by Tiffany Dahlgren (Magnet)
It was a bitter cold, dark, chilly, frosty morning that I took the train to Oslo and arrived at the Oslo S. station at 8 AM.
(I rode in with my husband, since he works in Oslo)
My nervousness, excitement had already started a few days before, like with previous a-ha events.
It was so exciting to think we would actually see a-ha *together* again, after 2 years.
There is a phenomenon about a-ha….the “magic” they have when they are 3.
After a few hours of warming up in the train station in stores and cafe’s, I slowly made my way towards the Grev Wedels “square”, near a park and near the Akershus fort by Aker Brygge, in Oslo.
The carpeted ground of fall-colored leaves had a touch of frost.
The air had a bitter chill to it.
The “Gamle Logen” building is an old and lovely building built in the mid 1800’s.
It apparently once belonged to the Freemasons, and was also used as a meeting house and activities building.
I arrived around 10:45 AM and there were a few fans (French and German?) who were already waiting outside.
Around this time, a taxi pulled up and an older man got out, speaking English.
He looked so familiar to me…it wasn’t until he went inside that I realized that it was *Terry Slater*, a-ha’s first manager (during the 80’s) !! I had never seen him before, so it was thrilling.
One of many legends involved in the amazing a-ha story, that I had only read about or seen photos of.
Fans soon started to gather outside and we introduced ourselves, talked, etc.
It was only when my toes started to freeze through my thin high-heeled shoes that I realized that I hope we would be let inside soon.
Some fans knew each other from before, but in my case, I got to meet 4-5 fans for the first time, and that was fun, and it was fun to talk to those I already knew.
Right before we were allowed to go in, several members from the Furuholmen family arrived…Magne’s mother, her husband, one of Magne’s sons, etc….Magne’s mother, the always gracious hostess and PR person for a-ha’s families said to us, “Hello! Welcome…”
We thanked her.
We lined up and made our way into the amazing and lovely foyer…on either side was the guest list. We said our names, and were checked off.
Then, we were escorted up a large and old staircase to the right of the building, that led to the cloakroom.
We checked in our coats and etc, then were escorted up another staircase to a large waiting/reception room/hall area.
The walls were all old wood panelled, with ornate decoration in the corners, a lovely old wood floor, and old portraits adorning the walls.
As we entered, there was a large table full of champagne glasses all in rows, and full of clear bubbly champagne.
It added a nice touch to things, and added the true sense of celebration!!
There was a large table in the middle of the room decked out with an amazing array of hors d’oeuvres and small bite-sized sandwiches, etc.
Then, to start this surreal day for me, some of the a-ha families members and friends and fellow musicians, Norwegian celebrities, etc etc were all mingling around us fans.
Some of us raised our champagne glasses and clinked them together to toast a-ha.
It was a wonderful feeling, and fun gesture!
Soon, the room seemed to get more and more stuffy and warm as more and more people came in…
After a long while we were all escorted into the grand hall.
Large, lovely, crystal chandeliers hung over us, and there was a small stage at the front of this rather relatively small hall.
The floor was again an older wood floor.
The audience was divided into 2 sections…the Furuholmen family was sitting at the front on the left, and the Waaktaar/Gamst and Harket families sat on the right side.
LOL I wondered if this was like a wedding, where the guests sit in the section depending on who they are “connected” to (bride or groom) …so LOL a few fans and I sat a few rows behind the Furuholmens.
After a little while, a string quartet came out on the stage and played music. I am not too gifted in classical music, but it *seemed* (someone can help me out here) that they were playing bits of a-ha songs in a classically arranged way, I at least recognized the 3 notes of “Take on me….” during one segment….maybe it was a coincidence, and they were actually playing some classical pieces?
At any rate, the quartet played wonderfully and they added sort of a regalness to this ceremony.
Then a-ha came “marching” down the middle aisle between the 2 sections of the audience, with their wives.
Magne said, “Hey….” to everyone…he sort of has this way about walking into a room and “owning it” or “getting the party started”.
I was lucky to be sitting in an aisle seat, so they walked right by…it was lovely and amazing.
The entire audience stood and clapped for them, as they made their way over to where their families were sitting.
I got tears in my eyes, and that wouldn’t be the last time!
Morten wore a black shirt, black leather “motorcycle” jacket and black/blue jeans.
Magne was in a gray suit, and Paul wore a suit too.
It was *great* to see Paul again! He looked very good…well and “rested”.
Lauren looked stunning in this turquoise/green colored “poofy” material (taffeta?) short dress.
She went right over to Paul’s parents and hugged them.
There was a great “setlist” of speakers for the ceremony.
Ms. Dirdal opened the ceremony, and was the opening presenter.
Then Viggo Bondi, an old friend of Magne and Paul’s and in their first group Bridges, came out to speak.
I have heard him speak on 2 occasions and he seems like a wonderful guy.
It’s amazing to actually see him after only seeing old photos of him in Bridges when I first became an a-ha fan.
Viggo told about how he first met Magne and Paul, when they were all around 15 or 16 years old.
He saw Magne and Paul dressed in “Jimi Hendrix style” and he didn’t know if they were boys or girls!
He expressed his thanks to Magne’s mother and family, for letting them move into their house *and* refrigerator.
He told about how Magne got “A” grades in school for his poetry, so no wonder he was a great song-writer.
He talked about the 1979 Norwegian Rock Championships that Bridges was in….there was also a punk music style band
there, and they danced “waltzes” to Bridges’ songs, which wasn’t a compliment for Bridges.
The fact that Bridges actually made/recorded an LP is unbelievable, he said.
And he said something like that back then, the LPs’ worth was as much as Frisbees.
He recalled a funny story from the 80’s when a-ha hit the top of the USA’s Billboard charts. Magne called long-distance on a bad telephone line/connection from London to say that Viggo should call VG (one of Norway’s newspapers) and “tusen tip” or tip them that a-ha had hit #1 in the USA…(in Norway, VG has something called a “tusen tips”, where anyone can call in and give the newspaper a tip or lead to a possible news story, and you are paid 1,000 kroner)
Viggo thought that Magne’s priorities were funny.
*FIRST* call VG, *then* he said a-ha had hit #1 ….
He ended his speech by saying something like Magne and Paul (as Bridges) might have *lost* the 1979 Rock Championship, but a few years later, they were winners. (their career started off, etc)
Then, he presented Terry Slater and Magne looked very happy and surprised!
Terry Slater said he was very honored to be there and expressed how proud he was of them, and of their success.
At one point, he talked a bit about a-ha but joked and pretended NOT to know or remember their 3 names…..(to show why he was there and for whom) so he checked a paper in his coat pocket and pretended to read it (as a joke reminder) “Oh yeah, ….ehm….Morten, Magne and Paul….”
He spoke a lot on what a-ha means today, and for future generations.
At the end, he compared a-ha to a “beacon” (a lighted and guiding signal, like a lighthouse).
It was a lovely comparison!!
Trond Giske was the next speaker.
He was Norway’s former Culture Minister in the government, and now he leads another Ministry department in the government.
He basically told a cool story about his memories from 1985, when he was “Russ”–a Norwegian high school graduate.
He and his friends, along with all of Norway, were all thrilled about a-ha’s music and the fact that Norway was now going to be put on the map and noticed in a new and different way–musically.
He was very proud of them.
The “Royal Representative” was the last speaker.
(I assume he represented the royal family….too bad that a member of the royal family couldn’t come personally)
He explained a brief history of the “Order of St. Olav” award.
It means you are a “Knight, of First Class”
This award originated from King Oscar in 1847 and was named after Norway’s saint king, King Olav the Holy.
It is awarded for “a reward for outstanding service to the Fatherland and humanity”.
The King of Norway, along with a committee make the final decision of who to award the medal to.
a-ha was recommended to the king and this committee by Music Exports Norway, etc.
The Royal Representative said that a-ha was receiving this award because of their music contribution to Norway and
the world, their contribution to Norwegian society/culture, etc (for example he mentioned some of a-ha’s causes,
like Morten helping East Timor in the 90’s)
He then stated some of a-ha’s statistics: 15 LP’s, 35+ million sold, many hit singles, they still hold the world’s record
for an almost 200,000 attendance number in South America, etc….
a-ha was then asked to come up on stage.
He then announced their names with “sir” at the beginning, and presented them each with the St. Olav medal (he pinned it on each of them) and a diploma in a red cover folder.
After they were awarded, a-ha stayed on stage for a speech.
Magne looked *very* happy and proud, he was glowing and shining!
The audience clapped and cheered.
Morten turned to Magne and Paul as if to ask “OK who is going to talk for us?”
I have a feeling that Magne would have jumped at the chance, but Paul quickly waved Morten a hand motion of “you go ahead”.
Morten shrugged and went to the microphone.
(Magne whispered something to Paul with a smile, Paul only nervously/casually nodded with a small smile)
Morten turned to face them, then said something like this to us, “These 2 guys don’t ever know what I am going to say…”
I have to admit, I was more fascinated watching Magne and Paul’s reactions (this all seemed surreal or overwhelming to them) than I was listening to Morten. I tend to get lost in Morten’s words.
But Morten said something about a *seed* and compared it to them or their history/success.
It *seemed* like he was quoting a long literary passage, but maybe he wrote all this himself? (can someone help me here?)
Paul often looked up at the ceiling, LOL I think he is very used to Morten talking.
Morten ended his speech by turning to Magne and Paul and saying, “Well, congratulations, guys!!”
And they all hugged.
The Press was then asked to come forward, they rushed towards the stage (NRK, TV2, etc) and there was a big photo session.
Then a-ha was escorted down off the stage, to exit out behind us at the entrance of the hall (where we all came in).
Magne strutted out very happy, a few fans cheered.
But Morten misunderstood, and sat right back down with his family.
He was soon corrected and escorted off with Magne and Paul.
The rest of us stood, and waited to be allowed to exit. I looked around the room and saw Heidi, one son, Magne’s mother and her husband, Magne’s sister, the Waaktaars with Paul’s sister, the Harkets (Morten’s father, sister and all of his brothers).
We all slowly stood up and waited to exit.
We went out to the reception/waiting hall again and some of us fans talked….we looked outside and it was *snowing*!!
The snow was very beautiful, and added an amazing mood to this surreal day!
We all then exited down the large staircases again, to the wardrobe area.
The Harket family was all around some fans and me. It was fun to hear their plans on who was driving home with who, etc.
Viggo Bondi was also ahead of us.
A fan and I retrieved our coats and etc, and walked out into the snow…it was surreal and strange, as if going from one world to another.
We walked down the streets towards the Oslo S train station, talking and recalling some of the ceremony.
We couldn’t believe where we had just been, and what had just happened.
I rode the train home 2 hours later, and as I sat on the hour long train, it was truly a “Train of Thought”!!
I thought back over the past 27 years I have been a fan, had flashbacks of when I first heard “Take on Me” on our kitchen radio in Holland, the first time I saw the “Take on Me” video, and how there was no going back for me.
The first gig I went to (1986) and all the gigs after that, all the TV appearances and interviews I’ve seen them on, the times I have seen/met a-ha, etc etc. etc.
And now, 27 years later, another cool milestone on this a-ha journey….they were knighted.
The Sun Always Shines on…..those 3!!
Well done, a-ha!!
And thank you for this amazing journey you have taken me (and all of us!) on!!
Forgive my slang after such a royal and proper ceremony, but “a-ha, You Rock!”
Tags: Awards, Norway