You know how some places can steal your heart from the first second you arrive? You feel it’s almost like your destiny to go back – some kind of a soul mate thing? Well Las Vegas is not one of those places for me. I was still really curious to see it and I’m happy I did. It’s always nice to have a real mental picture of famous places so many movies, books and songs refer to. I stayed two nights and saw only Strip which was a noise polluted, absolutely nerve-wracking place full of horrendous overconsumption (and all I could think of was getting a hammer and destroying the game machines one by one, lol, but it was probably just me, I can tolerate only pleasant sounds). The street view was interesting though and the night-time view especially impressive with thousands of colorful lights.

The main reason (for me) to travel to Vegas was of course the temptation to see Mika performing in this intimate, tiny venue and I loved the venue indeed. He did a show at Hard Rock Cafe Las Vegas on Friday and I went to see the place on Thursday and was absolutely thrilled to see it. The upstairs night club was empty but people were allowed to go there and I had a possibility to enjoy a moment of peace and quiet and see how small and intimate the place was. I had breakfast and lunch at Hard Rock Cafe restaurant on Friday and the food was surprisingly good and the service really friendly (not sure why I was so surprised, I guess I didn’t expect Hard Rock Cafe to serve good food) and I had some nice chats with people working there (one of them happened to be a tattooer for example). I met Lucy (who I met in San Francisco) a couple of hours before the doors were opened and people gradually started to arrive. I really loved the venue. The stage was low with no barriers, and I got a great spot for the gig in front of stage near the piano and immediately knew the show was going to be one of those rare moments to hear and see Mika really close at small stage and decided to concentrate on enjoying every second.

Max and Curtis did their DJ set and they really are getting better, imo. The sound is loud enough, they dance and laugh a bit and they’ve added some catchy old songs for the crowd to sing along. It’s still too long, I’m sorry to say it. I enjoy watching them, but a part of the audience seemed to be bored, and they probably should concentrate on a shorter set with really classic, catchy hits.

The show was fantastic. The crowd wasn’t nearly as good as it was in California though, and I think even Mika was disturbed by people talking loudly at the back of the venue. He chatted to the audience, talking about Las Vegas to get their attention but mostly concentrated on his performance, singing partly even eyes closed. I’m definitely not complaining though, he sounded perfect and I really enjoyed listening to him and watching him, Max and Curtis work together (he made them drum until they were exhausted, so hilarious to watch!). It was a lovely evening. He was really close and his voice was absolutely perfect, I felt really lucky to be there. I especially enjoyed Underwater, Happy Ending, Stardust and OMS (he added HE and Stardust to the original setlist, very happy about it).

The more I hear the new songs Hia Leah and Century Man the more I love them. LOVE. And when he started Century Man I felt like bursting with excitement and I had to seriously control myself to stay still because everyone else around me looked just calm and normal like not realizing what was happening (well I guess most of them didn’t because they heard the song for the first time).

I’m not sure if I should say it was just another tour for me. It wasn’t. It was perfect and exactly how I’ve always wanted to see him performing. And I’m not sure if he prefers doing bigger shows but I think he should do more intimate shows like this. It maybe doesn’t bring him as much money (as bigger shows/festivals do) but it definitely brings him a lot of respect and real music lovers to the audience. Everyone can see how talented he is; it’s impossible to do amazing and special simple shows like this without being amazing and special for real. I loved this tour and saw my all time favorite shows.

Saw Mika at El Rey Theater in Los Angeles tonight, a few words about the great show. He told El Rey is the first venue he saw in the US when trying to get signed by a record company and seemed to be excited to perform there, was in a great mood and flirted with people in the audience (surprisingly male audience, a lot of record company people and several of his celeb friends as special guest).

Firstly. He performed Make You Happy together with Greg Wells and as I’ve always wanted to see him I was super excited about the surprise (of course wanted to hear MYH for a long time too). So special to hear something like that! Secondly, Century Man is my new favorite high energy song, it’s awesome! No idea how it feels to hear it performed in a movie by someone else, I’m totally in love with this simple version. Thirdly, Max and Curtis were fab, especially Curtis playing in UW and OMS and they both drumming for their lives. A few pics from tonight above, more later.

I had such a special day in Solana Beach! Taking a train from LA near to the ocean was already an experience and Solana Beach was a lovely beach town with lots of cafés, restaurants, colorful shops and relaxed beach atmosphere. I spent my day having lunch, chatting with shop owners and dog walkers and waiting for Lowell to arrive. Turned out that practically no one wanted to queue for the gig and the venue told they offer two possibilities for going in: using the front door or through the restaurant in case we wanted to have a dinner before the show and we definitely wanted to do so. To tell the truth I was probably more excited to meet Lowell than see Mika (I see Mika more often, lol!) and Lowell and I had a lot of fun eating, chatting and watching the show and I can’t thank him enough for being so kind and helpful and generally such an awesome person!

The Belly Up Tavern was a tiny venue (max capacity 600 but the show wasn’t sold out) and the audience was surprisingly wild. It could have been a disaster but was absolutely a success. People were loud but they could sing (also understood to be quiet when needed) and some of them knew lyrics even for the rare songs like Only Lonely Man and China Boy (Celebrate with China Boy parts). Mika seemed to love them and was smiling, laughing and chatting through the show. He showed his “USA” shoes and made jokes about people shouting “USA, USA” – hilarious!

Some notes:

– Mika is in his top form, his voice and singing were absolutely brilliant. He did Happy Ending partly without a microphone and it was one my best Mika moments ever. I could hardly breath. Remember the cherubs I used in my last post to describe some very special and beautiful moments? So many cherubs they almost couldn’t fit in the venue. Amazing.

– I don’t miss the band. Max and Curtis are wonderful! The concept of Mika playing piano and Max and Curtis using different instruments adds extra value to every song, old and new. Both Lowell and I agreed that especially drumming gives a lot of energy and power. Not sure about the DJ thing though… Shy and Gentle are adorable, but most of the audience didn’t realize they are a part of the band and the set is too long.

– The new songs are fantastic material, I hope he knows it. Hia Leah is really beautiful and quickly becoming one of my favorites just after two listening. Century Man could seriously be a huge hit, it’s classic, catchy and full of energy. Only Lonely Man fits well to live shows especially the way it’s performed now, the audience loves it.

– This was easily one of my top3 gigs for many reasons. I’m really happy to see his NA tour is going so well, the new response is extremely good and the old NA fans are super loyal. Long time fans I’ve met have seen some legendary and special early gigs and events already 2006/2007.

A few photos from last night:

I saw my first NA tour gig in San Francisco last night, for Mika it was the third one (after Vancouver and Portland, I think). The small San Francisco venue was really lovely: legendary old theater type building with red curtains, fancy lamps and balconies for dinner. I read some unpleasant stories about the shady area around the venue before my trip but saw only harmless looking homeless people who peacefully let us wait for the concert (but I took a taxi after the show just in case).

The DJ part before the show was kind of a part of the show. The stage was full of vintage books, suitcases, vintage style educational posters and small furniture. Max and Curtis played a set of songs dressed in vintage style suits. They are adorable of course, especially Max giggling behind the stage set, but they didn’t have any proper plan or main idea (they just spent time playing little clips of different songs) and the session was a bit too long, imo. It will probably be much, much funnier as soon as they add a little bit dancing into it and plan the setlist more carefully. However, I loved the setting and it was interesting and fun to spend time looking at it before the show, see some pics below.

Before the show everything was moved away and the stage was extremely simple: just piano, the other instruments and some lights hanging. I don’t have any videos to share because we were especially asked not to film or upload anything to Youtube and it made the situation even more special for the audience. I didn’t even take pictures. He was so close and everything was so simple that even taking photos felt almost violent. Also because every song was somehow different and he did three new or at least very rare songs and a couple of songs he hasn’t done for a while I wanted to concentrate on listening and remembering as much as possible.

You know, sometimes you want to be able to save some special situations and “record” them into you heart (um, brains) so you can have them with you forever. I always try to carefully memorize the most special concert moments to be able to remember them forever (like Lady Jane from Jam Sessions 2009 or Toy Boy from Vienna 2012). Underwater last night in San Francisco was definitely one of those moments. He was really close in front of me, I just had time to think he is so skinny and looks so human just like any of us and then he started to sing and it was perfect, really. Seriously, it was perfect. Totally worth traveling to another side of the world just to hear Underwater.

The setlist

Grace Kelly 

Toy Boy

Lollipop

Blue Eyes

Billy Brown

Popular

 

Drunk

Only Lonely Man

underwater

SITM

EMD

Hia Leah

Origin

 

BG

Century Man

Relax

LT

Celebrate

OMS

 

Happy Ending

Stardust

He was playing piano during most of the songs, really concentrating on his singing which was excellent indeed. Every song was a bit different than we are used to, I couldn’t even recognize the songs after the first notes. Curtis was using at least saxophone (Billy Brown), clarinet (Toy Boy) and melodica (UW, OMS) and both Max and Curtis were drumming during several songs (loved the drumming parts, especially in LT). The first part of the setlist was a bit tense. Then he started to chat to a girl in front row (and was very chatty after that and told several stories) and everyone (both Mika and the audience) relaxed and he was very much on fire during the rest of gig, still keeping himself in control (meaning not too much jumping) and his voice beautiful.

Underwater was one of my all time favorite versions, really loved it. Only Lonely One was exceptionally nice played with Max and Curtis (well I’ve probably seen it only once before SF) and Hia Leah (“California song”) absolutely beautiful, can’t wait to hear it again. Century Man had a lot of energy and fit perfectly with BG and LT. The ending was breath-taking with lovely Celebrate with China Boy parts, OMS and finally Happy Ending and Stardust. I admit I cried a bit during HE, I was extremely happy to see it back on the setlist and I could almost see some little angel boys flying around the venue during the most beautiful parts of HE and OMS. The cherubs are back, haven’t seen them for a while. Awesome stripped down gig, loved it.

The city

Istanbul is a beautiful city and a fascinating cultural mix, I loved the vibe and wish I could have spent a few more days walking around the city (and eating, the local food is fantastic…). The architectural view is breathtaking, and the atmosphere surprisingly European (making the city safe and easy for an average traveller). I love the Turkish attitude and how people seem to be determined to succeed combining hard work and being friendly. The staff working for the parking area around the venue offered us hot tea and played with the huge dogs living near the park and the security was polite and helpful.

My husband and I did some sightseeing on Saturday and I used hours taking photos of beautiful blue and green tiles (beautiful color combinations) and was amazed in Hagia Sophia (it must be one of the most impressive buildings I’ve ever seen).

The show

The concert venue for the show on Sunday was a large plain tent in a big park. The tent had some kind of a heating system but it was still cold and ugly and the atmosphere was not typical for a Mika concert at all. People were let in at 7 PM as promised and the tent was not even half full that time. The DJ played way too long for my taste and I didn’t even feel the usual excitement before the show. Obviously the organizers still knew what they were doing and during the DJ set the tent started to fill up and the locals seemed to love the DJ music and were ready for the show. The audience turned out to be a very good one, singing and dancing through the concert. The girls in front screamed a lot and people threw enormous amounts of stuff on stage (lol, never seen anything like that!) but the overall vibe was very positive, Mika seemed to enjoy it and after a couple of songs he was full of energy too. The band was playing fine (even they had a new drummer and they probably hadn’t much rehearsed together) but was mostly on the background and didn’t have their usual roles. I didn’t mind (even I usually love watching the band as well, having fun on stage and working together) because my attention was totally focused on Mika anyway and I just wanted to listen and watch him singing. I saw him last time in Iceland and already missed his gigs.

There were moments when I couldn’t hear his voice but it was still much better than before Christmas, imo. The stage was very simple and looked good that way.

I really enjoyed the gig, and the mood and atmosphere got better and better during the show. The setlist says he did the following songs and I can’t remember anything to add:

Relax

Lola

Blue Eyes

Billy Brown

Popular

SITM

Origin

 

Stardust

Underwater

 

Rain

BG

Drunk

EMD

LT

Grace Kelly

Celebrate

WAG

 

Lollipop

Mika asked one of the fans to play piano with him during Billy Brown and it was a really sweet moment and the audience loved it (see the vid below). The girl on stage had probably the time of her life and I thought, once again, how I love this artist for being so kind and making people so happy. The new songs worked well and all my favorites were from the new album: Popular, Origin, UW, Drunk and EMD. I guess I wasn’t properly awaken during Lola and the audience was disturbing Stardust a bit so I couldn’t enjoy it as much as usually. No extra songs or any special treats, but the mood was fantastic and I had a great time. I was totally hooked from the beginning (well, maybe not from the very beginning but after a couple of songs) till the end and I couldn’t stop smiling long after the show. It’s good to see him performing like this. He seems to be genuinely excited about the upcoming US tour and promised it will be joyful playing with many different instruments, acoustic and intimate. Very much looking forward to it.

What a great weekend in Istanbul, I really love this city! The gig was very good. Such a cold day and the venue just like a huge “tent”, but the venue staff was extremely friendly and the Istanbul audience energetic, loud and singing through every song. Mika was in a great mood and even asked one of the local fans to play piano with him (making her dream come true, so sweet of him!). A few pics above. He did the basic setlist but has done little changes in a few songs. The curls are back (love it), Curtis has a new short haircut (love that too) and the new drummer was doing fine even it was only his second show with Mika (good news).