I was cleaning my years old laptop for my son and found these blurry, random photos taken at my very first Mika gig at Brixton Academy, London almost 7 years ago. The photos are not good quality and have value probably only to myself but I couldn’t resist uploading them as a concert memory.
I really can’t remember many details from this concert. The meaning and value for the memory comes partly from so many incredible and beautiful things happened after this first concert experience. However, I will never forget how amazed I was by the energy and by his voice at a live situation, how joyful everything was with flowers, candles, balloons and confetti and how happy I was finally see/hear the Love Today intro (my favor part of the concert). I knew immediately I would be back.
For some reason I haven’t earlier blogged about the Parc des Princes show in Paris 2008. Partly because it was an arena/stadium show and even I had a great seat I was so far away I don’t have much material to share. Partly because it was only my second Mika show – I was still a newbie at live gigs – and the event was such a massive emotional experience it’s not even possible to describe or explain it all.
The show – designed together with stage and costume designer Es Devlin – was literally a circus. It was so colorful and full of details it almost caused a sensory overload. It must be one of the most important moments of Mika’s career and I’m grateful I saw it. At the same time wish I could see it all again, now with my current experience and point of view to be able to register and remember every detail and to see the whole event from a different perspective.
My first thought would be how huge and important it is! Big on any scale and for any artist. I would think how special it is for Mika to make his childhood dreams come true (by creating a real circus) and I would wonder how many people and working hours are needed to prepare a concert that big/what kind of a financial risk the event must be. I would take hundreds of pictures and document every single detail.
That time all I could think was myself and that I needed a Mika concert. I felt I hadn’t slept for 8 years. I needed energy and I needed something to blow my mind in a legal, somehow healthy way. My children were still very young and I couldn’t travel on my own so I took my whole family (including my sister in law) and spent a week in Paris to be able to see the show. It was wonderful! It worked exactly as I had hoped and kept me happy for months.
I don’t think arenas are ideal for any artist, they are more suitable for bands, imo. The stage was giant and Mika was running most of the time. I had a seat and I was a bit jealous of people partying in front of stage. The zoom in my camera was non-existent so I was super jealous of professional photographers walking around the venue as a group with all their equipments (some of them had even trolleys!). Why can’t I walk around and use a giant zoom like they do?! “Because they are allowed to and you are not, you are supposed to be in the audience” (my husband said and gently pushed me back to my seat). My view was actually really good. I loved watching the show elements brought into the crowd, I loved watching the massive audience.
It was a magical night and a lovely week in Paris. A beautiful start for my later “Mika in France” experiences. A newspaper article and a couple of my old videos below. To tell the truth I don’t know what the article says, I just happened to see it in a cafe. After 6 years and dozens of shows in France I (sadly) still don’t speak French. Love Today was probably the best part of the show (be sure to watch the whole video with the giant dragon). Just can’t get enough is one of Mika’s rare covers.
I was hesitating a bit before traveling to Portugal (Festa das Lata 10/2010) because it’s not the easiest destination to travel from Finland (expensive flights) and this was not a regular gig but a festival. I didn’t know any local fans and Portugal is not a familiar place for me, but I still decided to go in the end. I really wanted to see this one. It was the last possible gig for me before a long break, it felt important to travel and I was very happy I did it.
It was a great gig. There were some drunken students (because it was a kind of student party/festival) and Mika performed very, very late. I didn’t mind. I was so happy to see him on stage. He must have been a bit tired but he did well. I met some old MFC friends and had a lot of fun! The vids below are Happy Ending and Rain (2:36, 2:43)
This is the last concert memory I need to post, because the Coimbra gig was the last concert I saw before the Kettner’s Magic Number gig (I will label new concert posts as “gig reviews”). Waiting feels unbearable, I hope there will be more soon.
People often want to make clear that they travel around the world to see Mika concerts only to meet their friends or/and that they would have travelled to those destinations in any case for holidays. Usually I don’t bother to explain myself. I love seeing these concerts and I’m an adult, so I can use my time and money for this if I like (and I do like). Still, seeing fantastic places/some of my favorite cities, meeting friends and local people and having an opportunity to watch around and observe things in different countries, yes, it’s definitely a bonus! Italian sun set in the first pic, so pretty!!
The Cattolica gig in Italy in August 2010 was one of the most entertaining concerts I’ve seen. So much fun!! Mika was in his funny and relaxed mood and telling random jokes. After only a few words in the beginning of the gig Nezza (who was next to me) and I looked each other: This is going to be a good one!!!! (I know, I know!!). A few words can tell so much. I love his random silly mode, it’s like an order to the audience to relax and enjoy. Music should not be taken too seriously, life should not be taken too seriously. Smiling, laughing, enjoying the music, having fun. Good things.
The gig was day after Mika’s birthday, and Italian fans wanted to give him a cake and sing Happy Birthday. I was so pleased they generously let us foreigners to take part of the surprise. It’s always good to be a part of the group and not an outsider. To tell the truth, I’m not always so keen on different surprise projects. Too often they turn out to be too competitive (you know what I mean, fans do things to get his time and attention). Sometimes I even find these projects a bit disturbing (Happy Ending is one of my favorite songs, I want to be able to concentrate on listening to it properly, without being worried what’s happening in the audience). Sometimes these surprises are a great success (like simple bubbles in Tallinn, loved it) and in Cattolica everything felt really appropriate. After all, it was his birthday just day before the gig! It was fun – cake, flowers, confetti, balloons!! See the vid below both giving the cake and eating it.
Birthday surprise and Happy Ending:
Eating the cake:
Going to Italy is always a major culture shock for me. People are so friendly and helpful I can’t believe it. As soon as I get the idea of traveling, someone is already emailing me maps, timetables and even addresses for suitable restaurants. If Italians are not keen on the idea of foreigners coming to their gigs they don’t let me feel it, because it’s just against their nature, they seem to be proud of their generosity and hospitality.
When I’m finally in Italy, someone will tell me where to go, translate everything important and even bring me some water before I have time to realize how badly I actually need it. People take care of each other, share and communicate. In Finland old people can die on a street in the middle of the day and no one takes a notice. Sometimes I feel Finnish people take a contact with their neighbors only to check the value of their house, car or television in order to feel superiority or jealousy (and how sick is that). I’m exaggerating of course, but there are some clear cultural differences.
I always enjoy being in Italy and I think Mika enjoys being in Italy too, at least all the Italian gigs I’ve seen so far have been more than successful. My trip to Italian summer festivals in Rome and Udine last July was beyond amazing, not least because of our very special bus trip across Italian countryside. The venue in Udine was one the most beautiful venues I’ve seen. Mika loves using extraordinary venues (churches, old theaters, castles, sea side areas…) and it often makes his concerts even more special.
I linked below Kick Ass and Blame It on The Girls from Rock in Roma and Blue Eyes from Udine, so it’s easy to see two different stage settings he used during the Festival Tour (must be easier with two of them, one in use and another one on it’s way to the next destination), he had a setting with trees and another one with flowers and simple letters M-I-K-A. He is awesome, isn’t he? Bello bellissimo grazieeeee!!!!! That’s all my Italian.
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: