a-ha in new Volkswagen commercial

Last autumn a-ha visited the area around Kristiansand, Norway to shoot a commercial for a new and electric version of the classic Volkswagen Caravelle. The 4-minute commercial premiered on YouTube yesterday. More pictures and info about the collaboration (in German) can be found at volkswagen-nutzfahrzeuge.de.

Rock in Rio Lisboa performance cancelled

Only six weeks after the announcement that a-ha would performing at this year’s Rock in Rio Lisboa in Portugal on 27 June, the festival organizers have decided to cancel this year’s event and postpone it to June 2021 instead. This is because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which will probably have an impact on live concerts and other public events for a long time to come.

Tickets already purchased will remain valid for the 2021 festival, but it remains to be seen if a-ha will still be part of the lineup next year.

This means the next a-ha dates scheduled will now be the South American tour after the summer, starting in Lima, Peru on 1 September 2020.

NME: Rock in Rio Lisbon postponed to 2021

Apparatjik releases new song “Julia”

Apparatjik has released a new song called “Julia” today. It’s an homage to Julia Pastrana and their first new release since 2012. The lead vocals are by Jonas Bjerre, while Martin Terefe sings the second verse and Magne the last verse.

“it’s 10 yrs since apparatjik made our first album apparently (tsk,tsk), so we (rather apptly) celebrate with a new song from our ongoing julia pastrana project…”, Magne wrote on Instagram when he posted a short teaser for the song last month.

“Julia” can be streamed and purchased here.

South American dates announced

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The Hunting High And Low Tour has been expanded with nine tour dates in South America in September 2020, the official site announced today:

01 September: Parque de la Exposición, Lima, Peru
03 September: Movistar Arena, Santiago, Chile
05 September: Buenos Aires Arena, Buenos Aires, Argentina
08 September: Teatro Positivo, Curitiba, Brazil
11 September: Espaço das Americas, São Paulo, Brazil
13 September: Jeunesse Arena, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
16 September: Expominas Arena, Belo Horizonte, Brazil
19 September: Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador, Brazil
22 September: Auditorio Nacion, Mexico City, Mexico

This will be the first a-ha tour of Brazil and Argentina since 2015, their first visit to Chile since 2010 and the first ever a-ha concerts in Peru and Mexico. Visit the official site for ticket details.

Japanese tour dates cancelled

Both Magne and Paul have now confirmed on Instagram that the five Japanese a-ha concerts in Tokyo (x2), Fukuoka, Osaka and Nagoya (10-17 March) have been cancelled due to the coronavirus. This comes in addition to the already cancelled concert in Singapore (21 March).

That means the second leg of the Hunting High And Low tour is now over. But hopefully it won’t be too long until new concert dates can be scheduled for Japan and Singapore.

Paul:

“…that was as far as we got on this leg of our tour..we’ll come back at a later stage to play the shows we’re missing out on. Be well everyone and keep washing those hands.”

Magne:

“(…) i was really looking forward to seeing our fans and friends in asia, but the safety of our fans has to come first of course. take good care of yourselves everyone, and see you later down the road!”

Singapore concert cancelled

Today it was announced that the upcoming a-ha concert in Singapore has been cancelled:

We are extremely sad to have to tell you that the show in Singapore on March 21 has been cancelled, due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) proliferation concerns.

We have been looking forward to do our first show for our fans in Singapore, and we know fans from all over South-East Asia had made plans to travel to the show as well.

It breaks our hearts to disappoint you, and we will do our best to make it back as soon as possible. Stay safe in the meantime.

Details about ticket refunds are available at sistic.com.sg.

a-ha to perform at Rock in Rio Lisboa

Festival ad

Rock in Rio Lisboa has announced that a-ha will be performing at the festival on 27 June 2020. This will be the very first time a-ha perform live in Portugal.

The Rock in Rio spin-off festival has been held every other year since 2004, and is one of the largest of its kind in Europe, with an attendance of around 350,000 people.

Also performing on the same day will be Duran Duran, Xutos & Pontapés and Bush.

For some reason Duran Duran are headlining, although it could be argued that a-ha have been more successfull in Europe in recent years, both in the charts and as a touring act.

Tickets are available here.

a-ha in Dubai and South Africa

Morten in Johannesburg, 15 February
(Picture by Brad W)

The Hunting High and Low tour continued in Dubai on 10 and 11 February, a place where a-ha performed for the very first time.

While the 20-song setlist was the same as before, there was no video wall at these shows – presumably because the Dubai Opera venue is fairly small. There was also new intro music before “Take On Me”, instead of the “Commuter” short film.

Both concerts were well-received by an appreciative audience.

YouTube videos from Dubai
Dubai photos and review by Richard Cawood

Last weekend it was South Africa’s turn, with the band performing their first concerts in the country since 1994. The two concerts in Cape Town on 14 February and in Johannesburg on 15 February were both outdoor shows and the response from the crowd was reportedly very good.

Once again, there was no video wall as stage backdrop this time, only two side screens – thus making the visual show a considerably more scaled-down version compared to the European tour. The setlist was also shortened, with both “Crying In the Rain” and “Digital River” being cut. And instead of an extended break after the album set, they went straight from “Here I Stand and Face the Rain” into “Sycamore Leaves” – shuffling songs around for the first time since the tour started in October.

Take on Me (Cape Town)    The Living Daylights (Cape Town)
I’ve Been Losing You (Johannesburg)    The Living Daylights (Johannesburg)

Before the Cape Town concert, Magne and Morten were interviewed for the TV show Afternoon Express. The segment can be seen on YouTube here (starts at 49:40).

 
Pictures from Johannesburg by Brad W:

 
South African setlist:
1. Take on Me
2. Train of Thought
3. Hunting High and Low
4. The Blue Sky
5. Living a Boy’s Adventure Tale
6. The Sun Always Shines on TV
7. And You Tell Me
8. Love is Reason
9. I Dream Myself Alive
10. Here I Stand and Face the Rain
11. Sycamore Leaves
12. I’ve Been Losing You
13. Foot Of The Mountain
14. Analogue
15. The Swing Of Things
16. Stay On These Roads
– – – – – – – – – – – –
17. Scoundrel Days
18. The Living Daylights

Other links:
Cape Town photos by Leigh Groenemeyer
Cape Town photos by Warren Talmarkes
Cape Town review by “6000”
Johannesburg photos by Stefan Botha
Johannesburg review by Bruce Dennill

a-ha world tour 2020 opens in Norway

Trondheim Spektrum, 7 February 2020

After a two-month break from touring, a-ha opened the second leg of their Hunting High and Low 2019-2020 world tour with concerts at Nordlandshallen in Bodø on 1 February and at Trondheim Spektrum in Trondheim on 7 February. While the audience of 9,700 in Bodø was all-standing, the audience of 6,000 in Trondheim was all-seated.

Reviews in the local press were generally quite positive, with both Avisa Nordland (Bodø) and Adresseavisen (Trondheim) giving the concerts a 5 out of 6 rating. Adresseavisen’s reviewer called it “the best a-ha concert I can remember in Trondheim”, highlighting the band’s “authority and musical weight” and how they have “a clear and common vision” on this tour. He also praised the video production with its “incredibly elegant execution”.

The whole Trondheim concert was filmed, to be used as additional footage in the upcoming a-ha: The Movie documentary film.

The setlist remains the same as last year; starting with the HHAL-album being played in full, followed by ten additional songs after a 20-minute break.

 
Setlist
1. Take on Me
2. Train of Thought
3. Hunting High and Low
4. The Blue Sky
5. Living a Boy’s Adventure Tale
6. The Sun Always Shines on TV
7. And You Tell Me
8. Love is Reason
9. I Dream Myself Alive
10. Here I Stand and Face the Rain
(20-minute break)
11. Analogue
12. Foot of the Mountain
13. The Swing of Things
14. Crying in the Rain
15. Sycamore Leaves
16. Digital River
17. I’ve Been Losing You
18. Stay on These Roads
– – – – – – – – – – – –
19. Scoundrel Days
20. The Living Daylights

 
Bodø reviews and pictures:
Avisa Nordland review (5/6) (paywall)
Bodø Nu review (3/6) (paywall)
Bodø Nu photo gallery (paywall)

Trondheim reviews and pictures:
Adresseavisen review (5/6) (paywall)
Musikknyheter review (8/10)
Trondheim24 photo gallery

The tour continues with two concerts at the Dubai Opera today and tomorrow, followed by Cape Town and Johannesburg on Friday and Saturday.

Elvira Nikolaisen records duet with Morten

Norwegian singer-songwriter Elvira Nikolaisen posted a new Christmas song on her website on 25 December, a duet with Morten Harket called “I Look To You This Time Of Year”. She has also posted a picture of them together at a piano on her Instagram.

Elvira Nikolaisen has released four albums since her debut Quiet Exit in 2006.

Back in 2007, Morten and Elvira appeared together in Oslo to promote the launch of Amnesty International’s “Make Some Noise” campaign, for which both a-ha and Elvira contributed cover versions of John Lennon songs.

Update: The song has since been removed, but can still be heard on YouTube.

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