Gig reviews: Kettner’s

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 a 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 personalities, one for performing and one before/after concerts (I’m sure he has even more personalities but these two are public). 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. He is a professional and I have seen him handling many unexpected situations on stage. 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. The band did well, and I was really happy to see how much more relaxed David is compared to his early days in the band, he seemed to have a lot of fun.

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.