A-ha take on the Hollywood Bowl with a full orchestra – San Bernardino Sun

Magne Furuholmen of Norwegian synth-pop band a-ha has been dreaming about performing at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles for decades.

The iconic outdoor venue has somehow evaded the band during its nearly 40-year career, but a-ha will finally make its Hollywood Bowl debut on Sunday, July 31 and they’re performing with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra.

“It has been sort of on our bucket list because we grew up hearing about the Hollywood Bowl,” Furuholmen said during a phone interview last week, noting that he’d seen several acts at the venue as a fan, including Sia and James Taylor.

During our conversation, the keys player and vocalist was warming up backstage with his bandmates — guitarist Paul Waaktaar-Savoy and vocalist Morten Harket —  at an arena in São Paulo, Brazil, as the band has been out on its Hunting High and Low Live Tour. The lengthy jaunt is a celebration of its 1985 debut album of the same title and is centered on the 35th anniversary of the band’s biggest hit, “Take On Me.”

Though a-ha did bring that tour through Los Angeles with three shows at The Wiltern back in April, Furuholmen said the band has something completely different in store for the Hollywood Bowl. The band will be giving fans a taste of its forthcoming 11th studio album and an accompanying film, “True North,” which is due out on Oct. 21 and features full orchestral arrangements.

“We’re going to be doing a couple of new songs from the album, but we already had full-on string arrangements for that so it’s kind of serendipitous in a way that we’re now doing it with the orchestra live because we recorded with an orchestra above the polar circle in late February,” he said. “For us, this is our year with orchestras.”

When the pandemic shut everything down and kept the band members on different continents in early 2020, Furuholmen said he suddenly had the urge to write new songs from his home in Norway and he’d bounce ideas off of Waaktaar-Savoy, who wrote from his home in Los Angeles. Each member wrote six songs and when it was finally safer to congregate, they decided to film the recording sessions and a performance with the orchestra without a live audience. So far, the band has released one single, “I’m In,” on July 8.


The album and film, Furuholmen said, were actually inspired by the “a-ha: The Movie” documentary, which was released in 2021.

“We watched it when it was finished and I think it’s quite difficult to watch yourself for two hours,” he said. “It’s not necessarily a pleasurable experience, but I think as long as we’re all equally unhappy with the result, then the documentary did a pretty good job. I think we all felt that it was a lot about the dynamics in the band and not so much about the music, so that kind of triggered the whole ‘True North’ thing. I hadn’t planned on doing another album, but this really felt like ‘Why don’t we make a film that has music at the center of it?’ And that was the precursor for the ‘True North’ project. So, something good came of it.”

As for the set list at the Hollywood Bowl, Furuholmen said it will be filled with songs from throughout a-ha’s career and when asked if “Take On Me” would receive an orchestral treatment, he laughed and said “But of course.”

“I think we’ve done that song in many different versions over the years,” he continued. “We did an ‘MTV Unplugged’ version that turned it into a sad ballad, which was an interesting exercise in many ways. But any time we can add something unique to the moment, I think that is what live music is all about. To be able to go now and perform it with a full symphonic orchestra, that will be a treat for us and something we’ll remember and hopefully it will be memorable to the people who come, too.”

Though he said there have been times when the band members have very much wanted to “run in opposite directions as fast as we can,” ultimately realizing that it’s a privilege to be able to do what they love for a living and that they’ve been lucky enough to cultivate a loyal following around the world is the glue that keeps them together.

“What ties us is the legacy and the shared fates of a-ha,” he said. “You have a love and respect for the legacy that you created together.”

And they’re still not sick of playing “Take On Me.”

“I’ve heard a lot of covers of that song over the years and it’s kind of this eternal soldier on our behalf that keeps recruiting,” he said. His kids recently alerted him to a TikTok dance trend that used the song and he gets a kick out of fans pointing out how newer artists “are inspired by or steal” from “Take On Me.”

“Our fans are always pointing those things out like ‘Oh, you think that’s Harry Styles? You should hear the original’ or ‘You think that’s The Weeknd? OK, well listen to this’ and then they post some mashup on YouTube,” he said with a laugh. “It’s always fun to see how culturally influential it has been and I don’t think we ever thought that it would be the one song that would last through the ages, but it has done that. We’re very fortunate to have one of the most played songs from the ’80s in our catalog. As far as people covering it, I think when people make it their own, the more they bring out in the song that we didn’t, the more inspiring it is for us.”

Furuholmen said he’s happy to wrap up the band’s latest extensive global run of shows at a venue like the Hollywood Bowl, but he’s not sure what the future holds for the band and touring.

“It is our grand finale and who knows if there will be another,” he said. “We’ve come so far down the road that there could be some sort of swan song and what better way to finish it off, if that’s what happens, than at the Hollywood Bowl with an orchestra? That almost sounds like it’s scripted.”

A-ha with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra

When: 7:30 p.m. July 31

Where: Hollywood Bowl, 2301 N. Highland Ave., Los Angeles

Tickets: $19-$96 at hollywoodbowl.com

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *