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 seriously 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 him 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 quite surprised (“a dragon??”). After seeing such outstanding versions I really didn’t know how to deal with the dragon, I found it distracting. I’m sure he had a reason for it, I just couldn’t see it, and I wanted to scream him to get rid of the dragon and carry 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 I 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 some people we met and seeing that kindness was just mind-blowing.
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 simply stopped performing 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, and funnily enough I found this vid later and saw myself giving my card (lol, you can see me only during a few seconds, time 1:10).
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.
One Foot Boy:
Pick Up Off The Floor:
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: