I was a bridesmaid 3 times during the decade of blue eyeliner, crimped hair and legwarmers and have already blogged about the numerous 80s wedding discos that I attended throughout that decade (http://elainethatcher.wordpress.com/2010/09/18/the-final-countdown-to-a-night-in-the-cells/). The 80s may well be responsible for some serious crimes against fashion but the music is truly remarkable: think Spandau Ballet, Bananarama, Duran Duran, U2 in their heyday, and wonders like Nik Kershaw and Rick Astley. We’re talking the decade that gave us Flashdance, Fame, and Footloose, the birth of the music video, and ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ 28 years before those kids from Glee came over all Fame and made it a hit again.
Undeniably one of the biggest bands to come out of the 80s must be Norwegian sensation a-ha, they are certainly the biggest thing to come out of Norway – can you even name anything else to have come out of Norway? Okay, some of you literary types might say Ibsen but I’m talking music here. Apparently, a-ha is Scandinavia’s biggest music export after ABBA, which is a pretty good achievement for a country with a population of less than 5 million. That’s half the number of people who voted in the UK’s last final of X-Factor. Can you believe that?! The UK has twice as many people voting for a dumb talent show than live in a whole country! Not that A-ha needed the help of a talent contest to launch them to fame, they did it in the days when bands actually had to be good and manage to do it by themselves. Maybe this explains how they are still here 25 years later and X -Factor winners barely make it past a year?
So as Ryan and I sat on the bus flicking through our guide to Riga I happened to notice that a-ha were due to play Riga Arena during our stay in Latvia. The booklet told us that they would be playing the following night. Unsurprisingly, this excited me no end and I was desperate to try and buy tickets. Booking the tickets was a straightforward enough task despite the language barrier with the lady at the counter but we walked away the proud owners of a pair of tickets and needing to find a way to contain our excitement for the next 24 hours.
Later that evening as we were sitting in the common area of our hostel killing time before our planned evening events of steak and cocktails, I couldn’t shake off the feeling that something wasn’t quite right. I ignored it for as long as I could but something was still bugging me. Then a vision of my a-ha ticket struck me with the realisation that the date on the ticket said 1-11-2010, not the brochure’s advertised date of the 2nd. Thankfully I realised this whilst we still had enough time to get there and less than an hour later we were on our way.
The concert is actually a-ha’s farewell tour before they retire from their 25 year long career at the end of this year and they certainly put on a good show. The boys sounded great and 51 year old Morten Harket looked as hot as he did on the posters in ‘Smash Hits’ and on ‘Top of the Pops’ when I was an obsessed teenager. He still has cheekbones that you could grate cheese on – even supermodels must be envious! They sang all the old favourites: Cry Wolf, Hunting High and Low, the Sun Always Shines on TV, the Living Daylights – as well as a number of more recent hits – and performed a fabulous encore of Take On Me to end the night. As they bid farewell to a standing ovation from the audience they were overcome with emotion. In December they will be performing a 4 night sell-out concert in Oslo, Norway, to say their final goodbyes to a home crowd.