A-Ha Takes On the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra: We’ve seen this before, many times — rock and pop artists joining forces with an orchestra with the aim of enhancing and even elevating their music. Rock titans such as Deep Purple, Metallica and Kiss have given it a go, and the results usually range between spell-bindingly epic and “meh,” simply because some tunes are more suited to this treatment than others.
Here’s the thing though — even when the orchestral treatment doesn’t necessarily add anything to the song, it doesn’t take anything away. If it’s a good song, you still have the song.
It helps that in Thomas Wilkins, the Orchestra has a captivating Principal Conductor; full of stories between songs, his movements are mesmerizing and he knows how to play a crowd along with his musicians.
The Orchestra came out first, and performed some pieces by (appropriately enough) Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg, notably “Peer Gynt, Suite №1, Opus 46: I. Morning Mood,” and “Peer Gynt, Suite №1, Opus 46: IV. In the Hall of the Mountain King.” Trust us, those of you not schooled in classical — you’d know them if you heard them.
Then they were joined by A-Ha for the main event. And what a beautiful event, under the stars in Hollywood’s iconic venue, the weather absolutely perfect.
The setlist was near-perfect too. The title track from the debut Hunting High & Low album and “Train of Thought” sit alongside their wonderful cover of Carole King’s “Crying in the Rain.” Unless we’re very much mistaken, the Orchestra didn’t perform on ever song — “Cry Wolf,” for example, seemed to be A-Ha by themselves. But when they did work together, the results touched on magical.
The best examples were “The Sun Always Shines on TV” and Bond theme “The Living Daylights.” Both have sweeping, atmospheric sections that the Orchestra could build on beautifully. The Orchestra even added a bit of Bond score to the end of “The Living Daylights” — a nice touch.
Of course they finished with “Take On Me” and the Bowl went wild. There are few more recognizable synth parts that emerged from the ’80s, and the lush strings added some gusto.
And then it was over, and we were left to reflect on the fact that frontman Morten Harket refuses to age.
A-Ha Takes On the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra
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