A-Ha – Live Review – Keepmoat Stadium, Doncaster
By Victoria Holdsworth, June 2018
There was a cracking solid line up tonight in the way of support from Tom Bailey, The Thompson Twins, and the legendary OMD, before the main event. It’s the first time I’ve been to Doncaster Stadium, and in fact the first time I have managed to get to see A-ha, so was quite excited about their performance tonight.
The audience, to be expected tonight is full of women, and women of a certain age, who grew up with this man’s face poster plastered to every bedroom wall from the weekly Look In magazine, or Smash Hits.
Morten Harket and his band, including a few additional extras in the way of a bass and cello player, and some backing singers take to the stage, and although still wearing his sunglasses, Morten shyly and effortlessly slips into the first song of the set with 1986 classic, ‘Cry Wolf’, from the album, Scoundrel Days.
Right from the off you can see how tight and professional these guys have become over the years, and whilst Morten does tend to take more of a back seat whilst on stage, it just adds to his coy suaveness. Mags is probably the most vocal through the entire set tonight, and he gets the crowd going, as Morten experiences a few issues with his ear piece.
Morten’s soaring, uncapped voice rings perfectly, and it still possesses those chilling emotive and gentle tones throughout the various songs from their back catalogue. What he lacks in presence on stage, he certainly makes up for it in pure entertainment value.
‘The Blood That Moves The Body’ and ‘Minor Earth, Major Sky’, were absolutely breathtaking performances, and A-ha announce that they will be doing some of their songs in a slightly more alternative fashion tonight.
One of the stand out tunes comes mid-way through the set was the Carole King cover, ‘Crying In The Rain’. This was followed as with an even more exceptional version of ‘Foot Of The Mountain’, all showcased against a simple yet visually stunning stage light projections, pulsating along with every beat and chord, which was a work of art in itself.
It was a great cross section of work, every now and again dropping one of their more famous tunes in between, teasing the crowd, and they even played one of my old favourite, ‘Train Of Thought’, which was a slightly more alternative version to the one I know. However, I loved it even more, and the way they have reworked some of their songs over the years is example of their exceptional versatility as artists.
As the sky over Doncaster started to get very dark and grey, with the threat of rain, it made the light show look even more magical. The band launch into the last three of the set before the encore, which include a trio of absolute corkers in ‘Hunting High And Low’, which had an extra level of brooding incorporated into it this evening as Morten still hit every note flawlessly.
“Sets them apart”
For all of the critics out there that have slated his stage performances, if you think about Mr. Harket’s voice, it’s no wonder he doesn’t want to run around or get all chatty. Sometimes his range is in such a delicate place that any disturbance would crack its crystal quality. It is clearly apparent that Morten et al are too much the musical perfectionists to allow this to happen.
‘I’ve Been Losing You’ was outstanding but they end on one of the biggest guns in their arsenal, ‘The Sun Always Shines On TV’. As they take the place apart Morten pushes his voice a little further, much to the stadium’s delight.
An encore consisted of ‘Scoundrel Days’, which is an epic film score-sounding piece, closely followed by two of the biggest and the best.
‘The Living Daylights’, released in 1987 as the soundtrack to the James Bond film of the same name, absolutely rocked it, and the different atmospheres they have created all night make you feel like you have been on every single journey with them. But this one really sets them apart, not just only from the other soundtrack contributors to Bond, but as song writers full stop.
The ultimate show finale came with, what else, but ‘Take On Me’ – an anthem that needs no announcement. Even before Morten sings the first note, all you can hear ringing around the football ground, is that famous intro being sung back to the stage, drowning out the entire PA system. The guys look absolutely stunned in that moment they take a few minutes to soak in the adoration, before delivering the blistering anthem that everyone had been waiting for.
The band had people dancing and singing all night, and the diversity of the tunes was refreshing and most welcomed, and for the first time in a long time I left a gig feeling on an absolute high.