are still available.

Bournemouth and Liverpool postponed

An official update about tomorrow’s and Wednesday’s concerts in the UK has now been posted:

We are sorry to have to inform you that both the a-ha shows in Bournemouth on May 24 and in Liverpool on May 25 have been postponed. Morten is still not fully recovered and is not able to perform.

Please hold on to your tickets and await further information from your point of purchase. We hate to disappoint even more fans with more postponements, but there is unfortunately nothing we can do but wait for Morten to get better and keep our fingers crossed for the shows in London and Birmingham. Stay safe in the meantime, everyone!

Meanwhile, there have been a couple of interesting new interviews in the last few days.

The website has talked to Paul about the current tour, his songwriting process and the upcoming True North album. The article also mentions that he’s planning to finally release his long-awaited solo album later this year.

In Germany, Eiken Bruhn has done a new interview with Magne for the newspaper about the farm he co-owns in Lofoten, climate change, the carbon footprint of a-ha’s touring and True North.

Norwegian concerts and cancellation

Oslo Spektrum, 20 May

a-ha returned to Norway this week, playing at DNB Arena in Stavanger on Wednesday and in Oslo Spektrum on Friday.

Oslo Spektrum, 20 May

Unfortunately, Saturday’s second concert at Oslo Spektrum had to be cancelled on short notice due to Morten being diagnosed with acute laryngitis and needing to rest his voice. He sounded pretty good the previous night, although he reportedly also had some voice issues during the last couple of German concerts last week.

“Hello everyone. I’m so sorry that I can’t make it tonight. I hate it. And I’m very regretful that I’ve let you all down. That’s all I can say right now. I’m gonna sleep this thing off”, Morten said in a video message posted on social media.

a-ha manager Harald Wiik told Dagbladet that Saturday’s concert is the only one cancelled so far. “But we’ll have to continue monitoring Morten’s condition”, he added. Wiik said he’s working to reschedule a new date for the Oslo Spektrum concert, but it will take some time to work out when it’s possible to do so.

Oslo Spektrum, 20 May

Before all this, a-ha did a solid concert at Oslo Spektrum on Friday, to an appreciative crowd of both Norwegians and international fans.

“Dear Oslo. Thank you for giving us such a warm welcome at home, after a few months on tour. That’s really nice”, Magne told the audience before introducing “You Have What It Takes” from the upcoming True North album.

Another highlight in Oslo was the performance of “Here I Stand and Face the Rain”, which I’ve posted on YouTube.

Norway Rock Magazine has posted positive reviews of both the Stavanger and Oslo shows. “A most enjoyable evening in Oslo Spektrum, where we were reminded of the incredible amount of great songs this band has in its catalogue. Paul, Magne and Morten will remain giants in Norwegian music history, and there is much reason to look forward to True North being released in October”, reviewer Geir Amundsen writes about the concert on May 20th.

Oslo Spektrum, 20 May

The setlist has now increased from 18 to 19 songs. In Berlin on May 11th they started adding an extra song to the setlist each night, playing “Cry Wolf” for the first time since August 2018.

This continued with “Foot of the Mountain” in Hamburg on May 12th (first time since February 2020), “We’re Looking For The Whales” in Leipzig on May 14th (first time since May 2016), “Analogue” in Cologne on May 15th (first time since March 2020) and “The Blood That Moves The Body” in Stavanger on May 18th (first time since August 2018). In Oslo on Friday it was back to “Foot of the Mountain”.

Update 24/5:
Unfortunately it turned out that the second Oslo Spektrum concert can not be rescheduled. The following message was posted on the official site:

We will unfortunately not be able to reschedule this show. The reason being that there is no equipment and personnel available for a show this size on the available dates. We have turned every stone to make it happen, but it is simply not possible. We know a lot you of have waited for years to see the show and that this is a big disappointment, and we are very sorry to let you down. Tickets will be refunded via Ticketmaster according to their standard terms.

European tour update

ZAG Arena, Hannover, 2 May 2022
(Photo by Jil)

a-ha started the European leg of the 2022 Hunting High and Low Tour in front of 2,500 people at Partille Arena in Gothenburg, Sweden on 28 April, before heading to Royal Arena in Copenhagen, Denmark where they played for 10,000 people the following day.

The tour then continued at the O2 Arena in Prague on 1 May – their first ever concert in the Czech Republic – and at ZAG Arena in Hannover (5,000) on 2 May, the first of six shows in Germany this month.

ZAG Arena, Hannover, 2 May 2022
(Photo by Jil)

During their two-week hiatus from touring, Magne spent some time in Italy, Paul went back to work in his LA studio, while Morten relaxed in Southern Norway before getting his hair cut short again.

One major change when the tour resumed was the return of the giant 10-bit LED video screen, which has not been used since the concert in Trondheim on 7 February 2020. Only a basic light-rig was brought along for the shows outside of Europe.

Some footage from the upcoming True North movie, directed by Stian Andersen, was shown on the screen during the two new songs – at least in Gothenburg – which can be seen in these two video clips of “Forest For The Trees” and “You Have What It Takes”.

In its review of the Copenhagen concert, Danish newspaper Ekstrabladet remarked how “the songs were captivatingly presented, backed by a stylish stage show with effective use of a giant screen”, while the Czech news site Idnes praised the “imaginative and precisely fitting video projections”. “At times, it was an experience so intense that one could talk about the Pink Floyd of pop”, the reviewer wrote.

Ekstrabladet’s reviewer liked the new songs:
“Two solid new songs, from the upcoming film/album True North, showed how the band’s inherent musicality and songwriting qualities are generally somewhat underrated.” He also mentioned how “a more organic, rich and majestic sound suited the [Hunting High and Low] material”.

ZAG Arena, Hannover, 2 May 2022
(Photo by Jil)

The setlist is now basically switched around, compared to when the tour started in Argentina in late March, opening with the eight songs from “Sycamore Leaves” to “The Living Daylights” before the break and the ten songs from the Hunting High and Low album after the break. This change first appeared on the second night at The Wiltern in LA on 8 April.

“We have played the whole album in its original running order, but sometimes we’ll take some creative liberties and change the running order and the arrangements, not least to keep ourselves stay focused”, Magne told Swedish newspaper Göteborgs-Posten in an interview last week (paywall).

The video graphics previously used as intro for “Analogue” at the beginning of the second set in 2019/20, now serves as intro before “Sycamore Leaves” to open the concert instead.

The current setlist

1. Sycamore Leaves
2. The Swing Of Things
3. Crying In The Rain
4. Forest For The Trees
5. You Have What It Takes
6. I’ve Been Losing You
7. Scoundrel Days
8. The Living Daylights
– – – – – – – – – – – –
9. Train of Thought
10. The Blue Sky
11. Living a Boy’s Adventure Tale
12. And You Tell Me
13. Love is Reason
14. I Dream Myself Alive
15. Here I Stand and Face the Rain
16. Hunting High and Low
17. The Sun Always Shines on TV
– – – – – – – – – – – –
18. Take On Me
– – – – – – – – – – – –

By the way, one final additional tour date was added recently:
01 July 2022: Montreux Jazz Festival, Montreux, Switzerland

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