New Music Friday
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A-ha have announced a full electric UK tour taking place in June 2018. The dates follow their already announced acoustic shows, scheduled for March. Following the release of their MTV Unplugged release and accompanying stripped back shows, they’ll hit the road with a full band and string section come the summer. A-ha will be joined by OMD at all shows except Yeovil.
Rising to fame in the mid-80s with hit singles Take On Me and The Sun Always Shines On TV, both taken from their best-selling debut album Hunting High and Low, A-ha established themselves as early pioneers of music and video technology. They’ve continued to build a strong fanbase since, with Morten Harket, Pal Waaktaar-Savoy and Magne Furuholmen becoming veterans of the live circuit.
With their new UK full electric tour now announced, we caught up with keyboardist Magne to find out more about what’s to come.
How are you feeling about returning to the UK?
It’s always great to come home for gigs. London was our home, certainly our musical home at the beginning, so it always feels great to come back to the UK.
We will be going to places we haven’t been before on these outdoor summer gigs, so it’s going to be exciting to do something different this time.
Do you have to change the ways you prepare for these summer shows?
You always have to think about the format when you’re planning it. Right now we’re in the middle of preparing for the immediate acoustic gigs in February, which will have a more intimate approach.
Each project has its own merit but there are similarities. We need to practice our instruments and get the band together, put a production together. Just try to give people a good time.
How are those preparations going?
They are going well. We did MTV Unplugged for the record we have out at the moment. Those two concerts were recorded for TV.
Our March and summer tours are going to be a follow-up to those, except instead of having two hundred people in the audience… we’ll have ten thousand.
Do you still get excited about touring?
Doing things differently is always a good way of getting yourself excited. Now we have a much bigger ensemble on stage. We have live string players; we have multi-instrumentalists that come with us. It’s a different animal, and that keeps it fresh.
So fans can expect something new this time around?
The acoustic show will be extremely different than what they have seen before from us. Coming into the summer gigs, we will carry some elements from that into a new approach for the electric show as well. It’s still a way away for us though, so it’s in the moulding tank at the moment.
Is there anything you particularly look forward to about being on the road?
Being on tour is all about the two hours you are in front of an audience. The rest is a lot of waiting around and letting time pass by. It’s really all about the chance you’ve been given to perform songs you’ve written for a captive audience. That’s something you don’t take for granted.
We have thirty years of music to choose from now, so it’s an ever-growing amount of material to be decided upon. You want to give people the songs they love, but also want to challenge them with something they might not be familiar with, depending on their level of A-ha fandom.
Is it difficult to find that balance?
There’s definitely a balance to strike. You feel, in a way, that some songs actually belong to the audience. You’re actually performing their songs back to them. Those songs have been in the public domain for thirty years.
Doing the acoustic thing has given us an opportunity to reclaim those songs and to do them in a different way. To reconnect with them on a compositional level, rather than just performing them the way people are used to hearing them.
That’s been a healthy jolt to the system, to re-examine retrospectively songs that were written over three or four decades. The way we did things back in the 80s is very different to how we do things now.
So doing the acoustic songs has changed the way you approach the full band?
It’s definitely been a reinvigorating process, and that will carry on into the summer shows. You start from a different point of departure. Ultimately it’s about making the moments glow, and making that connection with the audience.
The magic is something that happens between the stage and the fans. They give a lot of energy out. That’s quite an addictive thing. It’s a huge privilege, and we just want to make sure we give people the best we can.
Catch A-ha live on their full electric summer UK tour on the following dates:
7 June 2018 – The Spitfire Ground, Canterbury
9 June 2018 – Huish Park, Yeovil
10 June 2018 – Cambs Glass Stadium, Cambridge
14 June 2018 – Keepmoat Stadium, Doncaster
16 June 2018 – Bloomfield Road, Blackpool
17 June 2018 – Mowden Park, Darlington
Their acoustic tour arrives in London on the following date:
14 March 2018 – The O2, London
Tickets for A-ha’s full summer tour go on sale at 9:00 on Friday 17 November through Ticketmaster.co.uk.