In November 2009 Mika performed together with a capella group King’s Singers at Little Noise Sessions at the Union Chapel, London. King’s Singers is a highly valued and worldwide known group, and the performance was very different than any other shows I have seen. It was obvious that Mika was very nervous, more nervous than he usually is, but there was no reason. He was serious and concentrating on his singing (he didn’t even take much contact with the audience), and I must say his voice was more beautiful than ever. This concert was in general a very special opportunity to see/hear his songs in a different light than we usually do, I really enjoyed the whole event.
This was the second time I saw Mika performing at a church (after Passionskirche), and he seems to be very fond of the idea of bringing pop music into a church. I was especially happy that he performed one of his rare songs, By the Time (first vid below). See also Over My Shoulder and Grace Kelly, the rest of my Little Noise vids are here.
By The Time
Over My Sholder
Traveling to see gigs is not always easy. It’s tiring, it’s expensive and I often have to do a lot of organizing to fit it into my real life. Sometimes I question if I really should do this. Not often, but there are moments like that. Like last summer when I flied from family holidays from Italy to Finland, and then the next day from Finland back to Italy to see Rock in Rome. It was a long flight (I simply can’t always afford direct flights) and my taxi left me at a lonely alley in Rome in the middle of the night and I couldn’t find my hotel. And I was thinking “should I really be here alone and not in my own bed sleeping like a baby?”.
During the Scandinavian Tour I traveled to Copenhagen for a gig and then back to Helsinki. After that to Oslo, from Oslo to Stockholm and from Stockholm to Helsinki and finally to Dusseldorf, all in one week. I slept less than 10 hours during the whole week and on my way to Dusseldorf I must have thought if this all really makes any sense.
I do ask it from myself every once in a while and I always end up saying yes. At every single concert there’s a moment when everything seems perfectly clear. I know exactly why I do this, I know that it makes sense and that it is totally worth it. It happens during the first notes of Relax. That’s the reason I prefer Relax as the first song of the show (sometimes he does Rain as the first song – it works okay, but it’s not nearly as powerful as Relax). If I’m lucky, we hear Relax in the beginning and in the end of the show.
Relax was the first Mika song I ever heard and I genuinely think acoustic Relax is the most beautiful song in the world. Mika has described Relax as “a love song set in aftermath of London July 7 terror attacks”, and in that light it has two levels. Personally I have always thought it tells about a relationship in an exceptionally beautiful way. Besides some unofficial demo songs acoustic Relax is the only Mika song I ever listen to from my iPod. (I usually never listen to album versions. I collect different versions of albums and I listen to them first to learn the lyrics, after that I’m mostly interested in live versions and television and radio recordings.)
See below Relax from Rock in Rome (7/2010), from Scala, London (9/2009) and from Olympia Theater, Dublin (2/2010). The last vid is from Oslo (3/2010). For some reason I didn’t upload it to my Youtube channel earlier (maybe because the audience is screaming and singing their heads off, lol), but I decided to add it, because I know some people who read this saw the gig.
The more simple the show elements are kept the more effective and powerful the performance, imo. Less stuff and details, more space for music. I think many fans share my opinion. The thing is that Mika is very, very visual and full of ideas. His shows are not only for listening but for watching too. And I do love watching the whole circus and I can see creating shows obviously makes him happy. I also love the thought of his family making the show/stage together. It’s always interesting and fun to analyze performances and to guess what’s the story behind every scene.
I usually always prefer live versions over album versions and the live version for Touches You is particularly brilliant. I first saw it during N-A Tour. Mika kept the setting very simple. The performance was purely singing and dancing, and it suited the song perfectly. I totally loved the way he performed it. His style reminded me of young George Michael – different than his usual style – but it really suited this song very well.
During the Arena tour he suddenly brought a giant dragon on stage in the middle of Touches you. I was so surprised. I’m sure he had a reason for it, I just couldn’t see it, and I wished he had just carried on dancing. And again, when tours are over I would pay anything to see Touches You (or any other song) live with so many dragons as he likes. There’s an excellent version of Touches you from Seoul 11/2009, I wish I had seen it, see it on Youtube here. Colorful background is a fantastic idea!
Videos below are from Waterfront, Belfast (2/2010), Grosse Freiheit 36, Hamburg (3/2010) and Halle Tony Garnier, Lyon (4/2010), the last one with the dragon. The pics are from Vienna (3/2010) and Amsterdam (5/2010).
Travelling to see Mika’s North-American Tour to Boston and New York in October 2009 was definitely one of my best travelling decisions ever. Not only Mika wise, I really enjoyed the whole trip and my short holidays in New York. I had always wanted to see New York, but never had a good enough reason to make it happen before these gigs. This time I travelled together with my husband, and to make it more special we travelled a bit more comfortably than I usually do (meaning direct flights and a very nice hotel).
I met some incredible people during my trip. It’s embarrassing to admit, but I had always thought American people are very smiling but not actually warm or really caring (why on earth did I think that way?). It is quite the opposite. We got so much help from people we met and everyone was really kind.
I realized only later that the North-American Tour was my only chance to see some songs from TBWKTM live (see below One Foot Boy and Pick Up Off the Floor from Orpheum Theater, Boston). Mika didn’t perform these songs during 2010 European tours. Also, I still think that the versions he did for songs like I See You and Touches You in Boston and New York are the best/one of the best versions I have ever seen. I will write more about Touches You later.
Both gigs were very good, but the Boston gig will always be one of my favorite ever experiences. Mika was in a weird, funny and very relaxed mood. It was an excellent concert, I loved every second of it. The North-American Tour had a theme “1955”. I made a thank you card using old magazines from that year and gave it to him after the Boston gig.
Lovely memories. Even the worst ever security in New York makes me smile when I think about it a year and a half later. For some reason NYC security guys didn’t trust me at all. I can assure you that I’m totally harmless looking, moderately calm woman. The security kept checking my ticket (my first row ticket which I showed them several times) over and over again and I missed one whole song (Blue Eyes) because of them. I saw a lot of male fans in front row, dancing and jumping, some of them even drunken, and the security kept harassing me? My husband finds it still amusing and says every security knows the most harmless looking ones are always the most dangerous. I blame my lucky perfume, or the lack of it (it’s a long story, I might do a Sunday blog about it). New York, I have forgiven you that already, can’t wait to see you again.
We are made to believe there is a real person behind Billy Brown. He is looking for a direction in his life and doesn’t care if it happens on account of his family or friends. Mika loves this song. He sings it smiling and asks thousands of people to sing it smiling with him. He wants everybody to hear it. He takes a giant pink flag carrying words “Billy Brown” and spreads it over stage and when people are asking – even begging – him to sing some of his rare songs (like Ring Ring, Lady Jane or One Foot Boy) he says: I’m going to sing a song about my friend Billy Brown.
I can’t imagine a gig without Billy Brown. If Mika feels chatty at all, the beginning of Billy Brown is a good moment to talk something to the audience and it often makes the song quite special (two first vids).
Tallinn: Belfast: Scala, London:
Name Mika is used both as a male and a female name. In countries like Japan it’s given mainly for girls, in Finland it’s a very common name for an adult man. During years 1960-79 as many as 29 112 boys in Finland were named Mika (just to compare, only 9 girls), during years 1980-99 9195 boys and 2000-09 only 745 (source: Finnish Population Register Center).
When I was a school girl I knew several boys called Mika, unfortunately none of them really gorgeous and definitely not curly haired. I used to think Mika is a boring name. Little did I know. Name Mika is celebrated in Finland on 29th September. Writer Mika Waltari (1908-79) and film director Mika Kaurismäki (born 1955) are two internationally known Finns.
The video is from Helsinki, I loved it when Mika was talking about his name (1:45).
I have always seen Billy Brown and Dr John very similar as songs. There is a story, there is a character. Both songs are easy to sing and dance along and they are always a great way to make a connection with the audience. I have never heard anyone saying Billy Brown or Dr John are their favorite songs but both are entertaining and work really well in live situations.
Actually, they are very different, of course. The story behind Billy Brown is clear while the story behind Dr John is something vague and more symbolic. I’ve heard several theories about the song and seen it performed many times and I still don’t have any clear image of Dr John. A weird character with a tasteless coat? Does he exist?
Mika started to use his colorful Dr John feather coat during 2010 UK and European tours. I first saw it in Belfast February 2010 and I liked it because it seemed to amuse him so much and I really enjoyed seeing him acting during the performance. Later during the European/Arena tours he seemed to already be a bit bored with Dr John. Or maybe I was a bit bored, I still couldn’t properly understand the purpose/meaning of the feather coat. I would love to see this song performed in a black or grey jacket without any disturbing colors, I’m curious what it would be like. He seems to have all his songs as images in his head, and I guess we all do the same – each and everyone in a different way.
I can remember many fantastic Dr John performances. I loved it especially in Vienna (yes, I think I loved everything in Vienna), three last pics are from the Vienna gig.The first vid below is a clip from Belfast (2/2010), I think it’s my favorite.
And from Hammersmith Apollo, a few days after the Belfast show:
Rain is one of my favorite Mika songs. I heard it for the first time at Parc des Princes concert 2008 and liked it from the beginning but really love the determined tone in the later versions of the song.
According to interviews Rain is originally a break up letter Mika made as a pop song because wanted the person it was wrote to hear it everywhere. I like the story, it gives the song more color even though I’ve read/heard it million times already. There is a small interview telling about Rain on Youtube (thanks to Mari), find it here.
During the Arena Tour 2010 Mika combined Rain to a theatrical nightmare scene to make it more dramatic. It was really impressive, almost scary (the pics above). I love the way he is dancing on stage during Rain. He is dancing like a 7 years old, I love it, it’s my favorite dancing style. I hope he will never ever take any dancing lessons, it would just ruin everything. I also love the way he screams “Baby” because it makes me remember how it felt to be 17 years old and have very strong emotions. His calm tone in the acoustic version of Rain is even more determined and gives an impression he has really thought things through (You better move on/ because I’m ready for/ more than this/ whatever it is/Baby, I hate days like this).
The first vid below is from Rome (7/2010) and the second with the nightmare scene from Luxembourg (5/2010).
I’ve been concentrating on live performances so much I have almost forgot how fascinating is the creative process behind the music. Mika is so creative, intelligent and talented it never ceases to amaze me. He talks about his second album TBWKTM here, I hadn’t watched it for ages.
Mika did a small Jam Sessions gig at Comedy Club in Paris in November 2009. I don’t have any fan videos to share, the gig was professionally filmed (so we were not allowed to use our cameras during the gig), but I want to mention the gig here as it’s one of my dearest Mika concert memories.
The venue was small and very pretty with old-fashioned wall papers, several chandeliers and a tiny stage. The audience consisted mostly of fans and the atmosphere was fantastic. Mika’s voice was really beautiful, and I must say this gig is definitely one of my all time favorites.
Thanks to Eriko the gig is on Youtube:
Part 1: Grace Kelly (in French), BIOTG, Happy Ending (amazingly beautiful version)
Part 2: Love Today, Rain
Part 3: We Are Golden, Relax
Good Gone Girl From Halle Tony Garnier, Lyon (4/2010):
This free gig was at Bloomsbury Ballroom on the 22nd September, 2009. Tickets to the gig were given the same morning – for free with an ice cream – at the ice cream van you can see in the pics. I don’t have any good quality vids from the gig to show you. I was very close (so I didn’t want to keep my camera too high) and my videos are mostly about his shoes (but what a gorgeous pair of shoes!).
It was so much fun to be there. The stage was high and at some point Mika went on his knees to be lower. It happened really fast. He was in front of me and I saw there was a hole in his pants. It got bigger and bigger and I just had time to think “Mika, your pants!!! Your paaaaants!!!!” LOL!! First he tried to cover it. Then he realized that there is no way to hide a hole that large and he started to laugh, and he filled his pants with glitter and the gig went on. I love it that we never need to be nervous or worried for him during the gig. If something sudden happens he just laughs and goes on.
Oh dear, what a hilarious evening it was, lots of fans in the audience. I took some pictures earlier that day at the ice cream van, see them above. The gig was advertised in the Sun. There was also an article with a short interview. Watch the Jonathan Ross Show (which he talks about in the article) here (thanks Bab for uploading it).
Between the acoustic Songs for Sorrow and the North American Tour 2009 (with songs from the second album) Mika did different gigs for promotional purposes. I saw three of those gigs in London. Three separate trips to London, but every show was different than the gigs I had seen before and totally worth traveling. I’m doing three quick posts to organize my old photos. Remember his outfits and eye make up? Loved them!
The first gig of the “London trilogy” was the iTunes 2009 Festival at Roundhouse, in June 2009. Very strong performance. The show was filmed for television and Mika had a new album coming out so this was an important show, definitely one of the best performances I have seen from him. A great number of fans came to support him, what a fun day it was.
Mika started to perform new songs from his second album at these gigs. See below Dr John from the Roundhouse gig. Television cameras are really disturbing, but for some reason this version sounds fresher than later versions with the feather coat (he “illustrated” the feeling and atmosphere for the song during 2010 tours and made it very different, darker and more mysterious).