See how he is playing with his puppet? In the same way as a child plays with his toys. He holds it very gently like a real baby, and then, after a while, leaves it lie somewhere, usually on a floor or on a chair. I like his charming, boyish side. It’s an adorable part of his personality. I love watching vlogs when he is really excited about some new things, he sounds like a happy child.
Treasuring one’s inner child must be important for a creative person. Children see the world in a different way than adults. They see more surprising things around them and they have a suitable solution for every problem.
Mika has talked about aging and growing older in some interviews, how he can’t see himself performing his old songs after ten years time etc. He still seems to think, like everyone at his age (twenty something), that growing older /maturing/ aging means that years will change you into a new, different person. It doesn’t happen, I’m sorry to tell. I’m afraid aging means only that at some point you realize you will never change/become that new person you were hoping to and start to accept yourself as you are. Our style evolves during years, of course. And as unfair it is, most men look just better when they age (so Mika has nothing to worry about). His songs are based on everything he has ever seen and experienced and he learns something new every day – like we all do – so aging can inevitably be seen in his new songs. It’s a good thing.
Toy Boy is his most analyzed song, there’s nothing new or really clever I can say. I don’t think it’s necessary either. It’s all in the lyrics. Toy Boy tells a story with some cruel facts about the world, maybe from the time when he was younger (maybe it’s the reality in today’s world too). Expectations and rules tell people how they should live their lives. He has combined the lyrics with a playful melody, as he likes to do.
I don’t always film Toy Boy at gigs. I like it, but it’s one of those songs I skip if I’m afraid I don’t have enough memory card in my camera for every song. Now I feel bad. I feel I didn’t appreciate it enough during the 2010 tours. I even miss the weird puppet. See two vids below, one from Vienna and one from the second Bercy night (European and Arena Tours, March/April 2010).
An average music lover values good music, an entertaining show and a relaxed atmosphere. A Mika show can offer all that. I have seen him performing when he is a bit tired, in a flu or with some technical problems, and his shows meet my expectations every single time. I’m sure everyone who ever bought a ticket thinks it was totally worth the money.
Not sure how critics and reviewers define a good show. Sometimes they seem to combine too little knowledge with too many prejudices. I love well-written reviews. I appreciate it that a reviewer is obviously interested in the issue and has done his/her homework properly. When fans talk about “a brilliant Mika gig” there’s usually one common denominator. We want to see him happy. We love his voice and style and we know he can do a great performance in every situation, but to call a gig brilliant, spectacular or even legendary we need to see him happy.
It can happen in a new country and in front of a new audience. He has no idea how the audience will react and suddenly he realizes they know all his lyrics, sing along every song and have a good time (Vienna and Baltic cities 2010, priceless!). It can also happen in a situation with more pressure than usually and it’s important for him to do a good show. The happiness when he can do it (Little Noise 2009).
Sometimes he just seems to enjoy singing and performing so much it simply makes him happy. Those times it genuinely looks he would rather do nothing else than be there on stage – doing his show, singing, even chatting a bit to the audience. Those are the best gigs ever.
The Acoustic Tour Milan show at Franco Parenti (June 6th, 2009) was one of those gigs. I can’t remember any details, I’m sorry, and I don’t think any picture or video can describe it. He was relaxed, he was on fire and he looked perfectly happy to be on stage. It was a magical night. Legendary I would say.
I was organizing my archives and uploaded a few videos from the acoustic Paris gigs (on June 11th and 12th, 2009). Two fantastic shows. Many people say the second night was even better than the first one, but personally I enjoyed the first Paris gig more (I was probably simply too tired on the second night). He performed well both nights and I really miss these acoustic shows.
The play list for the first night is here, I added Good Gone Girl, Lady Jane, Big Girl, Lollipop and a small clip of Lonely Alcoholic. Good Gone Girl:
And the videos for the second night are here. I added two vids, Love Today with a little girl dancing on stage and Over My Shoulder. I didn’t know the girl but I was next to her both nights, and she was adorable! She seemed to be a huge fan and Mika noticed her immediately and gave her smiles and a lot of attention and asked her on stage during Love Today. In the end of the evening Mika asked one of his fans to play piano during Relax. He did really well and it made the audience just go wild. Love Today:
And Over My Shoulder:
There was a small newspaper article in the paper I found from my hotel lobby in the morning after the shows. And look, it’s me standing in the audience! Hilarious. It’s always a pleasure to be in Paris, France appreciates Mika, there is love in the air.
The Berlin gig 2009 was a mind-blowing experience for me. It’s difficult to explain, because first of all, the sound was not so good as I had expected. It’s not just my videos, there was something wrong with the sound for real.
Secondly, it was the first gig of the tour so Mika was not totally relaxed in the beginning, not the same way on fire he was at the legendary Franco Parenti gig just a few days later. But I really, really enjoyed this Berlin gig, like I enjoyed the Berlin gig 2010 as well. Berlin and me, we seem to fit well together.
I took four videos at Passionskirche, you can find them here (I have just added Grace Kelly, found it from my video archives). This version of Love Today is still one of my personal favorites.
I’m not interested in music that leaves me empty, for me it’s meaningless. I want music to raise and multiply emotions, give me a positive feeling and talk to me by telling – if not always a story – at least a message.
I really enjoy the whole variation of songs with different emotional color and structure. Think about Billy Brown. Not my favorite Mika song, there’s no peak emotion or any highlight in it but Mika is in a good mood and smiling while singing it. If the audience is enthusiastic and takes part to it Billy Brown leaves a happy, relaxed feeling. Acoustic Relax is passionate in a calm way and Love Today, for example, in an energetic way. Works both ways. Some songs like Rain contain several small highlight moments.
Sometimes there’s only one huge emotional peak. I See You is one of those songs, and it’s definitely one of my favorite songs. It’s an edited version of an unofficial demo I’m Falling (which was more delicate, imo). There is a lovely small interview where Mika tells about I See You on Youtube, watch it here. Moments just before something extremely good are often even more valuable than the following peak moment itself (whatever it is), and the seconds before the famous umbrella scene during I See You are always my favorite moments during gigs. (Anyone else wants to scream to his crew that “PLEASE, be careful with that smoke machine”? They never are.)
I See You is a powerful song and works beautifully at large venues. The first vid below is from Halle Tony Garnier, Lyon. I love it how the stage setting is kept simple with stars and how Mika is directing the audience, very well done.
My favorite version of I See You is still from Orpheum Theater, Boston. It was the first time I saw it live, I had so looked forward to it. It was very emotional and yes, I felt like crying a little bit (the second vid, sadly it’s not the whole song).
I’m always interested in how people experience their first Mika gig, for me it was a total and unexpected shock. It happened in February 2008 at Brixton Academy in London. I knew nothing about the queueing system and arrived to the venue with my husband just before the doors were opened. A security guy came to us and told that if we didn’t ask our tickets from the box office outside but waited until they open the office inside (and got our tickets from there) they would let us in without any queueing. They did that. I know, so unfair and I hate it when they do it nowadays but that time I was just pleased and went in.
We didn’t go to the front though. My husband said that must be really tiring to stand there for hours and maybe we should stay a bit further at a nice barrier with a good view and buy something to drink, and I said yes, let’s do that. Hahah, can’t believe I said that. It was the right thing to do. I was in a shock during the whole show (and looked like a total idiot so at least Mika wasn’t able to see me). It was not just his voice that surprised me – I didn’t know that any artist can sound that gorgeous at live gigs – but also his amazing energy.
I have tried to analyze it ever since, and I have a theory that Mika has some kind of renewable energy resource inside of him, maybe in his heart. It’s still kind of a secret but some day the whole world will know about it and mad scientists will fight over him. Just joking. I wish I could explain it for real. All I know is that he shares and spreads good energy in a way that is difficult to understand and that after his concerts we leave the venue as different, much better persons.
I didn’t take any proper vids during the gig, just small clips and some photos. I was extremely happy to finally see the Love Today intro and Ring Ring live (my absolute favorites that time) and all the flowers, candles and balloons made me feel dizzy in a lovely way (as they do when you see them for the first time). I didn’t know any other fans at that time and missed the famous after party and was blissfully unaware of any dramatic incidents after the gig. I was just extremely happy and started to plan my trip to Paris to see him at PDP.
I was lucky to be at Kettner’s in London on the 22nd January 2011 (precisely 3 years after I joined to MFC) and see the acoustic set Mika performed to the Magic Points competition winners. I love acoustic performances in general and especially acoustic versions of his songs, so I can’t describe how happy I was to be there and how much I appreciated it. I had seen his club gigs earlier but none of them was this small or intimate.
The gig was special for many reasons, some of them very obvious. Kettner’s was an ideal tiny venue for a gig like this. It was cozy and beautiful and combined to a group of familiar people and some champagne it really felt like a festive gathering in someone’s living room. The audience consisted of 6 winners and their guests (I knew most of them in advance) and a few people from the record company. We were sitting for a while before the show and having a couple of drinks and the atmosphere was even better I had hoped for, everyone was behaving in a polite but relaxed way, the whole situation felt very natural.
Finally Mika came into the room with Melachi and after some organizing everyone had their seats (on the floor, on coaches) and the gig started. From the first moments I realized it was very different than I had expected and more intimate than I had ever seen. First of all, it was really an acoustic gig, he didn’t even use a microphone. It was the first time I heard him singing live like that and I loved every moment.
Secondly, we didn’t see the usual transformation, not a complete one. He usually seems to have two different sides, one for performing and one before/after concerts (I’m sure he has even more sides but these are familiar to me). Outside stage, while talking to people, he is sweet and polite, but also a bit shy and very modest and not seeking for any extra attention. So maybe he goes through a some kind of transformation while walking to stage, because on stage he always looks amazingly confident, like suddenly realizing how powerful his voice is, how attractive he is and how much people love him. He simply seems to enjoy the attention there.
This time there was no stage, just a piano. He sat behind it and looked shy, even a bit nervous and started his set. I couldn’t see his stage personality as clearly as usual and that’s why everything felt much more intimate than I had expected. I wasn’t even slightly worried or nervous for him. I knew he can do it and it was a beautiful performance! It was also definitely the most informal performance I have seen from him. Happy Ending was the most beautiful moment of the show and it made me really wait/hope for another acoustic tour. I wish we could make him believe that his voice and songs are strong enough to build their own world even without a huge stage setting, fancy light show and theater costumes. I do love his proper shows, mostly because he is so proud of them and looks happy like a child playing his roles. Sometimes less is more though, and I felt very lucky to see this acoustic set.
Thirdly, the show seemed to be totally unrehearsed. Maybe he had other things in his mind and he didn’t have time for that, or maybe he just wanted to do it this way. Living room gigs tend to be unrehearsed. The band (except Martin whose role is clear and who must have a lot of experience from situations like this) looked confused and was asking for directions. I always love analyzing the team work between Mika and his band. I find it absolutely fascinating and usually it’s like a well-working complicated system, Mika directing everything with gentle almost unnoticeable movements and looks. This time he had to explain and show the band what to do, he even taught them a “new” song and it was such an unexpected treat and I loved watching it.
Mika performed 12 songs, my Youtube playlist of the songs is here, watch Rain below. Luckily the gig was also professionally filmed. The official vids are a lovely memento. They are perfect quality and can be seen here (just choose live at Kettner’s, London).
After the gig I gave Melachi a kiss and a hug, she really is adorable. Mika had a chat with everyone. I felt a bit shy too, and I didn’t say or ask anything I had planned to, but that’s the usual story, lol. I remember I did thank him for bringing Melachi with him, but I didn’t actually thank him for the show. I hope he still knows how much we all appreciated this special, acoustic set. After the gig we continued chatting as a small group of fans in a tea-room near the venue. What a good day it was.
Feels a good idea to start my new blog with a tiny historical review and tell how I discovered my favorite artist – London-based, Beirut-born singer-songwriter Mika – and his music. I knew the exact date already but by looking the pictures above I can tell even the exact time. The pics are captured from the official Finnish Big Brother 2007 recording. I was watching the live online broadcast at the final party night and suddenly Relax was played in the house. I was hypnotized from the first notes and knew immediately I had stepped into a magical world. There was no way back.
I’m fascinated by his voice and the whole world Mika has created around his songs. For me it’s all about his live shows. I appreciate him as an artist and traveling to see his concerts is my way to show my support. Mostly, it’s just very selfish. As I see it, music is a legal drug.
According to a new Canadian study I saw the other day (originally published in Nature Neuroscience 14, 2011) music, as an abstract stimulus, can arouse feelings of euphoria and craving, similar to tangible rewards that involve the striatal dopaminergic system. The results indicate that there are anatomically distinct dopamine release during anticipation and experience of peak emotion to music. It simply means that your favorite music can give you the same euphoric pleasure as delicious food, sex or even some drugs like cocaine.
That basicly explains it all. Never underestimate the power of music.
After hearing Relax for the very first time I searched for more information, listened to Youtube videos (over and over again) and bought tickets to see my first Mika gig at Brixton Academy in London (and soon after that the huge PDP concert in Paris). I have seen many gigs since then. This blog is a place to share my video clips, pictures and reviews, links and some Mika-inspired thoughts.