Archive for the ‘a-ha’ Category

MTV Unplugged: Album cover and title

Summer Solstice album cover

The official site has now revealed the cover art of a-ha’s MTV Unplugged album and its title; Summer Solstice.

The album, which features cover photos by Just Loomis and artwork by Matthias Bäuerle, will be released on 6 October.

On that same day, MTV Germany will air the Summer Solstice concert on TV – but only a shortened 50-minute version.

No tracklist has been posted yet, but the regular album will probably only include a selection of the 21 songs performed at Giske.

Whether there will also be a 2CD-version with all the songs is unknown. But hopefully the Blu-ray/DVD will include the whole concert.

a-ha to perform in Ålesund and Bodø next year

Two new festival dates on a-ha’s 2018 summer tour have now been announced, adding to the already known date at Kongsberg Jazzfestival on 6 July:

17 August 2018: Jugendfest, Ålesund, Norway
18 August 2018: Parkenfestivalen, Bodø, Norway

Jugendfest is held at Color Line Stadium, the same football stadium where a-ha played in August 2006, as part of the Analogue tour. Parkenfestivalen is held at the Rensås park, and this will be a-ha’s first ever concert in Bodø (Morten and Paul have both done solo concerts in Bodø).

Tickets for Jugendfest go on sale on Friday, 25 August at tikkio.com, while tickets for Parkenfestivalen won’t be available until 1 November.

Press articles:
A-ha bekreftet til Jugend 2018
Nå kommer tidenes norske band til Parken

New a-ha world tour in 2018

Photo by Just Loomis

According to a-ha manager Harald Wiik, the band will be embarking on a new world tour in June 2018 – and this time fully electric. There will be 30-40 concerts in total.

“We’ll start in England in June and continue through Europe, before going to the USA and South America”, he tells VG today.

This may perhaps indicate plans to release a new studio album sometime in the spring/early summer next year?

The first date to be announced is Kongsberg Jazz Festival in Norway on 6 July next year, where a-ha will headline. The concert will be held at Kirketorget (Church Square), with a capacity of 12,000 people.

“Kongsberg will be fun because that’s where Morten is from. It’s also a very cool festival. They’ve kept it going for a long time and created something very special”.

Morten actually attended the Kongsberg Jazz Festival on Wednesday this week, to check out the area and hear current a-ha backing band member Morten Qvenild perform his commissioned piece “Area 51”. The local newspaper Laagendalsposten has posted a picture of him here.

Tickets for the Kongsberg concert go on sale tomorrow through Ticketmaster.

There will probably be two additional concerts in Norway as well, but Kongsberg will be the only one in the eastern part of the country.

MTV Unplugged – second night

According to fans who attended the second MTV Unplugged concert at Giske on Friday, it was even better and more relaxed than the first night. It was also longer; around 2,5 hours in total. This was partly because they played several songs multiple times. “Hunting High and Low” was played three times, while “The Living Daylights” and “Take On Me” were played twice.

Ingrid Helene Håvik was the only special guest on Friday, joining a-ha on “The Sun Always Shines on TV”. Lissie and Ian McCulloch both had other commitments, but a-ha still played “The Killing Moon” without McCulloch. Alison Moyet also did not appear on stage, as she had already recorded her duet with the band earlier in the day – a version of “Summer Moved On”.

Apparently some of the video screens behind the band malfunctioned on Friday night, but hopefully this will be possible to fix in the editing process, when footage from both nights (plus Alison’s Moyet performance) will be combined into the final version for MTV broadcast and Blu-ray/DVD.

On Saturday a-ha were back at Giske to do a photo shoot for the album cover with Just Loomis, who has been documenting the MTV Unplugged recording. Norwegian director Thomas Robsahm and his crew have also been at Giske, shooting material for the upcoming documentary film about a-ha, which is expected to premiere in 2019.

Video: a-ha walking on stage second night     Alison Moyet and a-ha
A shot from the editing room     a-ha and Lars Horntveth
Ian McCulloch at Giske     Morten and the catering team
a-ha.com: Day 1     a-ha.com: Day 2     Bypatrioten: En a-ha opplevelse

Interview with a-ha at Giske

a-ha on stage at Giske this week.
Picture by Monica Strømdahl for Aftenposten.

Aftenposten has published a big article (subscribers only) about the MTV Unplugged concerts at Giske. Here’s a small summary.

The main focus of the story is how good this process has been for the band, and how they decided to stick together against a “common enemy” – producer Lars Horntveth.

“We have ended up joining forces in a weird way, in a battle against our “common enemy” Lars. Suddenly we’re a band again, suddenly we understand why we’re together, and we’re in agreement like never before. We’re usually always in disagreement, and that’s kinda how it’s supposed to be, but not this time. It’s almost touching”, Morten tells Aftenposten.

“Working with the three of them has been enjoyable and fun and very frustrating. I have been utterly pissed off at times, and so have they. After all, they’re not used to a stubborn bastard like me interfering like this, but it’s been very healthy. Deep down I think they like it, even if they have hated me at times”, Lars Horntveth says.

Paul, who suggested Horntveth as producer, is also very pleased with the process:

“It’s been incredibly inspiring just to sit in the same room and test out ideas on the fly. That’s when you see how much we’re capable of together. When outside elements are introduced, we immediately know when things feel right, and when things don’t work or doesn’t suit us.”

Magne joins in on the praise:

“This has been similar to how we used to work in the 80s, when we lived in the studio, in search of cool stuff. One is pushing things forward, one is holding back, while one is focused on himself. That’s been an important three-headed thing for a-ha, but this current process has given us an incredible team spirit and a creative exchange that we haven’t had in many years.”

Deciding where the MTV Unplugged recording would take place was not an easy task, a-ha manager Harald Wiik says:

“I wanted to build up a whole TV-studio near London, but the band didn’t want that. They wanted to go to the Amazon or the Brazilian city of Belém, but that proved to be too difficult. Then Magne figured we could do something “Norwegian”, inside a stave church, but it would be too small [for such a production]. Morten suggested we solve it by simply using the mannequins from the “The Sun Always Shines on TV”-video as our audience. Finally we ended up here at Giske, which is a completely unique place.”

The article also mentions plans for more a-ha concerts to be added next summer.

As for what this experience could mean for future a-ha collaborations, Paul says:

“Who knows. We’re still like planets spinning around each other, but right now we’re in the same orbit. I can’t remember the last time we had such a natural and easy way of working together.”

Setlist details from MTV Unplugged concert

Picture from MTV Germany on Instagram

a-ha played the first of two MTV Unplugged concerts at Øygardshallen (Giske Harbour Hall) on the island of Giske last night, in front of an audience of around 250 people. Here’s a picture of the band arriving.

The 21-song set included two new a-ha songs; “This is Our Home” (written by Magne) and “Break in the Clouds” (written by Paul), three songs that have rarely been played live; “This Alone is Love”, “Over the Treetops” and “Memorial Beach”, and surprisingly – one song from the Bridges album Fakkeltog (1980); “The Vacant” (jokingly renamed “Sox of the Fox”), but with Morten on vocals instead of Paul.

Additionally, they did a cover version of Echo & The Bunnymen’s 1984 hit “The Killing Moon” with special guest Ian McCulloch, who also joined them on “Scoundrel Days”. American singer Lissie Maurus guested on “I’ve Been Losing You”, while Norway’s own Ingrid Helene Håvik from Highasakite did the same on “The Sun Always Shines on TV”. Alison Moyet was not among the special guests last night, but she will join them on stage on Friday instead.

Mobile phones and other recording eqipment was strictly forbidden inside the venue, so we’ll have to wait for the live CD/DVD/Blu-ray release in October to hear what it sounded like. However, one of the fans attending posted a picture of the stage setlist on Instagram:

1. This is Our Home (New song by Magne)
2. Lifelines
3. I’ve Been Losing You (w/Lissie)
4. Analogue
5. The Sun Always Shines on TV (w/Ingrid Helene Håvik)
6. Break in the Clouds (New song by Paul)
7. Foot of the Mountain
8. Stay on These Roads
9. This Alone is Love
10. Over the Treetops
11. Forever Not Yours
12. Sox of the Fox (aka “The Vacant” by Bridges)
13. Scoundrel Days (w/Ian McCulloch)
14. The Killing Moon (Echo & The Bunnymen cover w/Ian McCulloch)
15. Summer Moved On
16. Memorial Beach
17. Living a Boy’s Adventure Tale
18. Manhattan Skyline
19. The Living Daylights
20. Hunting High and Low
– – – – – – – – – – – – –
21. Take on Me

Also, in keeping with the MTV theme, next year’s tour now seems to have been officially renamed from “An acoustic evening with a-ha” to “a-ha MTV Unplugged Tour 2018”. See a-ha.com tour page.

Giske concerts to be part of MTV Unplugged

Universal Music Norway issued a press release today, confirming that a-ha’s acoustic concerts at Giske next week will be filmed and recorded as part of the long-running MTV Unplugged series.

The setlist will include hit songs, rarely-played album tracks, two brand new a-ha songs and a few cover versions.

A number of special guests will also join a-ha on stage; Alison Moyet, Ian McCulloch (Echo & The Bunnymen), Ingrid Håvik (Highasakite) and Lissie.

The concert will be broadcast on MTV this fall, and released on CD and DVD on 13 October.

After working on the acoustic set in Oslo since late March, rehearsals resumed at the Ocean Sound Recordings studio at Giske on 10 June. Check out the Instagram accounts of Karl Oluf Wennerberg, Lars Horntveth and Madeleine Ossum for exclusive pictures from the process.

And here’s a picture of Morten and violinist Madeleine Ossum at Giske on Monday, apparently.

a-ha to perform at Giske in June

a-ha performing for a small studio audience, September 2015

a-ha recently announced they will be playing two acoustic concerts at Øygardshallen on the island of Giske, Norway on 22 and 23 June, which will result in a live album and DVD to be released later this year.

Even though the ticket price was 4000 kr (£361) for one concert, or 6000 kr (£541) for both concerts, all 500 tickets were sold out within 30 minutes when the sale started yesterday. The vast majority of tickets were sold to fans outside of Norway.

“In total there were around 250 tickets available for each concert. Additionally the band has reserved a number of tickets for friends and family”, Terje Erstad at Ocean Sound Recordings told Sunnmørsposten on Monday.

“I totally understand that 4000 may seem a lot for one ticket, but there is a very high cost per person when you’re doing a big production like this for such a small group of people”, a-ha manager Harald Wiik explained to NRK.

a-ha will be joined by the following musicians for the Giske concerts: Karl Oluf Wennerberg, Even Ormestad, Morten Qvenild, Lars Horntveth, Tove Margrete Erikstad, Madeleine Ossum and Emilie Heldal Lidsheim.

Originally the plan was to do four concerts between 26 June – 30 June, but as Jaga Jazzist will be embarking on a US tour on 25 June, that wouldn’t work. Both Even Ormestad and Lars Horntveth are members of Jaga Jazzist.

Oslo Spektrum shows announced for 2018

a-ha.com has announced two additional dates on the 2018 acoustic tour:

We are excited to share the news that a-ha will perform their acoustic set over two evenings at the Oslo Spektrum on February 9 & 10, 2018!

We’re told these shows will be the band’s only Norwegian shows on the acoustic tour, so don’t miss your chance to see a-ha perform these special arrangements live in their home town!

Ticket Sales
Fan pre-sale – March 30 at 9am CET
Regular on-sale – March 31 at 9am CET

Still no word on where the four concerts this June will be held, but all three band members have been rehearsing at Lars Horntveth’s Pooka Studio in Oslo over the last week. a-ha.com promises videos and photos from the studio to be posted in the coming days.

One picture posted by Horntveth on Instagram on Thursday shows (left to right) Even Ormestad, Paul, Karl Oluf Wennerberg, Magne and Morten Qvenild working on the acoustic set.

Update 30 March: A concert at the O2 Arena in London on 14 February 2018 has also been announced, with tickets going on sale 7 April. This will be the only UK date on the acoustic tour.

Jason Lytle of Grandaddy praises a-ha

Jason Lytle
(Photo by Ryan Smith)

Jason Lytle of critically acclaimed indie band Grandaddy has recently been promoting the band’s latest album Last Place, released on Danger Mouse’s label 30th Century Records. During the interviews he’s been quite vocal about his admiration of a-ha, and in particular the Cast In Steel album.

In an episode of the podcast Fidelity High posted last week, where musicians talk about albums they love, Lytle picked Cast In Steel.

“Believe me, I felt the pressure to take the Beatles or Rolling Stones or The Who or The Kinks- route. And there’s a lot of modern records I really like, that could have made the list. But I always feel compelled to mention a-ha, because they have been a favorite band of mine for a long time”, Lytle says in the podcast.

The California musician, who has also released several solo albums, is intrigued by the a-ha members’ ability to keep writing good songs:

“The fact that they can make a record this far into being a-ha, and have it still be of such high quality, is really intriguing to me”, he says.

Lytle produced the Band of Horses album Why Are You OK last year, and says he’s especially impressed by the production on a-ha’s later albums:

“Paul Waaktaar, who is one of the chief songwriters and handles a lot of their production, he’s pretty good at enhancing moments and just cranking up the drama level in certain key moments, when it needs to be. And Morten Harket, who is their lead singer, he has a freakin’ amazing voice. They write the songs perfectly to suit his voice, so that helps.”

The Grandaddy frontman picks “Under The Makeup” as the featured song in the podcast, and says he’s definitely inspired by a-ha’s music:

“There’s something soaring, it just glides and it soars. I like music that I can get easily lost in, and they seem to hit a lot of moments like that. And I get inspired by that, definitely.”

Here are links to some other recent interviews where Lytle mentions a-ha:
loudandquiet.com    diymag.com    vice.com    telerama.fr

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