Archive for the ‘a-ha’ Category

VG interview: a-ha are open for more

Munich, April 6th (Picture by Nicole Mikolai)

Munich, April 6th
(Picture by Nicole Mikolai)

VG has published a new interview with a-ha today, which was done after the concert in Berlin on Wednesday.

Asked about last week’s much debated Blick-interview, Morten says the comment about a-ha being a finished chapter was taken completely out of context:

“I don’t mean what’s written in there at all. I’m on tour with the band, having a great time and thinking that we should really be grateful that we get to experience this. Why would I have kept going together with the other two if it wasn’t meaningful to me? It’s been 30 years since we started and the fact that we still get to do it is not something you can take for granted”, Morten tells VG backstage in Berlin.

Magne describes the controversy surrounding the Blick-interview as a “storm in a teacup”, but he also feels it was necessary to set things straight with an official statement:

“That was mostly directed at the fans, as we don’t want them to believe that we don’t appreciate them. Because we do. It’s an incredible privilege to be able to embark on a tour and get such a fantastic reception, after 30 years. We may have taken this for granted in the past, but when you’ve been away from it for a while you’re more humbled by it”, Magne says.

Munich, April 6th (Picture by Nicole Mikolai)

Munich, April 6th
(Picture by Nicole Mikolai)

After the tour ends in Bergen on May 7th, Magne will be busy finishing his sculpture park at Fornebuporten, which should be ready by June 9th, Paul will release the new Savoy album, while Morten will take a long holiday.

Manager Harald Wiik says Morten may release new music and do solo concerts in 2017, although there are no specific plans at the moment. There are also some non-music related projects in the works.

Munich, April 6th (Picture by Nicole Mikolai)

Munich, April 6th
(Picture by Nicole Mikolai)

All three of them are open to the idea of more a-ha at some point down the line:

Morten: “That’s open for speculation, of course. When you’ve been working with music almost non-stop since the late 70s, the likelihood of it continuing is greater than the opposite.”

Magne: “I said I wasn’t open for anything five years ago, and I have been proven wrong. I haven’t thought of this as a farewell tour, as we’ve already done that. After this tour ends we don’t have any plans. So that leaves an open book. But we’re constantly getting lots of new requests and offers. Sometimes it’s easy to say no, while other times it’s very difficult.”

Paul: “One thing you can be sure of; if we get excited about a new song, we’re back in business. Regardless of what may have been said before.”

a-ha.com issues clarifying statement

The recent interview with Morten on Swiss news site Blick, in which he supposedly said that “a-ha is a finished chapter” for him and that next month’s tour finale in Bergen “will probably be the definitive end” of a-ha, has caused much debate within the fan community.

After the interview also reached the Norwegian press yesterday, a-ha’s management was forced to do some damage control and has issued a clarifying statement on a-ha.com today:

We are sorry that the interview published on Sunday April 10 in Blick has caused confusion.

In the interview Morten is quoted as saying several things which lead readers to believe that a-ha is ending after the last ‘Cast In Steel’ tour date on May 7 in Bergen, and that Morten does not find working with a-ha to be spiritually fulfilling for him anymore. Another quote seemed to imply that Morten does not appreciate support and attention from the fans.

None of this is correct, but please accept our apology for this misunderstanding, largely due to some of Morten’s remarks not being presented with the complete context.

In a conversation with Morten yesterday, he said that he had been asked about the possibility of a-ha making another album. His answer related to the time consuming nature of working on an album together, and that everyone’s heart has to be in it to get through the process. This is not news to anyone who has followed the band for any length of time, as all three of the band members have said that writing albums together is a very challenging process for them.

‘Cast In Steel’ was announced as a ‘one album, one tour’ project, and his remarks simply confirmed this. That doesn’t mean that there cannot be other projects, but nothing is planned at the moment.

Read the entire statement on a-ha.com.

Morten: “a-ha is a finished chapter for me”

Morten on stage in Leipzig, April 7th

Morten on stage in Leipzig, April 7th

Morten’s new autobiography My Take On Me is officially released in Germany tomorrow. The German edition is released first, to coincide with the current tour, but other languages will follow later (dates TBC).

To promote the book, Morten has been doing several interviews recently. An interview with the Swiss newspaper Blick, which was done before the concert in Zurich one week ago, was published today. In it, Morten says the concert in Bergen next month will probably mark the end of a-ha…again.

Below are a few translated quotes from the Blick interview (but bear in mind this has been translated from English to German and back to English):

“a-ha is now a finished chapter for me. I have had some wonderful years with this band. But after the current tour, it will probably be the definitive end. The three of us are simply not close enough anymore to continue recording albums, travelling around the world and playing concerts.”

– But do you have to be close friends to keep doing that?

“No, but working with a-ha needs to be fulfilling for me on a spiritual level as well. And that is not the case anymore. Maybe the whole thing just wore itself out over the last 30 years.”

– And the money won’t make you stay together?

“Oh, I have been richly rewarded enough by a-ha. I don’t have to keep doing something that I don’t necessarily want to do.”

– Won’t you miss all the fame?

“Not at all! Success and power never interested me. I don’t like to watch myself on TV. I don’t like that guy with the microphone. Moreover; what is so great about it, when you have to spend hours hiding in your hotel room because hundreds of screaming fans are waiting outside? I prefer to meet people individually rather than in masses. But I don’t have the emotional capacity or time to meet everyone individually. In the end, I’m only one person.”

– What are you going to do after a-ha?

“I will return to the simple life with my girlfriend and my 7-year old daughter. That is where my heart is. After our last concert in Norway on May 7th I will walk away barefoot and turn off the lights.”

Morten’s new autobiography My Take On Me can be ordered from Amazon.de.

Tickets for the May 7th concert in Bergen are available from Ticketmaster.no.

Cast In Steel Tour: Manchester and London

Manchester Arena, March 25th (Picture by Lisa)

Manchester Arena, March 25th
(Picture by Lisa)

a-ha kicked off the UK leg of the tour at Manchester Arena on Friday night, this time with a larger stage production than in South America and East Europe; four additional video screens on the sides and more lighting.

There were two changes in the setlist since Minsk last week; the new live version of “Cast In Steel”, which they premiered at the BBC concert the day before, and the very first live performance of “She’s Humming A Tune” – at the expense of “Living At The End Of The World” and “You Are The One”.

This means there are now only four songs from the Cast In Steel album they haven’t performed live so far; “Objects in the Mirror”, “Door Ajar”, “Shadow Endeavors” and “Goodbye Thompson”.

At the O2 Arena in London on Saturday night, they added an additional song they haven’t played much in recent years – “Here I Stand And Face The Rain” – but with Anneli Drecker on vocals instead of Morten. With Paul and Magne still doing “Velvet” and “Lifelines”, this gave Morten a 3-song break backstage in the middle of the show.

Morten said before the tour started that he wanted more breaks during the shows this time, as he felt there was too much emphasis on his voice:

“There’s just too much of my vocals, there are no breaks. Every song has me at full power in one way or another, it’s too much for me. Moreover, it doesn’t work dramaturgically. I prefer instrumental parts without vocals. There’s a lot of great things to be heard in the music itself”, Morten told VG before the opening concert in Buenos Aires last year.

Video clips from Manchester:
I’ve Been Losing You    Cast In Steel    Stay On These Roads
Crying In The Rain    We’re Looking For The Whales
She’s Humming A Tune    Scoundrel Days    Under The Makeup

Video clips from London:
I’ve Been Losing You    Cast In Steel    Velvet    Lifelines
Here I Stand And Face The Rain    She’s Humming A Tune
Sycamore Leaves    The Living Daylights

Press reviews:
The Guardian    The Northern Chords    The Telegraph

The complete setlists for both Manchester (20 songs) and London (21 songs) have been posted on a-ha.com.

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!

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