Archive for the ‘a-ha’ Category

Rock in Rio Lisboa Festival

The stage at Rock in Rio Lisboa

a-ha were in Lisbon yesterday to play at the Rock in Rio Lisboa Festival – their first ever concert in Portugal. And with 70,000 people in the audience, it was the largest show of the current tour.

“Thank you very much for inviting us to this beautiful city today! It’s a great honour to be here”, Magne greeted the Portuguese audience.

Going into stadium-mode they did a focused and excellent performance, creating some stellar moments along the way. A week off since the concerts in Norway seemed to have worked wonders, and Morten’s voice now sounded much better.

They were joined on stage by Anneli Drecker, who has been with them on tour since Bergen on June 15th, doing backing vocals. She last toured with a-ha in 2016.

Magne leading the audience singalong on “The Living Daylights”

Before “Crying In The Rain”, Magne talked about the shooting tragedy that had occured in Oslo on Friday night:

“It was a sad day in Norway today, where some stupid terrorist started shooting people because they dare to be different. And I just want to say that we stand together with the right for everyone to decide how to express themselves. And I want to dedicate this next song to the victims.”

The setlist was the same as the festivals in Norway, only replacing “Scoundrel Days” with “Train of Thought”. There was a live stream and TV broadcast of the concert in certain areas, which has been uploaded to YouTube in full HD.

Paul has also posted some video clips from last night on Instagram, filmed from the audience by his son Augie.

Lisbon setlist:
1. Sycamore Leaves
2. The Swing Of Things
3. Crying In The Rain
4. The Blood That Moves The Body
5. Train of Thought
6. Foot Of The Mountain
7. We’re Looking For The Whales
8. Cry Wolf
9. Here I Stand and Face the Rain
10. Hunting High and Low
11. The Sun Always Shines on TV
12. I’ve Been Losing You
13. The Living Daylights
14. Take On Me

a-ha at Over Oslo Festivalen

Morten on stage at Over Oslo, June 10th
(Photo by Jakob)

a-ha returned to the stage after a 3-week hiatus at the Over Oslo Festival this weekend, with two concerts on Friday and Saturday.

“Hello Oslo! Are you doing OK? We have been looking forward to being here today. Thank you so much for coming. I hope you’ve enjoyed yourselves and will do so for the rest of the evening. It’s a bit colder than earlier today, but try to keep warm”, Magne said when he greeted the audience of 6,000 people on Friday night.

In the days leading up to the festival, the band had been rehearsing indoors at Telenor Arena. In a VG article on Thursday, manager Harald Wiik confirmed that both Morten and Paul were diagnosed with Covid-19 on 23 May, and that Morten’s laryngitis was probably caused by Covid.

In the article Morten said it’s not been an easy recovery process:

“Some days have shown progress, other days I’ve been worse again. It’s a difficult balance between wanting to go back on stage and the risk of prolonging your illness. But the last few days have been consistently better and given hope that I can perform this weekend. The first test with the band yesterday was promising. If the voice shows the same kind of signals tonight, we’ll be playing shows on Friday and Saturday.”

When a-ha entered the stage at Over Oslo on Friday night, it became apparent that Morten’s voice was not yet healed. He sounded noticeably hoarse and avoided many of the high notes. Several times he held out the microphone to the audience for them to take over the singing.

Luckily, the audience seemed supportive and understanding of the situation, and Morten himself was in a good mood.

“Thank you dear audience for your patience and extended singalongs!”, Magne wrote on Instagram after the show, while Paul noted that “A great audience makes all the difference”.

The festival setlist was shorter than on the regular tour and obviously without any break in the middle. It included four of the songs that had been in rotation during the last few concerts in May; The Blood That Moves The Body, Foot Of The Mountain, We’re Looking For The Whales and Cry Wolf.

I have uploaded a video of The Blood That Moves The Body from Friday’s concert on YouTube. Another video with clips from different songs was posted by Aslak Ormestad.

 
Here are some photos from the concert on Friday, taken by me:

 
On Saturday the rain was pouring down on the festival area, but that didn’t stop another 6,000 people from turning up.

“You’ve survived the rain? Thank you for coming, and thank you for staying! I think you should give yourselves a big round of applause. I also think you should give an applause for Morten and Paul, who just went through Covid but still managed to be here tonight!”, Magne told the audience.

“It’s incredible that you’ve been standing here in the rain. I understand there’s been quite some weather. Fantastic”, Morten added.

A video with a selection of highlights from the second concert on 11 June has been posted on YouTube by Nichlas James Bates.

Setlist, Over Oslo:

1. Sycamore Leaves
2. The Swing Of Things
3. Crying In The Rain
4. The Blood That Moves The Body
5. Foot Of The Mountain
6. We’re Looking For The Whales
7. Cry Wolf
8. Scoundrel Days
9. Here I Stand and Face the Rain
10. Hunting High and Low
11. The Sun Always Shines on TV
12. I’ve Been Losing You
13. The Living Daylights
– – – – – – – – – – – –
14. Take On Me

All UK shows in May cancelled

Picture by Jakob

a-ha.com has announced that all four UK shows this week have to be cancelled, due to Morten recently being diagnosed with laryngitis:

Unfortunately, due to illness, a-ha’s shows at London Wembley The SSE Arena on Friday 27th May and Birmingham Utilita Arena on 28th May have been cancelled along with the already postponed shows at Bournemouth International Centre and Liverpool M&S Bank Arena. Customers for all shows will receive a refund from their point of purchase.

A message from the band:
“The band is absolutely gutted that we have had to cancel our shows in UK – our second home – this week due to continued illness.
Our deepest apologies to friends and fans with whom we were hoping to celebrate. thank you for your kind understanding and continued support!”

This means the next a-ha concerts will be at the sold out Over Oslo Festival with Simple Minds on 10 and 11 June, by which time Morten hopefully will be ready to sing again.

a-ha’s touring schedule in June and July is already packed, which probably made it impossible to reschedule the UK shows before the tour ends on 31 July. And extending the tour into August may not have been an option, as many of the crew may be committed to other tours at that point, the venues may not be available, plus a-ha will soon be shifting focus to the release of True North.

But they are scheduled to return to the UK to play at the Scarborough Open Air Theatre on 3 July and at Cardiff Castle on 5 July, where tickets are still available.

Bournemouth and Liverpool postponed

An official update about tomorrow’s and Wednesday’s concerts in the UK has now been posted:

We are sorry to have to inform you that both the a-ha shows in Bournemouth on May 24 and in Liverpool on May 25 have been postponed. Morten is still not fully recovered and is not able to perform.

Please hold on to your tickets and await further information from your point of purchase. We hate to disappoint even more fans with more postponements, but there is unfortunately nothing we can do but wait for Morten to get better and keep our fingers crossed for the shows in London and Birmingham. Stay safe in the meantime, everyone!

Meanwhile, there have been a couple of interesting new interviews in the last few days.

The website americansongwriter.com has talked to Paul about the current tour, his songwriting process and the upcoming True North album. The article also mentions that he’s planning to finally release his long-awaited solo album later this year.

In Germany, Eiken Bruhn has done a new interview with Magne for the newspaper Taz.de about the farm he co-owns in Lofoten, climate change, the carbon footprint of a-ha’s touring and True North.

Norwegian concerts and cancellation

Oslo Spektrum, 20 May

a-ha returned to Norway this week, playing at DNB Arena in Stavanger on Wednesday and in Oslo Spektrum on Friday.

Oslo Spektrum, 20 May

Unfortunately, Saturday’s second concert at Oslo Spektrum had to be cancelled on short notice due to Morten being diagnosed with acute laryngitis and needing to rest his voice. He sounded pretty good the previous night, although he reportedly also had some voice issues during the last couple of German concerts last week.

“Hello everyone. I’m so sorry that I can’t make it tonight. I hate it. And I’m very regretful that I’ve let you all down. That’s all I can say right now. I’m gonna sleep this thing off”, Morten said in a video message posted on social media.

a-ha manager Harald Wiik told Dagbladet that Saturday’s concert is the only one cancelled so far. “But we’ll have to continue monitoring Morten’s condition”, he added. Wiik said he’s working to reschedule a new date for the Oslo Spektrum concert, but it will take some time to work out when it’s possible to do so.

Oslo Spektrum, 20 May

Before all this, a-ha did a solid concert at Oslo Spektrum on Friday, to an appreciative crowd of both Norwegians and international fans.

“Dear Oslo. Thank you for giving us such a warm welcome at home, after a few months on tour. That’s really nice”, Magne told the audience before introducing “You Have What It Takes” from the upcoming True North album.

Another highlight in Oslo was the performance of “Here I Stand and Face the Rain”, which I’ve posted on YouTube.

Norway Rock Magazine has posted positive reviews of both the Stavanger and Oslo shows. “A most enjoyable evening in Oslo Spektrum, where we were reminded of the incredible amount of great songs this band has in its catalogue. Paul, Magne and Morten will remain giants in Norwegian music history, and there is much reason to look forward to True North being released in October”, reviewer Geir Amundsen writes about the concert on May 20th.

Oslo Spektrum, 20 May

The setlist has now increased from 18 to 19 songs. In Berlin on May 11th they started adding an extra song to the setlist each night, playing “Cry Wolf” for the first time since August 2018.

This continued with “Foot of the Mountain” in Hamburg on May 12th (first time since February 2020), “We’re Looking For The Whales” in Leipzig on May 14th (first time since May 2016), “Analogue” in Cologne on May 15th (first time since March 2020) and “The Blood That Moves The Body” in Stavanger on May 18th (first time since August 2018). In Oslo on Friday it was back to “Foot of the Mountain”.

Update 24/5:
Unfortunately it turned out that the second Oslo Spektrum concert can not be rescheduled. The following message was posted on the official site:

We will unfortunately not be able to reschedule this show. The reason being that there is no equipment and personnel available for a show this size on the available dates. We have turned every stone to make it happen, but it is simply not possible. We know a lot you of have waited for years to see the show and that this is a big disappointment, and we are very sorry to let you down. Tickets will be refunded via Ticketmaster according to their standard terms.

European tour update

ZAG Arena, Hannover, 2 May 2022
(Photo by Jil)

a-ha started the European leg of the 2022 Hunting High and Low Tour in front of 2,500 people at Partille Arena in Gothenburg, Sweden on 28 April, before heading to Royal Arena in Copenhagen, Denmark where they played for 10,000 people the following day.

The tour then continued at the O2 Arena in Prague on 1 May – their first ever concert in the Czech Republic – and at ZAG Arena in Hannover (5,000) on 2 May, the first of six shows in Germany this month.

ZAG Arena, Hannover, 2 May 2022
(Photo by Jil)

During their two-week hiatus from touring, Magne spent some time in Italy, Paul went back to work in his LA studio, while Morten relaxed in Southern Norway before getting his hair cut short again.

One major change when the tour resumed was the return of the giant 10-bit LED video screen, which has not been used since the concert in Trondheim on 7 February 2020. Only a basic light-rig was brought along for the shows outside of Europe.

Some footage from the upcoming True North movie, directed by Stian Andersen, was shown on the screen during the two new songs – at least in Gothenburg – which can be seen in these two video clips of “Forest For The Trees” and “You Have What It Takes”.

In its review of the Copenhagen concert, Danish newspaper Ekstrabladet remarked how “the songs were captivatingly presented, backed by a stylish stage show with effective use of a giant screen”, while the Czech news site Idnes praised the “imaginative and precisely fitting video projections”. “At times, it was an experience so intense that one could talk about the Pink Floyd of pop”, the reviewer wrote.

Ekstrabladet’s reviewer liked the new songs:
“Two solid new songs, from the upcoming film/album True North, showed how the band’s inherent musicality and songwriting qualities are generally somewhat underrated.” He also mentioned how “a more organic, rich and majestic sound suited the [Hunting High and Low] material”.

ZAG Arena, Hannover, 2 May 2022
(Photo by Jil)

The setlist is now basically switched around, compared to when the tour started in Argentina in late March, opening with the eight songs from “Sycamore Leaves” to “The Living Daylights” before the break and the ten songs from the Hunting High and Low album after the break. This change first appeared on the second night at The Wiltern in LA on 8 April.

“We have played the whole album in its original running order, but sometimes we’ll take some creative liberties and change the running order and the arrangements, not least to keep ourselves stay focused”, Magne told Swedish newspaper Göteborgs-Posten in an interview last week (paywall).

The video graphics previously used as intro for “Analogue” at the beginning of the second set in 2019/20, now serves as intro before “Sycamore Leaves” to open the concert instead.

The current setlist

1. Sycamore Leaves
2. The Swing Of Things
3. Crying In The Rain
4. Forest For The Trees
5. You Have What It Takes
6. I’ve Been Losing You
7. Scoundrel Days
8. The Living Daylights
– – – – – – – – – – – –
9. Train of Thought
10. The Blue Sky
11. Living a Boy’s Adventure Tale
12. And You Tell Me
13. Love is Reason
14. I Dream Myself Alive
15. Here I Stand and Face the Rain
16. Hunting High and Low
17. The Sun Always Shines on TV
– – – – – – – – – – – –
18. Take On Me
– – – – – – – – – – – –

By the way, one final additional tour date was added recently:
01 July 2022: Montreux Jazz Festival, Montreux, Switzerland

2022 world tour opens in Buenos Aires

a-ha in Buenos Aires, 25 March
(Screenshots from YouTube videos posted by Martin F)

a-ha were finally back on stage last night, two years after the pandemic brought the Hunting High and Low tour to a temporary halt.

The 2022 tour kicked off at a sold-out Movistar Arena in Buenos Aires, Argentina – the same city where they also opened their world tours in 2010 and 2015.

Morten in Buenos Aires
(Screenshot from YouTube)

“We’ve been waiting a long time to be back, I think it’s seven years since we were in Argentina. Thank you so much for bringing us back here. It’s been two years since we were on the road together and we all know what happened in between. So we might be a bit rusty. Forgive us for that”, Magne told the audience after the first few songs.

Although the first half of the show remained the Hunting High and Low album in its entirety, the running order of the songs had been switched around this time, starting with “Train of Thought” instead of “Take On Me” and saving the three big hits for the end of the album set.

The second half of the show included the world premiere of two new songs from the upcoming a-ha album True North, which is now set to be released in October. They are called “Forest For The Trees” (by Paul) and “You Have What It Takes” (by Magne). Paul has posted the lyrics to “Forest For The Trees” on Facebook.

In total the setlist included 18 songs, which is two songs less than the tour of Europe/Russia/Dubai in 2019-20, but the same length as South Africa, Australia (indoors) and New Zealand (indoors), and three songs more than the outdoors “Day On The Green” shows in 2020.

Magne in Buenos Aires
(Screenshot from YouTube)

One band member was notably absent last night; keyboardist and musical director Erik Ljunggren, who had become ill with Covid. Magne explained to the audience:

“We even lost a musician the day we arrived, to Covid. So he’s in isolation in the hotel. I guess you could see it as an invisible keyboard player over there. So we had to work all week to try to augment the show, to give you the best possible show we could under the circumstances.”

There was no large video screen used as stage backdrop, but instead the same basic light rig that was used on the tour outside of Europe in 2020. This could perhaps mean the video screen will only appear on the upcoming European tour.

Support band in Buenos Aires was local duo Desierto y Agua.

Paul in Buenos Aires
(Screenshot from YouTube)

 
The setlist
(YouTube videos by Martin F)
1. Train of Thought
2. The Blue Sky
3. Living a Boy’s Adventure Tale
4. And You Tell Me
5. Love is Reason
6. I Dream Myself Alive
7. Here I Stand and Face the Rain
8. Hunting High and Low
9. The Sun Always Shines on TV
10. Take On Me
– – – – – – – – – – – –
11. Sycamore Leaves
12. Forest For The Trees
13. You Have What It Takes
14. The Swing Of Things
15. Crying In The Rain
– – – – – – – – – – – –
16. Scoundrel Days
17. I’ve Been Losing You
18. The Living Daylights

 
Thanks to all fans in Argentina who has shared pictures and videos from the concert in Buenos Aires!

The tour continues at SND Arena in Asunción, Paraguay tomorrow, where the local band Deliverans will be supporting. On Wednesday they are playing at Movistar Arena in Santiago, Chile with The Cruel Visions supporting.

For the latest tour updates, follow me on Twitter.

a-ha: The Movie – new release dates

German cover art

a-ha: The Movie is released on Blu-ray and DVD in Germany today. It is the third country to get a home video release of the film, following the Norwegian Blu-ray and the Polish Blu-ray and DVD released in December last year. All editions seem to include deleted scenes as bonus features.

Overseas a-ha: The Movie is set to open in North American theaters on April 8th, including in New York, Los Angeles, Fort Lauderdale, New Orleans, Buffalo, Cincinnati and Vancouver. In the following weeks there will also be screenings in Washington, Chicago, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Denver, Seattle and other cities. A full list of where you can see it is available on the movie’s official website.

After a limited run in theaters, an American Blu-ray and DVD release will then follow on May 10th.

In the Netherlands the movie is set to premiere in theaters on 28 April, followed by Japan on 20 May and finally the UK on 27 May.

Dates added in Nice, Scarborough and Cardiff

The 2022 a-ha tour just keeps growing and growing. Now 47 dates in total.

These three outdoor shows are the latest to be added:

29 June: Théâtre de Verdure, Nice, France
03 July: Scarborough Open Air Theatre, Scarborough, UK
05 July: Cardiff Castle, Cardiff, UK

Tickets go on sale Friday 25 March at 9am, while subscribers to the official a-ha mailing list will get access to presale details today.

a-ha coming to Barcelona

a-ha will be playing at the Festival Jardins Pedralbes in Barcelona, Spain on 27 June, the official site announced today.

This will be the first a-ha concert in Spain since 2010.

2022 marks the 10th edition of the popular Festival Jardins Pedralbes, which is held during the months of June and July in the gardens of the Royal Palace of Pedralbes. Other acts confirmed for this year include Simply Red, Patti Smith, Tom Jones and Crowded House.

Tickets will be available on 18 March at 10am CET.

Powered by WordPress