A-ha lead singer Morten Harket during a concert in Israel June 2018 .
(photo credit: SHLOMI PINTO)
I have been a staunch A-ha fan ever since the Norwegian pop group rose to popularity in the mid ‘80s. I remember sitting mesmerized in front of the TV with the whole family while we watched their incredible debut music video “Take on Me” being played on MTV.
Since then, the band have gone on to release 10 studio and two live albums plus their latest highly acclaimed MTV Unplugged album.
It was always a regret of mine that I missed A-ha perform in South Africa in 1994, however that changed on Thursday night at the Ra’anana Amphipark. Israel is their eighth stop on their European Electric Summer tour, which kicked off in Canterbury, UK, and culminates in Germany at the end of August.
Singer Morten Harket, in a tight blue t-shirt and ripped black jeans, Magne Furuholmen on keyboards and guitarist Paul Waaktaar-Savoy sporting a black woolly hat were joined by a six-piece band including three girls playing violins and viola. The audience immediately jumped to their feet to celebrate the band and the songs they all know and love.
Still blessed with great cheek bones and a fine voice, Harket kicked off the night in high gear with the uptempo “Cry Wolf
.” He seemed to have absolutely no problem still nailing the falsetto sections.
The show included an assortment of tracks from across their varied career, from the mid-‘80s imperial-phase big hitters such as “Hunting High and Low
,” “Crying in the Rain
,” “The Sun Always Shines on TV
” and “Stay on These Roads
” to the lesser known tracks from their last few studio albums, Lifeline and Foot of the Mountain. It was testament to A-ha’s enduring reputation that seemingly the entire audience remembered the words, even to album tracks such as “The Blood that Moves the Body
” and “Manhattan Skyline
Between songs, Furuholmen addressed the crowd with “Shalom” and “Toda Raba” joking that he had spent the whole day learning Hebrew. Other than a few thank you’s, Harket did not engage much with audience. However, when asked about the pressures of BDS during a press conference in Tel Aviv last week, Harket responded with “There’s a lot of noise about it but the decision to come was never hard. We come here to play to people. It’s not a political move by us and it would be wrong if we started to mix that in. You have to be very careful because all of the sudden, you end up playing nowhere in the world.”
The encore opened with “Scoundrel Days
” and the rousing James Bond theme “The Living Daylights
.” Screams of instant recognition greeted the insistent drumming and hard-to-resist keyboards of “Take On Me
.” With Harket hitting that high note like it’s 1985, it was worth the wait. It was a truly deserved encore. It seemed that the whole crowd was caught in a perfect moment of reliving the ‘80s.
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