Liepaja Summer Sound festival had a fantastic beach location, the main stage was literally next to the water. The sand was white and soft to walk without shoes, festival goers spent their days swimming and sunbathing and the atmosphere was (slightly put) very relaxed.

I traveled with my dear friend Salla who is not a Mika fan but likes his music and who was curious to see her first Mika show. I usually travel alone but we often spend weekends together so she knows me well enough to tolerate my traveling routines and as usual we had a lot of fun together. We arrived day before and as the tickets were for two days we headed to the festival and were on time to see the most beautiful Latvian sunset. Breath-taking and worth traveling to see that alone! We met Vladimir (met him in Corsica 2011) who had arrived to see his favorite band Prata Vetra (a famous Latvian band internationally known as Brainstorm). I very much enjoyed Prata Vetra on Friday! They are a great live band, and loved listening to their Latvian singing (however, if you like to hear them singing in English, check out for example this).

Salla and I spent Saturday enjoying the sun/napping on the beach and met Vladimir in the afternoon before the festival program started. It wasn’t too hot but is was warm and sunny, the white sand was softest I’ve ever seen or felt and the festival area sold food, ice cream and coffee. We had bought VIP tickets to have an access to proper toilets so we had practically everything we could ask for. The performers before Mika were not as good as Prata Vetra. The first one (my favorite of these three) was a local artist from Liepaja and everyone (except us) knew the lyrics to his songs. The second one was simply too loud, can’t remember their name. The third one performed in English instead of Latvian, with those lyrics not an advantage to her. Then the sun went down, the stage was prepared and the audience was ready for Mika.

A few words about the show. Mika was quite chatty. It was good to see he still has his old habit to learn a few words local language before going to stage. It makes me a bit jealous (as it always means I listen to him talking languages I can’t understand) but it tells the audience he appreciates them and helps creating a contact with them. So he talked a bit Latvian and people went wild and he talked a bit about Latvia in English (Latvia joining the Euro etc) and it was a very nice gesture as always. The audience was good as in Baltic countries in general and participated and the whole atmosphere was very much beach festival style. The sea was absolutely beautiful and I loved feeling the soft white sand under my toes while listening to Underwater, don’t think that has happened ever before! The lighting during Underwater was partly red and despite of “a blood red sky” I found it confusing and it took my attention for a while (lol, almost felt like eating a blue food because Underwater is a sea color song, isn’t it). He asked all the lights off though and made the audience sing as loud as they can (impressive, watch it here, around 3:00). He has (very successfully, imo) done some fresh little changes to some of his old songs and must say I haven’t enjoyed Relax or Lollipop this much for a long time (naturally not talking about the brilliant acoustic versions he did in the US), so beautiful intro and ending! He did Emily in English but didn’t remember the lyrics properly and changed to French. It was interesting to hear the English version again, I still definitely prefer EMD (as everyone, I guess). We heard Live Your Life and I’ve been addicted to the song this summer but can’t catch much feeling in it when he sings it live, so I would love to hear it a few more times. My favorite song in Liepaja was Origin once again, and I love the fact that I enjoy TOOL songs live this much, all of them, and I still hope we will hear more songs from it in the future.

Liepaja probably wasn’t my favorite concert this year but I really enjoyed the show and the whole festival and had a lot of fun with my friend. We walked back to our hotel and I saw the whole team Mika in the lobby and I felt an urgent need to spend some time at the reception booking a taxi for the morning. But I didn’t, of course. I went quickly to my room (even I was a customer and allowed to be there) because that’s where my limit goes. It’s enough that I travel to see so many gigs around the world. I say hi to him if see him somewhere and sometimes chat with someone from his team (if they are right in front of me and seem to recognize me) but it wouldn’t come to my mind to go anywhere near his hotels etc on purpose, he needs to be able to decide when/if he meets us. For me it’s anyway far more valuable if artists choose to share things with their fans, asking them to stage and organizing album pre-listening sessions (it’s been exactly one year since the Milan pre-listening, so I was thinking about it the other day, it must be my most special Mika event ever, very happy memories from Milan). Salla and I had a few hours of sleep and took a bus to Riga and flied home. She said she was very impressed by the show and that she would love to see another Mika concert some day – I was expecting it!

Les Nuit’s d’Istres Festival was definitely one of my favorites for this summer! I didn’t have any expectations for the festival. I arrived late afternoon, checked in my hotel, went to the venue and was surprised to see several familiar faces (I was on stage in Marseille 2010 and in Nice 2012, was incredibly cool to see people I had met when being on stage with Mika, lol, nothing connects people like being two minutes on stage with their favorite artist!). I started to realize the arrangement for the night was fantastic: no other artists than Mika meaning no supporting acts or even DJs, no queueing because the venue was seated with only a very small standing area, relaxed going in, time for  buying drinks before the show, a beautiful looking stage… I had bought my ticket last minute and my seat wasn’t a good one so I was hesitating between sitting and going to the small standing area in front of stage. The venue looked an amphitheater and most of the audience had a great view. A French fan I had just met told she had decided to go to the standing area and offered me her seat which turned out to be one of the best seats at the venue. Felt a bit embarrassed, but can’t thank her enough for the seat. I ended up having the best ever view over the stage. I was further away than usually but the whole stage opened in front of me. I was at the same level with Mika and the band and could see literally everything. The stage looked beautiful and the lighting was bright and pretty and even the sound wasn’t perfect (I couldn’t hear his voice all the time) I still immensely enjoyed watching the show and didn’t want it to end. Watching everything as an outsider was kind of a new experience for me, but I was glad to see everything from a new point of view.

The situation was different than usual also for Mika. The audience had bought their tickets to see only him (there was no other artists for that night) and certainly respected him/appreciated his music. However, the audience wasn’t prepared to be a part of the show as usual; people were watching the show as any theater or musical piece, sitting comfortably in their seats, without making any effort to be an active part of the concert. He was determined to make everyone move. He did every song a bit better than the previous one, sharing more and more of his energy, staying focused song after song and look what happened! Suddenly a lot of people jumped from their seats. The audience started to dance and sing and everyone had obviously a great time and in the end he was laughing out loud watching people party. I loved watching the show but had mixed feelings. I felt so guilty having so much fun because it looked he had to work really hard, that he gave so much more energy than the audience gave him back. Irrational, because it’s his job to make people enjoy the show and I loved watching how he does it. You should have seen it! The stage looked beautiful, everything looked beautiful and he did a fantastic show with a lot of energy.

I took a few videos, but the quality is poor (sorry for that, I didn’t have a barrier to make my filming stable and the sound wasn’t that good to begin with).

Un Soleil Mal Luné:

Drunk:

Underwater:

Origin:

Lollipop:

My train trip from Nantes to Albi didn’t go as planned. Suddenly the train stopped and we (all the passengers) were told the engine was on fire and asked outside the train so we spent hours under the burning hot sun waiting the engine to cool down. It was a bit uncomfortable (no cafe in the train so no water or food) but not scary and almost adventurous. I met some wonderful and really helpful people. A French speaking lady and an English speaking man sitting next to me shared their water with me and kept me updated with ongoing French announcements.

A few hours later I finally sat in another train in Bordeaux. I met a Swedish boy who was visiting French film festivals and we had a nice meal (offered to the passengers stuck in the burning train) and a chat. Unfortunately our train was late again so I missed every possible train to Albi and found myself in Marseille in the middle of night waiting for a night bus at a dark, empty and a bit scary bus station. I was relieved to see a man wearing a priest outfit and carrying huge suitcases and made me smile to see he looked equally relieved to see me (he was traveling from Sri Lanka and we spent a couple of hours keeping company to each other and discussing about our countries, languages and religions and in the end he offered his help in case I ever want to visit his country or need any local advices).

My bus was on time and I was in Albi around 2 am. The first thing I saw was my French friends waiting at the bus station. I still can’t believe they actually came to pick me up in the middle of the night!!!! So kind and made me feel incredibly lucky. I was happy to wake up in Albi next morning. Such a beautiful place, I had no idea in advance.

The queueing for the festival was relaxed and sunny. We arrived to the venue and met more French and Spanish fans and spent time chatting and trying to find some shadow. Local people arrived last minute and just pushed themselves through the gates but we managed to get good spots and waited the festival to begin. I was curious to see the line-up (which turned out to be probably the worst I’ve seen at any festival).

The first artist was a French artist called Lescop representing some kind of dark, French electro pop. I think he is a solo artist and not a band but the singer didn’t much stand out and I didn’t much enjoy the performance. The second artist/band Lilly Wood & The Prick was more pleasant to listen to (check out their music video by clicking the link). I read they are a duo and they had two extremely dedicated fans who were let in the middle of the front row to see their favorite artist and I loved watching them having fun. The last artist before Mika was DJ Martin Solveig who was total Las Vegas to all my senses. His light show could probably be seen from space and the music was so loud I still have a Martin Solveig tinnitus in my ears. I know he is a very popular DJ and has produced music for several famous artists but I just can’t see any purpose of watching DJs at festivals in general. So I must say I didn’t enjoy listening to the artists before Mika but as I was in front row I tried to focus on everyone and it’s always a pleasure to take concert photos.

(Lescop)
(Lilly Woods & The Pricks)
 
(Martin Solveig) 

Then it was finally Mika’s turn and his show was exactly how it should be and even I sometimes question his decision to start with a slow French ballad (especially at festivals) this time  it was a bliss. It was absolutely beautiful and perfect medicine for my damaged ears. His voice was lovely and the sound was good in general. The light show looked fab and there was no question who is the star on stage. Personally I probably enjoyed the show in Istres day after Albi even more (it was one of my fav shows for this year, will write more details about it in my next post) but he did well in Albi and the show was everything it was supposed to be, everything I was expecting it to be and totally worth the time spent in the burning train, waiting in the sun and listening to the artists and bands performing before him. See videos for Origin and Live Your Life below under the photos.  

Origin: Live Your Life: