After several postponements due to the pandemic, the Norwegian trio A-ha finally came to enchant a packed Zenith last Saturday for an evening tinged with enthusiasm and nostalgia.
Nearly 6,000 forty-somethings and fifty-somethings responded to celebrate the anniversary of the hit album Hunting High and Low (released in 1985), that of “Take on Me”, “The Sun Always Shines on TV” and the eponymous ballad, hits that topped the charts in the 80s.
There is nostalgia in the air at the Zenith tonight! We meet two childhood friends. They were 13 in 1986 and were already there in the front row. It was their first concert, “a moment you will never forget”. They celebrate tonight their long friendship on the tubes of their adolescence. Music has this immeasurable power! There are many women in the audience… but also men. And they are not just there to accompany their halves or their friends but proudly wear t-shirts bearing the image of the group and know the lyrics of the songs by heart. Many people had to come out late with A-ha. In the 80s, their image of handsome kids for midinettes stuck to their skin. That time is over! Already in the 2000s, many artists recognized the major influence of the Norwegian trio in their music, from U2 at Coldplay Passing by Grandaddy or Morrissey.
The choice of titles from the setlist of the first part of the concert immediately reminds us that A-ha is not only a bubbly new-wave pop group for teenage girls but a group of excellent musicians and songwriters passionate aboutHendrix and psychedelic rock Doors. After an animated black and white sequence inspired by the clips of take on me and Train of Thoughtsthe group starts its first set on the guitar riff of one of its darkest titles, Sycamore Leaves (album East of the Sun West of the Moon) and connects some of his most rock titles (The Swing of Things, Scoundrel Days and I’ve Been Losing You) interspersed with a very nice soft cover of Crying in the rain of Carole King.
Gone are the days when they tumbled onto the stage on skateboards and Morten Harket swayed his hips until the fans in the front row fainted. The sex symbols of the 80s have aged, like their public. Morten, a three-day beard, moves little on stage. Pal Waaktaartrue to himself, remains discreet on the right of the stage. Magne Furuholmen, ensures, as always, with a smile and a few strokes of humor, the link with the public and launches a few sympathetic phrases in French. One could reproach them for their lack of complicity, a certain coldness and a static acting but the quality of the sound, the arrangements and the powerful and lyrical voice of Morten are always there. The singer has passed sixty years but continues to sing in the original keys and pushes his high notes, certainly with less agility, but with a powerful lyricism and an undeniable emotion.
Rare fact, after a few titles, Morten Harket, addresses the public, visibly very moved: “It’s crazy that you’re still here tonight. Some have had their tickets for almost 3 years. ». He smiles and starts to applaud the public, visibly very moved. “That’s also what we’re here for. We recorded a new album recently. True North, which hasn’t been released yet, but we’ll perform a few songs from this upcoming album”. Magne has fun: “You can sing the lyrics to the songs that haven’t been released yet if you want.” General laughter.
“I’m 62 and I tend to forget the lyrics to new songs…and even old ones…so you can sing along to help me out,” Morten asks his fans
On magnificent landscapes of the North of Norway, A-ha then unveils two titles of their next opus, True Northwhich will be accompanied by a documentary film. “We hope that the next generation will take better care of our planet than ours. », said Magne. This foretaste of this upcoming album once again proves the trio’s songwriting talent. The first set ends in a joyful atmosphere with the effective James Bond theme “The Living Daylights”.
During their last concert at the Seine Musicale before the pandemic, the group performed their entire first album in order. They opted this time for a messy setlist, alternating ballads with neat melodies (And you Tell me, Living a boy’s adventure tale) and pop songs with very nineties arrangements (Dream Myself Alive, Blue Sky, Here I stand and face the Rain). The trio delivers a sublime refined version of Hunting High and Low to make you shiver, to end in apotheosis with his two greatest hits and an audience of totally unleashed fans: The Sun Always Shines on TV then take one me. The lights come back on very quickly. The faces are filled with joy and tears. After more than 35 years of career, A-ha undoubtedly continues to enchant its public.
Set list of May 7 at the Zénith
- Sycamore Leaves
- The Swing of Things
- Crying in the rain
- Forest for the Trees
- You have what it takes
- I’ve been losing you
- Scoundrel Days
- The Living Daylights
- train of thought
- The Blue Sky
- Living a boy’s adventure tale
- And you tell me
- love is reason
- I dream myself alive
- Here I stand and face the rain
- hunting high and low
- The Sun always shines on TV
- take on me
A-ha will return to France June 29 in Nice at the Théâtre de Verdure, tickets are here
The trio will also perform at the Montreux Festival July 1