Archive for the ‘a-ha’ Category

a-ha in concert for BBC Radio 2

BBC Radio Theatre, London, March 24th

BBC Radio Theatre, London, March 24th

a-ha played an intimate concert for contest winners at the BBC Radio Theatre in London last night, which was broadcast live on BBC Radio 2. It could also be watched live on TV in the UK through the BBC Red Button interactive service and online on the BBC Radio 2 website. The whole concert is available for listening here.

The band did a good performance, with Anneli Drecker joining them on backing vocals and in a duet with Morten on “Crying In The Rain”. Apart from a guest-appearance in Tromsø in 2010, this was Anneli’s first time on stage with a-ha since December 2002.

As for the setlist, “Cast In Steel” was played for the first time since October last year, this time more like the new Steve Osborne-version of the song. Last night’s performance of the song has been posted on YouTube.

Morten and Anneli singing together for the first time in six years

Morten and Anneli singing together for the first time in six years

Here’s the setlist:

1. I’ve Been Losing You
2. Cry Wolf
3. Cast In Steel
4. Stay On These Roads
5. Living At The End Of The World
6. The Swing Of Things
7. Crying In The Rain
8. Mother Nature Goes To Heaven
9. We’re Looking For The Whales
10. Sycamore Leaves
11. Hunting High And Low
12. Scoundrel Days
13. The Sun Always Shines On TV
14. Take On Me

“It was great. It was a really intense feeling in the audience. It’s rare that we get an opportunity to see people that are almost at the same height as we are, so you’re kind of staring them right in the face”, Magne said in an interview with Jo Whiley after the concert (starts at 1h 16min).

Morten, on the other hand, said he was disappointed with his own performance:

“This was a tough one. It was one of those gigs that sometimes happen. I had a really hard time hearing myself. It’s emotionally hard, because I can’t really give what I’m capable of. And that’s how I felt tonight.”

“It’s a difficult room to play in, for me certainly. It was a great crowd and all you want is to be part of it. And when you don’t feel that fully, then it is what it is.”

Jo Whiley went on to ask Magne if Morten’s self-critical analysis drives him mad:

“The honest truth, if you ask me; yes it does. But I’ve lived long enough with Morten that I’ve learnt to live with that frustration. He’s kind of looking for the ideal circumstance and it never is ideal. We do our best out there and hopefully it’s good enough. To me it sounded great.”

Thanking the audience at the BBC

Thanking the audience at the BBC

Earlier in the day, a-ha also played two songs live on the Ken Bruce Show; “Under The Makeup” and “Foot Of The Mountain” which can be heard here. They were also guests on Simon Mayo’s show, listen here (starts at 15:30).

A Q&A session they did with Jo Whiley before the concert can be seen on YouTube.

The Cast In Steel Tour continues tonight, at the Manchester Arena.

Cast In Steel Tour: Riga and Minsk

Arena Riga, March 15th

Arena Riga, March 15th

a-ha played the last two concerts of the East European leg of the tour last week, in Riga, Latvia on March 15th and Minsk, Belarus on March 17th. These were also the last two concerts with guest vocalist Tini Flaat Mykland, who will be replaced by Anneli Drecker in the UK this week.

The 20-song setlist in Riga and Minsk was the same as St. Petersburg and Moscow, the only slight difference being that “Foot Of The Mountain” and “You Are The One” were switched around. They are still only playing two songs from Cast In Steel; “Living At The End Of The World” and “Under The Makeup”.

In Minsk, everything seemed to indicate that “Giving Up The Ghost” would return as the opener, as they used that specific intro music and video animation – but suddenly they started playing “I’ve Been Losing You” instead. Very odd.

Incidentally, several of the Apparatjik-style animations used on this tour, including the “Giving Up The Ghost” video, seem to have been created by Jonas Bjerre.

The venue in Riga was barely half-full, judging from some of the pictures and videos, but the turnout was better in Minsk and the audience and media reception on this tour seems to have been quite good overall.

Video clips from Riga:
Stay On These Roads    Velvet    Foot Of The Mountain
The Sun Always Shines On TV    The Living Daylights
Take On Me    55 minutes from the concert

Video clips from Minsk:
I’ve Been Losing You / Cry Wolf    Move To Memphis    Scoundrel Days
Crying In The Rain / Mother Nature Goes To Heaven
Velvet    Lifelines    Hunting High and Low    Under The Makeup

Other links:
Riga photo gallery (tvnet.lv)
Riga photo gallery (kasjauns.lv)
Minsk photo gallery (dosug.by)
Minsk photo gallery (metalheads.by)
Minsk TV report (YouTube)
Minsk TV report 2 (YouTube)
Meeting fans in Moscow (YouTube)
Moscow photo gallery: Part 1   Part 2   Part 3 (radiogrom.com)
St. Petersburg photo gallery (livejournal.com)
St. Petersburg photo gallery 2 (sub-cult.ru)

Cast In Steel Tour: Moscow

Moscow, 12 March

Moscow, 12 March
(Picture by Oksana Orlova)

a-ha played at the Olimpiyskiy [Olympic Stadium] indoor arena in Moscow on Saturday, 12 March. This was their sixth concert at this particular venue and their eighth concert in Moscow, having previously played in the city in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2009 and 2010.

The Olimpiyskiy arena is so large that a-ha’s stage setup appeared quite small this time, compared to the other arenas.

The setlist in Moscow was the same as in St Petersburg on Thursday, meaning “Giving Up The Ghost” and “Mythomania” were still absent, while “We’re Looking For The Whales” and “You Are The One” remained. “I’ve Been Losing You” opened the show again.

Instead of standing at the front during “Velvet” and “Lifelines”, Tini was standing further back on the stage this time. The left screen seemed to malfunction during some of the songs.

“[The setlist] has been a mixture of old and new so far. But it’s kind of changing on a nightly basis, or has been on this leg of the tour. It’s easy, in a way, to settle into playing all the big hits, because you know the reaction is always great to that. At the same time, you try to put some new songs in there and re-arrange some of the songs, so that they are different than you’ve done before and what people have heard before”, Magne told BBC Radio 2’s Jo Whiley on the phone from Riga tonight, as it was announced that a-ha will play an exclusive concert for Radio 2 at the BBC Radio Theatre in London on 24 March. More info at bbc.co.uk.

Video clips from Moscow:
Move To Memphis
Velvet
Mother Nature Goes To Heaven
Lifelines
You Are The One
The Sun Always Shines On TV

Other links:
Finparty.ru – article about Paul, Magne, Tini and Even attending a private dinner in Moscow on 11 March
Rocktimes.ru – big photo gallery from the press conference and concert in St Petersburg
YouTube – 40-minute video from a-ha’s press conference in St Petersburg

Cast In Steel Tour: Kazan and St. Petersburg

Paul in Kazan, 8 March (Picture by Oksana Orlova)

Paul in Kazan, 8 March
(Picture by Oksana Orlova)

a-ha played the second concert of their spring tour at Basket-Hall in Kazan on Tuesday, 8 March. The setlist was identical to Yekaterinburg two days earlier, although “Here I Stand And Face The Rain” was played during soundcheck – a song they have only played a few times since the 1991 tour.

Here are some YouTube-videos from Kazan:
Giving Up The Ghost
Sycamore Leaves
Living At The End Of The World
Crying In The Rain
Velvet    Lifelines
Mythomania
Under The Makeup   The Living Daylights   The Sun Always Shines On TV

Magne in Kazan, 8 March (Picture by Oksana Orlova)

Magne in Kazan, 8 March
(Picture by Oksana Orlova)

Yesterday’s concert at the Ice Palace arena in St. Petersburg, however, included several changes. Most notably ditching two songs from Cast In Steel; “Giving Up The Ghost” and “Mythomania”, in favor of two oldies; “We’re Looking For The Whales” and “You Are The One”.

This means that although it’s called the Cast In Steel Tour, a mere two out of twenty songs last night were actually from the new album – the lowest number of new songs they’ve ever played on a tour supporting a recent album.

The order of the songs had also been shuffled around quite a bit last night, compared to the first two shows.

They usually experiment with different setlists at the beginning of a tour, before it settles, so we’ll see how it evolves from here. Next tour stop is Moscow on Saturday. Keep an eye on a-ha live on Twitter, as I’ll try to live-tweet during each concert.

Morten in St. Petersburg, 10 March (Picture by Oksana Orlova)

Morten in St. Petersburg, 10 March
(Picture by Oksana Orlova)

One special thing about St. Petersburg was the local support band Red’s Cool, an “uncompromising hard-rock band”, which certainly stands out among the many support acts a-ha have had in recent years. Here’s a short video clip of them on stage.

Mew/Apparatjik vocalist Jonas Bjerre attended the concert last night, as Magne’s guest.

And there’s a great photo gallery from the show on Facebook, taken by Andrey Lukovnikov.

St. Petersburg setlist:
1. I’ve Been Losing You
2. Cry Wolf
3. Move To Memphis
4. Stay On These Roads
5. Living At The End Of The World
6. The Swing Of Things
7. Crying In The Rain (Morten & Tini)
8. Mother Nature Goes To Heaven
9. We’re Looking For The Whales
10. Velvet (Paul & Tini)
11. Lifelines (Magne & Tini)
12. Foot Of The Mountain
13. You Are The One
14. Sycamore Leaves
15. Hunting High And Low
16. Scoundrel Days
——————-
17. The Sun Always Shines On TV
18. Under The Makeup
19. The Living Daylights
20. Take On Me

On March 9th a-ha did a press conference in St. Petersburg. There’s a photo gallery from the event at spbdnevnik.ru.

They have also done a few more TV-interviews:
Channel 5 interview   ETB interview

Special “Afterglow” concert announced

Afterglow

Afterglow

An additional concert in Oslo Spektrum on May 3rd was announced today, but this will not be your ordinary a-ha experience:

In Oslo Spektrum on May the 3rd, a-ha will clear away their normal stage-production to give room for a very different concert performance in collaboration with Void, a computational design studio working in the intersection between design, architecture, art and technology.

This is a unique one-off opportunity to see a very different a-ha show, where known musical material meets new use of technology to create an immersive experience out of the ordinary.

Void is also collaborating with Magne and Apparatjik on their upcoming Day Of The Dead performance in Bergen a month later, on June 3rd.

Read the whole press release, with a quote from Magne, on a-ha.com.

Tickets are available at billettservice.no. 845 kroner (£65). Standing room only.

Cast In Steel Tour: Yekaterinburg

Yekaterinburg, 6 March 2016 (Picture by katjushkinsky)

Yekaterinburg, 6 March 2016
(Picture by katjushkinsky)

a-ha opened their 2016 Cast In Steel Tour at the KRK Uralets arena in Yekaterinburg tonight, the first of 33 concerts in Russia and Europe this spring.

The setlist included several changes since South America five months ago, starting with the premiere performance of “Giving Up The Ghost” as a new opener. Two other songs, “Mother Nature Goes to Heaven” and “Living at the End of the World”, were also performed for the first time tonight.

The Paul/Magne solo section we remember from the Lifelines tour made a welcome return, with Paul singing “Velvet” and Magne singing “Lifelines”, both with Tini Flaat Mykland on backing vocals.

Magne and Tini singing "Lifelines" (from lapina_tania)

Magne and Tini singing “Lifelines”
(from lapina_tania)

“Thank you for giving us such a warm welcome here in Yekaterinburg”, Magne told the audience before introducing the band.

Prior to the show, the guys were interviewed on Russian TV, which can be seen here.

The tour continues in Kazan on Tuesday.

Setlist (w/ YouTube links):
1. Giving Up The Ghost
2. I’ve Been Losing You
3. Move To Memphis
4. The Swing Of Things
5. Stay On These Roads
6. Sycamore Leaves
7. Mother Nature Goes To Heaven
8. Living At The End Of The World
9. Crying In The Rain (Morten & Tini)
10. Velvet (Paul & Tini)
11. Lifelines (Magne & Tini)
12. Scoundrel Days
13. Cry Wolf
14. Mythomania
15. Hunting High And Low
16. The Sun Always Shines On TV
17. Foot Of The Mountain
——————–
18. Under The Makeup
19. The Living Daylights
20. Take On Me

Karl Oluf, Magne, Even, Morten, Tini, Erik and Paul (Picture by Ruslan Tulaganov) - click to enlarge

Karl Oluf, Magne, Even, Morten, Tini, Erik and Paul
(Picture by Ruslan Tulaganov)

Thanks to the fans in Yekaterinburg for Periscoping, Instagramming and YouTubeing the concert!

Icelandic concert dates rediscovered

Paul and Morten on stage in Reykjavik, 17 July 1987 (Picture from the newspaper Þjóðviljinn)

Paul and Morten on stage in Reykjavik, 17 July 1987
(Picture from the newspaper Þjóðviljinn)

Drummer Øystein Jevanord was interviewed by Christopher Hopkins for the Headlines and Deadlines fanclub magazine back in 2007, in which he mentioned that a-ha did two concerts in Iceland near the end of their first world tour in 1987, following the Japanese leg in June/July. The former Bridges drummer toured with a-ha as an extra percussionist that summer, but in the interview with Hopkins he didn’t share further details about these dates.

Strangely, those two concerts hadn’t been mentioned anywhere else that I was aware of. They hadn’t appeared on any lists of tour dates, neither online nor in a-ha books. In the following years no further details emerged about these mysterious dates.

However, a while ago I was searching through an Icelandic newspaper archive and found solid evidence that these two concerts actually happened.

"Gítarleikari" (guitarist) Paul and "hljómborðsleikari" (keyboardist) Magne in Reykjavik, 17 July 1987(Pictures from the newspaper Morgunblaðið)

The “gítarleikari” and the “hljómborðsleikari” in Reykjavik, 17 July 1987
(Pictures from the newspaper Morgunblaðið)

The concerts were held at the indoor arena Laugardalshöll in Reykjavik on 17 and 18 July 1987. They seem to have been late additions to the summer tour and were first announced a couple of months before, on 19 May. This may be why the dates largely went under the radar back then. One of the press reviews seem to say 4000 people attended the first concert.

On 17 July, prior to the first concert, the band also attended the Icelandic premiere of The Living Daylights. This is something they have later mentioned in interviews; how they couldn’t attend the world premiere in London because they were on tour in Japan, but did manage to attend the Icelandic premiere instead.

Adding these shows to the previously rediscovered 1987 Japanese dates, this brings the total number of concerts on the 1987 summer tour up to 25. See the updated list of 1986/87 tour dates here.

Spellemann nomination

a-ha have been nominated for the 2015 Spellemann Awards, in the Pop Group category, for their Cast In Steel album.

This is the first time since Minor Earth ⎜ Major Sky in 2000 that a-ha have been nominated in this category.

The award show is held at Oslo Spektrum on 30 January, and will air live on NRK1.

See a list of all the nominated artists here.

New a-ha book: ‘Living a Fan’s Adventure Tale’

Book cover

Book cover

British writer Greg Lansdowne has written a new book called Living a Fan’s Adventure Tale: a-ha in the Eyes of the Beholders, which aims to describe how a-ha’s music has made an impact on fans around the world.

The 128-page book will be published by Wymer on 4 March 2016, and can be pre-ordered from Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de and Amazon.com.

Here’s a quote from the book description provided by the publisher:

“Fans from around 50 different countries have been willing to share their wide and varied memories of following the band for this book, in a celebration of what has made a-ha so popular across the globe for three decades. With other contributions from musical collaborators and journalists who have interviewed the band, and academics in fandom, this is a thorough study into the career of the three Norwegians, lavishly illustrated throughout with fans snapshots and personal photos of the band. Living A Fan’s Adventure Tale gets to the heart of what it really means to be a fan and is a must-read for all devotees as it puts into words why a-ha endures in the minds of millions of people.”

More details about Living a Fan’s Adventure Tale and the process of writing the book can be found in an article written by Lansdowne on a-ha.com.

According to Lansdowne, a-ha collaborators such as Leif Johansen, Ian Wherry, Jørun Bøgeberg, Per Lindvall and Frode Unneland have all contributed to the book.

a-ha interviewed by Bergensavisen

One of the reporters who interviewed a-ha at the press conference in Bergen last week was Ørjan Nilsson from Bergensavisen (BA). Below are a few translated quotes from that interview. The original video can be seen at ba.no.

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BA: Morten, you’re the one who’s been closest to the a-ha material during the last five years, as you played a selection of a-ha songs on your solo tour in 2012. What’s the biggest difference between playing a-ha songs with Paul and Magne and playing without them?

Morten: I might be tempted to say something funny here (laughs). No, but playing without them will never be a-ha for me, or anyone else. If I’m backed by another band on stage, that’s not a-ha. Not today and not tomorrow. That’s just how it is. At the same time, a-ha is a big part of my identity, so it isn’t necessarily wrong to play those songs [at solo concerts]. In certain settings it could be the right thing to do.

When I was planning my first solo tour [after a-ha split up] in 2012, there was a lot of pressure from promoters who wanted me to play a-ha songs, as they felt that the audience would expect that. I disagreed with them, as we had already toured a lot with a-ha [in the years prior]. It’s not like the fans don’t want to hear the a-ha songs, but when I go on a solo tour they’re coming to hear my solo material.

So that was a difficult decision to make, because it’s not wrong to play the songs per se, they are important songs to me. At the same time, there needs to be a solid identity to what you’re doing. So I let go of that on the next tour, with the Brother album, and that is the right thing to do. But exceptions may occur. There may be situations where it feels appropriate [to do a-ha songs].

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BA: 2015 is quite an anniversary year for a-ha, in connection with Hunting High and Low and “Take On Me”. But you have also released new deluxe editions of Memorial Beach and East Of The Sun, West Of The Moon. What’s it been like to revisit that material, which fans don’t get to hear too often at concerts?

Magne: Well, I wouldn’t say that it’s something we have released, it’s rather Warner Brothers who have chosen to put together these reissues. But there aren’t too many albums that get such a treatment, so I’d have to say that I’m proud that they’re celebrating material that we did 30 years ago. And they’re not doing this just to be nice, it’s because they see that there’s still a lot of love for the band, around the world.

And of course a lot of demos and unreleased material has been added. For each new reissue, increasingly more obscure things are uncovered. I can imagine the 50th anniversary, when we begin to search the very bottom of our drawers for unreleased stuff (laughs). But it’s definitely an honour for us.

Morten: That is a dilemma for us as a band, though. I think all three of us would like to play other songs than just the most well-known. At the same time, people are going to a concert with certain expectations, and it would be wrong not to cater to that. But we would gladly have done a tour where we only play the more “hidden” songs. That would have been an exciting tour.

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Paul: We have done deluxe editions before, and now we’re even releasing super deluxe editions (laughs). But I actually think it’s very cool, because a lot of those old demos, even if they aren’t that fancy, they contain the very core of a-ha – often more so than the finished versions.

BA: It’s been 28 years since your first concert in Bergen, at Bergenshallen on 1 February 1987. What do you remember from back then?

Morten: I’m drawing a complete blank here.

Magne: I can’t say that I remember much details.

Paul: I remember playing tennis before the concert.

Morten: You remember that?!

Paul: Yeah, I actually do (laughs).

Morten: You’re fucking weird.

Magne: So that was apparently the highlight for you – nailing that serve (laughs).

Paul: Yes!

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