True North: New a-ha album, film and world tour

a-ha announced a new album and film today:

‘True North’ is a filmed live-performance for future streaming release with new music from a-ha.

Set in the awesome landscape of Northern Norway and recorded in the town of Bodø up above the Arctic Circle, the music from the film will be made available as a new album from the group for the first time since ‘Cast in Steel’ (2015).

“We chose this location as a way to showcase some of Norway’s most spectacular nature – where majestic mountains meet the raging sea – far up north, but right at the centre of the dramatic effects of climate-change.”

“We want this film to be a poetic homage to the importance that nature holds in Norwegian culture, and in particular the ocean, which has provided us with a privileged life up here, from the early fishing boom to the troublesome riches extracted from the seabed in the form of oil,” says Magne.

The album and film will be recorded over two days in November 2021, at the Svømmehallen Scene concert hall in Bodø, and planned for release in the autumn of 2022. It will include 12 new a-ha songs, with songwriting contributions from all three members.

a-ha will be joined by the Arctic Philharmonic orchestra on all the songs, and there will be a total of 36 musicians on stage (including a-ha and their backing band).

“The concept of True North was originally inspired by Bruce Springsteen’s Western Stars. Our idea was to create a Norwegian version – a film which is a sort of a travelling letter from a-ha, with the ocean as a backdrop and with brand new music”, Magne tells Avisa Nordland (paywall).

“Long periods in the studio has usually lead to quarreling and frustrations for us. In deciding to create a film and do it as a live performance I think it will be much easier. Initially we planned to do it with an audience, but for logistical reasons it will be a film instead – with only the crew as “audience” and the finished film being the concert experience for our audience”.

“This is a live performance that will be filmed, and the music from that film will then be released as a new a-ha album. If we achieve what we’re hoping for, I think it will appear considerably more spontaneous and fresh than years of studio polishing”, Magne says.

The release of the film and album will be followed by a True North world tour, starting in late 2022 or early 2023.

“This is something that will fit into the aesthetics of a-ha. It’s not coincidental that we’re doing this in Bodø and Northern Norway. The album, film and subsequent world tour will be called True North”, a-ha manager Harald Wiik tells Avisa Nordland (paywall).

“The ways of releasing music has changed in recent years, and physical formats are almost completely gone. That’s why a-ha wants to release the music as a film experience first. We’ll have a crew of 100 people during the recording and aim to have the film available on Netflix or one of the other major streaming services. In addition to the material from the live performance, we’ll use footage from the nature around Bodø”, Harald Wiik says.

“I can’t really imagine a better way of using our music than making an artistic statement that embodies both worries and hope for the future”, Magne tells VG.

Over Oslo Festival: extra a-ha concert added
– all sold out

The festival site at Grefsenkollen in 2014, with Morten as headliner (Picture by Jakob)

The tickets for Over Oslo on June 11th 2022 – with a-ha and Simple Minds as headliners – went on sale through Ticketmaster at 10am today.
All 6000 tickets sold out in a matter of seconds.

Therefore an extra festival day, featuring the same lineup, was added on June 10th 2022. Those tickets also sold out very quickly.

“The number of people who wanted tickets *far* surpassed the capacity at our venue”, the festival organizers said on Facebook.

Beforehand there had been speculations in the press about how many additional days of a-ha concerts there would be, but according to the organizers June 10th and June 11th will be the only ones.

a-ha to headline Over Oslo Festivalen

Picture by Stian Andersen

A new 2022 tour date was announced today, bringing the total number of a-ha concerts planned for next year up to 40:

a-ha will make their first ever performance at the Over Oslo festival on June 11, 2022 which will be a celebration of the event’s 10 year anniversary. We are very much looking forward to performing at this extremely beautiful place with its world class view of our hometown. Very happy to be joined by our good friends in Simple Minds and loads of very talented and successful Norwegian and Swedish acts.

This festival concert will take place just three weeks after a-ha play two concerts at Oslo Spektrum on 20 and 21 May, but will obviously be a completely different experience – outdoors and with a spectacular view overlooking Oslo.

Morten previously headlined the Over Oslo Festival in June 2014, as part of his Brother solo tour.

6000 tickets will be available for June 11th next year, and they go on sale via Ticketmaster on Wednesday, September 15th.

Paul turns 60

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Happy Birthday to Paul Waaktaar-Savoy, who turns 60 today, September 6th!

Hopefully we’ll see him back on stage with a-ha in four months time, presuming the tour is finally able to continue as planned.

His wife Lauren has posted a birthday message to him on Instagram, and fans can post their own greetings on the official a-ha Facebook page.

Norse mythology inspires Magne’s latest project

At work in his art studio in Asker

Magne recently opened two solo exhibitions in the Ålesund area on June 13th; Extra Super Plus at Khåk Kunsthall in Ålesund and Völuspá in the visitors center at Alnes Fyr.

Völuspá is believed to be the world’s longest graphic print, with a length of 25 meters. It’s inspired by the famous 10th century poem of the same name from the Poetic Edda, and in particular the first English translation of it from the 1800s. Here is a picture of Magne in front of Völuspá.

“I’ve visited Alnes before, and have dreamt of hanging such an image on this particular wall since I first came here. You may call it Corona-madness, the idea of creating such a large continuous graphic print from one roll of paper. It took five printmakers five days to make it, followed by a month of drying. I am very pleased to see it up on the wall now. An entire roll of this paper is 90 meters long, so perhaps that will be the ambition for my next project”, Magne told newspaper Sunnmørsposten (paywall) with a laugh.

Details from Völuspá

“These are two seperate exhibitions, but there is a dialogue between them. The exhibition at Khåk has been carefully planned, and includes a selection of works that I’ve been working on for the last one and a half years, and during the entire corona period. It’s a large exhibition and the most important for me this summer. The exhibition at Alnes is inspired by me binge-watching Vikings and a fascination for the tales in old norse literature, combined with the fact that this area carries a lot of history from that era”, Magne says.

Extra Super Plus includes a selection of oil paintings, woodcut monotypes, ceramic works and a smaller, 4-meter version of Völuspá. It will remain open until August 15th. An online exhibition catalogue is available here. The main version of Völuspá at Alnes Fyr can be seen until August 8th.

The day before, June 11th, another Furuholmen exhibition opened as part of the Petter Dass literature festival in Alstahaug. A video of the opening, with Magne joining via videolink (at 18:50), has been posted on Vimeo.

There is also a new video about Magne’s printmaking process, posted by Queen Sonja Print Award, which can be seen on Facebook.

And another summer exhibition of his art will be held at Galleri Sagesund in Tvedestrand from 18 July – 8 August.

Good reviews for a-ha: The Movie at Tribeca

The official poster, from the film’s Facebook page

a-ha: The Movie received lots of positive feedback from both the audience and critics after its world premiere at the Tribeca Festival earlier this month, eventually earning second place in the Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature.

Film Festival Today calls the movie “a delight for casual and diehard fans alike” and highlights how the three members of a-ha “deliver extremely thoughtful meditations on celebrity, authenticity, art and life over the course of a-ha: The Movie’s engaging 109 minutes”.

Cineuropa feels the movie is an “entertaining, captivating piece” which will “prove a joyful experience for the band’s fans, and a pleasant surprise for all lovers of 1980s new wave, alt rock and synth pop genres, especially for those not boasting in-depth knowledge of A-HA’s discography and who might want to “shazam” some hidden gems throughout the film.”

Berkreviews describes a-ha: The Movie as being “a celebration of their musical catalog” and that it’s “definitely one to watch if you are a fan of music or music docs. I found it to be extremely compelling and informative while fostering a love of a band I knew very little about. It’s quite possible that a band you currently love was inspired or influenced by a-ha. Thus, a-ha: The Movie earns the Must See rating.”

Indie producer Travis Stevens writes that “a-ha: The Movie creates a melody from the self-confidence, determination, beauty, competitiveness and insecurity required to create something as fleeting as a #1 pop hit and to remain a band with artistic ambition for 35 years after. They fucking rule.”

Writer Annie Zaleski describes it as “a fascinating + intimate documentary that’s often brutally honest about intra-band strain (and the inherent conflict between solitude, introspection & fame), but also makes a case for a-ha’s towering musical greatness.”

Coming up, a-ha: The Movie will be screened at the Munich International Film Festival in Germany on 8-9 July and at the Norwegian International Film Festival in Haugesund on 25 August. The regular Norwegian premiere follows on 3 September.

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