Japanese tour dates cancelled

Both Magne and Paul have now confirmed on Instagram that the five Japanese a-ha concerts in Tokyo (x2), Fukuoka, Osaka and Nagoya (10-17 March) have been cancelled due to the coronavirus. This comes in addition to the already cancelled concert in Singapore (21 March).

That means the second leg of the Hunting High And Low tour is now over. But hopefully it won’t be too long until new concert dates can be scheduled for Japan and Singapore.

Paul:

“…that was as far as we got on this leg of our tour..we’ll come back at a later stage to play the shows we’re missing out on. Be well everyone and keep washing those hands.”

Magne:

“(…) i was really looking forward to seeing our fans and friends in asia, but the safety of our fans has to come first of course. take good care of yourselves everyone, and see you later down the road!”

Singapore concert cancelled

Today it was announced that the upcoming a-ha concert in Singapore has been cancelled:

We are extremely sad to have to tell you that the show in Singapore on March 21 has been cancelled, due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) proliferation concerns.

We have been looking forward to do our first show for our fans in Singapore, and we know fans from all over South-East Asia had made plans to travel to the show as well.

It breaks our hearts to disappoint you, and we will do our best to make it back as soon as possible. Stay safe in the meantime.

Details about ticket refunds are available at sistic.com.sg.

a-ha to perform at Rock in Rio Lisboa

Festival ad

Rock in Rio Lisboa has announced that a-ha will be performing at the festival on 27 June 2020. This will be the very first time a-ha perform live in Portugal.

The Rock in Rio spin-off festival has been held every other year since 2004, and is one of the largest of its kind in Europe, with an attendance of around 350,000 people.

Also performing on the same day will be Duran Duran, Xutos & Pontapés and Bush.

For some reason Duran Duran are headlining, although it could be argued that a-ha have been more successfull in Europe in recent years, both in the charts and as a touring act.

Tickets are available here.

a-ha in Dubai and South Africa

Morten in Johannesburg, 15 February
(Picture by Brad W)

The Hunting High and Low tour continued in Dubai on 10 and 11 February, a place where a-ha performed for the very first time.

While the 20-song setlist was the same as before, there was no video wall at these shows – presumably because the Dubai Opera venue is fairly small. There was also new intro music before “Take On Me”, instead of the “Commuter” short film.

Both concerts were well-received by an appreciative audience.

YouTube videos from Dubai
Dubai photos and review by Richard Cawood

Last weekend it was South Africa’s turn, with the band performing their first concerts in the country since 1994. The two concerts in Cape Town on 14 February and in Johannesburg on 15 February were both outdoor shows and the response from the crowd was reportedly very good.

Once again, there was no video wall as stage backdrop this time, only two side screens – thus making the visual show a considerably more scaled-down version compared to the European tour. The setlist was also shortened, with both “Crying In the Rain” and “Digital River” being cut. And instead of an extended break after the album set, they went straight from “Here I Stand and Face the Rain” into “Sycamore Leaves” – shuffling songs around for the first time since the tour started in October.

Take on Me (Cape Town)    The Living Daylights (Cape Town)
I’ve Been Losing You (Johannesburg)    The Living Daylights (Johannesburg)

Before the Cape Town concert, Magne and Morten were interviewed for the TV show Afternoon Express. The segment can be seen on YouTube here (starts at 49:40).

 
Pictures from Johannesburg by Brad W:

 
South African setlist:
1. Take on Me
2. Train of Thought
3. Hunting High and Low
4. The Blue Sky
5. Living a Boy’s Adventure Tale
6. The Sun Always Shines on TV
7. And You Tell Me
8. Love is Reason
9. I Dream Myself Alive
10. Here I Stand and Face the Rain
11. Sycamore Leaves
12. I’ve Been Losing You
13. Foot Of The Mountain
14. Analogue
15. The Swing Of Things
16. Stay On These Roads
– – – – – – – – – – – –
17. Scoundrel Days
18. The Living Daylights

Other links:
Cape Town photos by Leigh Groenemeyer
Cape Town photos by Warren Talmarkes
Cape Town review by “6000”
Johannesburg photos by Stefan Botha
Johannesburg review by Bruce Dennill

a-ha world tour 2020 opens in Norway

Trondheim Spektrum, 7 February 2020

After a two-month break from touring, a-ha opened the second leg of their Hunting High and Low 2019-2020 world tour with concerts at Nordlandshallen in Bodø on 1 February and at Trondheim Spektrum in Trondheim on 7 February. While the audience of 9,700 in Bodø was all-standing, the audience of 6,000 in Trondheim was all-seated.

Reviews in the local press were generally quite positive, with both Avisa Nordland (Bodø) and Adresseavisen (Trondheim) giving the concerts a 5 out of 6 rating. Adresseavisen’s reviewer called it “the best a-ha concert I can remember in Trondheim”, highlighting the band’s “authority and musical weight” and how they have “a clear and common vision” on this tour. He also praised the video production with its “incredibly elegant execution”.

The whole Trondheim concert was filmed, to be used as additional footage in the upcoming a-ha: The Movie documentary film.

The setlist remains the same as last year; starting with the HHAL-album being played in full, followed by ten additional songs after a 20-minute break.

 
Setlist
1. Take on Me
2. Train of Thought
3. Hunting High and Low
4. The Blue Sky
5. Living a Boy’s Adventure Tale
6. The Sun Always Shines on TV
7. And You Tell Me
8. Love is Reason
9. I Dream Myself Alive
10. Here I Stand and Face the Rain
(20-minute break)
11. Analogue
12. Foot of the Mountain
13. The Swing of Things
14. Crying in the Rain
15. Sycamore Leaves
16. Digital River
17. I’ve Been Losing You
18. Stay on These Roads
– – – – – – – – – – – –
19. Scoundrel Days
20. The Living Daylights

 
Bodø reviews and pictures:
Avisa Nordland review (5/6) (paywall)
Bodø Nu review (3/6) (paywall)
Bodø Nu photo gallery (paywall)

Trondheim reviews and pictures:
Adresseavisen review (5/6) (paywall)
Musikknyheter review (8/10)
Trondheim24 photo gallery

The tour continues with two concerts at the Dubai Opera today and tomorrow, followed by Cape Town and Johannesburg on Friday and Saturday.

Elvira Nikolaisen records duet with Morten

Norwegian singer-songwriter Elvira Nikolaisen posted a new Christmas song on her website on 25 December, a duet with Morten Harket called “I Look To You This Time Of Year”. She has also posted a picture of them together at a piano on her Instagram.

Elvira Nikolaisen has released four albums since her debut Quiet Exit in 2006.

Back in 2007, Morten and Elvira appeared together in Oslo to promote the launch of Amnesty International’s “Make Some Noise” campaign, for which both a-ha and Elvira contributed cover versions of John Lennon songs.

Update: The song has since been removed, but can still be heard on YouTube.

Morten guest on live podcast show

Jan Thomas, Einar Tørnquist and Morten at Chat Noir, 17 December

Morten was a special guest on a live Christmas edition of the Norwegian podcast Jan Thomas og Einar blir venner [Jan Thomas and Einar become friends] at Chat Noir in Oslo last night. Hosted by the unlikely duo of musician/TV-host Einar Tørnquist and celebrity stylist Jan Thomas, the podcast has quickly become one of the most popular in Norway.

Morten, 17 December

Topics covered in the humorous conversation included Morten’s friendship with Jan Thomas, which started with Morten’s partner Inez recommending him to do his hair. “That is the fun thing about Jan; we don’t reflect about things in the same way, but no matter what direction I drift off in, he keeps up with me”, Morten said about the conversations they have at Jan Thomas’ hair studio.

Jan Thomas told the story of how, following the tragic Orlando shooting in 2016, he asked Morten to take part in the annual Pride Parade in Oslo, which he immediately agreed to. “I really appreciated him doing that”, Jan Thomas said.

Morten was also asked about his interest in insects and butterflies and impressed the audience with his knowledge in a butterfly quiz.

At the end Jan Thomas read a self-written poem about Morten, which referenced the Norwegian-dubbed version of the Julia Roberts film Mirror Mirror (2012), in which Jan Thomas played one of the seven dwarves while Morten played the king (Sean Bean).

The podcast show aired live on the streaming service Dplay, and can be seen here (premium subscribers only).

This was Morten’s second public appearance this month. On 3 December he did another book conversation about Hjemkomst together with Ørjan Nilsson and Audun Vinger, this time at the public library in Haugesund.

This week also marks exactly 40 years since Morten first heard Bridges live in concert. On 16 December 1979 the band performed at Asker Gymnasium, which made a profound impact on him. “It stunned me, right there on the floor”, Morten has said later. After the gig he briefly met Magne and Paul for the very first time.

New a-ha book coming in March

Book cover

UK music writer Barry Page, known for his in-depth articles about The Story of Bridges, Paul’s solo projects and Morten’s solo projects, has written a new book called a-ha: Down To The Tracks, which will be published on 26 March 2020.

The 320-page hardback edition will cover a-ha’s whole career and all the various solo projects, with contributions from an impressive list of collaborators and people close to the band, the publisher This Day In Music Books announced today:

“In the first a-ha book of its kind, Barry Page looks back on an extraordinary 40-year musical odyssey. Aside from showcasing each a-ha album in track by track detail, the book includes a comprehensive look at both the band’s pre-fame years and each of the three members’ side projects, up to and including the release of Magne Furuholmen’s revered new solo album, White Xmas Lies.

Told from a number of different perspectives, this fresh take on the story mixes archived interviews and reviews, along with exclusive new input from a wide-ranging number of contributors, including a-ha’s Magne Furuholmen and Pål Waaktaar-Savoy, plus Dag and Jørun Bøgeberg, Viggo Bondi, Pål H. Christiansen, Anneli Drecker, Espen Farstad, Zoë Gnecco, Erik Hagelien, Matt Letley, Sven Lindvall, Robert Alan Morley, Tini Flaat Mykland, Martyn Phillips, Mark Saunders, Tonje Waaktaar Gamst, Harald Wiik and more.”

The book will also come with a special surprise:

“All copies of this edition will include a special collectable 7″ vinyl single which includes the previously unreleased ‘Miss Eerie’. Demoed by Bridges in early 1981, this embryonic version of ‘Take on Me’ was later christened by Morten Harket as ‘The Juicy Fruit Song’.”

a-ha: Down To The Tracks, which will be available as a limited edition hardback edition individually numbered 1 – 1000 and signed by the author, can be pre-ordered from the publisher here (UK £24.99 / US $32.00).

Tour dates added in Prague and Gothenburg

Two new dates on next year’s HHAL tour have now been announced:

28 October 2020: O2 Arena, Prague, Czech Republic
20 November 2020: Partille Arena, Gothenburg, Sweden

This will be the very first time a-ha perform live in the Czech Republic, although there is definitely a fanbase in the country. In 2015 the Cast In Steel album entered the official Czech album chart at #7.

Meanwhile, the concert in Gothenburg will only be the fifth time a-ha have ever performed in Sweden. And although they did an outdoor concert in Sweden last year, in Dalhalla as part of the Electric Summer tour, next year’s concert will be their first visit to Gothenburg since 1986.

These dates follow on from last month’s announcement that a-ha will also perform in Singapore for the first time ever next year:

21 March 2020: Singapore Turf Club, Kranji, Singapore

The total number of concerts on the HHAL tour has now reached 55.

Update 15/12: Make that total 56 instead, as the concert in Dubai is now sold out and a second show has been added:

10 February: Dubai Opera, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

More dates for 2020 are expected to follow, including a rumoured tour of South America.

Ticket details for all shows can be found on a-ha.com.

HHAL Tour featured in LSi Magazine

Magazine cover

a-ha’s Hunting High and Low Tour is the cover story of the December 2019 issue of Light & Sound International, a UK magazine covering “the professional use of lighting, sound, video, staging and rigging technology across the entertainment, presentation and events industries”.

Inside there’s a very extensive 9-page article about all the technical aspects of the tour, featuring interviews with a-ha’s longtime production manager James Maillardet, FOH engineer Olivier Gerard, system tech Toby Donovan, monitor engineer Sigurd Andresen, video director Icarus Wilson-Wright, camera director Charles Woods, video crew chief Jack Middlebrook and lighting designer Stu Farrell.

The loudspeaker rig used on this tour is d&b audiotechnik’s new KSL System, which was specifically chosen to support Morten’s vocal performance:

“Morten has issues around 300-400Hz. Despite being on IEMs, anything that might affect his hearing – standing waves and house resonance – can influence his pitching and was to be avoided. Because there is more rejection at the back of the box, the acoustics of the big arenas are less excited, and that is very much noticeable when I mix. (…) This is my first tour with a-ha and only our fourth show, but it’s all working very well”, Olivier Gerard says.

The article also goes in-depth about the new and impressive 10-bit LED screen supplied by UK company Video Design, which has a potential of displaying one billion colours, compared to 16,7 million colours on a regular 8-bit screen:

“In recent years, there has been a lot of attention put on [a-ha’s] use of video – they don’t just want a screen, they want meaningful images, something that connects them to their audience. When Icarus Wilson-Wright, our video director, first came to me and asked about using 10-bit video, I thought, ‘What is this? Will the punters notice?’ The truth is, it’s stunning, more impressive than Icarus could have ever conveyed in words. The promoter at our first show in Dublin spoke of the beauty of the video, as have audiences, house staff and security personnel at every show since”, James Maillardet says.

The whole article is also available online by signing up for a free subscription to the digital edition of the magazine at the LSi Online website.

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