Article by: Ruth Jerman-Collis
After travelling to Norway for the last ever three a-ha concerts, I couldn’t help but wonder how I would fill the huge hole created by their absence. For a-ha I had travelled far to places that I could never have dreamed of, like Tromso in north Norway, written many articles and forged many friendships. Following a-ha has raised my once restricted confidence, beyond my wildest imagination.
I couldn’t accept that these three talented musicians would ever completely cease in their creativity. Then after Morten’s solo performance at the O2, came the announcement from a-ha.com that Morten was going to perform in Norway on his 53rd birthday, which also coincided with the 30th anniversary of a-ha. There couldn’t be a better reason to travel to Norway again!
After a-ha had announced their ending, I’d reflected on what would become of my huge collection of a-ha memorabilia. I had really enjoyed the exhibition at The National Library of Oslo and was delighted when they agreed to give my collection a safe home where it might be enjoyed by others. Richard and Tor at the library ensured its safe delivery and also took a copy of a book that I had enjoyed writing about a-ha. I wrote this book whilst reflecting on what a huge inspiration a-ha are to me and remembering how listening to their music had brought great comfort to my online friend, Cibby Romero as she finally lost her brave battle with cancer.
On Friday 14th September, I returned to Oslo with my husband for another smaller a-ha exhibition and was delighted to meet with Tor. I remembered how as a young teenager I had dreamt of visiting the native land of my idols and here I was seeing the home it had provided for my a-ha collection. Being a fan can be all consuming and I was able to think how my collection might be enjoyed by others or even that one day a-ha might have their own museum, like The Beatles or Abba. Later that afternoon my husband and I queued in an international gathering of a-ha fans, for our wristbands for entry to the-ha events that weekend. We also had the pleasure of meeting Stian Anderson as he signed copies of his book, full of iconic and thought provoking photographs that he had taken of a-ha whilst touring with them for ten years. I also purchased a copy of Larissa’s
That evening Martin Halla from the Norwegian programme ‘The Voice’ gave Morten’s concert a warm support introduction. Morten sang his way through a variety of different solo and a-ha tracks and was surprised himself by Martin, Dan and Erik playing Stevie Wonder’s ‘Happy birthday’ with the support of the audience, who also waved signs of ‘happy birthday Morten’ as enacted by the German a-ha club.
Fans then went on to enjoy the a-ha fan party as arranged by Catherine, a-ha’s manager and the team of a-ha.com. Wesley Myers’ DVD, especially made for the fan party in 2010, played on the big screen with an a-ha disco. Fans were given the opportunity to sign a guest book to be presented to the band and to join in with numerous a-ha raffles (including one for which the prize was a signed photo by Stian of Morten to raise money for the Red Cross). Fans of all nationalities, religions and cultures embraced this fun evening in celebration of the music of a-ha. I noted fans from America, France, Germany, Japan, Russia, South America and the UK. How well music can bridge such differences and how this speaks for the tolerance a-ha told the media in the eighties they so believe in.
The following day included an a-ha convention, where speakers including Harald Wiik, Dan, Erik and James, a-ha’s and Morten’s production manager took part in a questions and answers session. Harald answered questions by explaining the complex procedures involved in any decisions being made about set lists and other issues involving management and record company input. He talked about possible future plans including new tracks being written by Paul, which delighted fans. Erik and Dan talked about their experiences of working with a-ha and James made the audience laugh with his stories of a concert where Morten performed in a circus with lions in close attendance.
That afternoon, Morten and Stian gave an interview at the book festival where they demonstrated equal respect for each other’s work. In between a-ha engagements my husband and I also managed to fit in some sight-seeing, including Vigeland Park and The Royal Opera House. There was also the Moods of Norway store to visit, Stian’s photographs in the new Stolper gallery in Oslo and the Apparatjik’s contribution to ‘I wish this was a song’ at the museum of Contemporary Art.
It was a weekend that celebrated all that a-ha were and the many lives their music has enriched and illustrated the huge impact their early ambition and drive has had on Norway with the contributions that they continue to make today in many different fields involving, charity work, art, music and encouraging a meeting of different nations with the tolerance they once spoke of.
May this musical celebration continue in the fans whose lives they have touched, within the friendships that they’ve formed in living the a-ha adventure tale.
Magne once read a text I sent to radio two, when the band were interviewed by Ken Bruce:
“We will always have the music”
And now I know the a-ha community that a-ha.com continues to keep in touch with thanks to Catherine and her team will continue to celebrate the music that brought them together.
Tags: 30th Anniversary