Review: a-Ha @ A Day On The Green

Review: a-ha and Rick Astley @ A Day On The Green

The Sun Always Shines at Rochford

1985 proved itself a great vintage for those gathered for Rochford’s fabulous  ’A Day On The Green’ on Saturday.

Three iconic artists from that golden era (each responsible in their own right for some truly massive 80’s anthems) had been invited to grace the Rochford stage:

Local keytar heroes  Pseudo Echo opened for ‘Meme Maestro’  Rick Astley which was then topped off with a stellar set from those still-swarthy Nords a-ha – for only the second time ever in Australia.

To convince a-ha to make the journey down under was a fantastic coup by the A Day On The Green bookers who are proving yet again they certainly know their product and their target market – a fact reflected by the immense turnout for yet again another super chilled out afternoon on the gentle slopes of Rochford.

Pseudo Echo

Review: a-Ha @ A Day On The Green

Conveniently for Pseudo Echo, the normally biting afternoon sun graciously dialled down its heat for their 45 minutes. The band blessed us with a doubly energetic set – peppered with perennial favourites from their debut ‘Autumnal Park’ (incidentally 35 years old this week), a few tasty selections from their follow up ‘Love An Adventure’ and a hilarious mashup of Lipps Inc’s Funkytown and Deep Purple’s ‘Black Night’.

Having seen this band on numerous occasions I am always impressed by the energy level Canham and his merry men bring to each performance.

Review: a-Ha @ A Day On The Green

As a frontman, Brian Canham has lost none of his sense of humour either – removing his hat mid set to reveal a tiny mohawk tuft and cross. The crowd lapped up the eclectic set and the Pseuds were the perfect primer for what was still to come.

Rick Astley

Review: a-Ha @ A Day On The Green

Mr ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ proved himself the biggest surprise of the day and effectively stole the show. Cool in the 80’s, a Meme in the 2000’s and then thanks to the Foo Fighters in 2017, very much cool again.

(For those not up with the play, a ‘lightning in a bottle’ impromptu moment occurred at a Japanese Foo’s gig when Dave Grohl spotted Astley side of stage and without hesitation invited him to sing ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ in a ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ style.) Relive that moment here.

Today he kicked things off in fine style with ‘Together Forever’. Rick’s brilliant stage manner put everyone at ease from the get-go. His self deprecating humour and everyman sensibilities clicked with the crowd immediately and by the end of the first song even the most self conscious of us were up and dancing.

Review: a-Ha @ A Day On The Green

Three songs in he realised that incongruously he and the band were the only ones in the paddock without a Chardonnay in their hands. After requesting something ‘crisp’ the ADOTG crew brought out a brimming tray of refreshments. ‘Cheers Australia!’

While the classics like ‘She Wants To Dance With Me’ and ‘Whenever You Need Somebody’ resonated highly with the punters, after hearing some of Rick’s recent material like ‘Cry For Help’ and ‘Keep Singing’, many present will now have a new found respect for the man.

The surprise moment in the set came when he recounted a little nostalgic moment… back in the day he’d record every new band he could on the VCR… One band he caught on tape quite by accident and decided to leave the tape running ‘as they might be quite good’ turned out to be INXS and it was the beginning of a fixation. He confessed to nearly setting the very same VCR on fire playing this on repeat… with hand firmly on heart, he and his INXS t-shirted backup singers then treated us to what was to be one of the standout moments of the day… a jaw dropping cover of ‘New Sensation’. A few next to me wondered why INXS didn’t just give him a call when looking for a new lead singer.

Fan video: Youtube

From that high point there was only one place left to go…

A supercharged mashup of Never Gonna Give You Up / Copacabana / We Will Rock You

Fan video

We had all just been ‘Rickrolled’ in the best possible way.

Rick Astley’s Setlist:

Together Forever
Beautiful Life
She Wants to Dance With Me / Juice (Lizzo cover)
Keep Singing
Whenever You Need Somebody / Good Times (Chic cover)
Every One Of Us
Cry for Help
Angels on My Side
Take Me to Your Heart / We Found Love
God Says
New Sensation (INXS cover)
Never Gonna Give You Up / Copacabana / We Will Rock You


Review: a-Ha @ A Day On The Green

When it comes to a-ha, it’s a pretty safe bet to assume the casual a-ha punters only really remember one or two hits from 1985 and a couple more from the second album, ’Scoundrel Days’, but like quite a few of their contemporaries who have studiously kept at their craft, there is actually a very solid body of work, with plenty of earworm anthems to reward the efforts of anyone curious enough to dig a little deeper than ‘Take On Me’, which has just clocked over one BILLION hits on youtube this week and it now available in 4K video quality.

Choosing to start proceedings with a minimalist stage set, with the accompanying side video screens set in monotone to reflect the early album artwork, the band kick off proceedings with ‘Take On Me’ which caught most punters right off guard.

Review: a-Ha @ A Day On The Green

Playing the big hit first up, normally reserved for the encore, is a very surprising choice – until we realise they will be playing their stellar debut album “Hunting High & Low’ in full. A terrific outcome as that album is all killer / no filler.

Dressed very casually in well worn knits and jeans topped with leather jackets - almost like they’ve just alighted from a chilly trip over in a fishing boat, a-ha look extremely relaxed in their cosy, informal attire.

A shy retiring soul by nature, vocalist Morten Harket is fully focussed on the job at hand - keeping those pesky in-ear monitors in place, while intently delivering his trademark five octave range in note-perfect pitch. Eyes closed, (probably largely to ignore the signs held up in the audience early on) he cradles his microphone like a tender lover. Even after all these years, his range still sounds impeccable and it’s such a joy to hear these songs tonight just as we did on the record all those years ago.

Review: a-Ha @ A Day On The Green

He’s more than happy to let keyboardist Magne Furuholmen handle any and all of the crowd interaction tonight. Every band needs an ‘everyman’… the one the others in the band can depend on to be the go-between for interviews and public relations, Magne has always been the warm and congenial spokesperson for the band and conveys just how appreciative they are for everything their audience have given them over the years and during the gig ensures to thank us profusely.

The band rip through ‘Take On Me’, ‘Train Of Thought’, ‘Hunting High And Low’ featuring a heavenly crowd singalong, ‘The Blue Sky’ and a wondrous ’Living A Boy’s Adventure Tale’ which again showcases Morten’s immaculate vocal range… before hitting us with an incendiary version of ‘The Sun Always Shines on TV’, It’s at this point the lighting rig really kicks into overdrive. It’s one kickarse performance and the song climaxes with blistering guitar work from Paul.

Review: a-Ha @ A Day On The Green

Chief a-ha songwriter Paul Waaktaar-Savoy is the real quiet achiever tonight – a study of intense concentration, as he helps bring all these classic songs to life on the live stage. Swapping effortlessly from keyboard duties to deft acoustic washes or blistering electric guitar solos, his sensitive contributions on the heavier tracks like mega ‘Sycamore Leaves’ and ‘The Living Daylights’ or the gorgeous balladic ‘Stay On These Roads’ really add the essential contrast and colour to a-ha’s sonic palate.

Over the next year or so, A-ha are celebrating and showcasing the classic ‘Hunting High And Low’ in its entirety. After a mammoth 35 years together, writing and performing, it is a small miracle that they are still together and even talking, let alone performing at such a high standard. Tonight’s gig proved unequivocally that the lads from Norway are way more than ‘Take On Me’ and are vocally and musically still at the top of their game. Any chance you get to catch one of these shows presents an unmissable opportunity… a-ha?… Love is Reason enough!

a-ha’s setlist:

Take On Me
Train Of Thought
Hunting High And Low
The Blue Sky
Living A Boy's Adventure Tale
The Sun Always Shines On T.V.
And You Tell Me
Love Is Reason
I Dream Myself Alive (Demo version)
Here I Stand And Face The Rain
Crying In The Rain (Carole King cover)
Sycamore Leaves
I've Been Losing You
Stay On These Roads
The Living Daylights

Review: a-Ha @ A Day On The Green


To view Carbie Warbie's comprehensive photo gallery on the day, please visit our sister music website, GIGBILL at the following link:

Review: a-Ha @ A Day On The Green
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