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Monday, 17 August 2009

A-ha - a BRILLIANT band

In the last year of my time at the record label I worked at, I had the pleasure of looking after A-ha, so I was pleased to see them get a feature in the Guardian today.

When I was first given the project, I was skeptical, as I think most people would have been, but after listening to the album and finding that it was fantastic (2005's Analogue), I got stuck in. It was a successful project, including a feature in Q magazine which then led to them winning the Q Inspiration Award at the 2006 Q Awards.

The band rehearsing for the gig...

But more than any of that, my favourite memory of A-ha is from a trip to Senegal. That's where we went to do the Q feature, as the charity Plan were putting on a concert in the football stadium in Senegal's capital Dakar, after an international football friendly game of Senegal vs Norway (hence the A-ha connection). It was perfect for a feature, loads of 'colour' (as it's termed), a gig and the chance to hang out with the band a lot as the hotel was sort of like a compound, in that horrible way that 'nice' places in poor countries tend to be.

Morten, Magne and Pal being photographed on the hotel's grounds for Q...

So we mostly ate in the hotel and that appears to have been my downfall, because on the third day of the four day trip, I was woken up with the most violent illness I have ever had in my life. I mean, it was carnage. Not to be too explicit (and read no further if you're eating right now) but it's very difficult to know what to do with yourself when your body is ejecting everything it can from all ends at the same time, for a period of about three hours. I didn't really know what to do with myself, but somehow, and the details escape me now, I got in touch with the A-ha doctor who travels with them, and he sorted me out with some tablets to, well, bung me up essentially. But after that I wasn't much use so when morning came round I called the band and the Q guys and told them that I wouldn't be able to accompany them for the last part of the trip which was a visit with Plan to a hospital caring for orphans infected with HIV. But before they left I had a call from Morten Harket, who proved himself to be one of the loveliest, caring pop stars you'll ever hear about.

Not only did he know a lot about what my body would need (small amounts of salt and sugar to replace the lost minerals and also lots of water) but he spoke at length to me in a really lovely, fatherly way. He'd been a very amiable, nice bloke up to that point anyway, but in that one conversation he secured a place in my heart forever. And, helped me feel better much quicker than I would have done left to me own devices, I'm sure.

So their new album, Foot Of The Mountain, is out now, and if ever you feel like buying music based on how lovely the people that make it are, then I whole-heartedly recommend it to you. Oh, and Mags and Pal are great guys too, so they're all alright in my book.

The band meet a couple of the Norwegian squad players and some new Norwegian pop star who completely failed to make any impact whatsoever...

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