Kaunas_caravan

Of all the countries Mika is doing these days the Baltic states are closest to my home so the gigs in Riga and Kaunas felt for personal reasons a little bit more special than the other gigs this summer. I already posted some pics of the both shows.The concert in Riga went already well but in Kaunas the audience was so incredibly enthusiastic and the atmosphere so warm and happy that I feel like posting a small report about it to remember everything later.

I travelled together with Saskia. I’m not easy company while traveling, I have my own routines and want to do things my own way but Saskia and I have travelled together many times and know each other well so everything goes smoothly. People don’t queue in Baltic countries and we had a relaxed day and went to the venue late afternoon and met some local fans who were excited and thrilled about the gig. We heard that local radio stations play a lot of Mika and even his new songs which turned out to be true during the evening as the audience knew the lyrics also for his newer songs and not only for the biggest hits.

Everyone we met in Liethuania was kind and friendly. The security at the venue didn’t seem to know much (they all gave wrong instructions) but they did it smiling and generally everyone we happened to meet was welcoming and nice. Everyone in Liethuania seemed to also be extremely tall and the barrier we saw after getting in the venue was probably highest I’ve ever seen, I could hardly put my chin above it.

The new supporting act for the tour is called Xylaroo and I loved these two sisters (pics above) the moment they started to sing which totally surprised me. Usually I’m not into female voices at all but the girls are talented and incredibly sweet and have a simple, very special and unique style which I immediately liked. I already have a couple of favorite songs and looking forward to seeing them many times during the tour.

Kaunas_confetti

Mika started with Big Girl (a good, basic song to begin the show) and continued with Talk About You and Good Wife (the most positive songs from the new album). The front area was full of photographers which is always good from artist’s point of view. There are several articles about the show online and Saskia and I can be seen in many pics and we look so awful we had to laugh tears in our eyes when saw them.

There was a new little dance in the end of the TAY with Max and Joy and it’s really joyful and now one of my favorite details and I would love it to be a bit longer. During EMD Mika asked a boy who had caught his attention with his energetic dancing and jumping on stage with him and he translated and danced more and was actually very natural on stage.

In the end of Happy Ending I knew to expect a small a cappella moment but the most of the audience couldn’t know what was happening and kept making such noise Mika had to jokingly beg them to stop until the crowd was finally silent and he could sing the ending which made the venue practically explode. Can’t remember experiencing an audience like that for a long time.

Also can’t remember last time I danced as much as I did in Kaunas. It wasn’t even possible to stay still while everyone around me was dancing and jumping. I carefully focused on listening to my favorites and Stardust, Underwater, Last Party and unexpected Any Other World were all absolutely beautiful. I still think it was the relaxed atmosphere that made the evening so special (no one was pushy or tense, everyone was simply enjoying) and Mika seemed to feel the same and told how the gig didn’t feel like a concert but more like just having fun together. A few pics below.

Kaunas_dance

Kaunas_EMD

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Kaunas_EMD_3

Kaunas_piano

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Kaunas_drumming

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After the show Saskia, Ani and I took a pic with a couple of local girls we met at the gig. I had recognized familiar faces in the audience because I’ve seen some shows in Estonia and Latvia even it’s been several years. Next time in Finland, please? It would be so lovely. X

Kaunas_fanit

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!

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

The Festival area

Tallinn is only a couple of hours ferry trip from Helsinki, but Mika wise like a whole new world. I arrived to Tallinn night before the show and was surprised (but pleased) to chat with an older taxi driver, who told that “quiet today, Alphaville playing at Lauluvaljak, but tomorrow it will be mad: Mika will be there”. Amazing he’s so popular in Estonia!

I met my friend Saskia at the hotel. We planned to see Alphaville but it was already really late and we didn’t go in the end (I regretted it a bit, because you know, I have lived Alphaville times, well, at least “the best of Alphaville times” and would have loved to see them live). But we did a lovely walk near the sea instead and I was surprised how pretty everything looked. How come you never appreciate things near you? It’s not always necessary to travel for days to see something beautiful. Saskia and I chatted until late night at the hotel (we knew we can sleep late in the morning) and it was so much fun, a big thank you to her for the company!

The gates were opened at 4.30 pm next day and we went there a little bit before that, met some fans and heard Mika/his band doing the soundcheck. I always love that moment, it makes me wait for the evening so much. The gates were opened and we went in and saw the area around the stage still closed and suddenly realized he is on stage and rehearsing! The security said it’s okay to be there and watch but no filming or taking pics so we stood there listening and smiling and started to hear new songs! It felt unreal. I almost couldn’t understand we were really listening to Lola and Underwater (and another new song we didn’t know about at all). I love watching these moments, he is always very different than during his usual shows. I could see his mother dancing and having fun in her colorful dress and couldn’t decide which one is more awesome, listening to the new songs and watching the rehearsals or knowing we were going to see his full, proper show in a few hours!

The other performers

Ollesummer festival is actually a beer festival. Lol, it doesn’t sound so good but it wasn’t bad either, not too many drunken people and I could even found a proper coffee stand. The performer before Mika was a bit harder style, probably not something foreign Mika fans (like Saskia) usually listen to. The band seemed to be popular in Estonia though, maybe in Russia too, and even they are not known in my country I could totally see their style being popular here too. I really liked their music and the singer was quite charismatic. I think they were a good choice to perform before Mika, the audience loved them and went a bit crazy already. The band is called The Sun and I think the singer Tanel Padar won the ESC years ago (please correct me if I’m wrong). Check them out here or here.

The audience

I was lucky to see Mika in Tallinn two years ago so I knew the audience will be the best possible and I was really looking forward to the show also for that reason. Tallinn never seems to fail, the audience was epic and so loud and Mika was on fire from the first moments. He told later how the audience made him almost fly backwards because the effect was so strong and totally believe him because I could feel the power in the audience. The audience blow some soap bubbles during the Happy Ending and it must have brought a lot of memories to Mika from his previous Tallinn show  because he had that huge smile on his face again.

The band

Tallinn was the first proper opportunity for me to see the new band and I was very curious to see how they play together (I did see them in London but the set was short and the band looked a bit nervous there). This time they were totally having fun and very relaxed. They sound really good, seem to know what to do and are musically very versatile (playing a lot of instruments etc). I’m not surprised, I expected them to be good (he wouldn’t have changed his band otherwise?) but I was happily surprised to see their sense of humor and relaxed performing. My first thought was that even the band looks more mature than the previous one. It can be just the outfits and style, I haven’t checked their age. Anyway, I already love the band and was happy they could experience this kind of Mika magic in so early phase of the touring. They must have felt how amazing the atmosphere was.

Mika

He lost a bit of his voice during the night so the new songs sounded actually better in France a couple of days later. I still LOVED every single moment in Tallinn. Hearing new songs for the very first time is always special, I’m glad it happened in Tallinn (because it seems to be a special Mika place for me too) and felt very emotional myself (new music after a long, long wait), I can’t describe it. It was good to see him starting touring looking happy and pleased. Looking forward to many good moments in the future, but the Tallinn show will absolutely be one of my favorite shows this summer.

A few random pics from my camera. I didn’t take many, but uploaded a few to show his outfit. The whole band looked really stylish, loved their outfits. We didn’t see any background drawings, maybe it wasn’t possible (so the background was black, and I concentrated on new songs, which was enough).

I can’t say my favourite moment today. We were able to watch the soundcheck (from the other side of the area) and I always love it. He did Lola, Underwater, MYH, Rain and a new slow song called “Kids” during the soundcheck. I was almost fainting hearing so many new songs, a total surprise! The gig was crazy and the Estonian audience as good as I expected. Mika was on fire and the band was very good, really, so much more relaxed compared to Lovebox.

Underwater is a perfect song, one of his best. Somehow Origin of Love suits very well with it (he did Origin in the end though).  Lola is very different, but I really liked it and it made me smile (this is just another love song). We didn’t hear “Kids” at the gig. Very curious about the song! MYH was much better than at Lovebox (very different) and I must repeat myself: Celebrate is a great live song even if it’s probably my least favorite new song (still enjoyed it a lot).  Going to check my videos but don’t hold your breath, I was in front of a speaker and the sound was very loud and even a bit broken at times, so no idea of the quality. What a day, loved every moment.

Lola:


Underwater:

Origin:

Seeing Mika live for the first time is a surprising experience for many people, he is brilliant on stage and takes all their attention. People can hardly see the band/the audience/the stage setting/anything else. I saw my first Mika concert Feb 2008. The amazed feeling has never left me but gradually, after seeing more concerts, I started to understand and see the magical world he has built around his songs (with stage settings full of details and song characters living in their weird costumes). I started to observe the whole show dynamics and it made everything even more interesting. The main reason I go to see his concerts is still very simple and something I learnt when I saw him for the first time: he is brilliant on stage.

When the majority of the audience is sharing “the first time experience” the group effect is so fresh and strong it’s difficult to describe. That’s what happened in Riga, Latvia and Tallinn, Estonia (8/2010) during the Baltic Tour. I had already felt something like that in Helsinki, but in a smaller scale, because the venue was a night club (a big one, but still an intimate and closed venue compared to arenas and outside areas). I didn’t know what to expect from bigger Baltic city concerts. I learnt later that singing along is somewhere very deep in Baltic culture. The way the Baltic audience was taking part of these shows was very natural and effortless. People concentrated on the performance and enjoyed, many of them knew the lyrics and sang along, and the atmosphere was fantastic.

I loved it. I let myself concentrate on the most important things, his voice and energy, just like everyone else. I loved the atmosphere and watching Mika’s face when he realized he is doing some of his best concerts for a long time in cities like Riga and Tallinn. Who would have thought in advance? I didn’t, and I don’t think he took it for granted either.

The Tallinn concert will always be remembered as the bubble gig. Estonian fans gave bottles of soap to people in the audience (to make bubbles) and when Happy Ending started the whole venue area was filled with bubbles, in twenty seconds! The Estonian night was not too dark, and the bubbles looked beautiful, it was like magic! The first vid below is the bubble vid, and the second one is Rain from Riga. He takes his shirt off (“thanks for being a great audience, I had fun”), and the way he screams “baby” and starts jumping (like back row girls at an aerobic class) is beyond adorable. My favorite part of Rain. Must love him.

Happy Ending from Tallinn:

Rain from Riga: