a-ha have always set themselves challenges. In 2018, their the MTV Unplugged tour proved that their songs could be given new settings and remain as alive and as impactful as ever.
Now, pushing even further, they are announcing that their October and November 2019 tour will be different from anything they have previously undertaken. They will make a stop off at Dublin’s 3Arena, 29th October 2019 and Belfast’s SSE Arena, 30th October 2019. Tickets on sale now.
Magne Furuholmen, Morten Harket, and Pål Waaktaar-Savoy will be performing in An Evening With format, with an interval. For the first half of the concert, they will play new and old, familiar and less-familiar songs. Then, after returning to the stage, they will play the ten songs of their 1985 debut album Hunting High And Low in the running order of the original release.
Back in October 2010, a-ha had played the whole of Hunting High And Low just twice, first at Oslo’s Konserthus and then at London’s Royal Albert Hall. Now, from France to Poland and from Germany to Scotland, audiences will have the unique chance to experience a-ha revisiting their first album while staying faithful to its spirit.
Together, Hunting High And Low’s ten songs are more than a debut album. “Take On Me”,“Train Of Thought”, “Hunting High And Low”, “The Blue Sky”, “Living A Boy’s Adventure Tale”, “The Sun Always Shines On T.V.”, “And You Tell Me”, “Love Is Reason”, “Dream Myself Alive” and “Here I Stand And Face The Rain” are ten songs which captured a-ha’s heart and soul. And the hearts and souls of fans world-wide too.
“We played the full Hunting High And Low album live once before and that was a great experience,” says Pål, looking back on the pair of 2010 concerts and how he, Magne and Morten feel now. “There’s not one song on that album that we’re not looking forward to playing live. We had done quite a few versions of the songs before recording the actual album and they all contain great bits and cool ideas which will be nice to incorporate into the new show.”
“Recording Hunting High And Low was such a defining moment and an exciting time in our career and joint collaboration,” stresses Magne. “So revisiting this body of work now – more than 30 years later – feels like inspiration rather than obligation. I just need to dust off the old synths a little…”
“With the song selection and the set in the album’s running order, it will turn it into a totally different type of show to anything we have done before,” adds Pål , saying a-ha also appreciate the tour will “pull your mind and mood back to when Hunting High And Low was made, which for us was a time when we were living in the same tiny apartment in London and working on the songs 24/7. By when the album was finally released it had been a long and bumpy ride, and we poured all our ambitions into the record as if it would be our one and only shot.”
The tour is timed to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the release of the original version of “Take On Me” – issued in the UK on 19 October 1984 to reputed sales of just 300 copies. The re-recorded “Take On Me” was released in Britain during April 1985 to little fanfare, and in America that May where it hit big after its striking promotional video was seen on TV. It was reissued in the UK that September and, finally, the British hit came. The Hunting High And Low album was on sale in America in June 1985, and in the UK in October 1985.
It was a long way from when, two years earlier, the three members of a-ha were making demos on a four-track, reel-to-reel tape recorder in a holiday cabin owned by Pål’s family in Nærsnes, near Oslo.
As Pål admits, a-ha’s road to Hunting High And Low was full of twists and turns. Despite the band’s self-belief, there was never any certainty of success. If their label had not allowed to them to re-record “Take On Me” and then make the new version which became the global hit, that may have been that. Nothing was cut and dried.
Even when “Take On Me” took off, no one knew the band would be become established as one of the world’s best and most-loved. There were no guarantees. But the pushing, the rethinking and the self-confidence ensured that a-ha would not have “one and only shot”.
Yet when a-ha had what they needed for their debut album, they knew these were ten perfect songs capturing who they were and, to a large degree, still are. Ten songs marrying yearning melodies and drama; marrying immediacy and intimacy.
When they play Hunting High And Low live in 2019, it is about more than revisiting ten favourite songs. It is also about tapping into the sense of adventure which first brought a-ha to London: a recognition that they have never stood still.
“Take On Me” and Hunting High And Low remain as vital as when they were recorded and released. The live shows in October and November 2019 will show why.
- For the full story of the Hunting High And Low album, a-ha’s early years and “Take On Me”, see the 30th Anniversary Edition released in 2015