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a ha20191115 A Ha Oberhausen 20191115 211411König-Pilsener-Arena, Oberhausen, Germany
15th November 2019
A-HA - “Play hunting high and low live”

The Norwegian Synth-Pop band A-HA was founded in 1982 and has since released ten studio albums and sold more than 80 million recordings. In November 2019 they are coming to Germany for four concerts and have announced something very special for them:

Morten Harket (vocals), Pål Waaktaar-Savoy (guitar) and Magne Furuholmen (keyboards) play a concert with two completely different parts. In the first part of the setlist, the first album of the trio, namely the complete ‘Hunting High And Low’ album, is played in the order of the original album. This happened only twice, namely in October 2010 in Oslo Konserthus and in London’s Royal Albert Hall. Now fans of France, Poland, Germany and Scotland have the unique opportunity to experience A-HA with their debut album. The second part contains some hits but also lesser known songs. /

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Music & Performance
After Mannheim and Leipzig is the turn of the König-Pilsener-Arena in Oberhausen today. The location in the Ruhr area should be sold out if you look in the wide rounding. The inner space is completely seated. In Oberhausen, the Christmas market has started today and so the band is greeted by a very mixed audience, whose average age is likely to be just below that of the three Norwegians. Just two months ago, exactly on September 14th, Morten celebrated his 60th birthday. The stage is held relatively spartan. In the foreground is the keyboard of Magne and two micro stands for Morten and Pål. There is a drum kit on the left and another keyboard on the right. During the show, a bass player joins in, so that on the stage a total of six musicians are active. At 8:00 pm, the show starts with a fairly long intro, with a black-and-white comic strip on the oversized screen. It will pass on to the video for ‘Take On Me’, with which the Norwegians will finally enter the stage amidst cheers and hundreds of cell phones.

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The song itself was written in 1984 and so the tour falls almost exactly on the day of the 35th anniversary of the original version. This flopped at that time initially with about 300 sold singles. Only when in 1985 the corresponding video appeared on MTV, the song sold then eight million times and brought A-HA the top position in 27 countries. Almost overnight they became the absolute megastars and Morten the declared darling of all teenage girls. Today the singer gives himself quite casually, with jeans, dark shirt and glasses, which he changes several times during the concert. After the mentioned single, all songs of the original album will follow. Musically, A-HA are absolutely on top and manage to outdo all songs with a more modern, more progressive garb.

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But their actions on stage seem rehearsed, even emotionless, and there is virtually no interaction with the audience. Apart from participating in the title track ‘Hunting High And Low’, the audience also remains, except for a bit of a seesaw and here and there a “Ooh” and “Aah”, very quiet, even if each song is politely blabbered. That does not change in the second release ‘The Sun Always Shine On TV’. You almost think you are in a classical concert and the three Norwegians do not even try to cheer on the audience. If you want to describe the scenery politely, it’s called enjoying musicians and listeners. Acknowledgments or prompts to sing along to the chorus on the title track are the sole responsibility of Magne. Morten is fully focused on his vocal performance, which is admittedly truly outstanding. That’s how 10 songs with a total playing time of about 40 minutes splash.

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After the 20 minute break A-HA opens the second part of the setlist with ‘Analogue (All I Want)’ from the 2005 album of the same name, followed by the next title track ‘Foot Of The Mountain’ from 2009. Like the first songs the musical excursions are supported by an impressive LED production, which shows mostly nature pictures or complex, geometric shapes, as well as a glittering light show. At least at ‘Analogue’, the audience is celebrating with joy, yes I think, emotionally this song even beat ‘Take On Me’. The catchy ‘The Swing Of Things’ is reminiscent of DEPECHE MODE, before the super soft ‘Crying In The Rain’ joins. With the groovy ‘Sycamore Leaves’, accompanied by Magne on the Hammond organ and a brilliant Pål on the guitar, A-HA proves that they can really rock like the style of DEEP PURPLE. A really great track, which does not matter at all when the fans are growing. With the over-ludicrous ‘Digital River’ there is a new song that was released in October 2019. At the request of Magne, many hundreds of mobile phone displays illuminate the arena.

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The performance of the guest musicians will be on ‘I’ve Been Losing You’, before ‘Stay On These Roads’ is another single release that also completes this part of the setlist. After a short break, there is the addition ‘Scoundral Days’ and ‘The Living Daylights’, the eponymous title track to the James Bond classic, in German “Hauch Des Todes”, before at 22:15 pm the curtain falls. Musically, A-HA are and remain a towering band that has managed to develop the Synth Pop of the 80s through noticeably progressive influences and to save the new millennium. Also the sound, the light show and the support of the LED animations are the finest and Morten still a wonderful and attractive singer. However, who had hoped for surprises, interactions with the audience or joy of playing and fun on stage, was extremely disappointed.

-Set 1 - Hunting High And Low - Live-
01. Take On Me
02. Train Of Thought
03. Hunting High And Low
04. The Blue Sky
05. Living A Boy’s Adventure Tale
06. The Sun Always Shines On T.V.
07. And You Tell Me
08. Love Is Reason
09. Dream Myself Alive (Demo Version)
10. Here I Stand And Face The Rain
-Set 2-
11. Analogue (All I Want)
12. Foot Of The Mountain
13. The Swing Of Things
14. Crying In The Rain (Carole King Cover)
15. Sycamore Leaves
16. Digital River
17. I’ve Been Losing You
18. Stay On These Roads
19. Scoundral Days
20. The Living Daylights

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All Pictures by Andreas Gey
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