REVIVAL tours are all the rage at the moment, but not for a-ha.

The Norwegian pop trio may have made it big in the late 1980s, but their music has continued to evolve.

Due to play The Northern Echo Arena on June 17, the band, famed for hits like Take on Me, The Sun Always Shines on TV and The Living Daylights, are promising a gig that entertains themselves as much as those in the crowd.

Pal Waaktaar, songwriter and guitarist, agrees it’s important that performances are not just a stage version of a “greatest hits” album.

“We do restructure (some of the songs) and especially with this set up,” he said, alluding to the array of accompanying musicians who will join them on stage.

“That allows us to do things differently. It’s the fun part. Sometimes we like to show different sides to the songs. It gets trickier as you go along because now we have ten or 11 albums to choose from. Of course everyone wants to pick different songs – you have to feel it out to get a nice blend that you think works. You bring something new but there’s also a lot of stuff that people expect to hear.

“You have to reinvent things. It has to feel fresh, so even the ones we always play, you try to give them a different spin or really bring it back to the way it was at the core.

“It changes with each song. We might have had a demo of one of the hits that we are fond of so we might play something like that.

“But we feel pretty good about the mix.”

Pal says he likes the test open-air concerts present.

“They can be a little more challenging because our music tends to be on the atmospheric side, so we have to work a little harder to create that mood,” he says. “I always think it’s a nice thing to do and we have a lot of great memories from previous tours.

“This should be cool. It’s the first time we have brought a bigger band with us. We did an unplugged tour last winter where we used strings and lots of different types of instruments.

“We are bringing them with us and so this will be a little different for us. We will have a bigger palate to choose from, so we can go different ways with the songs which is great.

“We do like the emotional stuff that gives us the shivers up on stage. We tend to go towards that. It’s hard to choose from over 100 songs. There is only room for so much, but hopefully we pick right.”

The band have fond memories of England and the fans here – as Pal puts it: “Some of these guys I will have seen much more often than my own relatives.

“We lived here for six or seven years and this is where it all started,” he says. “It’s definitely a special feeling for us. We left high school and came to England and it took us two or three years to get something going – it was an adventure. We always dreamed about coming to England since we were kids. It was a masterplan in the making for years and years. At that age, late teens early 20s, it’s such a defining part of your life.”

Many bands from the 80s and 90s have either fallen by the wayside or are a pale shadow of their original selves, so what keeps a-ha going?

“Maybe the breaks have something to do with it,” Pal says. “In the 90s we took a big long break and also recently. We all have other things going at the same time as a-ha. I have a band called Savoy and the others have their own interests. But that all feeds a-ha.

“When we do get together we come with a lot of new influences from the outside. We bring that back to a-ha and it helps to keep it fresh. You have to have stuff like that or you start to chew yourself up. It is good to have a little off and on.

“We can be on different planets sometimes and it can be hard to find a spot where everybody wants to do a-ha again. But we have it down now. This tour is three or four months, we can be totally gung-ho in that period and then maybe we go away for a few months and do something else and then maybe get back together again.”