A-ha at the Mercedes Benz Arena
In 1985, A-ha gained worldwide fame overnight with the album “Hunting High and Low”. Now they are on the road to play the album for their fans again. An idea that shook the Mercedes Benz Arena on Wednesday. Author: Hendrik Schroeder
A bit of a disappointment when entering the hall, because the stage is so rare and unadorned, just an empty stage. But then it starts and it becomes clear: a tennis court-sized video wall does the whole show. Planets fly over there, forest landscapes appear, animated cartoons and of course the musicians are always in close-up. The video wall is so dominant that A-ha just seems small beneath it. So physically and charismatic.
All three of them are not apathetic and play very well with their small band, but like at work, without euphoria. Hated guitarist Pal rocks a little more if he particularly enjoys one of his more bluesy riffs. Keyboardist Magne thaws once or twice, especially when he solemnly and endearingly explains that the upcoming album, True North, is about climate change and the hope for the next generation.
They are nice. But there are a lot of people around, as if a sound check is still in progress. And you ask yourself: is this a normal Norwegian cool, modest way, or what’s going on? And then there’s singer Morten Harket and his button problem.
The suffering of the singer
Morten Harket does not hit very high notes anymore sometimes. It’s not unusual, Harket still has shoulders like a construction worker, a plain frizzy frieze and very trusting eyes, but now he’s 62 years old. The songs in the second part of the concert are over 35 years old and very ambitious in terms of singing, of course, not everyone can sing these primitive fragments in falsetto today. Nobody blames him for it, it does not matter for the great atmosphere in the room.
But he looks so suffering and tense. Every minute, she grabs a button in her ear and holds her arm to her body very convulsively. And sometimes he seems so lost on stage, as if he doesn’t know exactly where to stand, so shy.
When others play their instrumental parts, he does a little back and forth, but he doesn’t look like part of the band anymore. Is it always like this? Is it because A-ha, as he himself admitted, they were never friends, only colleagues, and Harket was more of an outsider in the constellation anyway? In any case, it all seems strange.
Clap, kiss, flashlights
But it’s great that the Berlin audience in the crowded arena more than makes up for a rather defensive performance. From the fourth song at the latest, no one is sitting on the inside table anymore, the very excited fans jump up and down in front of the railing. Hundreds of cell phone flashlights take to the air, Norwegian scarves spin around, people sing in the right places, clap to the beat, shout, call for an encore, glow and kiss. Although the concept of the evening is somewhat unusual. First lesser-known and brand new songs, then a 20-minute break, then the entire album “Hunting High and Low” comes in one fell swoop, but in a different order, with the three great hits at the end.
Finally, the only encore is “Take On Me”, which is one of the most successful songs of all time, with almost a billion clicks on YouTube. So despite this somewhat fancy process, people do what they should be doing at a concert by a band like A-ha. They celebrate themselves, their youth, their history, their thoughts and feelings that will forever be associated with these melodies. And that’s nice in the end.
Broadcasting: rbb24 Inforadio, May 12, 2022, 7:55