Posts Tagged ‘morten harket’

Krasnoyarsk concert, April 16th

Palace of Sport, Krasnoyarsk, April 16th
(Picture from sibnovosti.ru)

Morten opened his Out Of My Hands solo tour in Krasnoyarsk, Russia last night, backed by Karl Oluf Wennerberg, Erik Ljunggren and Dan Sunhordvik.

The stage production was rather sparse, without any video screens, but Morten appeared to be in fine vocal form – despite some false starts and forgotten lyrics.

Here is the setlist (according to setlist.fm), with links to video clips on YouTube:

1. I’m The One
2. Keep The Sun Away
3. Move To Memphis
4. Scared Of Heights
5. Forever Not Yours
6. Lightning
7. Burn Money Burn
8. Los Angeles
9. Crying In The Rain
10. Spanish Steps
11. A Kind Of Christmas Card
————————-
12. Out Of Blue Comes Green
13. Foot Of The Mountain
14. Stay On These Roads
15. Take On Me

“Out Of Blue Comes Green”, which won the fan voting on Morten’s website, was performed live for the first time since 1989.

This means there were 7 a-ha songs performed, 5 songs from Out Of My Hands and 3 songs from Wild Seed. Nothing from Letter From Egypt or other English-language solo songs.

It had been said beforehand that the tour would include “a selection of a-ha songs”. The fact that this “selection” turns out to be almost half the setlist – 7 out of 15 songs, is sure to disappoint those who had been hoping to hear mostly solo songs at his solo concerts.

Too bad he doesn’t have more confidence in his own material at the moment.

Picture gallery from the concert

Concert review at newslab.ru

Article from Krasnoyarsk press conference

Video from Krasnoyarsk press conference

Morten planning more cover versions

Doing a cover version of “Scared of Heights”, the song originally recorded by Espen Lind in 2008, was a suggestion by Morten’s manager Harald Wiik. Initially Morten didn’t like the idea, but eventually he agreed to do it.

But it was Magne who came up with the original idea of using other Norwegian hits, Morten said in an interview in VG’s paper edition on Saturday:

“Magne came up with the idea that I should pick out good, Norwegian songs and take them abroad. I like that thought, and it’s something that I will pursue on my next solo albums as well. Not just to be kind, but because these songs will be relevant and more than good enough in markets where they haven’t been released before.”

Morten’s solo tour is starting today, at Palace of Sport in Krasnoyarsk, Russia.

“I haven’t toured in these areas as a solo artist before, and I don’t expect the audience to be familiar with my own material. But they do associate me strongly with a-ha, so it will feel natural to do some a-ha material as well“, Morten tells VG.

“Some of the songs feel more strange to perform than others. “Stay On These Roads” is an easy choice, as I played such a big part in creating it. But what about “Hunting High and Low”? Paul wrote it at an early stage, and for me it so clearly demonstrated our caliber. There are stories connected to it; when we were setting up to record it, Magne came up with this extremely beautiful piano part. Then he forgot what he had played. Things like that. Even if people associate that song with my voice, I’m not sure if I’ll perform it live”, he says in an extensive article in Aftenposten.

“Is the world ready for Harket without a-ha in 2012? We don’t know. Maybe we have the odds against us. But we do have a hope”, manager Harald Wiik says in the same article.

TV-special on TV2

“Morten Harket – mannen bak myten”, the 1-hour TV-special about Morten’s ten-day trip to Brazil in January, aired on TV2 in Norway last night.

Hosted by Dorthe Skappel, it featured conversations with Morten and his manager Harald Wiik in various locations around Rio de Janeiro. Morten talked about his early performances with Ten Sing choir Anthem and about the first time he saw Bridges perform. He also revealed that he was offered a role in a movie with John Hurt and Helen Mirren at one point, and that he once punched a paparazzi to the ground in the UK. Morten got emotional when talking about being bullied for years as a child. “It was a real hell, year after year”, he said.

We were also introduced to a Brazilian fan who said that Morten’s music, and in particular “A Kind Of Christmas Card”, saved her from committing suicide in the 90s.

When asked about Morten’s philosophical way of speaking, Harald Wiik made it clear that he doesn’t agree with those who feel that Morten is hard to understand:

Harald Wiik and Morten, discussing the cover design of the new album

“I don’t really understand where that notion comes from. I am actually of the exact opposite opinion; I feel he is very precise and concise. I think the reason why many people get that impression, is that he’s being precise and concise at a very high tempo. And his focus can shift very quickly. But I feel that each single statement is very to the point and fact-based. But he’s going at a high speed, so you need to pay attention. It’s not for newcomers.”

The TV-special also included instrumental mixes of songs on the new album as background music and a number of clips from private home movies from Morten’s childhood. There were also some rare pictures shown – like this publicity photo of Morten’s band Souldier Blue from the early 80s:

Souldier Blue

Paying subscribers to TV2′s web-TV can see the whole special online. It has also been uploaded to YouTube.

More German promotion

Performing live on ARD, April 13th

You’d think perhaps Morten would be in Russia by now, preparing for the tour opening on Monday. Instead, he’s made another trip to Germany for more promotion.

This morning he was a guest on ARD’s “Morgenmagazin” in Cologne, where he also did the first live performance of “Scared of Heights”. The interview and the live performance can both be seen on YouTube.

While in Cologne he also appeared on the RTL show “Exclusiv” (video clip). There is also a new 2-part interview at VIP.de; Part 1   Part 2.

BTW, “Scared of Heights” has entered the German single chart at #48 in its first week.

Out Of My Hands gets lukewarm reception

Morten’s new solo album Out Of My Hands is released in Norway, Germany and seven other European countries today (see release schedule on mortenharket.com).

As expected, the album is getting a lukewarm reception from Norwegian music critics. Here are some samples of the reviews that have been published so far:

 

Dagbladet (3 out of 6):
“Harket is a formidable pop singer with an ability to single-handedly lift the quality of even the most clichéd, commercial songs. He’s not necessarily dependent on the sophisticated and demanding songs that Paul Waaktaar-Savoy and Magne Furuholmen traditionally have written specifically for his register in a-ha. But unfortunately Out Of My Hands turns out to be a lazy and unsubstantial addition to Harket’s five-album solo discography. Safe and solid. Catchy at times, but unimaginative. And strikingly predictable.”

Dagsavisen (3 out of 6):
“I have to admit that both Pet Shop Boys and Steve Osborne are among my favorites, along with Kent as well. Therefore it’s sad that Out Of My Hands isn’t characterized by good songs and an overall creative energy. (…) In contrast to a-ha, the tempo is quick and almost all the songs have a 1999-feeling. Which means modulated synths and echoed drums, plus a lot of broken chords, designed for radio. Understandably so, as Osborne has made this sound his trademark, and used it successfully a number of times. But in order to create something special, some rougher elements should have been added. Something to contrast the very nice and clean production, and Morten Harket’s constantly high-pitched voice.”

Bergensavisen (3 out of 6):
“Ever since Poetenes Evangelium (1993), the solo projects of the a-ha members have been noticeably different from their main band – with varying degrees of success. But Harket is now leaning much closer to the a-ha sound.  His last solo offering Letter From Egypt (2008) could barely be considered a footnote, and the fact that he’s now chosen a more synth-based sound is understandable. (…) But Out Of My Hands lacks the essence of what a-ha (after the 2000-comeback) were always chasing, but only sporadically succeeded in doing; triggering the three persistent and twisted pop musicians’ goal of remaining vital long after their most successfull period (both creatively and commercially).”

Adresseavisen (3 out of 6):
“Any warmth and sincerity is lacking on Out Of My Hands. (…) Harket’s sensitive vocals are almost drowned out by the synth arrangements. By all means; the arrangements are good and the production is flawless, but that’s exactly what makes it all so boring.”

Drammens Tidende (3 out of 6):
“Out Of My Hands is an unexciting album with a number of mediocre songs, and Harket disappoints by including new versions of two fairly recent hits. As usual, his vocal performance is very good, but he should try a different approach on his next album if he wants to distance himself from a-ha.”

VG (3 out of 6):
“You could say it’s a problem that the best song on this album is an English version of a ten year old Kent-song.”

Gaffa.no (2 out of 6):
“It seemed promising when Pet Shop Boys and Kent joined in on the project, but when everything that has come out of this collaboration is so boring that it could give you a rash, it doesn’t help much. (…) We’ll just have to be relieved that this isn’t a-ha’s name being defiled – it’s not easy to understand what Harket’s intentions are this time.”

Puls.no:
“This may be the pop-album I’ve had the highest expectations to, this spring. Which makes for an even bigger disappointment. (…) There is no direction in this product, nor in the production. Some synthpop, some middle of the road-pop. Weak or mediocre songs. In sum; a mediocre environment that doesn’t suit Morten Harket at all. Because he can be world’s greatest, when he just puts his mind to it!”

NTB interview

Picture by NTB/Scanpix

In a new interview with NTB, Morten talks about the process of choosing songs for the album:

“Ten songs aren’t much. But those are the ones that made it through our filters”, he says, referring to a team consisting of manager Harald Wiik, Erik Ljunggren and in part producer Steve Osborne. Especially Wiik and Ljunggren have what he calls “an entirely different taste in music”.

- But are you in control?

“I won’t let anything make it to the album that I can’t stand behind, I’m not compromising myself. I could have been more hands-on, but we’re a team”, he says, while admitting that his team’s views of what makes a good Morten Harket-song and his own views don’t always match up.

“a-ha would have benefitted from a larger degree of playful collaboration between the three of us. And that’s not been easy to accomplish on this album either. We’re all grown-up, busy people with obligations in life. The kids, your home life, bed times. Every day. You need to have a strong desire – strong enough to want to break free of your daily life in order to do it.”

Of the songs on the album, he describes “Quiet” and the title track “Out Of My Hands” as “classic, complete ‘me-songs’ “. He says the following about the latter song:

“There’s a lot of me in it. It’s a purely spiritual song, about where we come from and belong, and it makes quite a firm statement about the real nature of life – beyond the reality we experience.”

Morten attends Tesla opening

Morten and Frederic Hauge

Electric car company Tesla Motors opened a new showroom in Oslo today, where their new Model S premium sedan was the main attraction.

Morten, known for his interest in electric cars and renewable energy, arrived at the opening in a Tesla Roadster sports car together with his friend Frederic Hauge, leader of the Bellona Foundation. In 1989, Morten and Magne brought the first electric car to Norway in co-operation with Hauge and Bellona.

“It’s got a really sleek design, but the important thing is that we now have a technology that’s making this possible”, Morten said, while seated behind the wheel of the Model S.

Still, if he had to choose, he would go for a different model:

“I live out in the country, and need something with a higher ground clearance. Therefore I would be more interested in a car like the Tesla Model X”, Morten told Dagbladet.

There is also a video clip at VGTV.

Morten was originally scheduled to be a guest on the German TV-show “Gottschalk Live” today, but that appearance was cancelled.

Morten interviewed in VG

Picture from VG

VG’s paper edition has a 2-page interview with Morten today. Here is a translation of some of it:

You’ve made a quick return as a solo artist, even though you could have been resting on your laurels. Why do you keep going?

Because I want to! There’s still a lot left to do, I’m not finished with what music can provide.

How has the time been, since the last a-ha concert?

There was a great period of relaxation in January and February [2011]. But in March I was at it again. I couldn’t wait any longer. If I was going to continue, it didn’t need any pondering. It was time to start planning. The machinery was still warm, the system was up and running. So I didn’t want to wait until I became slow and lazy.

Are you still in contact with Paul and Magne?

It’s like usual. Which means never. No, just kidding, but we have been living so intensly on top of each other that now we’re in contact when it feels natural. It can be at one of Magne’s exhibitions. But we don’t write letters to each other. Magne writes an enormous amount of e-mail, but I never reply to e-mail. Paul and myself aren’t chit-chatting either. We’re grown men.

But those two will always be a huge part of your life?

Yes, we’re eternally connected. But we’re stubborn individuals, all three of us. We will always have a lot of respect for each other and everything we do individually. a-ha is a unique forum. You can’t take away any of us and still call it a-ha.

Paul has written many of the songs you have made classics. As a solo-artist, could you still have performed songs written by him?

Yes, I could. And songs written by Magne.

There isn’t any prestige in that?

No, definitely not. The prestige lies in choosing an interesting selection of material. And it’s even more interesting if you’re both the songwriter and the singer. But that’s often not the case, as well. Sometimes I write songs that would be better suited for someone else. That’s how it works when I’m choosing songs – I don’t look at who’s written them.

On the last a-ha tour you left most of the talking to Magne, you hardly spoke at all in between songs. How will that work on your solo tour?

I will have a live connection to Magne on stage, so he’ll still do all the talking!

Why is it that you don’t talk in between songs?

You’ve been to an a-ha concert. I’m standing there howling the whole evening! Enough is enough. No, just kidding. I mean, I don’t represent myself when I’m doing an a-ha concert. I’m representing the spirit of a-ha, which is neither Paul, Magne nor myself. It’s different from when I’m doing my own thing. So I think I’ll naturally be speaking more – I can’t possibly speak any less!”

TV2 to air one-hour special about Morten

Morten enjoying the view from Sugarloaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro, January 2012.

On April 14th at 21:40, TV2 in Norway will air a 1-hour special called “Morten Harket – mannen bak myten” (“Morten Harket – the man behind the myth”), which follows him on his trip to Brazil in January this year.

Here’s how it’s described on TV2′s website:
“A paying audience of 198.000 people filled the Maracana Stadium in 1991, giving a-ha a world record. We get a unique look into Morten Harket’s life and career, as Dorthe Skappel travels with him back to Rio, Brazil.”

There’s a short preview at tv2.no.

 

Also, the German iTunes store has now posted details about a special edition of Out Of My Hands, with 90-second samples of all 11 songs. This special edition includes a bonus track called “Undecided” (yes, that’s the actual title of the song).

NDR2 and Brisant interviews

Interviewed on Brisant, March 30th

Morten has now done around 20 various media interviews in Germany this week.

Today he was a guest on NDR2 Radio in Hamburg, where he was met by a few contest winners.

Host Elke Wiswedel wanted to know if he’s able to connect with a live audience on a personal level when he’s doing concerts.

“What I would say is that I am not an entertainer. I am an engager. That is what is interesting for me, and it’s what attracts me to music. I’m not a sing and dance man, in a way. So it is intimate, it’s personal, it becomes private very quickly. And I am fascinated by this. So I do think that it is true that there is a personal level of contact, kind of with everyone there. But you can’t distinguish it”, Morten said.

There is a photo gallery from the radio visit at ndr.de, along with a short audio clip from the interview.

While at the radio station, he was also interviewed by TV news show Brisant. A video clip of the report can be seen here.

Afterwards, he decided to visit the Planten un Blomen botanical garden in Hamburg, with newspaper BILD. A short interview is now up on BILD‘s website.

The single “Scared of Heights” was released in Germany today. The music video can now be seen in high quality on YouTube, and don’t forget to order the CD single from amazon.de.

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