I travelled to Paris with my whole family so the experience was different than usually (equally or even more fun but for different reasons). First I had to postpone my trip due to bad cold and I missed the show on Wednesday. Another missed show! I felt disappointed about it but was gladly well enough to travel on Wednesday and could enjoy our family time in Paris on Thursday and Friday. My sons wanted to see the view so we climbed on Eiffel Tower in the freezing cold weather, visited a couple of museums (really enjoyed the new women photographers exhibition at Musée d’Orsay and the building is fabulous as well) and found a really nice restaurant to celebrate my husband’s birthday on Friday.

On Saturday I went to the venue in good time to get some particular seats I had in mind. Well didn’t get those (thanks to the incompetent security who first decided my tickets are not for the golden area even they obviously were) but had still a nice view. Having seats instead of seeing the show from close distance/feeling the crowd effect is not the same – I had tested that twice during this tour already – so I wasn’t as excited as I usually am but was still waiting for the show in a good mood and extremely curious to see my family’s reactions!

The Citizens started and had a good energy. I like them and felt a bit sad I won’t see them again after the tour ends, I’ve really enjoyed their performances. Then the Mika show started and I loved how surprised and excited my 12 yo son was when he heard the medley and saw the Heaven sign coming down. Mika came on stage and sounded a bit sore throat/tired but still fine and I felt relieved and started to enjoy the show (I was already nervous for Sunday and had been worried he might not be well).

The audience standing in front of me was enthusiastic and knew the songs but the crowd sitting around the venue looked a bit lame just like in Milan earlier this tour. People were watching and obviously enjoying but didn’t seem to know Mika’s new music properly and many of them had probably bought their tickets after seeing him on television and not because of the new album. The seated area was mostly sitting (and not dancing and taking a part of show) until the later part of the show so I had to sit and watch as well instead of partying along.

I was observing my family to see their response and to my surprise they sat and looked somehow shocked during the whole performance but told later they had loved everything they saw. I guess everything happening on stage was simply too much to handle and took all their attention! I basically knew what to expect but still found several little surprises here and there. So many new details added again, loved it and find it amazing how the show has evolved during the tour!

The crowd knew the old hits and was thrilled about Grace Kelly and Relax but lived along also some newer songs like Talk About You. It’s obviously the best new song for an ignorant audience and it’s always good live even originally not a fan favorite. However, some other new songs would have deserved much better response than they got. Promiseland was absolutely perfect (it seems to get better and better every time I hear it) but still totally undervalued by the seated crowd which made me frustrated in the middle of the area.

I couldn’t feel the usual energy but maybe just couldn’t catch it sitting so far back? However, it was obvious Mika was seriously making an effort with his performance wanting to end his tour in France with an especially good gig and he managed to do well indeed. The show was fabulous and impressed me once again even I had already seen the full setting several times during the tour.

I absolutely love it how everything works on stage and how nicely and smoothly every detail follows each other and how the whole stage is used for the setting! My youngest son could seemingly appreciate the impressive setting with the caravan, globe, gate, background and the light show so I’m glad we saw the full stage in Paris before the smaller London show (which as an experience was so super magical and precious to me, will write a long report about it later!).

I was excited to hear how GK was started in a new, harder way and loved BBB and Mika focusing on the song again. Felt happy and carefree during GW, energized by TAY and a bit sad as soon as Relax started. It’s a personal song for me so paradoxically and despite of the lyrics it always makes me to remember everything I need to be worried about. I pushed the feeling away and really enjoyed Promiseland and loved loved loved Last Party (my favorite part of the show even the worried feeling returned for the same reasons as earlier). I could feel the audience’s excitement during Love Today and adored the rock star style beginning definitely at least as much as my family who saw everything with their fresh eyes.

I missed a few details/changes during the show simply because I was too far away and for that reason couldn’t see any facial expressions. I was blinded by the beautiful magnificent globe, my favorite part of the set and couldn’t help but explaining and pointing to my son how it’s specially made and covered by crystals. I didn’t manage to take any really nice photos from far back but took a few of the whole stage to remember it now when the tour is over.

The setting must have been expensive and it makes me wonder if it was really done only for one month or if there will be more shows to come. The Paris show ended and we could hear the new dance version of Hurts played on the background, I loved it and started to hope we could hear it live in London (as we did, more about that as soon as possible).

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Writing this on my way home from Grenoble. I saw three concerts during my trip, the two last gigs in Marseille and Grenoble were cancelled. I had planned to write a proper report about every gig – taking a bit different point of views and telling about the show and the new setting, the current set list and everything happening around the gigs – but the tour schedule is tight and I didn’t have time for that so I’m gathering some thoughts about my week here.

The new set list is the longest Mika has done and as already said really satisfying to the audience. It’s also hard and tiring to sing. He tried to save his voice a bit before cancellations – skipping a song here and there, making the audience as a part of the show, using the band – but kept the set still long and gave his everything during every show so no surprise he was vulnerable enough to catch a cold (like we all during every single tour) and has now issues with his vocal chords. Maybe pushing himself too much in Madrid? Marseille was cancelled and I was happy the same was done in Grenoble even it meant we missed the gig and even it must be frustrating for him. Too much to risk for one or two random shows just before several important events.

Fans are understanding with cancellations like this. Of course everyone was a little down and worried in Marseille. I suddenly realized I’m sick (now lost my voice like to show my sympathy), over-tired, hungry enough to have hunger tantrums and all other things we never notice in our gig high. I felt homesick but couldn’t find any reasonable way to shorten my trip so I followed my original plan after Marseille even expected Grenoble to be cancelled as well.

A few thoughts about the shows in general. We didn’t see the full stage set at every venue. The Heaven sign and gate can fit also to smaller stages, the caravan and globe need both width and heigh. The beautiful gate – to heaven or to hell – is my favorite part of the set (starting a song behind it looks incredibly cool) and absolutely love the glittery globe! I’ve enjoyed seeing variations and shows with smaller setting, that way it’s easier to focus on the performance and the full set stays fresh and special for bigger shows.

The supporting band Citizens! has been a huge hit! Practically everyone loves them and they are good indeed. I’ve been listening to their album but like their rock live sound even more. They are not so well known (yet) so they make an effort to be nice to everyone and have always time for little chats with fans. Their performance makes me in a good mood before Mika starts meaning I don’t need to adjust my mood during the first Mika songs and I can fully enjoy the whole gig.

About the set list. It’s slightly changing and I really appreciate it. There is a basic structure but the order is changing a bit. My neural system is programmed to expect a certain order, it’s useful to be woken up by unexpected songs and after seeing several shows little changes give a positive, surprising impact. The beginning medley is still exciting. It feels irrational (meaning I can’t connect it to anything) but I like the clips and purple lights behind ”Purple Rain”.

A few random thoughts about songs.

No Place In Heaven fits with the theme, I just wish Mika wasn’t covering and hiding himself during the song. He is dressed in a coat and hat and the audience’s attention is in the caravan (unless the stage is too small for caravan and the song is done in the middle of the stage) and the true meaning of the song stays somehow hidden. First I thought I can’t focus on the song enough. No, the problem is I can’t see that Mika I want to focus on. He is in the middle of the theater scene covered by a secret agent’s outfit. NPIH is a personal and honest song. I would love to see it performed in a personal and honest way, softly and wearing sweaty, wrinkled shirt.

Sounds silly but I’m not joking. There can be a big difference in the atmosphere, just see how amazing Ordinary Man became when he was brave enough to do it in a smaller way. Love love love this version from Bordeaux:

He is doing little changes in his old songs. I’m especially pleased he is doing something with Relax. Not sure I like the result (yet) or can explain what he is doing with it but I like the idea he is giving his attention to Relax, it deserves it. The new beginning of Grace Kelly I already like a lot. Lollipop can always raise again. Love Today is phenomenal! Very impressed he can make it better year after year. Big Girl is a crowd pleaser. I would prefer Century Man as a high energy song but of course everyone enjoys BG and it’s a good, standard option in the beginning if photographers are disturbing the show.

Boum Boum Boum has become an entertainment number so the song is a bit lost in the middle of boxing gloves, funny glasses, hats, jokes, fans and dancing scenes. It gives a suitable moment for entertainment and chatting so I totally understand why it’s done that way but miss the old version I loved so much. Just the song and dancing. I love the live version of this song and the atmosphere going from gentle to powerful and the Spanish style beginning is pretty cool as well.

Talk About You has a good, positive energy but it’s not the highlight as it used to be at festivals simply because there are better songs to stand out: Good Guys is getting better and better and we heard a super special version in Bordeaux or Toulouse (travelled too much, someone help me?). Staring At The Sun is great live especially in English like heard in Madrid. Good Wife and Promiseland are both brilliant! Last Party in the end keeps its place as my personal favorite.

Good Wife is such an uplifting song! It’s so good it gives me a surprise every time I hear it. I can feel my posture changing because suddenly the world doesn’t feel so heavy anymore. The melancholic thought of something that never happened is somewhere on the background. I really enjoy this song, it makes me so happy and carefree. Promiseland has become the highlight I expected it to become. The calm part sounds calm and confident and the party part makes people go crazy. Perferct!

Funny, interesting and special details happened in all three shows. In Bordeaux Mika filmed a little clip to congratulate his friend and asked the audience to make some noise for it. He was pleased with the result and rewarded us (the whole audience) with giggling and smiles! In Madrid he asked a sweet young girl with a puppet on stage (see photos in my gallery). He used Melissa’s flowers and Karin’s crown and made Max wear Saskia’s wings the whole Madrid gig. He took Spanish lyrics someone gave for TAY and tried to sing them.

He changed his outfit several times and used several colorful jackets (really love those jackets, my favorites so far). He gave a lot of spotlight to the band and put Tristan behind the gate in the beginning of Love Today. One of my all time favorite Love Todays! Tristan is a rock star, all the others have already lost that kind of real enthusiasm. Hope he can continue his happy stage party without restrictions.

Last but no least stunning a cappella moments in the end of Happy Ending every show even in Madrid which was super amazing and a little bit worrying at the same time. The venue wasn’t small at all and I had a feeling Mika was already giving the audience everything he possibly could and everything and even more the audience possibly could hope for. Maybe even too much? One of my all time favorite shows for sure. I have really enjoyed this tour, now fingers crossed the man is in good enough health for a few more shows.

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Finally a new Mika Tour! The Heaven Tour started in Rennes on Friday and continued in Paris on Saturday. I have no words to describe how impressed I was in Rennes while watching the show for the first time. I loved every moment, it was definitely one of my very best Mika nights ever. Full of surprises one after another, a totally new setlist with an exciting beginning, a lot of songs from the latest album and a new, massive and colorful stage set built around the “Heaven” theme. Everything was magical.

He started with No Place In Heaven. The stage was dark and first the audience could hear a small intro/medley containing several little references to different songs and themes. Then a huge lighted HEAVEN sign appeared above the stage and Mika started No Place In Heaven in front of the little caravan, hiding mysteriously behind his hat and coat. I almost couldn’t handle the excitement so I couldn’t give the song the attention it deserves but loved how exciting and mysterious the moment was (and so suitable for the theme of course). After that the caravan opened looking like a mechanical miniature theater with a sign PARADISE and Big Girl was done in front of it, Max in the spotlight together with Mika.

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Then the show continued being so rich and generous with new songs and details that it’s impossible to describe it all and I don’t think it’s even needed, there will be many more shows and time to go through everything. The new setlist is so long that in the end of the show the audience feels really satisfied and just a little bit melancholic instead of the usual desperate “noooooo don’t take him away from us yet”. Of course we all would like him to continue forever but it’s a full-length, very satisfying show.

The new stage looks fabulous. The signs (Heaven, Paradise) and the giant beautiful gate have an obvious connection to the theme. The colorful background looks some kind of the end of the world situation and is not as easily explained and I need to see it several times to be able to understand everything in it (smoking factories? a giant shark? a submarine?) but the whole stage looks fabulous especially with the amazing light show. My favorite detail was the magical shiny globe in the middle of the stage. It made me think of Rio which we didn’t hear yet (maybe later, who knows). Mika wasn’t wearing a suit but his white outfit with different jackets and I loved especially the stunning embroidered Valentino (?) with beautiful animals in the back.

We heard several songs from the new album and I loved them all. Good Wife was the best and most flawless performance, it’s such a great song. Promiseland was the most thrilling and everyone screamed as soon as they realized it’s coming. It’s not yet the biggest highlight of the show – he still needs to practice it – but it will be. He just needs to keep doing it. Last Party in the end was simply perfect.

He has added a lot of new details to the old songs as well. There’s an exciting guitar intro in the beginning of Love Today! It’s a pity that Tim is not on stage with him anymore. Everyone loves Tim and his charm and kindness… However, I’m sure the new guitarist will do well and Tim seems to be still around at least for a while. Max is as adorable as always! I loved the Roger Rabbit intro for EMD and the dancing with it. Boum Boum Boum is still one of my favorite live songs. I can’t totally explain it but I love how it goes from gentle to another extreme (see it below).

We had the best possible spots in Rennes and I could easily see everything. I was happy like a child in a toy store, my face probably glowing of happiness from the beginning to the end. As a cute detail we saw Mika leaving the Rennes venue with his family. This time he didn’t have a car with black windows. He left in a normal car like normal people do, the girls in the back of the car. The both dogs raised their heads in the window when they passed the crowd. Melachi – already used to everything – seemed to think “oh there’s a crowd”. Amira – still so young – was grinning in excitement “what’s happening, what’s happening, what’s happening”. Cuteness overload. I was so happy for Mika. I mentioned the dogs to my husband as soon as I called him (he loves dogs as much as I do) and he laughed asking if it was the highlight of the show for me. Well not the highlight but it warmed my heart. Touring must be so much easier for Mika if he can see his family.

Saskia and I had seats for Paris because our schedule was tight with trains and it felt a stressless option. We met the other German fans at the venue and managed to get us all really good seats with a great view to the stage. I still had mixed feelings. I’m not a party person singing and dancing along, I want to hear and see everything. I looked forward to seeing the new set and the light show from a different perspective but also felt I was going to miss a half of the show because I couldn’t see any details from that far away. I can’t understand French so it feels important to see Mika’s facial expressions to know what’s happening on stage.

Watching the show from the back was different but it was also so much fun being there together with the girls. Marion is fluent in French and she explained Mika’s words to Saskia who in turn repeated everything to me. It was like the old children’s game where the story changes on the way and I was laughing too much to be able to repeat everything to Karin next to me.  I loved seeing the whole view and paid a lot of attention to the set and lights. There’s so much work put into this new show, it’s really amazing. So proud and happy after seeing it and can’t wait to see it again later this week. My photo gallery from Rennes is here and from Paris here. A few more pics below.

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Mika was one of the performers for Casino Night Under The Stars in Monte Carlo on Saturday and I felt tempted to go as I had always wanted to hear Grace Kelly live in Monaco (one of the places where I hadn’t seen a concert yet) and booked a trip and then took part of every possible competition on the Casino Facebook page to win one of the dance floor passes. I was finally lucky to win a pass (most of the fans I know had already won one) and it gave an access to an exclusive area in front of stage so it was possible to see the show properly and from close distance.

The pass offered also drinks and a free game at the casino so I ended up having a very cool and unusual gig experience first watching the gig outside in front of Casino and then having a little game session inside. I’ve never dared to try those machines before but it’s actually very easy. You just push the button and then either win something or lose your money. Saskia and I won some money! We were naturally thrilled. Lol!

As so typical for big free events organized by companies for sales promotion purposes the event was quite poorly organized security wise. I always find that annoying and pay attention because companies should take responsibility of people’s safety, have a proper plan and enough professional security routines to control also big crowds. After getting in the dance floor area everything went well though and I was in a better mood as soon as the first artist (Charles Pasi) started. He was good! I liked his performance and felt entertained while waiting for Mika.

It wasn’t a proper Mika show so he didn’t have his normal stage set or light show and for some reason had some technical troubles on stage. It didn’t really matter though. He managed to keep up his usual good energy level and positive atmosphere and the audience had a lot of fun. I had a lot of fun and I really enjoyed the evening. His performance felt short (it was probably shorter than planned) but the special venue and visiting the casino after the gig made it up and I was generally really pleased with my trip. Before leaving to the airport Saskia and I had a little chat with a couple from Manchester who happened to be in Monte Carlo that night and was still listening to Mika songs happy and high after the gig. I always love seeing how much people enjoy his shows. A few pics above, might post more later.

Rochefort is a lovely place with boats, beautiful buildings, parks and flowers (the flower/boat pics in the gallery are taken right next to the venue). The show was one of the first festivals announced this year so a lot of fans had made early plans to travel there. I loved meeting people and had a relaxed day in general.

The security arrangements for the festival were strict, even a bit exaggerated. I saw scary looking scanning equipments at the gates and decided to leave my bag and bigger camera in the car just a few minutes before the gates were opened. That way I had only my tiny camera in my hand which meant no good quality photos but also no extra fuss at the gates and I was lucky to get a great spot with a good view.

The program started early, I enjoyed watching the first act (a girl band) but wasn’t listening so carefully. Olympe’s performance didn’t convince me but he seemed very sweet and I could understand he has a lot of fans. Cristophe Willem was good. Really good actually. His music is not my style but he has a great voice and he was excellent on stage. When he finished his performance I almost had a feeling the show was over.

And it hadn’t even started yet! I was wondering if Mika knows Willem is that good on stage. I wanted him to show he is clearly better and hoped he doesn’t have any kind of a bad hair day. Not that he can’t do a good performance even those days – his show is always good quality – just wanted him to be at his best.

He came on stage and the show was fantastic from the beginning to the end. There was no doubt who was the headliner for the event. He did a proper length gig with several new songs and with a great mood, great positive energy and a lot of chatting and talking to the audience. I couldn’t understand his chatting of course but haven’t understood it for years and just enjoyed the show song after song. It was wonderful.

I especially loved hearing new songs. Talk About You, Staring At The Sun, Good Guys, Ordinary Man. French fans had prepared little surprises for several songs so we had balloons, hearts, stars and big printed pictures of “good guys” described in the song to show during Good Guys. I was happy to hold a Rufus pic! Mika seemed to like the idea and smiled watching and counting pics.

He did Ordinary Man properly with piano, it was a lovely treat. I heard Boum Boum Boum after a break, my biggest hope for that night. He makes it like a different song at gigs, going from calm to passionate emotions, I really love the atmosphere!

I very much enjoyed Talk About You and Staring At The Sun. Neither of those songs are my favorites on the album but I really love them performed live and can’t wait to finally hear my real favorite songs from the album (heard No Place In Heaven and Promiseland but only once). So much looking forward to the tour in September/October.

I felt really happy after the show and saw only happy, smiling people around me. The HEAVEN text in the hat a French fan is wearing above pretty much explains our feelings for the night. So much positive energy gathered in one place! I can’t decide which show I enjoyed more, this happy, long Rochefort gig with several new songs or the crazy, funny gig in Landerneau the day after, both really good experiences and a great way to end the season. Thanks everyone! X

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On my way back home from Southern France after seeing the last two festivals for the summer festival season. I really enjoyed this trip. I’ve seen dozens of Mika shows in France and like it how familiar everything has become and enjoy seeing so many faces I’ve known for years already.

To be honest festivals are generally hard. Messy, big areas with thousands of drunken people, most times located far away from everything, the weather always burning hot or pouring rain. I carry my camera with me because with a bit of luck festivals offer a very rare possibility to take photos with a bigger camera, sometimes even in day light which is the biggest luxury I know and it’s stressful and means constant worry about the security. Festivals are also often chaotic and you never know if you manage to get a good spot or not.

However, when things go well the show is always fantastic. Mika is brilliant at entertaining big crowds and I love watching how the audience gives him energy and how he gives all his energy to the people during the show. When he is the last performer or the only act for the evening the gig is normal length and like his usual shows except outdoors and always well worth traveling.

This time I saw two wonderful shows. Rochefort was a long, proper Mika show with several new songs. Landerneau was a festival set but felt longer and much more energetic than the Belgian one with lots of crazy, funny details. I will later write a proper report about Rochefort with photos and videos, now a short report about Landerneau and some more pics. My technical skills are poor, at home I use only natural light and photoshop photos as little as possible and the result for my gig photos depends always on pure luck but makes me still happy to try and I loved taking some photos in Landerneau.

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It was difficult to find a public transportation from Rochefort to Landerneau but I was lucky and got a ride from Corinne and his husband. A huge thank you to them both for being so helpful, couldn’t have done this otherwise. We slept a couple of hours in Corinne’s holiday house and arrived Landerneau around noon. The gates were opened at 2 pm and everything was relaxed and we went in trying to decide where to stay.

The Landerneau venue was different compared to Rochefort and didn’t have a proper front row. The stage was high with a little extension (just like in Belgium) and I wanted to stay in front of it (and would have obviously got much better pictures from there) but was too short to see anything else than the extension and didn’t want to risk the show in case the security tells strict no to taking photos and eventually went to the left corner to see also the piano. Regretted it a bit during the gig but enjoyed seeing the piano and festivals are always tricky this way, it’s very difficult to know the view in advance.

The line-up was really bad and not my taste at all. I bought food immediately after going in but the crowd started to pack around the stage soon after the program started and after that it was simply not possible to leave our spots even for toilets without losing them so I just tried to concentrate on every artist. I had seen Lily Woods a couple of times before so I knew some of their songs and enjoyed their performance (and loved her outfit!) but found the reggae bands before and after them a torture. The first band was quite experimental and had a lovely message (love and equality to everyone) but sounded absolutely awful and I couldn’t understand who let them on stage and literally thought ”just shoot me now” when saw another reggae band coming on stage with their big woolly hats.

I simply dislike reggae music unless it’s nicely hidden in pop and find the lazy rhythm irritating. However, I always try to be polite and supportive towards every festival act because I feel it’s my responsibility if I take a front row place and sometimes genuinely love discovering new music I would otherwise never listen to. For example I absolutely loved the punk band in Belgium and Cristophe Willem in Rochefort even neither of them my usual style of music, just really liked their stage performances. This time I really tried to smile and awkwardly danced along while listening to the second reggae band but the singer still totally picked my vibe and kept giving intense looks and raising his eyebrows and made me feel incredibly embarrassed. Thousands and thousands of people and the singer immediately read my real feelings? I hope it’s equally obvious to Mika that I love his music.

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The show in Landerneau was fantastic. He started with Relax and no matter how typical it is I can’t imagine any song being a better start for a Mika show (maybe Promiseland for the new tour?). After Relax he did Talk About You and Big Girl and after that his usual festival set but can’t remember the exact set list or order because paid so much attention to everything happening on stage.

The crowd was drunk and wild and he did crazy, funny things keeping it entertained taking a lot of contact with people talking especially to a random guy in a pink bunny suit, wearing a bunny hat offered to him and then asking the bunny guy to dance on stage with him. A lot of interaction with the band, loved it! Teasing Max several times, taking Tim’s hat, joking with Curtis who was lying on the piano and laughing so hard he could hardly play his saxophone. A lot of chatting with the audience and sweet attention and smiles to the fans. At some point he suddenly had women’s bra in his hand. He gave them a couple of confused looks and hang them in the microphone and later offered to our direction (my face being “noooo, you are not throwing someone’s underwear close to us”). Lol! A lot of silly dancing and every way a very colorful, cheerful festival performance.

I took photos and laughed at everything and – again – focused carefully on some songs to remember them later. I was especially happy about my live favorite Boum Boum Boum because haven’t heard it for a while and now heard it two nights in row and the new Love Today which is even more intense than earlier, not sure how that’s even possible. After the show he stopped quickly to say thank you to the French fans he knows well, saw me and gave a quick handshake because he is always so polite. It was somehow funny but very sweet of course, as an opposite to my cold hands his hands are always soft and warm. More about these festivals when back home.

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I never posted my New Year’s post, not sure why. Happy New Year, everyone! Odd years are traditionally good ones and this year will be very special with the new album. There’s mixed information about releasing it. I don’t mind if it’s happening later this year. There are so many things happening already and I’m just happy we have an album to look forward to.

My January has been busy and I could travel to Paris only for one of the two recordings days and chose Tuesday. I was disappointed to hear that Mika’s team had performed on Saturday already. I was naturally hoping to see his final team and how he is choosing it and if I had known it had already happened I might have cancelled my trip. However, I couldn’t know so I was there and had a good time anyway! It’s always good to see Mika and to be honest, Zazie and Florent Pagny probably had together better teams than Mika and Jenifer (who’s team performed also on Saturday) together.

The locals told that the atmosphere on Saturday was emotionally very heavy due to the sad events last week. People were still shocked and at least three people in the audience had fainted during the recording on Saturday which is very unusual (never seen that happen). On Tuesday people seemed to be more back on their routines. Everything looked normal even people naturally mentioned the events. I couldn’t see anything unusual like extra security at the airport but I’m sure everyone in Paris is still alarmed and for example the studio kept their gates closed which they don’t usually do.

The third round of the Voice (blind auditions and battles being the first and second) means that every coach brings their contestants on stage in groups of three and chooses one contestant from each group for live shows. Every team performed three times (3 times 3 contestants/songs) so in the end each coach had three contestants in their teams for live shows. Every coach had also an “extra card” and they chose one more contestant from someone else’s team so now every team has four members for live shows starting in  April.

Mika and Jenifer had already chosen their teams on Saturday. I heard some spoilers about Mika’s team and I can remember his contestants from earlier rounds. Maybe not the best but still good, very international and many ways his style of a team so he can be pleased with the recordings so far. I can’t remember Jenifer’s team but heard the girl with the unique, traditional/folk singing style is going to live shows. Absolutely a silly decision, imo, and I wonder if Jenifer is that emotional with her roots or if the production made it to offer something unusual.

Zazie has a great team and I really like her style. I liked many of the songs she had chosen for her team and that the majority of her contestant were male singers (much more my taste than female singers, I don’t much listen to female singers as they so often have this cold, metallic sound in their voice that gives me as much pleasure as a visit to a dentist). Two contestants in Zazie’s team were predictable favorites and they both continue to live shows even the second one had a very unsuccessful song choice to sing on Tuesday.

Florent Pagny likes good and strong but somehow for my taste boring singers. However, this year his team is better than last year and one of his contestants is actually very good and interesting so the competition will be very hard for each coach and the result depends on how versatile and charismatic the contestants will be on live shows.

Mika had still his extra card to use. I thought he is keeping it to save the girl who was originally in his team but surprisingly he used it earlier for a young boy from Florent Pagny’s team. The boy looked nervous and insecure (obviously knowing he doesn’t have a good chance against a very strong girl in his group) but did still a great performance and I really liked him and wished he could continue. Suddenly Mika pushed the button! Well he had to push it once but I was happy he did it that moment and thought I could give him a hug for doing it and that it was worth coming just to see him choosing that particular contestant.

The weather in Paris was awful and it was still raining when we got out the studio after the recording (after 1 AM) and I left immediately as Isa had kindly offered me a lift to the airport, a huge thank you to her for doing the extra driving, she had still a long way to drive to Belgium. I was lucky to find an open door at the CDG – the airport is mostly closed at night time – and did my best to stay awake until my early morning flight. Traveling from talent shows IS different than traveling from concerts because there’s no adrenaline to give extra strength. I wonder if it’s same for Mika or if the television work is equally exciting for him.

Thanks again to everyone I met in Paris, it’s always a pleasure and see you hopefully soon! Only four weeks until Montreal. I almost can’t believe it’s finally happening. Time to start planning.

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The Voice France battles were recorded a week before Christmas. Made sense for me to travel for Thursday and Saturday so I could also take part to the fan meeting organized on Saturday morning. I often travel to see Mika before Christmas and thought it might give a warm, christmassy feeling and it did indeed.

Battles are less entertaining than auditions or live shows though. We can see more reactions from the judges during blind auditions and live shows offer live recording excitement and proper show elements. At battles the judges are mainly focused on commenting and I obviously can’t follow equally well even Melissa helped me with translations once again. I enjoyed watching but was a bit sleepy on Thursday and let my mind wander in random details on Saturday.

For example, some of the young female contestants were dressed in outfits suitable for old women, why on earth? Soon after my style thoughts two young contestants from Mika’s team came on stage looking fresh and natural wearing jeans and Mika actually pointed out how “not over-dressing” has an effect on performing and being more genuine and totally agree with that. I really liked the girl wearing retro jeans but don’t have any clear favorites this year.

Several contestant (mostly from teams Mika/Zazie) look interesting and I want to see if any of them can grow enough to win the competition. At this point of the season many performances are still clumsy. I can’t give spoilers or details but I liked most song choices from Mika’s team even of course I can’t always understand his talent decisions (I’m not really musical and my taste is selective). Most times I did though.

As everyone probably knows the idea of battles is two contestants singing the same song and their coach deciding after that which one is in and which one out. Every coach had a possibility to save one contestant from another team and Florent Pagny used his card to save a really good, young contestant from Mika’s team. Happy for that Mika gave Florent Pagny a kiss and saved a contestant from his team as a return (not his usual style of a singer but nicely played anyway, imo).

Made me smile to see Mika and I enjoyed watching his working once again. He was wearing a magical velvet suit that looked black but was actually green as we could see under certain lights. The judges performed Come Together twice both nights and it wasn’t such an awesome version (as a group performance) but I loved seeing Mika on stage as always and everyone was dancing and and the whole performance was lot of fun. We saw Igit performing on Thursday and Florent Pagny on Saturday and neither of them my style but both proper singers so can’t complain and we didn’t have much hope to hear Mika singing anyway.

As I already mentioned earlier it’s good to see fan groups for different artists getting along so well and making friends. Something we can’t take for granted. The staff working around recordings was really nice again and seems they have learned that fans make a trustworthy and cheerful audience as there’s no sign of the strict attitude they showed in the very beginning.

I stayed at a hotel quite near the studios and on Saturday morning walked a twenty minutes way to an Irish pub where the French fans were gathering for a fan meeting. A huge thank you to Meggy and Melanie for organizing once again! So much fun to see a big group of people together, having lunch and chatting listening Mika on the background.

He promised to send “something to the party to make the last recording day smoother” but I wasn’t sure he can actually remember it in the middle of busy rehearsing. He did remember though and called (well, asked his team to call) to the restaurant to take care of the whole party and it was incredibly sweet -not just because of the money but the gesture – that he remembered and bothered for his fans. So kind and made everyone in a happy Christmas mood. A few pictures of the party below.

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Another trip to Paris, two more The Voice France auditions. I have so many thoughts in my head I don’t know where to start. Trying to organize them and sharing a few observations I find interesting/important.

First of all, it’s always easy to go to the studio as the atmosphere between different fan groups is good and relaxed. I’ve known some French Mika fans for years and always enjoy spending time with them. Talent shows bring new fans who can’t behave – and even stalk and disturb him – but these people don’t hang out with us, I don’t know them. I see them but I try to keep a distance and know who I can trust (and I’m sure Mika does as well).

Florent Pagny has a small and extremely loyal fan group. These calm and polite ladies have been his fans for almost thirty years. Some of them were Florent Pagny fans when Mika was still (literally!) wearing diapers! Respect. Most times they go in first as it’s like their natural place and it’s easy for the rest of us just follow them, they definitely know what to do. Jenifer fans are not as organized as Mika or FP fans (maybe because she doesn’t take much contact with her fans) but she has fans and they are easy to recognize (all pretty and Jenifer style). I haven’t met any Zazie fans yet. She is still new in her role as a coach but generally a liked person.

We don’t queue for seats (we are guided to our seats and most rows have a good view any way) but to just enter peacefully before big crowds and to spend some time together. If someone needs to work late they can arrive last minute and we just make space for them. There’s not much tension between fans. It’s not important for us who’s team will win the competition in the end as long as everything goes generally well for our artist and we all have fun. People often say talent shows are not a place for fans. It’s not actually true with The Voice. The production is expecting/encouraging fans to be there. I can’t know how Mika is experiencing it but long time fans try do their best not to disturb his work.

Mika gigs I’ve seen during the past 7 years have obviously left a permanent mark in my nervous system. I see or hear a small trigger – a security guy appearing at the door or sudden loud music (coming from a car passing by but sounding like a quick sound check) – and start salivating like a Pavlov dog. I can taste the excitement in my mouth. I have to remind myself it’s just a television recording. I will enjoy it but it won’t cause me an adrenaline rush. Everyone around me feels the same. Fans could be used for animal testing! Our minds associate little triggers – queuing, seeing other fans/security or going in to the venue – to concerts. Sometimes it’s frustrating to be that close and still not see him performing (especially when I know he is doing invitation only gigs I can’t see no matter how much I want) but it also gives comfort. It’s always good to see him, it’s always interesting to watch him working.

Traveling to see things in real life is generally important to me. It shows the other side of the coin, there’s a whole new world out there. I sometimes almost lose my faith with fan communities and need meeting people in real life to have it back. Communicating online (on twitter or forums) makes us often see our differences. Face to face we can see what’s common in us/what we share. I like being a real person instead of separate sentence in social media. I want us to make an effort to get along and to be polite to each other.

I’m often so focused on Mika/his performance that I ignore other people I meet. This time I paid attention and I realized people can be awesome and I want to say thank you to everyone I met. To people I’ve known for years and to people I’m learning to know. I had a lot of fun and enjoyed our time together. A special thank you to Melissa who patiently translated me both nights. Her English and knowledge are accurate, her translations were priceless. To make her job a bit easier we skipped some parts and focused on Mika and Zazie and their comments. It’s becoming awkward that I don’t speak any French or Italian so I’ve decided to learn and already booked some lessons. I wanted to do it ages ago but I’m poor at languages so my motivation wasn’t good enough (really hope I can make it this time).

It’s not just about seeing other fans in a different light. It’s also about seeing Mika in a different light. Seeing him only in photos – wearing his fancy suits, surrounded by his new, adoring fans – makes him distant. People say he has changed a lot. I don’t think it’s true, not the way people mean it. It’s still good to see it. He knows how to look lovable and not too important in his new suits. He comes and sits in his chair and just goes with the situation. He battles with the other coaches, rides on his chair and without a warning is lying on the floor in his white, shiny suit (his team probably tearing their hair out backstage). He is sighing and patting his tight jacket, stomach full after eating too much. Yawning and looking bored, not knowing where to put his long legs and suddenly sitting in a lotus like position. I was staring him my mouth open. I really had no idea his suits are that comfortable/flexible material!

It’s easy to be in the audience. I can watch contestants and still let my mind wander. Mika can joke with the other coaches (to entertain people) but when the song is over he has to be ready for a constructive comment, say something useful to the contestant who will possibly remember his words for the rest of her/his life. It’s a big responsibility and he wants to give a professional impression. And I don’t need to remember every contestants afterwards but he needs to learn to know his team well. It’s his job to make them sound and look as good as possible. It can’t be easy to separate two different concepts in two different countries/languages. I often wonder if he keeps these two jobs, his music and all the other projects neatly organized in their own spaces or if everything makes a big beautiful mess in his head. Either way, he is doing well.

It must be hard and tiring. Despite of that a part of him is always awake and sensitive for people. Small, sweet gestures that never cease to impress me. He sees a little girl with a drawing and goes and takes it and even gives her a little kiss. He goes to people who can’t have an easy access to him. He smiles to the audience, says thank you and waves good night. He pays attention and makes people feel special. It’s not possible to have chats with him after recordings (and I don’t want to disturb him by talking to him) but he lets people know he is aware of their presence and I appreciate it because I know he has far more important things to do and on his mind and I know he is being patient with people. I think he can still breath in France, the situation is not (yet) out of hands like it is in Italy where people stalk his house, try to invade his parties and bother his family.

About the two audition nights. On Monday the level was poor. I can’t remember any contestant, sorry about that. On Tuesday the level was extremely good. I felt for Zazie who already had a full team and couldn’t push the button that night. She was obviously suffering, some singers were really good and original! Mika got a couple of good/strong and a couple of extremely good contestants. He lost a couple of battles to Jenifer but I wouldn’t cry after these contestants as choosing Jenifer over Mika as their coach tells something about their personality, imo. These were the last two audition nights so everything was a bit “whatever”. During some particularly good performances the coaches wanted “someone” to choose the contestant, whoever it is (just to keep the contestant in the competition). The staff didn’t give us any instructions, just waved their hands, saying “do whatever you usually do”. We tried really hard to clap and stand up when needed, whatever we saw other people doing. In the end I was so tired I could hardly sit without falling asleep.

We saw Frero Delavega as a guest on the first night (interesting for me who doesn’t live in France) and Garou on the second night (not so interesting, tbh). The coaches performed their song again twice on both nights! Not sure if they really had that many problems or if it was just to entertain the audience but definitely not complaining, I really like the song. For a short moment it looked like Mika was tempted to let all his energy out but he controlled himself, of course, being a part of a group. A couple of late night photos below, the dancing pic is my favorite.

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