He likes to make things look a bit darker though, maybe in order to have some contrast in his shows, and the effect is always surreal and magical. The first three pictures are from the Parc des Princes concert (7/2008 and then the clown stage setting from Cattolica (8/2010). Btw, I would love to know how he feels about his own modern touring life.
People often want to make clear that they travel around the world to see Mika concerts only to meet their friends or/and that they would have travelled to those destinations in any case for holidays. Usually I don’t bother to explain myself. I love seeing these concerts and I’m an adult, so I can use my time and money for this if I like (and I do like). Still, seeing fantastic places/some of my favorite cities, meeting friends and local people and having an opportunity to watch around and observe things in different countries, yes, it’s definitely a bonus! Italian sun set in the first pic, so pretty!!
The Cattolica gig in Italy in August 2010 was one of the most entertaining concerts I’ve seen. So much fun!! Mika was in his funny and relaxed mood and telling random jokes. After only a few words in the beginning of the gig Nezza (who was next to me) and I looked each other: This is going to be a good one!!!! (I know, I know!!). A few words can tell so much. I love his random silly mode, it’s like an order to the audience to relax and enjoy. Music should not be taken too seriously, life should not be taken too seriously. Smiling, laughing, enjoying the music, having fun. Good things.
The gig was day after Mika’s birthday, and Italian fans wanted to give him a cake and sing Happy Birthday. I was so pleased they generously let us foreigners to take part of the surprise. It’s always good to be a part of the group and not an outsider. To tell the truth, I’m not always so keen on different surprise projects. Too often they turn out to be too competitive (you know what I mean, fans do things to get his time and attention). Sometimes I even find these projects a bit disturbing (Happy Ending is one of my favorite songs, I want to be able to concentrate on listening to it properly, without being worried what’s happening in the audience). Sometimes these surprises are a great success (like simple bubbles in Tallinn, loved it) and in Cattolica everything felt really appropriate. After all, it was his birthday just day before the gig! It was fun – cake, flowers, confetti, balloons!! See the vid below both giving the cake and eating it.
Birthday surprise and Happy Ending:
Eating the cake:
Going to Italy is always a major culture shock for me. People are so friendly and helpful I can’t believe it. As soon as I get the idea of traveling, someone is already emailing me maps, timetables and even addresses for suitable restaurants. If Italians are not keen on the idea of foreigners coming to their gigs they don’t let me feel it, because it’s just against their nature, they seem to be proud of their generosity and hospitality.
When I’m finally in Italy, someone will tell me where to go, translate everything important and even bring me some water before I have time to realize how badly I actually need it. People take care of each other, share and communicate. In Finland old people can die on a street in the middle of the day and no one takes a notice. Sometimes I feel Finnish people take a contact with their neighbors only to check the value of their house, car or television in order to feel superiority or jealousy (and how sick is that). I’m exaggerating of course, but there are some clear cultural differences.
I always enjoy being in Italy and I think Mika enjoys being in Italy too, at least all the Italian gigs I’ve seen so far have been more than successful. My trip to Italian summer festivals in Rome and Udine last July was beyond amazing, not least because of our very special bus trip across Italian countryside. The venue in Udine was one the most beautiful venues I’ve seen. Mika loves using extraordinary venues (churches, old theaters, castles, sea side areas…) and it often makes his concerts even more special.
I linked below Kick Ass and Blame It on The Girls from Rock in Roma and Blue Eyes from Udine, so it’s easy to see two different stage settings he used during the Festival Tour (must be easier with two of them, one in use and another one on it’s way to the next destination), he had a setting with trees and another one with flowers and simple letters M-I-K-A. He is awesome, isn’t he? Bello bellissimo grazieeeee!!!!! That’s all my Italian.
Seeing Mika live for the first time is a surprising experience for many people, he is brilliant on stage and takes all their attention. People can hardly see the band/the audience/the stage setting/anything else. I saw my first Mika concert Feb 2008. The amazed feeling has never left me but gradually, after seeing more concerts, I started to understand and see the magical world he has built around his songs (with stage settings full of details and song characters living in their weird costumes). I started to observe the whole show dynamics and it made everything even more interesting. The main reason I go to see his concerts is still very simple and something I learnt when I saw him for the first time: he is brilliant on stage.
When the majority of the audience is sharing “the first time experience” the group effect is so fresh and strong it’s difficult to describe. That’s what happened in Riga, Latvia and Tallinn, Estonia (8/2010) during the Baltic Tour. I had already felt something like that in Helsinki, but in a smaller scale, because the venue was a night club (a big one, but still an intimate and closed venue compared to arenas and outside areas). I didn’t know what to expect from bigger Baltic city concerts. I learnt later that singing along is somewhere very deep in Baltic culture. The way the Baltic audience was taking part of these shows was very natural and effortless. People concentrated on the performance and enjoyed, many of them knew the lyrics and sang along, and the atmosphere was fantastic.
I loved it. I let myself concentrate on the most important things, his voice and energy, just like everyone else. I loved the atmosphere and watching Mika’s face when he realized he is doing some of his best concerts for a long time in cities like Riga and Tallinn. Who would have thought in advance? I didn’t, and I don’t think he took it for granted either.
The Tallinn concert will always be remembered as the bubble gig. Estonian fans gave bottles of soap to people in the audience (to make bubbles) and when Happy Ending started the whole venue area was filled with bubbles, in twenty seconds! The Estonian night was not too dark, and the bubbles looked beautiful, it was like magic! The first vid below is the bubble vid, and the second one is Rain from Riga. He takes his shirt off (“thanks for being a great audience, I had fun”), and the way he screams “baby” and starts jumping (like back row girls at an aerobic class) is beyond adorable. My favorite part of Rain. Must love him.
Happy Ending from Tallinn:
Rain from Riga:
Mika announced his Helsinki concert and suddenly he was all over the Finnish media. His face was on every news page and I got emails, FB-messages and texts from friends who hadn’t contacted me for ages. “Did you hear, Mika is coming to Finland?” Yes, I heard, can’t wait!!!
I was also worried sick. I knew Mika would do a great concert in Helsinki, he always does a professional show. I knew the audience would enjoy it. I was worried he would not enjoy it. I couldn’t bear the thought that he might not enjoy performing in my home town or not like the audience, the venue or my country in general. It was his first concert in Finland, I had no idea about the audience (though I knew there would be some enthusiastic teens).
In the end everything went just perfectly. The venue in Helsinki was small enough to sell and the audience was amazing, everyone singing and dancing their hearts out. Finnish fans were moderately young, but so sweet and adoring, not aggressive or pushy at all and Mika seemed to totally enjoy the situation. He gave his young fans a lot of attention and it just melted my heart! The gig was so happy and warm (actually, the Circus night club was literally hot as a sauna), everyone smiling from the beginning to the very end of the show and I loved every moment of it and the whole atmosphere.
I didn’t much talk with him after the gig. He said something like “so I’m here” and I said something like “yeah”. You know, casually. I was so happy my heart was singing and all I could think was oh, I love you, not only for finally coming to my country but also making it such a fantastic show (it was not the first or only show I have seen but definitely the most meaningful). But I guess you can’t just go and say things like that to popstars (or can you?) so I said “yeah”. You know, casually. Maybe I was also kind of hoping that an artistic person like him can sense the feelings coming from his audience without saying.
Now I understand why people say “a home gig is always a home gig”, because it was a special day for me indeed. I had finally a possibility to bring my family to see my favorite artist, for once I was not too tired (because there was no need for traveling) and I had time and a chance to do some sightseeing with my foreign friends before and after the concert. Besides, I had two Baltic city concerts to look forward to so my mood was just excellent. Good times, happy memories.
The pictures are from the Luxembourg show (Rockhal 5/2010). The girls (Ida, Cherisse and iMMa) are having fun and dancing Kick Ass in the end of the show.
You know, I love these concerts and usually I believe love is enough. I want my Mika moment and nothing can stop me. I don’t mind if it means long travels without sleep or even no time to eat. I can usually handle it. But I’ve learnt that I have my limits, too. There were so many distracting factors in Amsterdam that I felt very difficult to concentrate on the show. It was freezing. I have never felt so cold in my life, it was freezing cold even inside the venue. And there was a weird tension in the atmosphere (so many people, even lovely people, and I still felt alone) and some things that happened just before the concert were bothering me a lot. When the gig started I was already crying because I hated myself (I’m always a horrible person when I’m over-tired and over-everything) and it took me several songs to recover but the music helped – as it always does – and the show was as good as it always is and I really enjoyed it in the end (as I always do).
In Luxembourg everything was just perfect. I was so happy I was able to see it. I almost skipped it and finally started to look for a ticket when it was already sold out but managed to find one, thanks some helpful people. I had a good feeling the whole day, everything felt really relaxed and fun. Mika did an amazing performance, what a fantastic way to end the Arena Tour. Somehow it felt he was really there, genuinely present. He communicated and joked with the band the whole time and gave a lot of attention to the audience. When he did a French song La Solitude I almost cried again but this time because I was so extremely happy, I hadn’t expected him to sing this sad, beautiful song at all, but I had hoped to hear it for a long time. Watch Happy Ending below (HE is obviously one of my favorites). He says thank you to his fans before singing, it’s really sweet of him (in French, I always have to ask people next to me “what is he saying, what is he saying”, lol). The second vid is WAG (another favorite, yes).
The ash cloud from the volcano messed my plans to travel to Barcelona, my flight was cancelled. I wanted to make sure I would be in France soon after that (I didn’t dare to wait my flight in case it would have been cancelled as well) so I took a ferry to Stockholm and a train from Stockholm via Copenhagen, Cologne, Brussels and Paris to Marseille. It was a long way. I didn’t much sleep during the trip and I was afraid I would miss the first gig in France but was luckily in Marseille just in time and saw Mrs Penniman (Mika’s mother) choosing fans to be Big Girls and Lollipop Girls.
Instead of using professional dancers at his shows Mika lets his fans from the audience to dress in colorful dresses and dance with him on stage during a couple of songs. It is extremely kind and generous from him. It means a lot of extra work for his team but it gives his fans some unforgettable memories. For many fans, especially for younger ones, being on stage with him is something to remember forever. Personally I’m not a stage person. To tell the truth I was scared to death even thinking about being/dancing on stage. But I’m really interested in his shows (every single little detail), and this seemed to be a great opportunity to see how things work backstage and so many of my friends had told about it so I decided to give it a try. And I loved every moment of it, seeing his mother and sisters working so hard and things being so, so busy!!! I loved helping the other girls to get dressed and just watching what happened but I admit I was really scared to wear the green corset and be in front of people myself…
It is really not that scary as it sounds. Big Girls wear masks, so no one can actually recognize them. And there are always many girls, all size and age. The problem was mostly that I didn’t know what to do (because I don’t speak any French) until Mika’s lovely assistant realized I can’t understand a word and quickly gave me the details in English. I couldn’t much see behind my mask, and I was quite terrified I would fall off the stage. What worried me most was that Mika would be annoyed or angry if something went wrong (I just had a feeling he wants things his way and is not pleased if something goes wrong during his shows). Telling Mrs Penniman that she has one BG less than planned was definitely not an option. I mean she is an amazing woman. I really respect her and appreciate everything she does behind the concerts, and I would have never cancelled just because I was nervous.
It wasn’t so serious in the end. I survived. Well, let’s face it, I was really bad. I couldn’t see a thing, I hit my mask to Jimmy’s bass and tried to hide behind Lollipop Girls the rest of the time to save the situation, but Mika wasn’t angry at all. I don’t think he had time to pay any attention. We took a group picture after the show and I exchanged a few words with him about the Helsinki gig (which was just announced). He sometimes meets his fans so I have met him a few times, but those situations are most times really busy and my English is very poor. Usually I watch him first and if he doesn’t seem chatty I don’t ask any questions, because I don’t want to bother him.
After Marseille I travelled to Lyon and Paris. I wasn’t feeling well in Lyon (not enough sleep, too much traveling and excitement) but the French fans were really helpful and kind, giving me medicine and a place to rest before the show, and luckily I was able to watch the Lyon show (the first Arena Tour show for me). It was a fantastic, huge show. I was so proud to see him performing in front of the huge audience and see all the theatrical elements. He had done several changes to his show after the European Tour and made it more suitable for large venues. Everything went well and the Lyon show left a good feeling and I really started to look forward to Paris and the important Bercy shows.
Watch below Good Gone Girl with gorgeous Ida and Happy Ending, both from Bercy. During Happy Ending he made some happy hearts for Paris. LOVE.
Good Gone Girl:
Vienna (Gasometer 3/2010) was such a good concert, definitely one of the best concerts I’ve seen. Mika was on fire, the band was on fire, the audience was on fire (really enthusiastic yet so polite). I had so much fun! Unfortunately I don’t have much material from this gig, the vid below is Over My Shoulder.
I travelled to see some shows in Germany (March 2010) and I was so pleased I decided to do it, I really enjoyed the trip. I loved it how everything was so easy. Germans are not too emotional and even a little bit distant. They are so fair and straightforward and never make things unnecessarily complicated. I was happy too see only very little tension between fans, queueing was great fun and it was good to meet familiar people both from Germany and from some other countries as well.
I was really tired in Dusseldorf (after Scandinavia during the same week), and I must have looked like a zombie, but the gig was good and I enjoyed it a lot. I felt much better in Hamburg. We spent a relaxed day (as a group of fans) walking near Reeperbahn waiting for the gig (the pic above is taken at Grosse Freiheit near the venue) and even though Mika seemed to be a bit tired during the show he did well and I really started to look forward Berlin, which truly was fantastic, indeed. I loved it as I loved the Berlin gig during the Acoustic Tour, too.
The video below is from Berlin. Taking off his shirt in the end of the gig is a gesture. It’s a sign to the audience saying “you were great, this was fun/I have danced a lot and it’s so hot here”. He is having fun and he takes his shirt off letting all the excited girls and boys scream a bit. I don’t mind if he does it or not, but I really love the contrast in him. He can look so shy and quiet and suddenly so totally self-confident. He takes his shirt off knowing he looks more than gorgeous and still continues dancing his school boy dancing style, that’s simply sweet and charming and makes him special and interesting. Sometimes he does the whole gig shirtless if it suits the style (like at club gigs), and sometimes he touches his shirt but doesn’t take it off, and it always makes me smile because I imagine his mother giving him signs from the backstage. Noooooo Mika. It’s too cold and drafty.
My videos from Philipshalle, Dusseldorf/ Grosse Freiheit 36, Hamburg/ Huxley’s, Berlin are here.
Mika did a small Scandinavian tour (officially a part of the European Tour) March 2010 and the gigs in Copenhagen, Oslo and Stockholm felt almost like home gigs for me, especially because the Helsinki gig was not yet even announced at the time. It was so much fun, and I will always remember Oslo as one of my best ever concert experiences. I was wondering afterwards if it really was that great. Maybe it was just my own good mood that caused it, but no, it wasn’t. It was his good mood that caused it. Mika was relaxed and having fun and the audience went just wild screaming and singing.
The audience in Scandinavia (as in Helsinki and Baltic cities) is different from the audience in the rest of Europe. It’s clearly much younger than his old fan base who found his music through LICM. I have always enjoyed meeting people from different age groups in these circles. There is a clear message in his songs and I feel strongly that it’s not only for teenagers. I think the second album was very tempting to the teenage audience though, maybe because the theme was his own younger years and definitely because the promotion was directed to a very young audience.
He is one of the most intelligent (not only creatively talented) persons in the music business at the moment, has a fascinating and colorful personality, an interesting multi-cultural background and passion for several things – arts, illustration, style and fashion culture, theater and other performing arts. After following interviews and reading his texts (blogs, columns) for years I know he is a good person and someone who’s thoughts and values I can respect (and while watching this world full of small-minded people I wouldn’t support anyone I can’t respect).
Still, all that my local press has ever told about him (mostly in teen magazines) is that he was bullied at school and that he is interested in colorful sneakers. His small concert in Helsinki was warm, lovely and so joyful. It was efficiently promoted by the small company who brought him to Finland but the tickets were mostly sold by spreading word amongst 13-15 yo girls and the audience in general was very young. It’s time to change it. The Helsinki concert got wonderful reviews and his short visit left people happy and excited.
The first vid below is Lollipop from KB Hallen, Copenhagen, and after that I See You and WAG from Sentrum Scene, Oslo. Look at his face, he was in a great mood, wasn’t he? The last vid is Any Other World from Annexet, Stockholm (one of my favorite songs from last tours).
I have seen some fantastic Mika shows in London. Still, I always have a weird feeling he is seeking for a sign of acceptance or approval from the London audience. It must be my imagination. He did really well in both two concerts last February/March at Hammersmith Apollo. The first show was full of technical problems, really, but it didn’t matter so much. He can always handle them very well.
We Are Golden:
I really, really miss Mika concerts. I know it because I feel a physical pain in my stomach every time I hear his music or see concert pictures. The pics above are from Belfast and Dublin. Belfast was the first gig of the Ireland and UK Tour 2010. I always do my best to see something from the beginning of the tour because it’s a starting point and for that reason specially interesting to see. He usually does small changes during tours and it’s quite fascinating to compare the first gigs to later ones and even to the last one if possible.
Belfast is one of my best gig memories. Many people say it was like a rehearsal for the Dublin gig (Dublin was a great gig indeed) and I guess it was not exactly how he wanted it to be as he made several changes after the gig. I still really enjoyed especially the Belfast one (and the Dublin show a couple of days later went very smoothly so he must have been pleased). One of my favorite HE versions is from Dublin. See it below with Any Other World (suddenly my stomach hurts again).
Happy Ending: Any Other World: