a-ha – its been a while! Welcome back to Brighton. Hunting High and Low and then even more great music. A superb night of nostalgia, dancing and singing!
a-ha are a Norwegian band formed in Oslo in 1982. Founded by Paul Waaktaar-Savoy (guitars), Magne Furuholmen (keyboards, guitars) and Morten Harket (vocals), the band rose to fame during the mid-1980s and continued its global success in the 1990s and the 21st century. A-ha achieved their biggest success with their debut album Hunting High and Low in 1985. That album peaked at number one in their native Norway, number 2 in the UK, and number 15 on the US Billboard album chart; yielded two international number-one singles: “Take On Me” and “The Sun Always Shines on TV”
The huge backdrop screen sputtered into life projecting some striking black and white images and sketches in the Brighton Centre for the long awaited return of a-ha to the city. The venue was packed to the rafters, no support band. Just a-ha – two sets the first being the playing of the album that really started it off for them, Hunting High and Low. The second set, made up of other releases from across the years, show those familiar and more recent musical material from their entire career.
a-ha: The Band/ rockeband
Magne Furuholmen: Keys
Morten Harket: vocals
Pål Waaktaar-Savoy: Guitars and keys
The back drop projection faded away and the crowd welcomed the guys to the stage with a huge cheer as the drums kicked in with that familiar pattern.
a-ha: The Set – Konsert
The drums piled in, the keys and guitars started up, it could only be track one, side one – Take On Me. Some may argue that was a brave thing to do, start you set with one of your biggest hits. Worry not dear reader, a-ha have many more songs to draw upon with confidence. The crowd on the lower main floor, who had been seated, were up. Those sitting down had to get up because they would not have been able to see much!
Morten, dressed in a black leather jacket with the collar up and sporting a variety of eyewear through the set sang and delivered this song perfectly. The crowd, who had obviously been waiting many years to see a-ha truly let rip and joined en masse.
a-ha: “Welcome to 1985”
Take On Me certainly had the desired effect on everyone who had come tonight. Okay, racking my brains on the album Train Of Thought was up next and the one I remembered, which gave the band another hit was the title track, Hunting High and Low. I have to say at this point the sound tonight was absolutely on point. All the instruments played by the musicians behind a-ha could be heard perfectly. Mortens vocals sailed crisply into the venue, I have to say his vocals are perfect, just as I and everyone remembered. The ballad Hunting High and Low just flew into an unforgettable singalong. A stunning top class performance from him all night.
The Blue Sky and Living A Boy’s Adventure Tale were served up next. Beautifully delivered and the songs were backed with an awesome backdrop of videos and montages. This was a class performance. Magne seemed to be the only member talking tonight “Anyone old enough to remember the ’80s?” he asked. The Sun Always Shines On TV was the answer as this was the second number 1 single to be released from the album.
The tracks flew past and as set one was heading for a close we had the remaining songs from the album, And You Tell Me, Love Is Reason, Dream Myself Alive, Here I Stand And Face The Rain. So that was it some 45 minutes that passed in the blink of an eye. I enjoyed that segment. Brilliant to see those songs performed live. I was chatting to one of the Centre crew who remembered them on their first visit, wait for it….. 22 December 1986!
Another video wall selection opened up for the second half. The guitar heralded the start of Analogue, some lovely keyboards and Mortens voice sailed to a wonderful place on this one. More of the bands material came to us. I did notice that Morten almost seemed to shy away from the edge of the stage and didn’t really seem to engage with the crowd, who I think were desperate to hear some chat from him.
Their cover of the Everly Brothers’ Crying in the Rain is gorgeous, again a stormy video with rolling clouds filled the backdrop. I have to also congratulate the musicians in the background. These guys did a splendid job in supporting a-ha. They really did contribute a lot to this show. Well played to them.
Digital River, a song I don’t recall hearing before and then Stay On These Roads brought the second half to a close. That was quick – again! Such was the intensity and pleasure from these guys, again 45 minutes had slipped by so quickly. The music just whisked you away with the help of the superb pin sharp video wall.
And Finally / Mer
It was clear to me dear reader that this crowd had arrived primed and ready for some nostalgia, the first half proved that. The band came back onto the stage to huge applause and we had Scoundrel Days and again that recognised keyboard sound filled the auditorium.
The familiar James Bond theme stab hit us. The crowd, well, they just went a little nuts for this one! The pure shimmering rock/synth pop joy of The Living Daylights. And that was it! A satisfied crowd left the venue… Well played a-ha.
Right from the start tonight after the superb rendition of Take On Me, you can see just how tight and professional a-ha have become.
The band, and those backing musicians, had people dancing and singing from the get-go to the finale. A truly refreshing and most welcome evening out. And, for the first time in a while, I had to get home to dig out the old greatest hits CD!
You can keep up to date with a-ha on the WWW here.
The sound was absolutely spot on. The sound desk had a great mix, everything was clear and all the instruments and vocals could be heard. Some great lighting came into play and the entire band were visible at all times. Scene Sussex thank the wonderful Brighton Centre crew. They really do pull together to ensure the audience has a great night
Thanks also to the Brighton and Hove news team.
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All original pictures / video – copyright to IANB/MEDIA WORKS/ SCENE SUSSEX – Ian “The Lens” Bourn 2019.
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