Posts Tagged ‘a-ha’

New a-ha book coming in March

Book cover

UK music writer Barry Page, known for his in-depth articles about The Story of Bridges, Paul’s solo projects and Morten’s solo projects, has written a new book called a-ha: Down To The Tracks, which will be published on 26 March 2020.

The 320-page hardback edition will cover a-ha’s whole career and all the various solo projects, with contributions from an impressive list of collaborators and people close to the band, the publisher This Day In Music Books announced today:

“In the first a-ha book of its kind, Barry Page looks back on an extraordinary 40-year musical odyssey. Aside from showcasing each a-ha album in track by track detail, the book includes a comprehensive look at both the band’s pre-fame years and each of the three members’ side projects, up to and including the release of Magne Furuholmen’s revered new solo album, White Xmas Lies.

Told from a number of different perspectives, this fresh take on the story mixes archived interviews and reviews, along with exclusive new input from a wide-ranging number of contributors, including a-ha’s Magne Furuholmen and Pål Waaktaar-Savoy, plus Dag and Jørun Bøgeberg, Viggo Bondi, Pål H. Christiansen, Anneli Drecker, Espen Farstad, Zoë Gnecco, Erik Hagelien, Matt Letley, Sven Lindvall, Robert Alan Morley, Tini Flaat Mykland, Martyn Phillips, Mark Saunders, Tonje Waaktaar Gamst, Harald Wiik and more.”

The book will also come with a special surprise:

“All copies of this edition will include a special collectable 7″ vinyl single which includes the previously unreleased ‘Miss Eerie’. Demoed by Bridges in early 1981, this embryonic version of ‘Take on Me’ was later christened by Morten Harket as ‘The Juicy Fruit Song’.”

a-ha: Down To The Tracks, which will be available as a limited edition hardback edition individually numbered 1 – 1000 and signed by the author, can be pre-ordered from the publisher here (UK £24.99 / US $32.00).

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.

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.

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

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.

a-ha perform in Tallinn

Morten on stage in Tallinn
(Instagram screenshot)

a-ha were in Tallinn, Estonia this week, to perform at a private event held at the Pirita convent ruins on 29 August, according to Estonian media.

Drummer Karl Oluf Wennerberg posted a picture from the rehearsals, and there was also a picture of Magne, Karl Oluf and Even Ormestad visiting the Tallinn restaurant 180 Degrees.

According to the Estonian news site Elu24.ee, the event was the 50th birthday party of Rina Vosman, the wife of Russian oligarch Oleg Tinkov. Guests included Vladimir Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov and his wife.

A video clip of a-ha performing “Take On Me” in Tallinn has been posted on Instagram here. Oleg Tinkov has also posted a picture of him and his family on stage with Morten.

Also performing at the event was UK singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor. The three-day celebration is reported to have cost around two million euros.

a-ha perform at Telenor Arena

a-ha live at Telenor Arena, performing for 3500 people on August 17th

a-ha performed at another corporate event in Oslo this past weekend, August 17th, as the cooperative building association OBOS celebrated its 90th anniversary with a big concert for its employees at Telenor Arena on Saturday night.

Other acts performing were Silya, Hkeem, Ina Wroldsen, Ole Paus, Ingrid Bjørnov, Timbuktu and Gyllene Tider.

a-ha’s setlist included The Sun Always Shines on TV, Stay On These Roads, Hunting High and Low, The Living Daylights and Take On Me.

Like their previous Oslo performance in June, they were joined on stage by Karl Oluf Wennerberg on drums, Even Ormestad on bass and Erik Ljunggren on synth.

Minor Earth | Major Sky and Lifelines remasters coming soon

The vinyl editions of the new Minor Earth | Major Sky and Lifelines remasters

The long-awaited remasters of Minor Earth | Major Sky (2000) and Lifelines (2002) will finally be released next month, 27 September.

Both albums will be available in 2CD Deluxe Editions, which will include previously unreleased songs such as “Sole Survivor”, “To Show It is to Blow It”, “Life’s Not Fair” (early version of “I Wish I Cared”) and “One in a Million” (early version of “White Canvas”), plus a-ha versions of “We’ll Never Speak Again” and “The Breakers”.

The 2CD Deluxe Edition of Minor Earth | Major Sky has a total of 33 tracks, while Lifelines has 37 tracks. The booklets include new liner notes by Kieron Tyler.

Both albums will also be available on vinyl for the first time, but only featuring the original album tracks.

Pre-order here:
Minor Earth | Major Sky (2CD Deluxe Edition): Amazon.de   Amazon.co.uk
Minor Earth | Major Sky (2LP Vinyl): Amazon.de   Amazon.co.uk

Lifelines (2CD Deluxe Edition): Amazon.de   Amazon.co.uk
Lifelines (2LP Vinyl): Amazon.de   Amazon.co.uk

Two sample tracks are already available for download/streaming now; “The Sun Never Shone That Day” (Early Version) and “Forever Not Yours” (Demo).

Read the full press release on a-ha.com.

a-ha to visit Australia and New Zealand

The latest tour announcement for next year’s HHAL tour is that a-ha will tour Australia for the first time in 34 years, plus New Zealand for the first time ever.

There will be eight dates in total, of which five of them will be part of the A Day on the Green outdoor summer festivals:

19 February: Kings Park & Botanic Garden, Perth, Australia (A Day on the Green)
22 February: Rochford Wines, Yarra Valley, Australia (A Day on the Green)
23 February: Margaret Court Arena, Melbourne, Australia
26 February: ICC Sydney Theatre, Sydney, Australia
29 February: Bimbadgen, Hunter Valley, Australia
(A Day on the Green)
01 March: Sirromet Wines, Mount Cotton, Australia (A Day on the Green)
05 March: Horncastle Arena, Christchurch, New Zealand
07 March: Villa Maria Winery, Auckland, New Zealand
(A Day on the Green)

The support act will be the British singer Rick Astley.

“Australia was the country we played our first ever live concerts and was our first brush with worldwide fame. It was a thrilling adventure to be there on the opposite side of the world and it’s a thrill to return in 2020 – finally we will be back where it all started!”, Magne said in a press release.

To promote the tour announcement, Morten was interviewed on the Australian morning talk show Studio 10. A video clip of the interview can be seen on the Australian a-ha fansite on Facebook.

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