My trip to La Rochelle was colorful to say the least. Nothing went according to the plan but I still had a good time. Saskia and I had an early flight from Venice to Paris and after that missed our train from Paris to La Rochelle. She wanted to use time to consider options. I didn’t want to take any risk to miss the gig in La Rochelle so I run to the track for a train to Poitiers (with a connection to La Rochelle), saw a closed gate (they close it 2 minutes before trains leave), just opened it and run to the train only seconds before it left. I managed to buy a ticket and sent Saskia an update. She would be in La Rochelle a bit later.
I arrived La Rochelle, checked in my hotel and decided to join the queue. People had told La Rochelle is a lovely place but the festival area was confusing. Eventually I saw the gates and joined the crowd. The gates were opened and I got in to find out there’s another waiting due to sound checks and the situation looked messy. The crowd was separated in two parts (the other part was naturally let in before our crowd) and everyone run in trying to get as good spot as possible. I was very lucky and got a great spot near the end of the catwalk and saw both the big stage and catwalk quite well. I could feel a small sharp pain in my ankle while running but didn’t give it much thought and just looked forward to the gig,
Soon it was obvious I had somehow hurt my ankle. It was painful, hot and swollen and I couldn’t put much weight on it. However, there was no way I would waste a spot like that and go to the medical tent for ice. I would definitely see the gig and I was sure it was nothing serious (I’ve hurt my ankle once before so it’s probably just a bit vulnerable for accidents like this) and luckily I had a barrier to lean on while waiting. I was alone but a group of French fans was very near me so I could see also some familiar faces.
The venue was packed with people and the festival camera filmed the audience between the performances showing people on two big screens. Suddenly I got a Facebook message from Sasha who I had met when we were on stage with Mika in Nice a few years ago asking if I can still remember him and telling he saw me on the screen. Of course I did and turned out he was just a few rows behind me and we had a small chat after the show. Being on stage with Mika is probably the coolest way ever to meet new people. I love it that Mika has given these opportunities to his fans and even I have a bad stage fear and my mind goes almost blank during the moments on stage I will still always remember the feeling and the experience and everything that happened that day.
The evening started with the first artist called Broken Back (a singer with a drummer on stage) and I don’t usually listen to music like that but I still liked it and found it entertaining. The audience generally liked him and clapped and cheered nicely during the whole performance. Then it was time for Marina Kay who I had seen once before. She is very pretty and can sing well but her music is a bit boring and empty and aimed for a younger audience. It was sweet to watch her with her very young fans, she gave them smiles and waves and other little gestures making them all extremely happy. The second female artist Louane was much more interesting and I loved her style and would have probably enjoyed her performance a lot if my ankle hadn’t felt so painful. We had already stood for hours and I couldn’t wait to see Mika. There was still a short performance while building the stage for him and then he was finally in front of us.
Mika started with No Place In Heaven. The song is definitely on my top 5 list and I personally absolutely love it but the audience in La Rochelle didn’t seem to have enough patience for it and had probably expected something more energetic. I could hear Max too loudly during the song and it didn’t make any sense so my first thought was that something is wrong and Mika is not well but luckily that was not the case and after NPIH the show continued in a normal way and sounded good. Big Girl and Talk About You still didn’t make the audience go wild and even songs like Grace Kelly and Good Wife seemed a bit like hard work. I kept hoping for balloons and finally it was time for Staring At The Sun and the giant balloons woke the audience up.
Never underestimate the power of king size balloons! Festivals can be very challenging crowd wise. The audience is massive and only a part of it is there for Mika. In France most people know him and many likes him but people still come to festivals also for other reasons – the event itself, for the whole line up or even for other artists – and need a trigger to party along his music and to listen to how good he really is. Maybe it was only my personal experience but I felt the latter part of the show was more energetic than the beginning and that it took a while for people to warm up (and when it happened Mika looked genuinely pleased with the crowd and his performing was more relaxed).
I could feel the in pain in my ankle even during the show but it didn’t bother me and at times I totally forgot it was there at all. Usually my gig experience is a combination of enjoying the music and observing the show and details and everything that happens on stage. Sometimes I purely enjoy the music, that’s what happened in Padova. It was so lovely to just feel the music and enjoy the pleasure and I didn’t think anything else than the moment and how much I deserved it (and even if I didn’t, I could do something good as a person in the near future to pay for it).
In La Rochelle I was more focused on observing, I had a view over the whole stage which offered a rare possibility to really focus on lights and watching the stage setting and I paid a lot of attention to the audience because it was restless and so different than the usual Mika audience. My personal favorites were Boum Boum Boum, Underwater (always special with a big audience!) and Last Party with colorful rainbow lights that make me think of Freddie Mercury. I generally enjoyed watching the light show as I can’t often see it this well. Good Guys feels better gig after gig and Rain is back in my favorites. I couldn’t understand French chatting but the small French song in the end was really pretty.
After the gig I went to the medical tent and asked for ice. People working there were really nice and helpful, put ice on my ankle and eventually helped us to find a bike taxi because we couldn’t find a normal one. The driver saw our hesitating faces and gave us a hilarious drive around the city before taking us to our hotel. We couldn’t stop laughing and I will add the bike to the list of unique vehicles I’ve used after Mika shows (along with planes, police cars and burning trains). A few pics and a vid below.