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:

Beautiful beach location, relaxed atmosphere, good audience. Some chatting in Latvian and about Latvia, Emily in English, Popular and Live Your Life. Tight schedule but everything on time. Not the best possible lighting (especially after seeing the fantastic stage and amazing lighting in Istres), but I’m probably the only one paying attention to it (can’t help it). Very good energy. Maybe not my favorite show for the summer but enjoyed it a lot and had a great time. Now very late and feeling exhausted, more tomorrow X

On my way home after spending some wonderful, sunny days in France and after seeing three French festivals. I had quite an adventure when traveling to Albi so I’m planning to write proper reports about both Albi and Istres but as it looks I took a lot of pictures in Nantes I decided to do several simple photo posts about La Nuit de l’Erdre Festival.

I went to the festival with Leila, Virginie, Julie and Gigi (a huge thank you for everything, girls!) and saw two other bands/artists before Mika: Puggy (saw them first time in Liege two years ago) and Olivia Ruiz (saw her and her band in Papillons de Nuit Festival in May). I really enjoyed Puggy and even I’m not a huge fan of Olivia’s music I must say she is very entertaining performer so we were lucky to see a good line up before Mika was on stage after 11 PM.

Mika did a good and energetic show and even though he didn’t do Karen (as he did Istres) or Live Your Life (I was lucky to see that in Albi) I very much enjoyed the performance and his interaction with the audience (probably better than festival audiences in average, not as drunk as in Marmande or as quiet as in Istres). See videos for Love You When I’m Drunk and Happy Ending below, more photos in other posts (they look better grouped in a few parts). Don’t you just love his signature jump? I’ve seen it dozens of times and it’s equally impressive every time. Flying popstar is almost like a superhero (pic below).

Drunk:

Happy Ending:

A few Mika pics from Istres to have a taste of the gig tonight. Brilliant show, imo. The audience was very challenging, people from very different age groups, most of them looking so comfortable in their seats that I was genuinely worried they will sit through the show. He did his best though, and suddenly more and more people started to stand, dance and sing. The balloons made the show a total party and it looked he was laughing out loud watching the audience with the giant balloons, everyone having a lot of fun. I probably had the best seat in the house (not originally mine but kindly offered me by a French fan who decided to go to the standing area) so I had a great view. The stage looked absolutely beautiful and I took several videos to show later how everything looked (hope the vids are okay, I haven’t checked them yet). Definitely one of my favorite shows this year. Will show more pics and videos as soon as I have time (traveling early morning back home). My train trip to Istres was smooth and I was escorted back to my hotel from the venue in a police car (a helpful policeman offered a ride so didn’t have to walk alone in the dark). A good day, more later.

Other artists/bands

The stage/show elements

The band

Mika

A few details (no time for a proper report this time, sorry):

– The festival area was huge! Burning hot sun. A lot of drunken young people. The audience was very good though, the support in France is great even at festivals.

-Two artists/bands before Mika. The first one was actually a lot of fun, a female artist with her party style band. The second one was a reggae artist. The both were doing promotion at European festivals before new albums coming out.

– The polkadots stage setting. Every band member represented a color (Tim – green, Curtis – pink, Max – blue etc), love the idea. Doriand was on stage for EMD and Karen (and Karen was one my favorites as always in France).  The show looked fab with polkadots, colors and huge balloons. No confetti this time (actually preferred the balloons, very impressive).

– Mika was in a great mood. The setlist was well chosen for the audience, mostly high-energy songs and hits. My absolute favorite was Origin and loved Happy Ending (wasn’t expecting it so it was a lovely surprise). We didn’t get Live Your Life as I was hoping, maybe not enough time. It didn’t matter, I very much enjoyed the show with a lot of positive energy, well worth traveling. Videos below for Origin, Underwater and Karen.

Origin: Underwater: Karen: