DILF Morten: "Wave good-bye...wave good-bye..."
I had a disastrous experience at a pretty good concert that left me wondering if all general-admission shows should be gender-segregated. For me, the perception that girls attend these shows, get drunk, arrive late and then bitch that they're too short to see, thus demanding everyone part like the Red Sea, is one of those stereotypes rooted in reality. Like black people talking in movie theaters, Asians who can't drive and white guys who are xenophobic, misogynist hotheads.
The "Take On Me" finaleI've been a fan for 24 non-consecutive years of a-ha, a band that's been a band for 28 non-consecutive years. They broke up for a period but returned, whereas I convinced myself their debut album Hunting High and Low was practically the only thing they ever did until majorly rediscovering them in the early part of this century. Though that album is still one of my favorites (it might be my favorite album, period), and though some of their immediate follow-ups left and leave me cold, some of their '90s and '00s work matches their earliest, greatest hits. Their 2009 CD Foot of the Mountain is so good I presume part of the reason they have decided to break up forever following their farewell tour is communicated in its title: it's the Ending on a High Note Tour.
Morten's still got it
They're only playing L.A., Chicago, Toronto and New York in North America, which is fair enough—they're way more welcome in Europe and Latin America. I was thrilled to get a chance to see them a final time after my last viewing in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in 1986 (their next U.S. date wasn't until 2005!). I tried to interview them as a legit journo, but their PRs Girlie Action seemed to have forgotten how grateful they were for my early support of their then-unknown then-clients the Jonas Brothers, so no dice.
Three boys three
What does a-ha mean to me? Well, it means Morten Harket's emotive, occasionally operatic voice, Pal (now Paul) Waaktaar's incredible and incredibly undervalued lyrics. Mags Furuholmen plays a mean keyboard, too. There is something nearly perfect about many of their songs. "Take On Me" is of course one of the most perfect pop songs ever, but for me, it's not even one of my very favorites in their catalogue; I find their more contemplative, yearning hits to be the best of their best. Perhaps I like the contrast of seeing and hearing icy, superficially striking Morten emulating warmth and depth.
M&M in solidarityAnyway, I attended their third and final show at the Nokia in Times Square. Not considering myself a megafan like I am of Madonna's, I didn't feel the need to be first in line. Instead, I showed up 45 minutes before the doors time of 7PM only to find a line that wrapped around the building and ended at the exact spot where Faisal Shahzad had parked his four-wheel bomb. I was standing with tons of good-natured fans, the majority of whom were born in other countries—if one needs a passport as well as a ticket to get to a concert, that is dedication.
Once people funneled, in, I wound up about mid-floor of the tiny venue, which is about half floor and half open seating. I wasn't about to push forward, but I wasn't about to let anyone push past me, either. I chose a spot between two big bruisers, one of whom was cradling a GF. This was perfect—they wouldn't let anyone push them around and I could see perfectly between them. Of course, after hours of standing around, including through Sondre Lerche's lengthy and very late (and yes, well played) opening set, just before a-ha took the stage, a gaggle of girls and their extra-tall male companion pushed their way to the side of the bruisers. "Hello!" one said in an, "Oh, well, fuck you!" way. They wound up in front of the bruisers, gifting me with a giant, undeservingly well-placed head nearby.
Next, a tall, fake-titted blonde pushed me from behind; she was only trying to go around, she said in universal Valleyspeak, and did not care for it when I pushed back against her and glared. "Go around," I said. "You're not going through me." Her response: "Oooh, you're not a fabulous gay, are you?" This didn't even offend me until I had time to think about it...how gross that this idiot has been coached by the media's well-intentioned effort to spotlight harmless gays (to show we're not monsters) as funny sidekicks into believing that gay men exist in order to air-kiss her ass and act as entertainers.
a-ha's greatest hits & misses
"No, I'm a nasty gay," I said. "And I've been standing here for hours and I'm not moving so forget it."