Posts tagged: a-ha

Return Of The Mack

Last year I was lost. Dealing with a number of issues rather than sharing with my nearest and dearest, I withdrew into myself. The cost of this was frayed relationships with some of my closest friends and as you can imagine a heavy price to pay! Towards the back end of last year, I slowly made a return to my social circle. Without wanting to put a number on the length of my absence, there is something unique about reconnecting with old friends. Even after a great deal of time apart, catching up four days before Christmas, it was like I had only seen them a few weeks previously. I suppose that is one of the reasons they are my friends.

Now having jumped from 2010 to 2015 in terms of mobile technology I have joined the youth on WhatsApp. While I flirted with the instant message application previously on my work mobile. (After my serious concerns with security had be appeased). However only after loading the app on my beloved HTC One M8 have I fully been unleashed. From sharing New Year greetings via recorded video with my brother-in-law and his girlfriend Katy, to planning a long weekend break in Bucharest with a group of ex Microsoft colleagues! This is just the start of the Teg renaissance – plenty more to come!

Glee returns for the final time (season six for those whom may have lost count) in four sleeps for us this side of the pond. Years ago, when my wife Michelle was still a big fan of the show I made the comment of when they would cover Take On Me, one of my favourite songs of all time! The second season of the show was airing when I went to see Ending On A High Note, the final a-ha concert outside their native Norway at Wembley Arena in late November 2010. Well they saved the best for last with the 1985 worldwide hit to appear as part of the two hour season premiere. I have watched the sneak preview about three times on our television in sheer anticipation. Bring it on people. Plus Suits returns on January 28th. Who said the first month is the most depressing part of the year!

Comedy Genius

Stumbled onto this video while switching over from the football on ITV HD. I know I should be more dedicated and sit through all seven hours of the annual BBC telethon but some years are better than others. The first edition away from Television Centre was always going to be interesting and I am surprised they selected Eltree Studios. (However it worked out well, with Strictly Come Dancing being based in Blackpool this weekend) Although it was poor excuse for international football on the other side (even if it is watching England lose!)

Hats off to Harry Hill for coming up with such a brilliant concept and casting each part perfectly. I have to say I miss his Saturday early evening TV Burp show. Just a shame I got into it rather late. Oh well, only a month to go until his movie is released in cinemas.


Way back in 2008, I saw a trailer for a new TV show to be screened on Virgin 1. (The TV channel is no more, finally dying after a small period resurrected as Channel One (Virgin would not give away their trademark to Sky plus there was a conflict of interest with their cable offering). The trailer was for a new American spy series and I was fascinated by the premise of a geek turning into the CIA’s most valuable asset. The show had started in the autumn of the previous year State side but thanks to the beauty of the internet, I was able to play catch up on the full first season. I believe it was late March or early April when I started watching the show. It was not what I had expected at all. I hoped for a more dramatic character led show but it was in fact directed by McG, the man behind the recent reboot of Charlie’s Angels on the big screen. You could tell by the gorgeous women throughout and the action style with regular slow motion montages. However, it was good entertaining fun and there was plenty going on to keep me interested. In particular I enjoyed the sub-plot involving a shameless parody of US retail giant Best Buy. (I am sure they could have come up with something original but Buy More). My favourite non main characters were Jeff and Lester.

Jeffster opens the Chuck panel at ComicCon
jeffster opens the chuck panel, a photo by Joits on Flickr.

However over the seasons the show just went too far. There is only so far even my wild imagination can be stretched. The first major mistake was upgrading the so called Intersect (2.0) which enable Chuck or his spy wannabe alter-ego Charles Carmichael to learn various fighting techniques (Matrix style) and defeat almost any foe (including the most recent incarnation of Superman). The second mistake, which was the major jump the shark moment for me, was letting sidekick Morgan in on the secret and not just that, making him part of the team. Could it get worse? Yes it could, the Intersect is then loaded into Grimes by mistake at the end of season four. Season five would be the last series of Chuck and although as a concept it had pretty much run it’s course, I was somewhat sad to see it go. I had been watching the show religiously for the past four years and even upgraded to high definition episodes for the final two seasons. Yes I was going to miss Yvonne Strahovski in her underwear but joking aside, the show had been great escapism for over forty five minutes every week with a banging soundtrack to match!

Due to various commitments, I did not get to see the final two episodes (a final double header) until a few days after they had aired on NBC. I knew the final episode would not end in a whimper and I was not disappointed. With a plot as outrageous as can be, it came down to a band to save the day! Jeffster!

I knew it was my favourite song from the opening few notes it was perhaps the best song to end not just the season but the whole series. Take On Me by a-ha but on this occasion supported by a full symphony orchestra conducted by Morgan Grimes! I cannot think of any other songs that were written perfectly to be shown on a graphic equaliser! (Okay maybe Axel F by Harold Faltermeyer)

Take On Me?

Went to Wembley Arena tonight to see a-ha perform the last UK leg of their world tour. More than this, it was also their last performance as a group on these shores. A few more dates remain in Norway next month and then a-ha will be no more. I last saw them perform, almost exactly five years ago, when they opened the European leg of their Analogue tour at the NEC Birmingham.


Michelle had been generous enough to purchase the tickets for me way back in April and the whole trip was my birthday gift! We had a early dinner over at The Little Bay in Farrington before catching the tube over to Wembley Arena. It was eerielly quiet as we made our way down from Wembley Central tube station. It was not until we got outside the concert venue that we saw other fans of the 1980s new wave band queuing up in the cold. It was going to be a very civilised affair, a change of atmosphere for Michelle. “If this was an Oasis gig, we would be pooring beer over each other love!”. Well, welcome to my world, is all that I could say in response. Yes, the crowd were (on average) older and it was a celebration and fond farewell to a super group!

After the rather poor American warm up act, we got on to the main event around 8:30pm. I was looking forward to the show and they did not disappoint, opening with The Sun Always Shines On TV.

I did not bring my camera, so only had my HTC Desire to use (which Michelle borrowed to take some photos and videos). I will not bother uploading any as they were not very good, out of focus and very poor angles. Instead, I had a look on FlickR and found some good ones! My personal highlights were The Living Daylights and Take On Me which was used to close the show and bring to an end the European leg of their tour. Next weekend, would be their final few dates in Oslo and then a-ha finally would be no more. A sad moment for me and millions of other a-ha fans across the globe, but at least I had the chance to see them End Of A High Note!

aha - Wembley Arena, 27th November 2010aha - Wembley Arena, 27th November 2010

Sunday 21st October 2007

It is 13:30 as I begin writing this entry. The sun is shining through my window, on a pleasant autumn afternoon. On Friday evening, I was searching for topics to write about, but right now I am bursting with things to mention and to report. I got up just after 9am and started work almost straight away on some bits and pieces that I should have got done on Friday in the office. However, let me take you back to Friday evening first and roundup my weekend (so far) chronologically.

On Friday evening, I finally got around to watching Grosse Point Blank, a movie that had eluded me for several years. I think it was even on terrestrial television in the past few years but I only watched the opening few minutes. The main reason I wanted to watch the movie was that it features a-ha’s Take On Me. I wanted to watch the particular scene, even if the music was only featured as background music to the dialogue. I went over and updated the trivia on the section of the wikipedia dedicated to the classic 1980s single. It was while here I discovered a few more artists had covered the song, included hip hop group Little Brother. A little Googling and I discovered that although the song is not featured on their upcoming album, Get Back it has been recorded. It is not so much a cover but more a reworking with additional vocals and rapping. Sure it is hip-hop but very well produced. There is a respect shown for the original and I love the electronic beat in place of the keyboard instrumental. I suppose I should really talk about the movie but I wasn’t really paying much attention, particularly at the end. Sure the whole premise of a professional assassin heading back to after ten years to his high school reunion was very clever but it was just too far fetched for even me to follow. Perhaps my brain was just lacking concentration after a heavy week in the office.

Saturday, I was lazy, extremely lazy in fact. The most strenuous of my tasks was to vacuum my car, then jump onto the sofa and remain there for the rest of the day. I listened to FiveLive coverage of Arsenal against Bolton but was sent to my room when my parents got back from shopping, so continued to listen there. As soon as I put on my stereo, Toure scored a free kick. Result! I then lay in bed while listening to coverage of Villa versus Man U. It was around 7pm, I finally got up and went into the lounge to watch the final few performances from The X Factor. I am afraid, even I cannot escape from this reality television show as my sisters are big fans. I mention the show every year and the last major entry was back on 20th August last year. Although I did mention it on 26th August this year. I must mention Hope. Their cover of Umbrella was absolutely appalling but the judges loved it! The song was never designed to be performed as a ballad. While their performance vocally was very good, the song choice was pathetic. If anything the song was too big for them. I did not watch the results show as I was out collecting my sister, so am watching the re-run on ITV1, as I write this.

[Video removed, however another version remains but I am unable to embed!]

I got home and onto my computer just after 11pm, to watch Toure’s goal on Match Of The Day. I would have to watch the repeat this morning to be able to record the highlights in full. England had lost the World Cup final but it had hardly been a fantastic match to watch. I was disappointed that there were not any tries. Oh well, never mind, while defeat is never easy to take, there is some comfort in coming second best to the best team on the planet. After Saturday, I planned a productive Sunday, which so far has been so so. I have got a few things done but not nearly enough. Time to watch the Grand Prix!

I wonder how long it takes for TomTom / Google / A to Z to update their maps? The reason I ask is because the local council have built a new link road, replacing the original entrance into our estate. Chalfont Way is no more and has been replaced by the imaginitatively called Cressex Link. I will try and get out and take a photograph at some point.

Tuesday 6th December 2005

Arrived home this afternoon, to find two packages marked with my name. One, which I expected. The latest album from a-ha. The second was a surprise. It was a DVD from the guy who had been sitting next to me at the concert on Saturday. I rushed to switch on my computer and put on the DVD to find out what it was. This should not come as a shock. As soon as I get home every evening, I switch on my PC. It is the pure geek within. Back in March 2001, a-ha made their international comeback, with a concert in their hometown of Oslo, Norway. It was released on DVD, but I never got around to buying it. There is no greater feeling than, after a hard day at the office, trying to get over a cold, to hear Take On Me, blaring on the PC, as you change out of your work suit. In fact, this live rendition of their breakthrough single, is the same live version I was playing on my way up to Birmingham on Saturday afternoon. I think I will set Sunday afternoon aside to sit down and listen to Analogue, while I clean up my room, the perfect way to end a quiet lazy weekend, don’t you think?

Hollyoaks have had a late edition shown at 11pm each weeknight this week. This is the third after hours series of episode and perhaps the most compelling storyline with the Chester date rape coming to a head. Will the man behind all these sexual offences finally be caught? Talking into account how bad the police were with the serial murderer, don’t expect any quick results. As the undisputed number one fan of the Channel 4 teen soap, I have been watching each episode religious at 11pm. Although it does slightly affect my viewing diet, as I have already watch the following nights episode on E4 earlier in the evening. People constantly ask me why I watch this soap. While they can understand my undivided love for Eastenders, they raise their eyebrows, when I ask, “Do you watch Hollyoaks?”. It is at times pure comic book and outside of reality that it makes me fall to the floor in laughter. For example, hiring a bar maid, not on her talents at pulling pints but her dreamy good looks. Only in a soap could you get away with tests such as ‘pick up my keys love’ and which chat-up line provides the first slap as a reaction.

I did not really mention it at the time, but I had a slight knock in my car early last month. Just a slight scratch, nothing series and no injuries. The car is currently being repaired, so I have a courtesy car. While I am big fan of Japanese cars, I would like to point out I prefer big Japanese cars. The Mitsubishi Colt, just does not fit me. It is not me at all. Then again, what to you expect from a company, that makes pens, video recorders as well as cars. There has to be a lose link in the change somewhere? Oh, I forgot to mention my number plate. The last three letters are, wait for it. KFC.

My work Christmas do is next week, Tuesday in fact. One of my colleague has been calling it the 70s show, as it has a 1970s theme. While I was frankly disappointed with this ‘bright’ idea and the appalling venue (which should be a hanging offence for the organiser(s)). However, rather than be bitter (and some would say twisted!) I have opted to be a sport and go. Some would consider me to be last minute merchant, which I confess is true. Only organised my costume with the help of eBay this Monday morning. While I had originally thought of hiring a more outrageous costume, it did not feel right. I wanted to look cool and sophisticated and not a complete pratt, filling the part of the company clown. I can leave that to someone else!

Sunday 4th December 2005

What a night! But the day begins in the mid afternoon. I was hoping to leave at 3pm, but left exactly thirty minutes later. I had only refuelled on Friday, so my trip mileage counter was reset and showing only 2.5, as I pulled out of my drive. As I had given myself so much time to make to our second city, I was not in a hurry. I was going to cruise at 70, and listen to my favourite a-ha songs and enjoy the drive. The sun was slowly setting in the distance, as I got onto the M40, which although not busy was quite steady. I put my foot down to beat the first few weekend drivers and lorries. I had my live version of Take On Me playing and then Everybody Wants to Rule the World by Tears for Fears. After a while I wondered how Arsenal were doing against Bolton, so switched over to FiveLive. To my horror, we were two nil down and had put on a poor show. Although on any other Saturday evening, that would have dapended my spirits, instead I looked forward to the concert. Switching back to the CD changer as the NEC drew ever closer. It was 16:45 exactly as I pulled up into the parking space on a cold, damp winter night. It has been raining earlier throughout the day, so the ground was a slush of wet leaves and grass. My mileage counter read 88.2 miles as I stepped out of the car, I took a deep breath. My Saturday night adventure was just about to begin.

As my sister was coming from Nottingham, after finding the venue, I headed down the road to Birmingham New Street. I arrived just after 5.30pm, but would be waiting just under an hour before my young sister would arrive. Then we literally had three minutes to grab some food before jumping on the Virgin Train to London Euston, which would stop at Birmingham International. The journey took eleven minutes and gave us time to quickly catch up and grab some food. Then, it was rushing off the train to join the rest of the crowds heading towards the Arena. We picked up a programme, which while rather light, gave details of this UK tour, which goes hand in hand with their latest studio album (eight, that is correct!) I have only heard the first single from the new album, but went over to Amazon this morning to order my copy. I think it will be a case of taking some time to listen to the material, to see whether or not it grows on me. This was my first concert, so I was apprehensive of many things. Would we have good seats? What there be a good mixed crowd? Would they play my favourite songs? Would it be mad rush on the roads going home?

As we made our way into the arena, avoiding the temptation to buy any merchandise, I was impressed with the seating area. Then absolutely chuffed to be quite near the front, with a great view of the stage. Booking early, (15th April to be exact!) does have benefits. (Having just gone back and read that entry, I feel a sense of great relief of going for it!) However, when we found our seats, someone was sitting (quite innocently in my sister’s seat!) and as usual, I got talking. More on that later.

The supporting act was a fellow Norwegian folk singer, Ana Brun. I can only describe her as a poor man’s KT Tunstall. While I quite enjoy folk music, there is a time and a place, and the audience did eventually have enough and were glad when she exited the stage for the main act. There is only so much slow emotional music you can listen to on a Saturday night. The lights dimmed and the audience rose to their feet as a-ha appeared on stage. Then the lights eluminated the arena.

As expected, they opend with Celine, the first single from the new album and overall it is an enjoyable, uplifting radio friendly pop song. I have to be careful with my use of the world pop. A-ha have grown up and their sound has matured from the electronic synth of the 1980s into a more guitar based light rock. I will publish a full set list later, but one of my favourite a-ha songs was played a few songs in. It is called Weight Of The Wind, from their second album, Scoundrel Days.

Of course, when they played their signature tunes, ‘Take On Me’, ‘Hunting High & Low’ and ‘The Sun Always Shines On TV’ they got the whole crowd going. However, some of the other tracks, including heavier rock version of The Living Daylights and Stay On These Roads impressed the hardcore fan base. Overall, a great evening and a great way to spend my first Saturday night in December. I will try and post some more photos later in the week and include more feedback, particularly when I receive the new album. For the time being, I will leave you with some strange and wonderful trivia, which I am sure you will not know. Which artist has played to the highest number of paying people? Who holds the unofficial record for holding the longest note in a song? Answers on a postcard.

Sunday 14th August 2005

Perhaps some ten years ago, I was a big fan of Stars In Their Eyes. Matthew Kelly presented the show, with the warmth and charisma, that he could be your very own uncle. Then, I looked forward to everyday people, from various walks of life, becoming a star, their idol for the day. About five years ago, a gentle appeared to single ‘Take On Me’ and while he was good, there were better performers on the night. He went through to the grand final, but did not claim the biggest prize. If my memory serves me correctly, it was the last final with Kelly at the helm. Two weekends ago, I watched Lee Otway (Bombhead from Hollyoaks, win with his rendition of Waiting Here For You, by the smooth lounge singer, Richard Marx. While is performance was a great surprise, for such a reserved and gentile character on screen. So, last night I had the show on, in the background of my computer, while I concentrated on something else. I did not see, the introduction to the act, but just the celebrity, go through the special doors to then reappear. On their emergence, from the cloudy mist, I instantly recognised who they were and hit record on my TV tuner software. This was a moment not to be missed.

While I stopped watching the Bill several years ago. The moment they killed off Sergeant Cryer in 2001. A hanging offence in my book. Since then, with the time changes, theme changes and changing sponsors, I gave up on the show and no longer watch. However, that does not mean I did not recognise, Neil Pearson played by Andrew Lancel. The question on my mind was, which a-ha song to before? Of course, they chose, their biggest UK hit (a number one in December 1985). The Sun Always Shines On TV is a great song, on so many levels. It is moving, reflective, uplifting, emotional and even hopeful. Lancel’s performance was admirable, and he was a deserving winner for the show.

While discussing this with Nav, I tried to explain the video trilogy that went hand in hand with a-ha’s first three singles. He quickly dropped over to the MTV web site to watch the videos for himself. While perhaps, Take On Me should have been released as the final single of the three (it would have worked backwards, just think about it!) it does get more recognition that it truly needs. Perhaps this is the man upstairs clever way of reminding me, what I can look forward to in just under four months time. Perhaps some you out there, will realise how special twenty years ago, really was. Not just the music, the fashion, the technology. I am talking about something much much more important than that. The moment.

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