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!

a-ha’s Hunting High And Low Tour off to a good start in Dublin

a-ha in Dublin, 29 October 2019
(Picture by Carlos Maciá)

The Hunting High And Low world tour 2019-2020 opened at the sold-out 9,000-capacity (seated) 3Arena in Dublin last night.

As expected, the first half of the concert was the full Hunting High and Low album, followed by ten other songs after a 20-minute break.

One big surprise was the very first live performance of a great new song written by Paul called “Digital River”. This is one of the songs from the Cast In Steel sessions in 2015 that didn’t make it onto the album.

While there weren’t any other surprises in the setlist, several of the song arrangements had been updated, and there were also cool new intros – like the way “Analogue” started after the break. “Dream Myself Alive” was performed similar to the original demo version.

And while a-ha had six backing musicians on last year’s Electric Summer Tour, it’s now back to three; Karl Oluf Wennerberg (drums), Even Ormestad (bass) and Erik Ljunggren (synth/programming).

Impressive video screen and visuals
(Picture by Paudie Fahey)

The stage had a large and impressive video wall at the back, featuring all new video content created by Norwegian director Knut A. Helgeland. The quality of the visuals and the live editing seems to be far beyond anything used on previous a-ha tours. Additionally, the show started with Michael Patterson’s original short-film Commuter (1981) being shown, leading into “Take On Me”.

On Facebook, Helgeland wrote about his experience of working on the video content for the last three months:

“For an old, true a-ha fan like myself, it’s fantastic to be able to work so freely on the visual world of a-ha. I feel that we’ve created something quite unique, it’s simple and honest, and a bit smart, I hope. With a lot of fantastic footage (some filmed by myself, a lot from good helpers) which looks magical on the large 10-bit screen.”

Pictures by Carlos Maciá (click to enlarge):

 
Reactions from the Dublin audience on social media have been overwhelmingly positive, regarding both the performance and the new visual design. Norwegian newspaper Dagsavisen had journalist Bernt Erik Pedersen at the concert, who gives it a 5/6 review: “Does this work as a stadium show? Absolutely. Is it an event? Certainly.”

Pedersen suggests that this album format is something they can continue doing: “With this “playing the whole album”-concept they can keep it going for at least another decade – I’d be happy to come see them do East Of The Sun, West Of The Moon in five or six years.”

Setlist (with YouTube-links):
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
(Intermission)
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

Thanks to all YouTube-uploaders.

The pre-show music included “Mount Joy” from the True August EP.

The a-ha merchandise in Dublin all seemed to be 80s nostalgia stuff, if you’re into that sort of thing. Not even one t-shirt with a current band photo. There is a tour programme, but it reportedly only contains photos by Just Loomis from the 80s and the tour credits. But signed copies of White Xmas Lies are for sale, both the vinyl and CD.

White Xmas Lies out now

Magne signing albums at Big Dipper, 23 October (Screenshot from Drabant Music on Instagram)

Magne’s new solo album White Xmas Lies is released by Drabant Music today, and is available on CD, vinyl and digitally. It can be streamed or downloaded here. Or you can support this fansite by ordering through the Amazon links on the right.

Positive album reviews have already come in from Musicvein and Essentially Pop in the UK and Bleistiftrocker in Germany.

The official music video for the new single “There Goes Another Year” is now up on YouTube. The Norwegian Salvation Army has also posted a video clip in connection with the song being released as a Christmas single in Norway.

Magne has given a number of interviews in the last week, to promote both White Xmas Lies and the HHAL Tour.

On Monday Magne was a guest on NRK P13’s Selskapssjuk. The 25-minute interview included the premiere of “There Goes Another Year”. Listen here (at 41:00).

Other Norwegian radio interviews include NRK P2’s Kulturstripa on 16 October (at 36:20) and NRK P1’s Ukeslutt on 19 October (at 49:00).

He also appeared on Lørdagsrevyen on NRK1 on 19 October (at 13:30), seen rehearsing with the a-ha backing band in Oslo.

There have been two extensive interviews in English, one with Altvenger Magazine and one with XS Noize. He also talked with The Industry Observer in Australia.

Aditionally, a long interview in French appeared in Rolling Stone France.

On Wednesday Magne did a signing session for White Xmas Lies at the Big Dipper record store in Oslo, where he was also interviewed by NTB.

Meanwhile, today a-ha will be starting production rehearsals for the Hunting High And Low Tour in the UK. Yesterday afternoon Paul was live on the air on The Lynette Fay Show on BBC Radio Ulster in Belfast. Listen here (at 34:20).

Paul has also been interviewed about the HHAL Tour by Eon Music.

Film premiere, a-ha convention and more concerts in Norway announced

Photo by Stian Andersen

The official site has announced the world premiere of the documentary film a-ha – The Movie, directed by Thomas Robsahm and Aslaug Holm, which will take place at Colosseum Cinema in Oslo on 26 November 2020. The main auditorium at Colosseum has a capacity of 978 people.

a-ha – The Movie has been in production since 2016, and the filmmakers have followed the band on the road during the Cast In Steel Tour, the MTV Unplugged Tour and the Electric Summer Tour. They have also filmed other events, such as the Savoy concert and signing in Oslo last year.

“We will tell the whole story, from when two 12-year old friends started their first band together in the seventies, on to a-ha’s massive hit Take On Me in 1985, all the way till now where they are still touring the world selling out arenas. It’s a film about strong personalities, creating something unique together, but also about how their internal struggles have made it hard to reach their full potential. And, I must add, it’s a film about one of the most underrated bands in pop history. I want more people to discover their music!”, Thomas Robsahm told nordiskfilmogtvfond.com earlier this year.

He also talked about what the audience can expect from the film in a recent interview with Variety. In addition to Norway, a-ha – The Movie will be distributed in Germany and has been purchased for TV broadcast in a number of European countries, including Sweden, Finland, Belgium and Switzerland.

The film premiere will be followed by two a-ha concerts in Oslo Spektrum on 27 and 28 November, which will mark the end of the Hunting High And Low Tour. There will also be an a-ha convention in Oslo on 28 November, with Robsahm and other guests.

Although the concert in Trondheim on 7 February was supposed to be the only show in Norway on this tour, two additional dates have also been announced today: Nordlandshallen in Bodø on 1 February and DNB Arena in Stavanger on 24 November.

Tickets for the Norwegian concerts and the film premiere will go on sale this week, along with more German dates for next year. Be sure to sign up for the official a-ha mailing list for pre-sale info.

According to a VG article today, the band will play more than 60 shows on the HHAL tour, which means there are still more than 20 shows to be announced. The article says that a-ha will also be returning to South America in 2020.

Additionally, a-ha manager Harald Wiik tells VG that the setup of the HHAL concerts has been changed. The full HHAL album will now be performed first, followed by various other songs after the break. Initially it was the other way around.

Update 15 Oct:
These are the added German dates for 2020:
31 October: Lanxess Arena, Cologne, Germany
02 November: Festhalle, Frankfurt, Germany
03 November: Barclaycard Arena, Hamburg, Germany
05 November: Leipzig Arena, Leipzig, Germany
06 November: Mercedes-Benz Arena, Berlin, Germany

Magne planning solo concert

Promotional photo by Nina Djærff for Drabant Music

Magne’s upcoming solo album White Xmas Lies can now be pre-ordered from Amazon UK (CD / 2LP), Amazon Germany (CD / 2LP), plus Tiger and Platekompaniet in Norway. Release date 25 October in Norway/Germany and 1 November in the UK.

The final album tracklist seems to have a different running order compared to the initital announcement. It also includes an additional song; a cover version of The Kink’s “Father Christmas”. So 17 tracks in total. A selection of pictures of the regular vinyl edition have been posted on Instagram by Magnus Rakeng, who designed the cover together with Magne.

A limited edition of the album on vinyl (200 copies), which includes an exclusive art print, is now sold out. A YouTube video filmed in August 2019 documents the process.

Single cover

The second single from the album, “The Light We Lost”, was released by Drabant Music on 4 October and can be streamed or downloaded here. There’s also another lyric music video.

In an interview with Dagsavisen (paywall) yesterday, Magne says that the album project started with the title track, which he originally had intended for a-ha.

“The songs were written during a-ha’s Electric Summer tour, and recorded during Christmas. I started out alone, not thinking that it would end up as a double album, but it just kept growing.”

“This is meant to be a melancholic winter album, which will hopefully be uplifting. Some songs are specifically about Christmas, while others are loosely connected to winter.”

According to the interview, Magne will do one exclusive solo concert in connection with the new album. The concert will be held for an audience especially invited by the Norwegian Salvation Army – plus a few lucky fans.

Single cover

“I didn’t intend to portray Christmas as all misery, but to make songs that can include everyone that aren’t as fortunate in life”, Magne says.

“I have an ambition to do the same in other cities later on. Meaning this project won’t come to an end once Christmas is over, but will return next year as well.”

The next and third single from the album seems to be “There Goes Another Year”, which is released in collaboration with the Norwegian Salvation Army on Magne’s birthday, 1 November.

No further details on the solo concert have been announced yet.

Three dates in Los Angeles added

Next year a-ha will return to the US for the first time since 2010, to play three shows at The Wiltern in Los Angeles.

The dates are 25, 26 and 27 September 2020, and will be part of the band’s Hunting High And Low Tour. The Wiltern has a seated capacity of only 1,850 people, so these will be very intimate events.

The Los Angeles shows will be the only US dates next year, but the band is hoping to return for more in 2021.

Tickets are available now from ticketmaster.com.

Book release in Oslo

Morten and Ørjan signing books at Tanum

Ørjan Nilsson’s book Hjemkomst, about Morten’s solo projects from 1993 – 1998, was published on Thursday, 26 September. Ørjan and Morten marked the book release with an hour-long conversation with Audun Vinger at Tanum Karl Johan in Oslo, followed by an extensive signing session.

One of Vinger’s questions was about how it felt for Morten, who is used to being misquoted, to let someone else write about this important period of his life and career:

“I liked Ørjan’s approach to this project. I also liked the fact that he had written the book about Paul, and thought that he could do the same with me. Then both books would have one thing in common, and any differences would appear naturally. That’s important to any book. So we met up and talked, and took it from there. It’s been a lot of work. We had quite a lot of interview sessions, and that was something I pushed for in particular. Because if I’m going to do something like this, I want it to be as thorough as possible. It’s also been vital for me that Ørjan has to write his own parts, and I have to speak my own parts. So whenever I’m quoted in the book, I have often added my own written quotes afterwards to supplement the interview sessions. The rest has been up to Ørjan and the various other people who have been interviewed for the book. Just having it properly organized like this, that’s been important to me”, Morten said.

Dagsavisen’s reviewer Geir Rakvaag has written quite a positive review (paywall) of the book:

“Morten Harket has just turned 60 years old. The new book Hjemkomst provides an interesting look at six of those years, when his life and career took a new turn. (…) Much of the content is detailed info for those with a particular interest in Morten Harket as a musician, about other musicians he has worked with, producers, studios and record labels. (…) But Hjemkomst is just as much about Morten Harket as a person as it is about music. In particular his activism for East-Timor. (…) With this, Ørjan Nilsson has completed solid books about Paul Waaktaar-Savoy and Morten Harket. It’s fair to assume the next one will be about Magne Furuholmen.”

Morgenbladet’s reviewer Ando Woltmann also likes the book (paywall), although he’s not really a fan of Morten’s solo music:

“Nilsson’s book is full of lively interview subjects, often with opposing views, and is a good example of a topic that’s more fun to read about than listen to. Still, Morten Harket remains an enigma in Norwegian pop as he turns 60 – he’s a dreamer we all should be grateful to share this ride through the cosmos together with.”

To promote the book Morten was a guest on the NRK talkshow Lindmo on Friday night. The episode can be viewed here (starts at 19:30).

Ørjan Nilsson also appeared on NRK’s Nyhetsmorgen to talk about the book (starts at 01:49:00), as well as Kulturstripa.

Hjemkomst book launch

Book cover
(Photo by Julian Broad)

Ørjan Nilsson’s new book Hjemkomst – Morten Harket 1993-1998 will be launched with an event at the Tanum Karl Johan bookstore in Oslo on Thursday 26 September, where Ørjan and Morten will talk about the book with music writer Audun Vinger. There will be a signing session afterwards.

Ørjan and Morten will also discuss the book at the literature house in Bergen on Friday 27 September, as part of the Vill Vill Vest music conference.

There will be a number of additional media appearances as well.

Hjemkomst delves deep into the making of Poetenes Evangelium, Wild Seed and Vogts Villa, as well as unreleased projects such as Morten’s 1993 solo album produced by Alan Tarney and his 1998 collaboration with Swedish-Irish drum’n’bass duo Boolaboss.

In addition to extensive interview sessions with Morten, Ørjan Nilsson has talked with a large number of key players from this period, including Håvard Rem, Ole Sverre Olsen and Kjetil Bjerkestrand.

The book also goes into detail about Morten’s work to shed light on the conflict in East Timor and his passion for renewable energy solutions.

Hjemkomst can be pre-ordered from Norwegian book stores such as Tanum, Norli, Haugenbok and Bokkilden.

Powered by WordPress