Living boys’ adventure tales: a-ha at the Wiltern, Los Angeles, CA, on April 8th, 2022

a-ha from left Magne Furuholmen (Keyboards), Morten Harket (Vocals), and Pal Waaktaar-Savoy (Guitars)

After the two years beneath the gray clouds of the pandemic, a-ha came to town with the halos of seasoned veteran wizards of pop music. They entered the world’s music scene like brilliant comets four decades ago with the catchy hit ‘Take on Me’ and continued to travel into the universe all the more brilliantly over time. Indeed, age could not wither them away, nor custom could stale their musical alchemy.

With the opening song ‘Sycamore Leaves’ with its characteristic guitar riffs and heavy drum beats, a-ha came on the stage. The fans were instantly enchanted by their charismatic appearances, like the Three Musketeers of Pop. Magne Furuholmen (Keyboards), Morten Harket (Vocals), and Paul Waaktaar-Savoy (Guitars) were now veterans of the music industry. They were all methodically professional and effortlessly entertaining to present what the fans wanted the most by coming to their concert after two bleak lockdown years. They gave all they got by mainly playing the songs from the first and second albums because those two albums were best known and loved by their US-based fans. The result was the touchy-feely, feel-good atmosphere of the concert. Viktor E. Frankl, the father of Logotherapy, acknowledged that the moments of pleasure in appreciating arts equal the happiness in finding the meaning of life. That night at the Wiltern, a-ha gave the happy moments of life to their fans as their music pleased our senses and sensibilities, allying our passion for what our existential life outside the concert hall had brought to us just for the moments.

Music is the most potent magic in conjuring up the memories in the phantasmagorical display of images of the misty past, vivid and vital, all adrift then aglow in condensed particular energy, becoming nostalgia in the sweet melancholy of romantic solitude manifested in the music of a-ha. Looking at the audience, I thought that we all came to go back to our days of innocence when the pleasure of listening to a-ha’s music on the radio and records required no dreadful existential worries of the world. That night at the Wiltern, a-ha transported us back to our memory lane in the soft sweet melodies of the past and then to the present, lingering in the heart’s windows and staying in its garden forever with the triumphant ‘Take on Me’ ending on a high note in the encore.

“The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba” by Handel

IMG_3955 Sally was enjoying alone at Baroque her respite from the demands placed upon her weekly tasks and responsibilities at her new job. Baroque is a newly opened coffee house where her best friend Bonnie is both a manager and attendant, provisioning customers with delicious pastries, cookies, freshly-brewed coffee and exquisitely beautiful Baroque music composed by Bach, Handel, Pachelbel, Vivaldi, et al. at the behest of her aunt Laura, who is the proprietress of the establishment. It is all the more fitting to Sally’s musical taste and sensibilities. Which is why she has made it her elbow room where she can rest herself reading and writing enveloped in an atmospheric ambience of highly sophisticated cultural surrounding rare to find these days.


Sally likes the delicateness of the Baroque (which means an irregular shape of pearls in Portuguese) music, especially the works of Bach and Handel, the Father and the Mother of Music, or Saints of Music. It’s all in the family blood: her father was an admirer of Bach and felt exalted when listening to Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 In G Major, BWV 1048: Allegro. He might have been wanting of the practical sense of the world or the “gumption,” but his eminent scholarship of the Arts and Humanities was his essence, his primary reality. That’s the legacy of eclectic cultural taste and erudition Sally has extolled and preserved against the struggles of life in which she always tries to grasp on a sense of social and cultural superiority, while guiding her elderly parents on the long taxing climb to financial security. Here in this Sunday morning, Sally’s spirit was flitting in the celestial garden alone, while indulging herself in listening to The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba by Handel. In fact, it’s her favorite musical piece in the world, her primary soundtrack of life, her sui generis leitmotif  that is hers, hers only, hers exclusively.

MI0002991573Bonnie was smiling at her friend Sally’s intoxication with the music outwardly manifested on her pretty face in the form of dreamy look with her eyes closed as if she were watching musicians playing it on stage just for her. That’s one of the reasons Bonnie likes her friend: Sally’s artlessness unsullied by her intelligent prowess makes her trustful, beautiful, and soulful. When Sally opened her eyes, she smiled at Bonnie and started piping up: “You know Bonnie, I love this music so much that all my grief, angst, and trifles desiccate, then die… It’s very vivacious and and jubilant, uplifting my otherwise somber mood to make me believe that the world isn’t that such a bad place to live.” Sally’s eyes becoming sparkling with verve and her cheeks flushed with rose pink, all because of the love of the music. And her rhapsody of love began as follows:

George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)

The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba is a sinfonia for two oboes and strings written by George Frideric Handel, originally from Germany but later moved to England for advancement of his musical career. By the way his father was an eminent barber-surgeon as it was customary for a barber to work sideline as a dentist and surgeon. That’s a bit odd, isn’t it? Anyway, the music was first premiered in London as the first scene of Act III in the oratorio Solomon. But rather than the whole oratorio, this brightly charming interlude has been widely appreciated as a separate set piece because it’s so appealing to the senses, I presume. Besides, the piece was widely played during wedding ceremonies into the bargain! Come to think of it, it is such a vivacious melody apposite to an entrance of a beautiful bride into a church. You know,  like the beautiful regal queen of Sheba arriving at Jerusalem with a grand entourage, with camels carrying a munificent largess, a resplendent panoply of magnificent treasure!”

IMG_4099While listening to Sally’s lecture on Handel and the sinfonia, Bonnie was envisioning in her mind’s eye a scene in which she as a chaste and beautiful bride in wedding gown like a valley in a vale was entering a cathedral to proceed to the altar where her gallant husband was waiting… That’s a nice change of mundane scenery of life, Bonnie thought. Ah, the power of the music is so irresistibly masculine and impossibly arresting that the only way you can escape from its fatally sensuous intoxication is to yield to it. It’s all because of the magic of music, moody food that is bartered for love. The Bard knew it as well: “In sweet music is such art: killing care and grief of heart fall asleep, or hearing die.”





Songs of Lady Egoist


Time is like a fashionable host that greets its guests with a variety of hues and styles depending on occasions: for weekdays, it welcomes the guests with professional attire and proprieties perfected in workmanship. But for its festive weekend guests – especially the divine sabbatical Sundays, the host and the guests are all dressed in delightfully comfy clothes to lounge around their homes free from dress codes. On this beautifully leisurely Sunday afternoon, Seraphina, a full time secretary who also sometimes moonlights as a ghost writer, decides to indulge herself in a banquet of music given by the fashionable host in celebration of the divine rest all to herself alone at home with her fluffy canine sister Nena.

Seraphina’s eclectic taste in music is worth the telling: a mixture of classical standard of beauty and her pleasant quirkiness and feminine queasiness stylishly fashioned with a modish streak is her trademark, which makes her belong in her own class by herself. During her totally off-guard hours, she goes for a parade of modern day troubadours of catchy melodies and good lyrics. “Good music is to refresh the mind of anyone after her studies or work, isn’t it?” is the question Seraphina asks to herself and Nena lying prostate at her feet in defense of music she listens to as she writes down a list of the five songs in mind as follows:


  • Bigmouth Strikes Again – the Smiths (It’s rather surreal and dismal, but the mood created by the lyric is then betrayed by the upbeat, and melodious tune and mellifluously sonorous voice of Morrissey, who sided with Joan of Arc.
  • Wouldn’t It be Good? – Nik Kershaw (The song emits pathos of human life tantamount to a brevity of Greek tragedy – or comedy? It’s about a person whose life seems to be in the rut of life. Seraphina remembers reading an article about the singer having worked at an employment agency, so maybe it might have resulted from his encounter with one of the unemployed about whom the singer felt a touch of humanity.
  • Just Me and you – Jane Birkin (Seraphina’s fashion icon Jane Birkin sings a triumphant love in secret that gives no care to anybody but to her and her lover only.)
  • Yesterday, Yes A Day – Jane Birkin ( J. Birkin is all femininity personified in a mixture of delightful sensuality and sultry sensuousness, which she wears like her favorite perfume. It’s never lewd or slutty, but stylishly and poetically intoxicating. Seraphina is emulous of her favorite icon’s style to all appearance.
  • Daisy Bell – Blur (One day Seraphina accidentally found a retro but fabulous English sitcom “Mind Your Language” on her Kindle Fire for free thanks a lot to her Amazon Prime membership. In one of the episodes, amiable teacher Jeremy Brown, wonderfully played by the unforgettable Barry Evans, sang the song with his adult students at evening classes. Its tune so charming and catchy, Seraphina listens again to the song by the band whose CDs she had once collected.

IMG_4046Then she realizes that it is now almost late afternoon, the end of the restful day has come closer to the end of the meridian sun. And so has her afternoon respite from the existential dealings of the world. “Indeed pleasure and action make the hours short,” says Seraphina while glancing at her canine companion Nena taking an afternoon nap at her feet under the desk. “But with you my dear Nena and all the things I can think of to take care, I guess it’s not altogether bleak to live every day.” Seraphina smiles at Nena, gently caressing her fluffy body. It seems that to Seraphina and Nena at that blissful moment, God is in heaven, and all’s well with the world.