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.
Only Lonely Man
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.