Coming back on a grand scale from a lengthy break performing together, Norwegian pop sensation a-ha took Moscow's Olympiisky Sports Complex by storm.
The group, whose breakthrough hit "Take on Me" took on the world back in 1985, have not been shy about their first visit to the Russian capital. The performance, March 18, must have been one of the city's most keenly promoted. With billboards, newspapers, magazines, television and radio adverts all pushing the concert, few could be ignorant of the arrival of this semi-retro older boy band. It was not, however, a-ha's first concert in Russia they performed in St. Petersburg in 1994.
Moreover, the publicity seems to have worked. No longer so big in the West, the band members were welcomed as superstars in Moscow both at the pre-concert press conference and at the concert itself. A young, mostly female crowd of some 15,000 packed out the stadium, it should also be noted that the men seemed to be enjoy themselves just as much.
Morten Harket came on stage wearing shiny leather pants and an open shirt, looking relaxed and confident, as if he'd seen a Moscow audience before. And the crowd was as welcoming as any one could hope.
The group played a mix of their 80s hits and their new album "Minor Earth Major Sky," which has already gone platinum. The opening song, named after that album, was spectacular, but it took a few more songs to really establish the atmosphere and get the audience on its feet, singing along.
Overall, the older songs were more enthusiastically received, but then it will take the new hits a while to establish the kind of following that hits like "The Living Daylights" and "Hunting High and Low," enjoy. The most popular hits came towards the end, and the final song, "Take on Me," was the perfect close to an excellent concert, that only lacked inspiring stage decor.
So, a-ha managed to perform a perfect balancing act, mixing modern sounds with their catchy old pop songs. Even fifteen years after their first breakthrough, Morten Harket has kept his cool. Sporting a tougher look, he has retained his "boyish charm" and the strong voice with which he and a-ha initially conquered the world. A smile and "spacibo" from him was all it took to charm the audience, at least the female part of it. The band itself is well tuned and their sound has matured. a-ha could be here to stay a while yet.