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introKönig- Pilsener Arena, Oberhausen, Germany
20th April 2016
A-ha & Marcel Brell

On short notice I was asked if I like to see A-HA in order to write a review about the show. How could I decline such a request as I finally had the chance to see such a great Synth Pop band with a career of three decades? And thus I was very much looking forward to this event.


Marcel Brell

Grown up in a family with the father being an opera singer and the mother being a dancer, music always was a dominant part in the life of the singer/songwriter. He and his siblings learnt to play the piano already in their childhood. As a teenager he taught himself to play guitar and started already to write and compose songs. While studying music he had already some shows with mainstream orientated Pop songs in English but with not much success. Without finishing his studies he moved to Berlin and by trial and error he developed then his own style by writing songs now in German lyrics. Besides solo shows he had the chance to be supporting act for ALIN COEN BAND, ELIF, SUZANNE VEGA, SHARON CORR, DOTA KEHR and now A-HA. His debut album ‘Alles gut solang man tut‘ will be released on the 23rd of May 2016. http://www.marcelbrell.de / https://www.facebook.com/marcelbrellmusik 

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Music & Performance
The winsome singer entered on time the stage with his live band, consisting of a bass player and a drummer. At that time most of the audience was already there. Surely the show was technically of high quality but though the Marcel tried frequently to animate the audience to interact with him, he didn’t really succeed as the reaction was quite restrained. Thus one could get the impression that a concert in such a big venue was just too big for him. But of course most of the people were only interested to see A-HA. Anyway, at least he got polite applauses after each song. For those of the audience who were interested in his music, he announced close to the end of his performance that there is a chance to meet him at the merchandise stand later.

Setlist
01. Intro
02. Kaputt
03. Weggehen um anzukommen
04. Nur den Augenblick
05. Sein wie Du
06. Sprechendes Tier

Rating
Music: 6
Performance: 6
Sound: 9
Light: 7
Total: 7 / 10

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A-ha

Actually this band doesn’t need much introduction with a career spanning 30 years. But nevertheless here is some information. The band was founded in early 1982 by Pal Waaktaar-Savoy and Magne Furuholmen. Morten Harket joined them later. They chose this band name as it is easy to pronounce in many languages and is an international expression for positive knowledge. The band got its breakthrough on its third attempt with the single ‘Take on me‘ in 1985. This thanks to the extraordinary video, a mixture of animated comic and real pictures, that was displayed on MTV on heavy rotation. The video helped the band to reach the N° 1 of the American Billboard charts and still pertains to be one of the best music video clips ever. The following single, ‘The sun always shines on TV‘, conquered the British charts. The second album was quite successful though not that much as the first one. But the achievement offered the guys to contribute a song for the James Bond film ‘The living daylight‘ which is definitely quite an honour. The fourth album was a rejection of the more simple Pop sound and can be seen as a development to a more grown up music. The pinnacle of the early years surely was the break of the world record for concerts with more than 195,000 fans after the tour start in Oslo at the Rock in Rio II show in 1991.

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In the years 1991 to 1997 all band members focussed more on their solo projects but in the following years they celebrated their comeback with a new album, launched in 2000, which was another success, followed by sold out arena shows. In 2003 the first live album was released and the band announced one year later to change the record label. Also an authorised biography in Norwegian including a CD, that could be only purchased together with the book, with unreleased demo versions of older songs was published. 25 years after the first hit single A-HA announced its breakup but on occasion of its 30th anniversary, in 2015, the band reunited again accompanied with the release of a new album ‘Cast in steel’. Amongst innumerable awards the band got the Norwegian Royal Order of St. Olav award in 2012 by His Majesty King Harald of Norway for its outstanding musical contribution. So far the band has launched 10 studio albums, four live albums, 7 EPs, 42 singles and also 7 VHS/ DVDs. http://a-ha.com / https://www.facebook.com/officialaha 

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Music & Performance
During the stage rebuilding that didn’t take too long the venue filled though the show was not sold out. When A-HA, the additional live band including the (background) singer Anneli Drecker entered the stage they were greeted with loud cheering. And already with the first tunes the fans were off their seats and started to move to the songs. There was a huge screen in the back of the stage and further two at each side of it where videos, animations and the band members were displayed. The concert was topped off with an excellent light show. Morten showed up with a great vocal quality which was a surprise for me as I have seen a live show broadcasted on TV where he failed several times on the high notes. But this concert also showed that it’s not only Morten who is singing but also Magne and Pal were performing some songs as well. Every now and then Morten and Magne addressed to the audience. For ‘Lifelines’, Magne asked the audience to turn on the flash light of their mobiles which turned the venue to an atmospheric sea of lights. While Pal and Magne were performing some songs Morten has left the stage.

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He returned to join the second verse of ‘Here I stand & face the rain’ that Anneli started to sing and both finished this song as a beautiful duet. The setlist contained a nice mixture of older songs but of course several ones from the actual album. For the last song the fans were asked to join the band in singing which they did though it sounded quite hesitant. The sing along worked much better at the first encore when we were asked to join the “Who sings louder” competition to ‘Living daylights’. And as one encore was not enough the audience used the refrain of the afore mentioned song to ask the band for another one. The band re-entered the stage once more for good and performed their first hit single ever. In my opinion it was a felicitous show that didn’t rely only on the hit singles of the band and I enjoyed it very much. Only the audience was a bit lame for my taste. But when I overheard a comment of one visitor after the show, saying that the band could have raised the roof if it only had played more of the hit singles, it became clear to me that most of audience seemed to have expected something like this, too. Well, the tour was called “Cast in steel” and not “The greatest hits so far”, wasn’t it?

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Setlist
01. I’ve been losing you
02. Cry wolf
03. Move to Memphis
04. Stay on these roads
05. The swing of things
06. Cast in steel
07. Crying in the rain
08. Mother nature
09. Looking for the whales
10. Velvet
11. Lifelines
12. Here I stand & face the rain
13. Scoundrel days
14. Sycamore leaves
15. Humming a tune
16. Foot of the mountain
17. Hunting high and low
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18. The sun always shines on TV
19. Under the makeup (acoustic)
20. Living daylight
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21. Take on me

Rating
Music: 10
Performance: 10
Sound: 9
Light: 10
Total: 9.8 / 10

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All pictures by Daniela Vorndran (http://www.vorndranphotography.com / http://www.facebook.com/blackcatnet)



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