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.

music of life

1dc50954796a2e0491b7dc93d333effdPaul McCartney sings, “Long and Winding Road,” whereas Rod Stewart utters, “I am sailing.” Then Tom Cochrane brings life back to land by proclaiming “Life is a highway.” Whatever metaphor they confer upon life, one thing is certain that it has a meaning, a sense of sui generis purpose, which leads all humankind to the glory of Enlightenment. Methinks life is a very long marathon race toward the grande finale after sailing through the vicissitudes of human conditions in the course of solipsistic running. That’s why all life is priceless and worth the living. How fast I will run and what route I will take is totally contingent upon my sui juris decision. Frank Sinatra knew it as in My Way, and the Animals shout out, “It’s My Life.” Snoopy, as wisecracking as ever, sums it all of the above.

Author’s Note: I came upon this felicitous Snoopy cartoon on the last train home. It gave me a fillip to this short vignette. You know what? I feel much better now. 🙂