StudioCoast

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Two Asian tour concerts in Japan: Studio Coast in Tokyo on Tuesday and Namba Hatch in Osaka on Wednesday. I’m overwhelmed by everything I saw and experienced during my trip and loved the country and every single detail so I’m trying to write down some impressions as quickly as possible not to forget them. First some impressions about these two gigs and later more about places I visited and people I met.

Seeing concerts in Japan is very different than seeing concerts in Europe or US. Firstly, it’s not possible to influence on your spot in the audience in any way as every ticket has a random number and people are let in in number order either in bigger groups (like happened in Tokyo) or checking their numbers one by one (like in Osaka). Secondly, the pressure in the crowd is strong and some people may find it uncomfortable and perhaps want to avoid the front part. The pressure comes from excitement and people are very smiling and friendly and I’m used to many kind of audiences so I didn’t mind at all, but was definitely bruised after the show and it was difficult to breath at times.

I managed to locate myself in the second row in Tokyo. When Mika walked on stage the crowd immediately packed forward and threw me into the first row towards the barrier before I could realize what happened. I was happy to be there and grabbed the barrier and apologized the girl next to me who was luckily very kind and understanding and just smiled and told there’s nothing to do when the crowd moves with that strong power and that it’s similar at every concert. In Osaka I decided to go to the back of the venue (to a bit higher area with barriers) to see the whole stage and had a great view but of course felt like watching the show as an outsider compared to Tokyo. I was still happy to see the both perspectives.

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Mika opened both nights with Toy Boy and people were so excited they could hardly calm down to listen to it. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the Japan gigs and was a bit worried that between massive, enthusiastic Korea and new, unknown China already familiar Japan could be almost like an anticlimax and not exciting enough for Mika. However, he obviously enjoyed the atmosphere and gave the audience his best energy and full attention and the gigs were fantastic measured by any standards.

The crowd in Tokyo was absolutely crazy and I had a great spot so I naturally enjoyed the gig fully and can put it very high on my personal top gig list. On the other hand in Osaka we heard three more songs (Good Wife, Any Other World, Drunk) and saw even chattier Mika so the both gigs ended up being amazing experiences (the picture and Toy Boy above from Tokyo, other vids from Osaka). Mika took a lot of contact with the audience and gave his attention to people and it was lovely to see my Japanese friends getting happy Mika moments after waiting the gig for such a long time.

My favorite live songs include my permanent favorites Underwater and Origin, my new favorites Last Party and Good Wife and now surprisingly also Boum Boum Boum, which seems always to be fantastic performed live and Japan was not an exception. I absolutely loved the intro he did for Boum Boum Boum in Osaka and as I sometimes film beginnings of the songs before I decide whether to film them or not I have a little clip of it so uploaded it below (only the intro part).

All high energy songs are great at gigs and EMD is a success everywhere and not only in French-speaking countries. The quality for my EMD clip is not very good so I didn’t plan to upload it but there’s a very cute moment with Tim and Max in the beginning of the video so I share it here, it’s simply too cute not to share (love the ”good boy Max!!” part), so watch at least the beginning (and the whole song if you don’t mind a bit poor quality).

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Colorful confetti party is a highlight every time. We saw one in Tokyo and it looked fabulous! Osaka got long serpentines and the colors looked good with the setting and I’m always happy to see new details even (with that amount) it wasn’t as impressive as confetti.

I really enjoyed all new songs live and found – maybe surprisingly – Talk About You even better live song than Good Guys even though expected the opposite way. I didn’t film those songs but happy that I filmed Last Party and Good Wife and been watching the videos over and over again and had the weirdest moment in Osaka watching the clips after the show and experiencing a small earthquake at the same time. I knew it was harmless but it still felt weird because I’m not used to them in Finland and couldn’t first decide if it was real or my imagination. I already shared LP, GW and AOW (spectacular version!) in my previous blog post and have uploaded two more videos – Happy Ending and Drunk – see them below.

There’s a funny fan moment in the beginning of the Drunk video. Mika is talking how a fan asked Max to be quiet. She actually asked them to lower bass (from drums?) because it was really loud like it unfortunately so often is. Lol, I hope Mika doesn’t quiet Max because we all love Max and want to hear also his beautiful voice. The situation is hilarious and you can hear Iona teaching Mika Japanese before he starts Drunk. He did also some very funny additions in the end of Billy Brown and I can’t wait him to do something equally funny during European shows as everyone is thrilled to see variations in his old songs.

Already missing everyone I met in Japan. So happy I could finally meet Eriko after knowing her via internet for years! This was definitely one of my most memorable trips on many level and I really hope I can go back some day. More about my trip/Japan/fan meetings as soon as possible.

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Feeling very slow because of jet lag so just a quick update from Osaka. More pics, videos and favorite moments later when back home.

I wanted to be at the back of the venue to see the whole stage and crowd and first regretted my decision as it meant following the gig from an outsider’s point of view. However, definitely worth the sacrifice. Loved seeing the beautiful setting/light show and managed to get a couple of videos with a decent sound quality (even the bass was too loud as it so often is).

See below how the stage looked in different colors. Last Party and Good Wife are my biggest new favorites and was happy and surprised to hear Any Other World, haven’t heard it for a long time.

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A few more pics of the new “cartoon city” stage setting before I lost them in my photo archives. I loved the idea of colorful houses as soon as I saw the album cover and knew to expect to see the same on stage. The idea works even better than I thought in advance. The stage we saw in the US was a test (Mika’s words after the NYC show) so he is probably doing a slightly improved version for the future gigs and I hope the stage will evolve during the tour depending on the venue and stage size like happened in 2010 during the Imaginarium Tour.

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Before the gig started the city was kind of sleeping in the moon light (above) but it woke up the moment Mika and the band appeared (below) and I realized it’s a place for countless of stories and the perfect location for all his characters and songs to come alive. Such a cool idea.

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Lights gave the stage different tones and moods from day light city views to the dreamiest and gloomiest night time scenes (like pink ones below) but as this was the first time I saw it I can’t yet tell how well everything fit for songs and their themes – too many new things happening for me to register everything – but I love it how this simple setting offers a lot material to work with and I hope they will use the idea properly.

In the end of the show my imagination simply started to add cartoon like effects everywhere, I couldn’t help it. Pink and red hearts flew out from people’s eyes and little bouncing sound effect bubbles appeared above the jumping and dancing audience. You know, things that happen to us at Mika gigs.

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The second US venue was Webster Hall, NYC. A legendary venue for Mika. Monday was beautiful, even hotter than Sunday, finally proper summer days. Can’t express how much I enjoyed the warm and sunny weather and had a lovely time with the other fans. A huge thank you to Deb, Dee, Stefania, Indy, Kira, Karin & Michael and everyone else for the company!

The security at the venue was relaxed and joking and assured us that everything will go smoothly at the doors. We were a bit worried about our fan pre-sale tickets as we didn’t have proper tickets, just confirmation emails we had been told to print and show at the door but the security told us not to worry at all.

Finally, after our long waiting the venue opened the doors. Turned out the staff working at the doors didn’t have any information about our pre-sale tickets so we were told our tickets are not valid and not let in, instead the security let in the people behind us refusing to wait until the problem was solved. We got in eventually taking places left that time. I was lucky to get a nice place in the second row and had a good view for the gig in the end.

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However, I wasn’t in my best mood and Toy Boy didn’t make it shift to any better direction even I usually love it. During the second and third song I already paid attention that the new setting looked even better than I had imagined. It’s absolutely brilliant! It’s made of simple colorful cardboard but somehow it came alive as soon as Mika and the band showed up on stage and looked so cheerful and cartoon style – and that way so suitable for Mika’s music – that I immediately fell in love with it.

After the first three songs I could only think OMG HOW GOOD HE IS! He is so good. Better and more confident than ever. There was no sign of the usual first gigs nervousness. He looked confident and took his place on stage. Cant’ say if it’s age or all the live television show pressure he’s been through during the past two years but he definitely looks more confident than he used to even we saw the first two shows of the tour after a long break.

Every song from the new album was fantastic and WAG made the venue almost explode. The audience went wild! Mika looked happy and pleased and somehow surprised and after that the gig was full of energy to both directions between him and the audience. The funny, unique floor gave the jumping and dancing crowd even more bouncing effect. He did every song on the set list (even Good Wife, love it, such a beautiful, interesting and dark song) and the encore AND even extra EMD in the end taking finally off his jacket.

Amazing to watch and I felt so lucky to be there and experience it all. What a gig and what a crowd. Wow.

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Waiting my flight back home at the JFK airport after spending three amazing days in New York. I really wanted to see the first two shows of the new tour and US shows are always a good idea with such a great, energetic and intimate vibe. I met a lot of new people and visited several cool cafes/restaurants so more posts about my NYC trip and the Webster Hall gig to come when back home.

The first show was on Sunday in Williamsburg, Brooklyn at a small club called Verboten. I went to the area in good time to be able to take photos of the view to Manhattan and to have brunch at a restaurant near the venue and spent a wonderful day first watching a bike tour and visiting a little outdoor flea market area selling all kind of little vintage treasures and then meeting local fans and waiting the gig to start while watching dogs and families walking around.

The venue staff was surprised to see people gathering to queue but didn’t seem to mind and the person in charge gave good instructions to the security coming work later in the evening and checked us at least four times before the doors were opened just to make sure everything was okay and that no one was trying to push in the queue. Such great service we rarely see in Europe. I was happy to see Indy and Kira (below) who I met in Montreal and who blow my mind just being so incredibly smart and cute, local fans Angela and Jess, Yang from China, Lasher from Korea, Natasha – who periscoped the whole gig for Mika fans all over the world to watch – a really nice local couple who came to their first Mika gig and left looking very pleased with their experience and everyone else I met during the day.

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The doors were opened at seven. Everything was relaxed, we got in and waited a couple of hours listening to a DJ. The venue was really small and the stage low and tiny and even without the setting left very little space for Mika and the band. The atmosphere was super intimate, almost too intimate as I suddenly realized I was very close to Mika which was both amazing and a bit awkward at the same time. He started with Toy Boy and I was worried I am even too close to him but he didn’t seem to notice or mind and of course I couldn’t help it anyway and quickly learned to put my eyes on either his shoes or up his face or on Max on my left (and not on his crotch in front of my face, lol). The club was too dark to take photos but some pics below just to show how small and intimate the space was.

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Mika took a lot of contact with the audience during the show and as I was so close to him he suddenly messed my hair and after seeing me looking surprised did it again grabbing my glasses putting them on which was hilarious especially afterwards as Deb told she had actually thought Mika had to put on his reading glasses to be able to read the set list! Too funny. He took a selfie stick from a Korean fan filming himself (and his butt!) and gave some special greetings to the periscope watchers putting Natasha’s mobile very close to his heart. He loved a chatty fan called Michael a couple of rows behind us and came closer and closer to be able to communicate with him and his friend and I did my best to give him space.

Toy Boy was absolutely beautiful, then Popular (works always in the US), Grace Kelly and Blue Eyes and finally a new song Talk about You. Loved the live version of it! I knew I would enjoy it but liked it even more than had thought in advance. Then Big Girl and Underwater (which wasn’t as it usually is, not sure what happened) and then again a new song – Good Guys – also a success. I really love all the new songs! Relax, Origin, Boum Boum Boum and Billy Brown and then finally Last Party which was phenomenal live. See my vid below, not the best quality but you can get a small impression how powerful the live version is. Then Happy Ending, Golden and Love Today (all familiar and loved) and surprisingly no Lollipop encore and no other new songs and the gig ended.

He seemed to love being back in the US and connecting with the local audience. I loved the vibe the gig had and was generally incredibly happy to see him back on stage and left the venue smiling and so pleased with the new songs, still curious about the new setting as there really wasn’t space for it on the tiny stage.