Luzern

 

Switzerland is becoming one of my favorite countries. It’s stunningly beautiful, the combination of mountains and water (you can see the view everywhere, I practically watched it the whole trip from Italy to Luzern) is just breath-taking. The most important thing: the atmosphere is just really easy-going and you just can’t find it too often and I simply love it. So I was very excited to be in Switzerland again and also show the country to my husband. Luzern was beautiful and so small we could do a good sightseeing walk in a couple of hours.

The festival area

 

The festival area was full of little restaurant stands and music since the early afternoon. A very easy way to spend a day. We arrived after checking out our hotel and because we already did some sightseeing day before we decided to walk and sit (watching the festival area/eating/reading) before we were let in to the venue at 6pm.

The festival: Other performers

The first performer was called Ren Harvieu, and her lazy stylish music was not my style, but she was actually very good (and after watching some bad supporting acts I always appreciate watching good artists, even not my own favorite style). She had a very unique voice. Her music didn’t give me any emotional reaction first, she performed wearing her sunglasses and without any contact with the audience but during the last song she suddenly took her glasses off and smiled to the audience and what a beautiful smile it was! Such a pretty girl!

The festival: Mika

I really enjoyed seeing him at a small indoor venue. It was lovely to see the show done in a smaller, subtle way (and after seeing this show I feel super excited about the future November tour). No extra effects (no confetti or any extra people on stage), lovely soft lighting, the band playing in a smaller way (obviously, because there was not any extra space). The audience was very different than at the other summer festivals: no screaming teenagers or not many international fans but mostly locals from many age groups; a very relaxed group of people who didn’t look very energetic but responded the show well because they obviously knew his music and liked him (or otherwise they wouldn’t have bought expensive tickets to see him).

His voice was very, very good, maybe the best I heard the whole summer. Underwater was absolutely beautiful, it couldn’t possible be any more beautiful than it was in Luzern that night. How can he do the most beautiful performances when he is not even in a good mood? Maybe because he was concentrating so hard on the songs/his singing and tried to shut out everything else. The result was excellent. Now the only problem is that I’m absolutely spoilt: there’s no way any studio version for UW can compete with this amazing live version.

He wasn’t in a good mood in the beginning but did a good performance. I didn’t mind. Well, I can’t be totally happy if I can obviously see he is not happy on stage. But, I appreciate it that artists let their feelings show, it makes them more real, don’t you think so?

The Origin Of Love (filmed with my old automatic camera, so there’s disturbing noise while he’s talking, I still uploaded it to have a memory from the gig):

I was lucky to be in Milan on Wednesday afternoon and take a part to the special album listening party Mika organized to his fans. I didn’t know what to expect in advance and we found out the exact time and place only night before. The ticket I won to the listening party was for two persons. My husband (who was with me in Luzern & Vigevano) had an early flight home and the person who wanted to come cancelled so I asked a US fan who I met in France and who was staying in Milan to come with me to the party. Thanks Lowell for being such fun company, I hope you enjoyed the listening! Also, was good to see so many Italian and German fans at the same time and have a small meet up!

I don’t think I need to explain you how much I appreciated being there. We didn’t actually know if Mika was going to be there, just hearing new songs felt special enough. The listening party was organized in a little cafe/club that looked more like a small gallery (the place was really unique) and everything was really cozy and intimate and our group was much smaller than I expected. You can imagine how we all felt when we arrived and Mika came into the room and told we would hear the latest version of the album (which is not totally finished yet) from his own laptop, played by him. The listening was a bit late because he had to choose which songs to play to us (we didn’t have time for every song so he had to choose what to leave out). He told us about making of the album and I can honestly say this was the most special Mika moment I’ve ever experienced. When you love an artist a lot this kind of thing is something you never expect to happen for real (but it did happen and I feel really grateful).

We were allowed to have paper and a pen with us so I decided to write a couple of words next to every title. I knew I couldn’t remember much afterwards, I always need to hear songs several times before knowing them well and the situation was really exciting and new. About the album in general. There are some songs I already love more than I love any of his older songs (and that’s a lot because some of his old songs are the ones that made me a huge fan in the first place). There are also songs I don’t love from the first (or second) listening but will learn to love and I’m just happy with that. I like the idea that the album can grow in me and has several levels so it will be a long-time experience and will also be very dear in the end. Some things I wrote during the listening party sound already random and are not making any sense but I still want keep them as a memory and a funny thing to read later (when I know the songs better). I’m actually very curious to see how much my first reaction will change after hearing the songs properly again.

First we heard The Origin Of Love and I realized that Underwater is not the best song on the album. It must be TOOL? I really loved the recorded version, I can read from my notes the recorded song felt softer than the live version (softer?) and that it makes me feel I’m flying. And really, it’s quite amazing any song can make you feel you are flying? I genuinely think that TOOL is everything a good song needs to be, that the way it’s built is just brilliant and that it can be a huge hit. (Edit: The version we heard at the Milan listening party was absolutely amazing and powerful and much better than the version heard in the UK radio day after. He is probably still doing changes. I really hope he will keep the flying feeling in the end, because the song is maybe the best song he has recorded. Am I really saying this? Hahah, I’m absolutely fascinated by it and can’t have enough of it.)

Lola was very different than it is live and it was not a surprise, I was expecting it. But, the whole tone is different, it has a mysterious, dreamlike atmosphere with a stronger, colorful ending (really like it how it grows in the end). Lola will be one of my favorites on the new album and I will probably  always prefer the studio version over live versions, to enjoy it without any audience disturbance.

The first really new song was Step With Me and all I could think was that it sounds like a boy band song (with Mika’s voice). I believe my opinion will change a lot when I hear it properly but my English is not good enough to handle the lyrics after only one listening and this is all I can say so far, I’m sorry. This can be one of the songs I learn to love but it wasn’t love at first listening. I’m really curious to see my own reaction when the album is properly out.

The next song was Stardust and I really liked his voice in the song and the line “stardust in your eyes” made me smile every time. I have mentioned his voice twice in my notes so this must be one of the songs that will only grow in me after a few listening. (Edit: I don’t think any song has ever made me smile this quickly, so I have high expectations for this one, really looking forward to hearing it again).

Underwater made me think of I See You. I already know that I will always love the live version more than the album version because there’s some absolutely beautiful vulnerability in the live version that can’t be heard in the album version even it’s well done and even I think it’s one of his best songs ever. So it looks I still have the reason to travel to see his shows live? Congratulations to my husband (hahah, NOT). The UW version we heard in Luzerne was best I’ve heard so far and there’s just no way the recorded version could beat it. Still, the album version is very good and not disappointing in any way and I already know UW is my favorite Mika song ever.

Kids is a song we already heard in Tallinn and it’s one of those songs I was really curious to hear again. I love his voice in the song (but the live version was softer and somehow different). I really look forward to hearing this song with proper written lyrics (again, my English is not good enough to understand everything after only a couple of listening) because I want to know if the lyrics are really as sad as the song makes me feel. (Edit: after a few days and also hearing the song actually three times all together I can’t remember it properly and it’s bothering me. However, I will probably enjoy this song more live, can’t explain it clearly atm.)

Emily was so much fun! Lol! Everyone was smiling, giggling, laughing. I can’t believe he made EMD Emily (but I do love it). Shut up and listen to me, dance with me, Emily!! (Edit: I don’t remember the exact words, it all happened too fast. I still find the whole idea hilarious, it’s like mocking the non French speaking world but in a funny way, I love it that he doesn’t take things too seriously.)

Popular is done together with Priscilla Renea and is my least favorite song so far. Not that it is a bad song (I think it’s a clever song and the way their voices are put together is quite brilliant) but because it didn’t cause me any emotional reaction and I like to have an emotional reaction when listening to music. This is another boy band style song (lol, I admit I wrote to my notes “boy band rap”).

The last song was Heroes and it’s a beautiful, growing/raising song where his voice is absolutely beautiful! Really looking forward to hearing this one again as well as another edition of Make You Happy (high expectations for that one too).

My first impression is that the album consists of very different kind of songs. Some of them will be like treasures to me – the others will be like treasures to someone else (there are many different people behind the songs, there are different sides in Mika). The album sounds more commercial than his previous albums but there’s no doubt it’s made with love and that he’s really proud of it (it was so obvious when he talked about the album). I believe and hope it will do well and bring him new, wider audience. Really curious to hear Overrated (also curious to see if the rumor about BIOTW in French I heard in France is only a rumor or not, haven’t had time to read news properly). Feel v tired now, I might want to edit my post after processing things in my mind.

A quick update about last night’s gig. We saw a very different gig this time. The venue was small and quite intimate, the audience relaxed, almost lazy. Mika was on stage at 10 pm and started with Grace Kelly, without much lights or taking contact with anyone. I thought he wanted to choose the safest possible song/hit to start with, and he continued with Big Girl, BIOTG and Relax without any breaks or chatting. Some new strong sounds in GK, even a bit aggressive but I liked it. After Relax he continued with Billy Brown, still without any contact with the audience and it was quite obvious he wasn’t in a good mood at all.

He admitted he was in a bad mood but feeling better already and SITM was a bit more relaxed and he continued with Blue Eyes, Lola, Rain and Lollipop getting better song after song. He had to obviously work hard for his mood and I think did really well and the audience was very responsive. Underwater was lovely, his voice was beautiful and I thought once again it must be his best song ever. Heard my favorite Happy Ending for this summer and during Celebrate the audience started to get almost wild. Joy was great and Mika hugged her after the song and after Celebrate he totally had the audience on his side and EMD and Love Today were both fantastic. After WAG he continued directly to The Origin Of Love and explained being in a bad mood after some interviews before the show but thanked the audience and was actually really sweet. Someone in the audience had a banner with the text “We want to hug you Mika” and he smiled and told it was the nicest banner ever and went and gave a hug to the person/persons. TOOL was very good, it really gets better night after night and I loved it. I think I have it filmed (didn’t take many other pics or vids at this gig).

The band was performing a bit smaller than earlier because the stage was really small, but Felix seemed to be on fire and joking a lot and I enjoyed watching him because we could actually see him properly (he wasn’t as far away as he usually is). No confetti during WAG or dancers during Lollipop, and the show was shorter than last time, he really wanted to get out of stage as quickly as possible. So it wasn’t as funny or happy as the venue let us believe, but I really appreciated his honesty and telling us something was bothering him because I prefer honesty over fake cheerfulness any time and it’s not possible to be always happy. I was actually very proud watching how he really tried and managed to make the show work and offered the audience a great evening despite of his own mood. It looked that even the band was relieved to see him happy in the end and I was wondering if it was because all they want to do is make him happy or because their life is easier when he is happy, lol. Either way, in the end of the evening everything seemed to be fine and after the show he was actually really chatty even a bit witty.

 

Park Eana in Normandy was difficult as a venue because it was almost impossible to access without a car. I was lucky to get a drive in Nan’s car. What do you think about her Mika shuttle? Cool, huh?! Loved it!

The venue area was very different than any other venue I’ve seen lately. Mika tweeted pictures of a beautiful old building, but all we could see (the audience waiting outside the area) was a country view with fields, cows, horses and other farm animals. There was a goat waiting for an autograph from Mika after the show. I’m not joking, there was a goat! Everything was really pretty and green. It can look weird that someone travels to see the same show in many places, but believe me, it’s different every time.

The supporting acts started around 8 pm and the first one was a very entertaining big group of good-looking musicians. I liked listening to them (well, I wouldn’t pay for it but as a supporting group they were quite good). The problem was that they promoted themselves a bit too aggressively, repeating their name and the Facebook details and it was disturbing. They should have just concentrated on playing because they actually sounded fine (and if people like the band they go and find them without telling). The second supporting act looked and sounded like an old boy band. I had the feeling I want to give them motherly advices. Like, have a haircut, each of you. Stay away from drugs and alcohol. Lol!

The night was chilly and some fans didn’t have any warm clothes with them, I hope no one caught a cold.  I had a great spot in front so I was really looking forward to the show and when Mika came to stage we all forgot the chilliness.

Every show during this festival tour has been very special in their own way and I feel really lucky I have been able to see shows with so many special features/from so many different perspectives. The Tallinn show was probably my favorite, because Mika was happy like a child with the audience and also because it was the first time I heard the new songs (and some of them several times because of the soundcheck). However, the new songs sounded even better in Argeles and I loved the beautiful area. In Nice I had a rare opportunity to watch the backstage life and I really appreciated it. In Vienne the venue was brilliant (one of my favorite venues) and the audience very energetic and I had a fantastic view to see the whole stage, the light show etc. The Parc Eana show added some extra in many old songs. Actually, he has been adding those extras since Tallinn, but there was even more new in Normandy and because I had already heard the songs a few times it was easier to follow everything. I can totally see his point/idea in changing the band and I really like the new details (especially the Curtis parts). Also, the new songs are better night after night, we could hear it very clearly at Parc Eana.

I guess he wasn’t as happy as in Tallinn or as full of energy as in Vienne but he was in a good mood (even chatty) and sounded good so the show was well worth traveling once again. My own mood wasn’t really good (probably because I’ve been traveling/away from home) so I admit I couldn’t enjoy the show like I usually do. I wish I could remember every song well, but unfortunately I don’t have any videos so I can’t watch them again. My favorites were the old songs added with Curtis/Max details, hearing Blue Eyes and Karen and especially Lola and TOOL because they sound now better than ever. A couple of pics below.

I travelled from Nice to Vienne on Wednesday morning. I arrived to the venue with my French friends and saw absolutely breath-taking historical amphitheater (the picture above). We climbed the venue up and down and I realized it had an amazing view from everywhere and decided I would use this rare opportunity and not watch the show from front but from somewhere higher to see the whole stage, the audience and the beautiful light show.

The best decision ever. It didn’t feel like that at first though. All my friends were at front and I had a lonely and very hot and sunny waiting before the show. I bought a lot of water and watched the supporting act which wasn’t my taste. The bad news was that I was actually watching the supporting act for the official supporting act (which was actually really poor) and the waiting felt really long. I was also a bit worried about the audience (which was big but didn’t look enthusiastic at all). People had pillows and blankets and they were eating and eating like on a Sunday picnic. However, as soon as the horrible supporting act stopped and Mika’s crew came to the stage people started clap their hands and perform the Mexican wave! See the pic below. What a sudden change, I was super excited in a few seconds!

The setting was made ready very quickly and soon the band and then Mika came to stage. The crowd started to cheer and the gig was truly amazing from beginning to the very end (to tell the truth I didn’t want it to end at all!). The sound was very good and I had a perfect view so I could see the whole stage and observe everything what happened (and took a lot videos to remember everything afterwards).

Mika started with Big Girl (probably to break the pattern) and continued with Relax and Blame It On the Girls. I couldn’t dance or jump in a big way because everyone around me were still sitting (but still clapping their hands and enjoying) so I just enjoyed the music and watched. Next songs were Stuck In the Middle, Billy Brown and Blue Eyes and I find the new versions for all of these songs really fresh and interesting. I loved watching Curtis and Tim playing (they were put into a spotlight) and especially Curtis totally hypnotized me. It looks he can play every possible instrument and his playing is really natural and cheerful and I just can’t stop watching it. I filmed all these songs and will upload them as soon as possible (see already Billy Brown below). At concert situations my attention is usually purely on Mika (his voice is the reason why I go to see these concerts) and as long as the result works I don’t pay much attention to the band members unless they have some kind of special roles (that’s why I really enjoy watching them in a spotlight).

After that we heard Lola (love it) and Rain (really missed hearing it during the concert break) and finally Lollipop. I like the new version of Lollipop because it sounds really new and I was looking forward to seeing fans on stage dressed in black suits and hats (video below). Letting fans be on stage for a couple of minutes during shows may sound a small thing but it’s not, really. I’ve seen it and I know it’s a huge effort and means at least two hours work for at least three members of his crew every night and means also risking the show (just having there a dozen of people not used to be on stage is a small risk, imo). I was quite sure he wouldn’t see this trouble again (after performing with Big Girls and Lollipop Girls for such a long time) but here we go again, and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it, it’s just one of those things that make him really special. Also, love the suit/hat/briefcase idea!

After Lollipop we heard Underwater which is my absolute favorite and therefor one of the highlights of the show. During UW I almost felt like having some kind of a contact with him and even though it’s not even possible (I was far away and could see small details only through my little camera) it still tells about his ability to have a contact with his audience (impressive) and I was happy to see it also works when not near front rows. Once again, the venue was brilliant and offered a good view from everywhere.

Next he performed Happy Ending and the fans in front row waved red and blue heart-shape lights and people made hearts with their fingers (and Mika made hearts with his fingers) and it was really sweet. Happy Ending is not the same as it used to be (he is skipping my favorite part of the song these days) but it’s still a lovely song and I filmed it as well and will link it later. I had a blue heart light in my bag and gave it to a little boy next to me and he happily waved it (probably during the whole show and not just during HE). Celebrate was awesome, the audience had a lot of energy and I enjoyed watching Joy singing and dancing. Karen was an absolute pleasure. It’s one of my favorite songs and first it felt weird to hear a new version but actually I like it a lot. EMD and Love Today made the audience wild and Mika was on fire, and I can’t describe it properly but the atmosphere was full of energy. I love the end of Love Today because Max is absolutely adorable (everyone seems to love him) and I hope Mika will keep that part, it’s one of my favorite parts in the new show. Then the last song and We Are Golden worked like always and the confetti looked awesome and the song felt like the final firework for the show. Lol, he came back of course and did The Origin of Love and Grace Kelly. I still have no idea what the latin part in TOOL says but it sounds fantastic and I love it as well as the whole structure for the song (can’t say it in English, but the song “moves” really well towards the ending).

And that was all. I felt like drugged because I enjoyed so much and I must say the new show is good, don’t miss it. Even old songs feel fresh and both the lights and the confetti worked really well even the venue was this big. Mika’s voice was beautiful and not too tired in the end and his performing was just excellent (probably because the audience had so much energy), I especially enjoyed watching his jumping and crazy dancing (will never get bored of that). I met some new fans from Seoul and Los Angeles and new/old faces from Belgium, France, Italy, UK etc. and everyone seemed to agree after the gig that what we saw was an especially good show.