Recorded at the Oslo Spektrum in December 2010, Ending on a High Note: The Final Concert is a chance for those a-ha fans who couldn't get a ticket for the Norwegian synth pop trio's last ever live performance to bask in the glory of their triumphant swan song. Their third live album, following 2001's Live at Valhall and 2003's's How Can I Sleep with Your Voice in My Head, features 16 of the 21 tracks that were played on the globe-conquering tour's emotional finale, which wisely celebrates the entirety of their career, with every one of their nine studio albums represented (although songs from 1990's East of the Sun, West of the Moon and 1993's Memorial Beach are only included in the CD/DVD edition). Opening with 90 seconds of minimal spacy synths, the audience's anticipation is palpable until Morten Harket's trademark brooding vocals kick-start an anthemic rendition of their only U.K. chart-topper, "The Sun Always Shines on TV," setting the tone for the rest of the set, which races through urgent and impassioned performances of material from both their '80s heyday (James Bond theme "The Living Daylights," "Hunting High and Low," "The Swing of Things") and their noughties' critically acclaimed comeback efforts (their last U.K. Top Ten single "Analogue," "Summer Moved On," "Foot of the Mountain"). By the time Harket hits the astonishing falsetto vocal on their signature hit and obvious encore closer, "Take on Me," you're left in no doubt that the band's split will be a huge loss, not only to the sold-out crowd whose audible appreciation can be heard throughout, but also to their millions of fans across the world. It's a shame that the entirety of their set list couldn't have been included, particularly their cover of the Everly Brothers' "Bowling Green" and final official single, the appropriately titled "Butterfly Butterfly (The Last Hurrah)," but overall, Ending on a High Note is an impressive and representative live career overview, which ensures that a-ha did just that.
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AllMusic Review by Jon O'Brien