Posts Tagged ‘a-ha’

New podcast a-ha – Ranking Highs and Lows

Podcast logo

A new English-language podcast in six parts called a-ha – Ranking Highs and Lows launched during the Christmas holidays.

In the podcast, two Danish a-ha fans – Jesper and JP – attempt to rate a-ha’s catalogue of songs from worst to best, counting down from #147 to #1. Their friend Peter is the host.

Here’s a quote from an introduction to the project:

“Welcome to ‘a-ha – Ranking Highs and Lows’, the project where two life-long a-ha fans have taken on the ambitious task of ranking all the band’s songs from worst to best! To be very clear: This is not your standard ‘The 10 best a-ha singles’ countdown. This is the real deal where we go through the entire catalogue from the biggest singles to the most obscure demos released by the band.”

The first two episodes have already been published and are available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts, or in your preferred podcast app.

The podcast has an accompanying Facebook page where fans are invited to comment and participate with their own views on the ranking. There is also a blog which has the countdown in written form.

Japanese a-ha tour cancelled

After having been rescheduled twice since March last year, the seven Japanese tour dates planned for next month have now unfortunately been cancelled altogether due to the current Covid-situation. The Japanese promoter Creativeman posted this message on its website:

For a-ha Japan tour in Jan of 2022, we were supposed to grant Special Permission for the visa issuance as a case with special exceptional circumstances. We were working on its application, but due to the omicron variant’s aggressive spread worldwide, the Japanese government has suspended all entries of foreign nationals for a month from Nov 30 as a part of the emergency precautionary measure from a preventive perspective against the Omicron variant and this has put our aforementioned application on hold. No further guidelines or specific plans for the easing of this restriction are announced yet and no words on whether the government will start taking “special exceptional circumstances” cases again soon or not either.

While all the governments offices will close for the holidays, under this current uncertain circumstances it’s highly unlikely to obtain visa in time and also hard to assume that this emergency measure against the omicron variant will be lifted before the tour considering more omicron cases are being found in Japan everyday. Therefore as much as we’d like to carry on we have no choice but to cancel the tour.

After the series of postponements, we are very sorry to deliver the news, but we’d feel more terrible to ask you to keep holding on to the tickets for another postponement in this uncertain situation and we sincerely appreicate your kind understanding.

Your tickets will be refunded at your poinst purchase during the refund window, Dec 24th-Jan31st.
(Please kindly note that the refund is only available during the set dates above and no refund can be accepted after)
Please refer to Creativeman’s website for further details of the refund process.

This means the next opportunity for the Hunting High and Low Tour to resume, is in South America in March 2022.

Magne appears in Kalvøya documentary

Magne in the documentary

Magne is one of the people interviewed in a new documentary film about Norway’s legendary Kalvøya music festival.

The festival was held on the island of Kalvøya in Bærum near Oslo, nearly every summer from 1971-1997. It became Norway’s largest music festival and over the years featured headliners such as Frank Zappa, U2, Leonard Cohen, Peter Gabriel, Bob Dylan, Nirvana, Rage Against the Machine, Neil Young, Pearl Jam and David Bowie.

“Kalvøya was in the immediate area from where both Morten and I lived during parts of our adolescence, so the festival used to be the big event of the year and there was always something you wanted to see. You’d actually go there regardless if you liked the bands or not, as it had this magnetic effect on the whole region of eastern Norway”, Magne says in the documentary.

In June 1988 a-ha headlined the first day of the festival, as part of the Stay On These Roads tour. It was also their very first outdoor concert in Norway. The headliner the following day was Leonard Cohen.

“I think the concert at Kalvøya was an important moment for us, as it was one of the first major concerts we held in Norway”, Magne says.

“One of the highlights for us was meeting Leonard Cohen, who has been a great inspiration as a songwriter. Festivals are often a meeting ground for artists who wouldn’t otherwise meet each other.”

a-ha’s former FOH engineer Sven Persson (2000-2008) is also interviewed in the documentary, as he worked as a sound engineer at Kalvøya over many years.

The 105-minute documentary premiered on NRK TV on Monday and can be seen here (regional restrictions may apply). The segment about the a-ha concert is from 59:05 – 01:06:38.

a-ha returning to New York

Concert ad

a-ha will be playing at Radio City Music Hall for “one night only” on 12 April 2022, the official site announced today. This will be their first concert in New York since 2010 and the first in this particular venue since they played two nights there in October 1986.

Radio City Music Hall has a capacity of around 6,000 people. The date comes at the end of a month-long tour of South- and North-America in March and April next year, and brings the total number of concerts on the 2022 Hunting High and Low tour up to 44.

There will be a fan presale tomorrow, while the regular ticket sale opens on 3 December.

South American tour dates announced

The rescheduled 2022 tour dates for South America and Mexico have been announced today. The tour was originally scheduled for September 2020, then postponed to August 2021 and finally now March/April 2022. Let’s hope it’s possible to go ahead this time.

Unfortunately, the previously scheduled concert in Lima, Peru has been cancelled due to Covid restrictions. A concert in Asunción, Paraguay has been added instead, which will be a-ha’s first time in that country. A new concert has also been added in Recife, Brazil. There also seems to be some venue changes in Rio and Curitiba.

Here are all ten dates:

10 March 2022: Classic Hall, Recife, Brazil
12 March 2022: Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador, Brazil
16 March 2022: Expominas Arena, Belo Horizonte, Brazil
17 March 2022: QualiStage, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
19 March 2022: Espaço das Americas, São Paulo, Brazil
22 March 2022: Athletico Paranaense, Curitiba, Brazil
25 March 2022: Movistar Arena, Buenos Aires, Argentina
27 March 2022: SND Arena, Asunción, Paraguay
30 March 2022: Movistar Arena, Santiago, Chile
02 April 2022: Auditorio Nacional, Mexico City, Mexico

For ticket details, visit the official site.

Update 7/12: The concert in São Paulo on 19 March has sold out, and an extra date has been added on 20 March.

a-ha to play in Arendal

Another a-ha concert in Norway next summer was announced today:

18 June: Bryggebyen, Arendal, Norway

This will be an outdoor concert with a capacity of around 10,000 people.

Concert ad (Picture by Stian Andersen)

Both Morten and Magne have played solo concerts in Arendal in the past, but this will be the first a-ha concert in this southern coastal town, which has a population of 38,000.

“Arendal was chosen because both the city and the location where a-ha will play are very beautiful. Additionally, a-ha have never played there before, and I was met by a very professional and friendly group of organizers and financial supporters. It’s also exciting to do a concert in a city whith such strong growth and development as Arendal”, a-ha manager Harald Wiik told local newspaper Agderposten (paywall).

He added that this will be a Hunting High and Low-concert, but in a slightly modified version.

Tickets go on sale on 22 November at 9am via TicketCo. More info about the concert can be found at canalstreet.no.

Eddie Howe on being an a-ha fan: ‘I want other people to hear what I hear’

Eddie Howe

In connection with Eddie Howe being confirmed as the new manager of Newcastle United this week, author Greg Lansdowne has kindly offered to share an extended version of an interview he did with Howe for his 2016 book Living A Fan’s Adventure Tale – a-ha in the eyes of the beholders.

Howe is known to be a major a-ha fan, and has followed the band since the beginning in the mid-80s.

In the interview he talks about his admiration for the band – “The songwriting is incredible and the reason they are still making music now is because it is very interesting”, but also the challenges of being an a-ha fan – “The frustration for me is their music doesn’t have the credibility or recognition that it deserves.”

Read the full interview here: Tyne and again

Update on True North album

a-ha in Bodø, November 2021
(Photo by Lasse Jangås – see more of his photos here)

After several days of rehearsals, it seems the main recording session for the True North album together with the Arctic Philharmonic orchestra took place in Bodø on November 4th and 5th.

Karl Oluf Wennerberg posted a Facebook picture together with drummer colleague Per Hillestad on Friday night, saying:
“The a-ha album recording is now finished. We have both participated as best we can 🙂 Per Hillestad, you’re a great guy in every way. Thanks for the company. Hoping the world will embrace the upcoming album/concert film.”

Another picture posted by Karl Oluf reveals that one of the songs on True North is indeed Magne’s “You Have What It Takes”, while Paul posted a video clip from rehearsals that included the hashtag “#makemeunderstand” – which may also be a song title.

A series of pictures from the True North sessions taken by Lasse Jangås, head of communications for Arctic Philharmonic, was posted on Facebook. One of them includes a glimpse of a list of the 12 songs on the album. Although it’s hard to make out what it says, in addition to “You Have What It Takes” it seems to include Magne’s songs “I’m In”, “Between the Halo and the Horn” and “Bluest of Blue”. Possibly also Paul’s song “Make Me Understand”, if that’s the title.

Arctic Philharmonic has posted an article about the project on their website, with text and photos by Lasse Jangås. It includes some quotes by Paul:

“We have a bit of a chequered past, and instead of going through three months of bickering in a recording studio we wanted to try out a new way of making an album”, Paul says in the article.

“The initial idea was to film everything in a regular studio, but then this idea came along, to do it with Arctic Philharmonic in Bodø. And this is really exciting. It’s always fun to work with a good orchestra – it adds entirely new colours to the music.”

Half of the songs on the album have been written by Magne, while the other half were written by Paul. And while Magne’s songs were arranged for orchestra by Kjetil Bjerkestrand, Paul songs have been arranged by Joe Mardin.

To conduct the Arctic Philharmonic orchestra, renowned Swedish musician Anders Eljas was brought in for the occasion. He is full of praise for the True North project and a-ha’s songwriting:

“Two different songwriters and two different arrangers gives the album something extra, different colours and a good dynamic. I don’t like it when an album is too even, and Paul and Magne’s different characters provides the album with different facets and will make it interesting to listen to”, he tells Lasse Jangås in the article.

“This is a band that writes songs with a unique character and that cares about how it sounds. And the songs are really good!”, Eljas says.

a-ha in Bodø to record True North

Magne inside the Svømmehallen concert hall in Bodø
(Screenshot from TV2)

a-ha arrived in Bodø a few days ago, to prepare for the recording of the new film and album called True North during the coming week. They are joined by Even Ormestad, Kjetil Bjerkestrand (who has done some of the string arrangements) and Karl Oluf Wennerberg – plus a second drummer; Per Hillestad, who was a-ha’s drummer from 1990-94. In total, a crew of 100 people will be at work on the project.

Karl Oluf behind the drums in Bodø
(Screenshot from TV2)

Earlier in the month a-ha had been rehearsing at Studio Paradiso in Oslo, the same studio where Paul did some recording sessions with Per Hillestad back in the summer of 2019.

Meanwhile, Arctic Philharmonic recorded the string parts for True North at Store Studio in Bodø on 15 October. This was partly to see if the arrangements were working and partly as backup if something should fail during the upcoming live performance.

TV2’s evening news had a report from the Svømmehallen concert hall in Bodø on Friday, where Magne was interviewed about the project. It can be seen on TV2 Play (subscribers only). There is also an article on TV2.no.

Magne could be seen playing what appeared to be a melody line from “You Have What It Takes”, which may indicate it’s one of the songs that will end up on True North.

“This is a special project because we’re joined by Arctic Philharmonic, which provides a larger pallette to use. We have challenged our own sound in different ways previously as well, but this is where we’re at right now. This is a-ha’s diary from 2019/20/21”, Magne tells TV2.

Over on Instagram, Paul posted some pictures and video clips from a shoot with Stian Andersen in Bodø, which will probably be used as part of the True North film.

The planned release date for True North is late 2022.

a-ha: The Movie to be released on Blu-ray

Norwegian Blu-ray cover

a-ha: The Movie is set to be released on Blu-ray in Norway in December, exclusively through the online store Platekompaniet. Bonus material will include footage of Bridges reunited and extra interview clips with Magne and Paul. Norwegian fans can pre-order the Blu-ray here (no shipping outside of Norway).

The documentary premiered in Norwegian cinemas last month, to excellent press reviews – including 5/6 from VG (“Robsahm and Holm’s movie is interesting and entertaining throughout”), Dagbladet (“A surprisingly funny and warm film”) and NRK (“An important and well-made documentation of Norway’s biggest band of all time”).
So far more than 18,000 tickets have been sold.

The movie also premiered in Germany, Poland and South Korea last month, followed by Switzerland, Austria and Hungary this month. November will see it premiere in Denmark, while the UK will have to wait until next spring.

It has also been screened at a number of film festivals since its world premiere at Tribeca in New York in June, including in the USA: Seattle International Film Festival and Nashville Film Festival, Canada: Calgary International Film Festival and Edmonton International Film Festival, South Korea: Jecheon International Music & Film Festival, Sweden: Nordisk Panorama in Malmö, Greece: Athens International Film Festival, Iceland: Reykjavik International Film Festival.

Coming up next is the Doclisboa International Film Festival in Portugal tomorrow, where both Thomas Robsahm and Aslaug Holm will be present.

More info about a-ha: The Movie is available on the movie’s official website.

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