Posts Tagged ‘morten harket’

Out Of My Hands at number 2

Despite bad reviews, Out Of My Hands has entered the Norwegian album chart at #2 in its first week, only beaten by Hver Gang Vi Møtes – a collection of songs from a popular TV2 show, where various artists perform cover versions of each others’ songs.

In comparison, Wild Seed and Letter From Egypt both entered the album chart at #1. Vogts Villa entered at #21, while Poetenes Evangelium did not chart.

In Germany, “Scared Of Heights” falls from #48 to #92 in its second week on the single chart.

Tomsk concert, April 19th

Tomsk. April 19th

Morten’s tour continued at the Palace of Sport in Tomsk yesterday. The setlist was the same as in Novosibirsk, except “Scared of Heights” opened the first encore, instead of ending the main set.

Here is the setlist, with YouTube links:

1. Burn Money Burn
2. I’m The One
3. Keep The Sun Away
4. Crying In The Rain
5. Out Of Blue Comes Green
6. Move To Memphis
7. Forever Not Yours
8. When I Reached The Moon
9. Los Angeles
10. Spanish Steps
11. A Kind Of Christmas Card
12. We’re Looking For The Whales
13. Just Believe It
14. Lightning
——–
15. Scared Of Heights
16. Stay On These Roads
17. Foot Of The Mountain
——–
18. Lay Me Down Tonight
19. Take On Me

There are also some YouTube clips of Morten introducing the band and dedicating “We’re Looking For The Whales” to Paul and Magne.

Novosibirsk concert, April 18th

Novosibirsk, April 18th

Morten continued the tour today, at the Circus venue in Novosibirsk. And apparently this concert ended up being radically different from the first.

The setlist was almost completely shuffled around, compared to Krasnoyarsk. In addition, three solo songs were added; “When I Reached The Moon”, “Just Believe It” and “Lay Me Down Tonight”, plus one additional a-ha song; “We’re Looking For The Whales”.

1. Burn Money Burn
2. I’m The One
3. Keep The Sun Away
4. Crying In The Rain
5. Out Of Blue Comes Green
6. Move To Memphis
7. Forever Not Yours
8. When I Reached The Moon
9. Los Angeles
10. Spanish Steps
11. A Kind Of Christmas Card
12. We’re Looking For The Whales
13. Just Believe It
14. Lightning
15. Scared Of Heights
——–
16 Stay On These Roads
17. Foot Of The Mountain
——–
18. Lay Me Down Tonight
19. Take On Me

So in total, there were 8 a-ha songs, 7 songs from Out Of My Hands and 4 songs from Wild Seed.

Trying out different setlists at the start of a tour is something a-ha have usually done as well, before settling on the “final” setlist after a few shows.

Fan pictures

Local news article

Interview in airport

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.

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