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.

White Xmas Lies concert in Oslo

Magne live at Kulturkirken Jakob, 4 December

Magne performed an exclusive White Xmas Lies concert with his band at Kulturkirken Jakob in Oslo this afternoon. The 1-hour concert, which was Magne’s first proper solo concert since 2008, sounded really good and was attended by an appreciative audience of specially invited Salvation Army and a-ha.com guests.

When the doors opened, the audience were greeted with warm soup and bread inside the church, handed out by Magne himself and others.

Magne, who switched between piano, acoustic guitar and electric guitar, was joined by an 8-piece band on stage; Karl Oluf Wennerberg, Even Ormestad, Morten Qvenild, Tini Flaat Mykland, Madeleine Ossum, Emilie Heldal Lidsheim, Ingvild Nesdal Sandnes and Dan Sunhordvik. On the last song they were also joined by a horn section from the Salvation Army.

Ten of the songs were taken from White Xmas Lies, but in addition Tini performed “You Can’t Have it Both Ways” – written by Magne for her 2014 album Undo My Heart (which was given out for free after the show).

Here is the setlist:

1. Snow is Falling
2. The Light We Lost
3. A Wintry Silence
4. The Season to be Melancholy
5. Caprice Des Dieux
6. This is Now America
7. You Can’t Have it Both Ways (Tini)
8. So Cold It’s Hard to Think
9. White Xmas Lies
10. Revelation Song
11. There Goes Another Year

See a short video clip from the show posted by Magne’s label Drabant Music on Facebook.

The whole concert was filmed by a multi-camera production and may end up as a TV-special soon. And even if this was the only concert this year, Magne is planning more concerts for next year.

As a warm-up for today’s concert, Magne performed “There Goes Another Year” at the lighting of this year’s Christmas tree at the University Square in Oslo on Sunday, 1 December. A couple of video clips can be seen here and here. He was also a guest on NRK P1’s Nitimen on the same day, which is available at nrk.no (starts at 28:30).

Update: It seems Magne also did a second concert at Kulturkirken Jakob tonight, but this time it was more of a closed, corporate gig.

Eight new tour dates added for 2020

3Arena, Dublin, 29 October
(Picture by Deirdre Ní Fhloinn)

Eight new European dates on a-ha’s Hunting High And Low Tour next year were announced today:

30 October: Le Zenith, Paris, France
10 November: BIC, Bournemouth, UK
11 November: M&S Bank Arena, Liverpool, UK
13 November: Arena Birmingham, Birmingham, UK
14 November: The SSE Arena, Wembley, London, UK
17 November: Forest National, Brussels, Belgium
18 November: AFAS Live, Amsterdam, Netherlands
21 November: Royal Arena, Copenhagen, Denmark

Fan pre-sale tickets will go on sale Wednesday November 6, with the general ticket sale following on Friday November 8. Remember to sign up for the official mailing list to get the pre-sale details.

This brings the total number of concerts on the Hunting High And Low Tour up to 52, with more dates for next year to follow.

Meanwhile, the tour continued at the SSE Arena in Belfast on Wednesday night. The setlist was the same as in Dublin the day before. Here is a selection of YouTube videos from Belfast:

Take On Me   Hunting High and Low   The Sun Always Shines On TV
I Dream Myself Alive   Here I Stand And Face The Rain   Analogue
Foot Of The Mountain   I’ve Been Losing You   Scoundrel Days
The Living Daylights

Pictures from Belfast by Carlos Maciá (click to enlarge):

The tour continues tonight, on Magne’s birthday, at the 3,000-seat SEC Armadillo in Glasgow. Happy Birthday, Magne!

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