Guitarist Diaries: a-Ha, iTunes Festival, London, 24th Friday

There are always many guitar-based bands who strut their stuff at the iTunes Festival. This year saw Kasabian, Nosiettes and good old Oasis to name but three, but we didn´t fancy suffering through a load of stroppy old Liam Gallagher conkers yet again; we wanted something more sublime and, if truth be told, more successful too.

The band we chose to go and see may surprise Guitarist readers, but we have no worries concerning any stigma - the outfit in question was Norwegian trio a-Ha, who have sold well over 30 million albums in their 20 year-plus career.

And, before you put pen to paper to shout that a-Ha are nothing more than synth-bustin´ pop pretty boys, one full-time member, Paul Waaktaar-Savoy, plays a variety of axes throughout a set peppered with songs that are fascinating in their familiarity.

The gig, held at Camden´s Roundhouse, was, as all iTunes Festival events are, free of charge, but that didn´t stop a certain strata of society being out in force to outnumber the merely curious two to one. In other words, women who were teenagers at the time of Take On Me, now happily aging disgracefully at the prospect of seeing vocalist Morten Harket, exuberant keyboardist Magne Fruholmen and Waaktaar-Savoy in the flesh just one more time: think the hysteria that surrounded the first Take That reunion but with a little more class...

Ah's a-Ha

From opener The Sun Always Shines On TV to the cataclysmic finale of Take On Me, the place was jumping, with most attendees - including Guitarist, we might add - sporting huge silly grins at the fun of it all. There were a few tears once the female half of the audience realised that a small pink dome of bare scalp was poking through Harket´s glossy hair, but we were more interested - and impressed by - Waaktaar-Savoy's guitar-based dynamics. He´s a Fano endorsee, and along with a JM6 he also dusted off a cool Yellow Fender Jaguar and an acoustic or two to great effect.

Support came from German band Reamonn, who adequately crossed sugar-sweet pop with U2-flavoured stage antics, but as we prepared to brave the Northern line back to our hotel, we were still singing Take On Me...

A-Ha´s new album Foot Of The Mountain is out now and, yes, it´s rather good...

Simon Bradley is a guitar and especially rock guitar expert who worked for Guitarist magazine and has in the past contributed to world-leading music and guitar titles like MusicRadar (obviously), Guitarist, Guitar World and Louder. What he doesn't know about Brian May's playing and, especially, the Red Special, isn't worth knowing.