Posts Tagged ‘a-ha’

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

a-ha announce acoustic tour/album/DVD

Picture from Rock in Rio 2015, taken by Just Loomis

Picture from Rock in Rio 2015, taken by Just Loomis

a-ha will be going on the road again in 2017 and 2018, this time in an acoustic setting, starting with four performances in June next year. The press release announcing “An acoustic evening with a-ha” was posted on the official site today:

a-ha will make a live acoustic album and concert film from a series of intimate performances to take place between June 26 – June 30, 2017.

The album, DVD and broadcast are scheduled for release in November 2017.

In early 2018, a-ha will take this special acoustic set on the road, giving the fans a new way to experience the music they love. Magne, Morten and Paul will be joined by a handpicked ensemble of musicians to embellish and reinvent the classics, as well as present new material in acoustic arrangements.

Morten is excited about the possibilities: “The band is finally coming together for live acoustic recordings of a wide selection of our songs! As we speak, there is palpable growing excitement about this in the group. We had wonderful moments with the fans during our last tour, and as a fourth member of the band you certainly have had an influence on our commitment to this. I really look forward to it all!”

Whereas the concerts on the 2018 tour will be held in large indoor arenas, the four performances in June 2017 will be for a very limited audience of only 300 people at each show. These are likely to be held in Norway, but the exact location is yet to be determined, a-ha manager Harald Wiik tells the Norwegian press.

So far, 10 concerts in Germany, Austria and Switzerland have been confirmed for January/February 2018, with more dates to be announced later:

23 January: Schleyerhalle, Stuttgart, Germany
24 January: Festhalle, Frankfurt, Germany
26 January: TUI Arena, Hannover, Germany
27 January: Leipzig Arena, Leipzig, Germany
29 January: Mercedes Benz Arena, Berlin, Germany
30 January: Barclaycard Arena, Hamburg, Germany
02 February: Stadthalle, Vienna, Austria
03 February: Olympiahalle, Munich, Germany
05 February: Hallenstadion, Zurich, Switzerland
06 February: Lanxess Arena, Cologne, Germany

Read the full announcement on a-ha.com for more details and ticket info.

Norwegian articles:
VG: a-ha med ny plate, film og turné
Dagbladet: A-ha annonserer akustisk turné
Side 2: a-ha slipper ny plate

Cast In Steel tour finale in Bergen

The final concert of the Cast In Steel tour ended with fireworks

The final concert of the Cast In Steel tour ended with fireworks
(Picture by Jakob)

a-ha ended their Cast In Steel tour in Bergen on Saturday, 7 May, with an outdoor concert in front of 16,000 people at Bergenhus Festning.

The organizers took a risk when deciding to have the concert outdoors so early in the season, in a city known for getting a lot of rain, but luckily the weather turned out to be warm and sunny – something Magne joked about when he spoke to the crowd:

“Hello Bergen! This is fantastic. Welcome to the final a-ha concert……on this tour. Very nice to be invited here. And for all you who don’t speak Norwegian, who have travelled to this beautiful city; I just want to tell you that this is absolutely an ordinary spring day in Bergen. This is what it’s like all the time. You can come whenever and it will be like this. It’s a beautiful place and you need to come here more often.”

The band put on an energetic performance for an appreciative audience, making this concert a worthy ending of the Cast In Steel tour. After “Take On Me”, the night was topped off with a big display of fireworks above the stage.

The 21-song setlist was the same as it had been at every concert since early April:

1. I’ve Been Losing You
2. Cry Wolf
3. Move to Memphis
4. Stay on These Roads
5. The Swing of Things
6. Cast in Steel
7. Crying in the Rain (Morten/Anneli)
8. Mother Nature Goes to Heaven
9. We’re Looking for the Whales
10. Velvet (Paul)
11. Lifelines (Magne)
12. Here I Stand and Face the Rain (Anneli/Morten)
13. Scoundrel Days
14. Sycamore Leaves
15. She’s Humming a Tune
16. Foot of the Mountain
17. Hunting High and Low
——————
18. The Sun Always Shines on TV
19. Under the Makeup
20. The Living Daylights
——————
21. Take on Me

a-ha at the Radio Regenbogen Awards

Receiving the award

Receiving the award

a-ha attended the annual Radio Regenbogen Awards in Rust, Germany last night, to be presented with the “Comeback of the Year”-award. They were joined at their table by Magne’s oldest son Thomas Vincent. Two other Norwegian acts, Madcon and Nico & Vinz, also received awards and performed.

Magne: “Thank you for this award. Everytime we do a comeback we get an award, that’s why we keep going away. [The audience laughs and claps]. I don’t know if you’re clapping because we go away or we come back. But thank you for this. And it’s really nice to see Norwegian colleagues in the room, here in Germany. Thank you for being generous towards the music from Madcon and Nico & Vinz. So a big thank you to Radio Regenbogen und vielen dank für den Norwegischen abend.”

Performing "Cast In Steel"

Performing “Cast In Steel”

They also performed two songs; “Foot Of The Mountain” and “Cast In Steel” (Steve Osborne version). They were joined by the backing band and Anneli on stage, even though it was only playback.

A video clip of a-ha receiving the award and performing can be seen on YouTube.

Pictures: Picture 1    Picture 2    Picture 3

The Cast In Steel Tour continues in Mannheim today and Frankfurt tomorrow.

Magne promises a real celebration in Bergen

Picture by Nicole Mikolai

Picture by Nicole Mikolai

Bergens Tidende has an interview with Magne today, where he talks about the upcoming concert in Bergen on May 7th, which he promises will be special.

“We want to make the last concert in Bergen a real celebration. We’re planning to invite an international “mystery”-artist that people will have heard of, and we’ll also include a local hero as support act. There’s so much happening in Bergen, so we would like to find an artist that we haven’t used as support before. After Bergen there are no plans for a-ha, so this is an opportunity to really make our mark”, Magne says on the phone from Hamburg.

The “local hero” that Magne is referring to is 19-year-old singer-songwriter dePresno, while the international “mystery”-artist is yet to be announced.

“According to our own management, we’ve sold 30 percent more tickets on this tour than we did on the proper Farewell Tour in 2010. The fact that we’re able to fill the O2 in London, playing to 17,000 Englishmen, is a reminder that people still appreciate us. It’s obvious that a-ha need to disband more often.”

Picture by Nicole Mikolai

Picture by Nicole Mikolai

“Playing to full venues gives you an energy boost. There have been periods where we only played to half-full venues. That’s much sadder. But in this business you never know in advance how the turnout will be.”

On the setlist being static:

“I don’t feel that it is. It’s hard to avoid playing the biggest hits, but on the current tour we’re playing songs that we’ve never or barely played before. We have also cut “Summer Moved On” and “Manhattan Skyline”, to mention two of the more well-known songs. I feel the current setlist is significantly darker than in 2010. We have to find the right balance. A song will improve when performed often, but we should also be careful not to fall asleep at the wheel.”

On his and Paul’s solo section:

“That was a conscious decision. On this tour we’re doing more than 50 shows. We felt that Morten’s voice needed to withstand the strain, so halfway through the show Paul sings “Velvet” and I sing “Lifelines”. That way Morten gets to rest his voice.”

On the Blick interview:

“Even on a good day Morten is very unpredictable in interview settings. That interview came out wrong. Because nothing has changed. We’re touring until Bergen, then it’s over. We have no musical plans together after that. But we will never say never again.”

Around 15,000 tickets have been sold for the Bergen concert on May 7th so far, although the Bergenhus Festning outdoor venue has a capacity of 22,000. Tickets are available from Ticketmaster.no.

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.

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