A-Ha Leaves Their Mark On America With A Farewell Show At Club Nokia In Los Angeles
Moments before the euphoric chimes of the 80’s anthem, “Take On Me” rang out across the sell out crowd at Club Nokia, A-Ha keyboardist Magne “Mags” Furuholmen closed out a season in the band’s history with the simple words, “goodbye, America!”…
It was a celebration of 25 years as a band. This was the second of a two night stint at LA Live and the final show of a seven night run across the US. A-Ha will roll through Europe on the final leg of their “Farewell Tour” and will perform together for the last time on December 4th in their hometown of Oslo, Norway.
There was a decidedly European feel to the night, as hardcore fans mixed with those who spent the night waiting for a one-hit experience. Norwegian flags were seen waving, here and there, throughout the venue and many an accent could be heard. They both were here to see a band who has had a lot of influence on the way music has been played and been marketed over the last quarter century.
The trio had graced the cover of every teen magazine in the word in 1985, climbing to teen idol status with the likes of Duran Duran, Tears For Fears, New Edition (Bobby Brown) and Wham! (George Michael). A-Ha rode the groundbreaking MTV video, Take On Me, to the top of the US charts, (peaking at #1) while their debut album Hunting High And Low went platinum. The video is still a classic with lead singer Morten Harket wooing a beautiful girl into an adventure in his cartoon world. By the end of their mind-blowing ride, they were nominated for a Best New Artist Grammy (they also won 8 MTV Video Awards). Their following single, “The Sun Always Shines On TV,” peaked at #17 on the Hot Billboard 100 and was the last of their US hits.
While A-Ha’s flame may have burned out quickly in the US, the band has had a great deal of success across the water. They have sold over 36 million albums in their career and have had over a dozen Top 20 singles in the UK. 198,000 paying fans watched A-Ha at the Rock in Rio II Festival in January of 1991… a Guinness World Record.
The influence of A-Ha is widespread as evidenced by Coldplay’s Chris Martin voicing his love for the band. A large amount of keyboard-driven music and breakthroughs in music videos can be traced back to the Norwegians. The band has commented, “We’ve literally lived the ultimate boy’s adventure tale, through a longer, more rewarding career than anyone could hope for. Doing this now will give us a chance to get more involved in other meaningful aspects of life, be it humanitarian work, politics, or whatever else – and of course through new constellations in the field of art and music. We are retiring as a band, not as individuals. Change is always difficult and it is easy to get set in one’s ways. Now it is time to move on.”
Harket led the band through a 90-plus minute set, backed by a live drummer and keyboardist. Their use of Club Nokia’s LCD screen was stunning. Images and words flashed behind the band and danced around the music through forests, soaring eagles and blood flow. A highlight was the 1987 James Bond track “The Living Daylights,” complete with 007 graphics and guns. The fans swayed and sang along as they would have at the movie premiere.
You could feel that Furuholmen, Harket and guitarist Paul Waaktaar-Savoy were sharing the enormity of the final night in LA. Their love of a career in music was obvious as they alternated smiles and the closing of their eyes, getting lost in the ethereal melodies. Furuholmen was the voice of the band for the night, summing things up late in the set when he said, “Thank you for reminding us we have friends on this side of the ocean.” Harket mastered every one of the band’s trademark high notes and looked much the same as the heartthrob of the past.
The last 15 minutes of A-Ha’s performance in Los Angeles was the celebration’s pinnacle. During the first encore, the screen was a blur with montages and clips of American television and cinema as the band soared into “The Sun Always Shines On TV.” When they left the stage, one more time, everyone in the house knew what was coming. The anticipation was met with a rousing rendition of their biggest hit and “Take On Me” had the room jumping. A final bow was a fitting end to a successful evening.
A-Ha @ Club Nokia, Los Angeles May 16, 2010 Setlist
Foot Of The Mountain
Analogue (All I Want)
Forever Not Yours
Minor Earth Major Sky
Summer Moved On
Move to Memphis
The Blood That Moves The Body
Stay On These Roads
The Living Daylights
The Swing Of Things
And You Tell Me
We’re Looking for the Whales
I’ve Been Losing You
Hunting High And Low
The Sun Always Shines On T.V.
Take On Me