a-ha Review

a-ha – Nottingham Trent FM Arena, 21 November 2010

"Morten Harket is one of the least charismatic front men in pop" - A-ha at the Trent FM Arena

By Nick Parkhouse

“THANK you for coming to celebrate 25 years of us making music together.” The words of a-ha’s Magne Furuholmen as the Norwegian trio played their last ever show in Nottingham before they formally end their quarter of a century association next month.

The Scandinavians have finally decided to call it a day and celebration was a recurring theme of the night. From a brash and loud opening The Sun Always Shines On TV, the band raced through a retrospective set list featuring hits from throughout their long career.

With no new material to share, it was very much an unashamed ‘greatest hits’ set – even throwing in one or two tracks from their seminal early albums Scoundrel Days and Hunting High And Low.

When a band has a back catalogue as impressive as a-ha – surely one of the most original and high quality pop bands of the 80s – it’s tough for the show to be anything but entertaining. Hit after brilliant hit were warmly received by an enthusiastic crowd and there was plenty of screaming as the band performed the likes of Cry Wolf, Manhattan Skyline, I’ve Been Losing You, Foot Of The Mountain and Crying In The Rain.

In many ways, though, a-ha are a strange live band. They are one of the most competent, slick live acts around entirely despite their reluctance to engage emotionally with their audience. Whilst he may boast a voice which has never sounded better, Morten Harket is also one of the least charismatic front men in pop music.

Most of what little crowd banter there is relies on keyboardist Magne, whilst Harket barely raises a smile during the course of the evening.

Whilst it was yet another in a long series of superb a-ha live shows, I did feel a twinge of disappointment at the lack of any sense of an emotional farewell.

Considering this is the band’s final tour, it certainly didn’t feel like it.

That’s not to say that it wasn’t a great show, though. Morten sounded as good as I have ever heard him, and the soaring Stay On These Roads and the brilliant, bombastic Bond theme The Living Daylights were particular highlights. However, by the time the last note of Take On Me had faded away, it was apparent that the fans in the Nottingham audience were much sadder than the band that their 25 year relationship had come to an end.

Nick Parkhouse

Setlist:

The Sun Always Shines On TV
Move to Memphis
The Blood That Moves The Body
Scoundrel Days
Stay On These Roads
Manhattan Skyline
Hunting High And Low
The Bandstand
Forever Not Yours
We’re Looking For The Whales
Butterfly Butterfly (The Last Hurrah)
Crying In The Rain
Minor Earth Major Sky
The Swing Of Things
Summer Moved On
I’ve Been Losing You
Foot Of The Mountain
Cry Wolf
Analogue
The Living Daylights

Take On Me