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a-ha Electric Summer Tour 2018

10 June 2018 Glass Stadium, Cambridge, UK

The following text is a review of the gig hastily put together for this website: The doors had been open since 4pm and a-ha came on at roughly a quarter to nine at the expected time and in the sort of organised and welcoming fashion one may expect from Scandinavians. The two warm-up acts, one original Thompson Twin and OMD, had certainly set a positive tone for an evening of weather which even the British couldn’t moan about and flooded them with catchy-tunes that even those not so well acquainted with the bands could remember from their earlier days. As an audience, the demographics were fairly clear – perhaps the stereotypical 40-55 year old whom was there for the music and had matured to a point of convivial common sense but still craving a good time even if it meant standing up for an entire evening amongst a big group of strangers. Here are a generation of people for whom since listening to the music of the second half of the Eighties, to which they find timeless, have quite possibly had so many different life experiences. The audience here seemed bound together not only by some degree of maturity, but also by their general behaviours. This is the generation of souls whom had to wonder whether to buy an LP on Vinyl or CD. People whom can still today leave the so called Millennials dumbfounded at times about what life was like before their generation. For the reader interested in reading about the band, the Wikipedia article may be found here and their official website here.

The evening’s performance began with Cry Wolf, the second single from a-ha’s second album, Scoundrel Days. At times, the tempo felt more like the audience; slightly slower than it was in the year 1986, although, if nothing else, it helped the band find their feet and also for vocalist/guitarist Morten Harket to warm-up his renowned falsetto vocal chords. The audience welcome message came from Keyboardist/Guitarist Magne Furuholmen, whom seemed confident in every respect. The third band member, guitarist Paul (Pål) Waaktaar-Savoy seemed to be the most relaxed of the three. Things then sped up a little with a rendition of The Blood That Moves the Body. Again, a second single from an album, this time from their third album, Stay on These Roads. However, the bulk of the first hour or so seemed to focus on less popular songs from the band’s latter works leading to a little disinterest from some of the crowd, apart from the moment where Morten played to the them with cheers and groans by taking off and on again his sunglasses which he seemed all so attached to. The earlier parts of the performance were interspersed with a seemingly and distracted lead vocalist wandering off to the side at times to leave the guitars to do all of the hard labour.


A performance of Crying in the Rain soon put a stop to all of this shenanigans; a popular song penned by Howard Greenfield and Carole King, covered in a-ha’s fourth album East of the Sun, West of the Moon. Perhaps a turning point came in the form of the band’s hit Manhattan Skyline. This catchy song seemed to throw the audience off guard a little whereby all of a sudden the burger stalls saw heads in their queues turn. The might of a-ha was in vengeance with support coming in the form of I've Been Losing You, the first single from the Scoundrel Days album. One of the wonders about this song is on the original studio recording, Morten shows off his prowess in terms of the octaves he can deliver and so for a live performance, here it seemed to enable him to really test the water. Another useful tool with this particular song is that many fans will be familiar with it having a (largely) instrumental reprise... also instrumental in the fact that with only half an hour to go, it was time to either introduce (or thank, depending on how one may look at it) everyone on set, all of whom had also come from Norway and this provided ideal background music for talking against. It wasn’t long before the rush of crowd adrenaline came in the form of the UK number one hit The Sun Always Shines on T.V., the third single from their debut studio album Hunting High and Low. This was the defining moment of the evening, where the crowd started to really let their hair down.


One of the greatest pleasures of the night was to see a band founded some thirty six years ago still with their original line up (albeit 3) still doing what they do best and not pandering to external pressures to change with fashions whilst at the same time holding no fear to experiment within themselves.


As anticipated for a headline act, there was an encore with three of their more well-known songs. This started off with a powerful performance of Scoundrel Days, where Morten’s voice really started to come alive. The next song was what seemed like a fairly extended version of a-ha’s moment of jumping on a band wagon, so to speak, with their James Bond theme tune, The Living Daylights. The visual effects became more intelligent and relevant at this point whereby, in part, the band members and accompanying musicians appeared as silhouettes against more luminescent backgrounds akin to the Bond films just after the opening action scene. There seemed to be much more audience participation in the latter part of the song. As Morten played off the audience, it was fortuitous that both parties had now come alive, bouncing back their singing voices as the microphone pointed towards each other. And, perhaps, Morten was also going into preparatory mode ready for the final song of the encore. Predictably, to the wistful crowd, Take on Me. The first single from their first album. Right at the end, a-ha had reached the peak of this performance with all hands on deck, leaving an audience gasping just in the same way a fireworks display organiser ensures the performance ends with the biggest showpiece of the lot.


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