MUDKISS FANZINE

Mudkiss is now an archived site, there will be no more updates. Mudkiss operated from 2008 till 2013.

MORTEN HARKET @ BRIDGEWATER HALL, MANCHESTER 11/05/12 - REVIEW BY MELANIE SMITH

The opportunity arose for me to go and photograph the former frontman of the 80's Norwegian hit synth-pop band A-Ha, and as an added bonus a ticket was kindly provided. It was my first visit to The Bridgewater Hall, a large, all seated auditorium, which normally houses classical orchestral performances, designed for optimum viewing and listening pleasure.

A-Ha split in 2010 and Morten is back on the road, promoting his new album 'Out Of My Hands' which was released this week in the UK. The show was to be a mixture of both Morten’s compositions and A-Ha's. Now Morten isn't the typical Mudkiss artist who we would normally rush to review, as he doesn't really fit the alternative bill, but I went along with an open mind and as someone told me only the other day "he is a bit of a guilty pleasure". I wasn't too sure what to expect, as admittedly I only ever really knew the chart hits of A-Ha, to which I hold my hands up to secretly enjoying. However I didn't have a clue as to Mortens solo stuff, so a couple of hours before the show I quickly checked into spotify and youtube to enlighten myself.

The electro synth sounds of 'Burn Money, Burn' start up at 9pm with three musicians at either ends of the stage, proved to be something of a slow burner, but for fans eagerly awaiting Morten they didn’t have long to wait, as he casually strolled onto the stage, to an extremely welcoming reception, looking very fit and relaxed in dark shades, open necked black shirt, tight fitting jeans and boots. After the first three songs where I was crouched down low under the stage taking shots, I took my place on the 2nd row, which I was thrilled about, almost the best seat in the house! Morten chose to open the first three songs from his new album, and they were mostly synth based and robotic sounding, with a mellow dance beat. The Everly Brothers big hit 'Crying In The Rain' was brought out and given a new lease of life, which had been lifted from the A-Ha back catalogue 'East Of The Sun album.

He introduced many of the songs, which is rare these days with artists barely speaking to the audience, and it was much appreciated. Talking through the meaning of the songs, such as 'A Kind Of Christmas Card', about a Hollywood Actress writing home to family, and never sending it. He sang a track which A-Ha never got to sing live, and there were roars of approval each time he introduced a song. 'Out Of The Blue Comes Green' proved to be a popular number, as did ‘Scared Of Heights’ the new single.

What took me by surprise is not only is he a great performer, but also a serious singer/songwriter/musician, it wasn't a frivolous pop performance, and neither was it in anyway A-Ha. It was a solo performance, with a brilliant band, which he introduced, but just don't ask me to pronounce or spell their names. I was so captivated I remained in my seat for all of the show, thus being able to relax and concentrate on the performance of the artist for once. Morten has a certain electrifying charm, which he bestows onto each and everyone tonight, reaching out to many of his fans along the front row, taking them by the hand [which they won't want to wash for a week]. Some of the fans have flowers for him and he smiles widely, cheekbones highlighted by the stage lights. Whilst he isn't the hippest, or foremost trend setting artist, he is the epitome of casual coolness without really trying too hard, he doesn't need to - the years have been really kind to him - does he have a painting in the attic I wonder. Although more importantly his voice is incredible, the high notes which he is renown for were used to great advantage in this auditorium, with each note resonating with sweet, yet strong audible tones; the musicians were fully engaged and not just a nameless back up band. In particular the guitarist gave a spectacular performance, playing like a rock god, flaying the guitar at all angles, and boy can he can play guitar.

Morten sang a beautiful song called 'Los Angeles', the angelic and soothing voice echoed around the room like a personal serenade, to each love struck female in the building. A-Ha’s ‘We’re Looking For Whales’ was another monumental success, and brought everyone to their feet dancing. Morten was once dissed as just a 'pretty boy', he's now a 52 year old family man, whilst still extremely good looking and youthful, I can honestly say he is a talented man, with a stunning vocal range, and not just a bit of eye candy. I’d arrived really as a photographer, and observer, not as a fan, and I left wanting to buy the new album, or maybe it was that little smile he gave me. The absolute highlight of the show for me was a song I'd never heard before, which was introduced as "One of the last songs A-Ha did". I was immediately taken with ‘Foot Of The Mountain [check out 3.28 minutes in].

At the second encore many of the female fans [mostly] were allowed to surge towards the stage and hand over flowers, hands held out to touch him, hoping for eye to eye contact, with their cameras held aloft, and a sea of smiley faces. It was time I left, outside as I passed the back entrance his fans were gathering , in the faint hope of catching a personal touch, a glimpse, an autograph or photo. Morten Harket is definitely the one, he's staying on these roads, until he reaches the moon, and he's not scared of heights!

Setlist:

Burn Money, Burn
I'm The One
Keep The Sun Away
Crying In The Rain [The Everly Brothers]
Out Of The Blue Comes Green
Move To Memphis
Forever Not ours
When I Reached The Moon
Los Angeles
Spanish Steps
A Kind Of Christmas Card
Just Beleive It
We're Looking For The Whales
Lighting

Encore:

Scared Of Heights
Stay On These Roads

Encore 2:

Lay Me Down Tonight
Take On Me
 
 
Review /Photos by Melanie Smith
Special thanks to Morten's management - Harald Wiik & Gillian Chapman