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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Some thoughts after Montreal. It was important and rare so I feel like going it through one more time. I want to remember my favorites and what I loved most. Usually a new era starts with every new album but this time it seems to have started already. There was a long break before these performances and Montreal had a new vibe.
The orchestra was wonderful. After a couple of weeks I still can’t express how much I loved the whole symphony orchestra experience. So many different tones in such a harmony left me pretty much speechless. I had no idea it can be that powerful and have now a huge respect for Simon Leclerc for the arrangements he did for the songs and for his profession. I’m starting to understand why the conductor is so incredibly important. His authority!
You know all the stories about orchestra hierarchy? On television musicians are ready kill to be the first violin. I often wonder if it’s really that important. Oh it is important and they make a lot of little gestures to point it out. The important violin player comes on stage a little bit after regular musicians, is asked to stand up first and specially acknowledged after the concert. The etiquette is strict, it’s fascinating to watch.
The music was even stronger than I had expected. I knew that songs like Toy Boy, Underwater, Any Other World or Happy Ending will be perfect with the orchestra. Just adding Ida makes Happy Ending on a new level. However, I couldn’t possibly imagine how powerful Over My Shoulder can be (it’s already powerful when he sings it alone but became now even more colorful) and I certainly didn’t expect to love the orchestra versions for songs like Boum Boum Boum as much as I did.
Also, I had no idea Overrated and Heroes would be the most important songs on the setlist and they definitely were that at least for me. This is the way Heroes is meant to be performed. Doing it other ways feels small, it deserves a full orchestra. The song became a genuine master piece. Hearing Overrated as it was performed in Montreal was a long time dream coming true for me and for many fans.
The new songs sound mature. He is evolving as a song writer and it’s natural but still makes me a proud fan. The Last Party is above the other songs. It’s more my personal taste than the other new songs but also big in every way. It’s so depressing it actually makes me cry every time I listen to it (so obviously can’t listen to it on a repeat) and I still love the song more than I’ve ever loved a new song. Everything else coming with the new album is a bonus as I already got the song I wanted.
The most amazing thing in Montreal was to be able to hear Mika’s voice so clearly. It was a beautiful experience. In a normal concert performance the band and backing vocals make a mess and it’s not possible to hear everything. This time I could hear also Ida and Max and I really like them both so it was wonderful. Max is becoming one of my favorite voices, I often listen to him (you can listen to him here) and Ida is probably my favorite person to watch/listen on stage with Mika.
She is a classical singer and we can hear it but she is still surprisingly versatile, she can totally rock and her voice adds extra value to songs like Happy Ending. However, I probably like her because of the atmosphere she brings on stage. It looks she and Mika know and trust each other so she somehow makes the atmosphere safe and I love watching how she looks as proud of Mika as the fans in the audience.
The Montreal concerts and the Intimate US tour a couple of years ago were the best performances I’ve ever seen but if I look back and go through my personal memories I realize I miss theatrical shows almost equally much. The huge work behind the scenes – that we can’t even see – is impressive. I saw this picture and understood I’m looking forward to the artwork, illustrations and settings almost as eagerly as the new music and can’t wait to feel the usual band gig adrenaline.
I was happy to see the following Mika quote in the OSM concert program : I believe that songs are just recipes, and that interpreting them in different ways is what gives them life. So well explains the main reason to see many different kind of live performances.
Back home from my Montreal trip. Feeling ordinary and a little bit worried it actually was the last party but pushing that thought away. At least it was the best time we ever had. (Edit: Just referring to his new lyrics which have been constantly playing in my head since I heard them!)
A little summary about the three Mika concerts I saw during my trip. I really felt a different vibe every night. I always get a separate pleasure from his voice as a sound and from the emotions his songs bring to me. On the first night I was totally focused on his voice. He was focused on controlling it. The performance was flawless and his voice sounded as beautiful and incredible as it ever can. For a short moment I was (for real) almost angry he made us wait for his singing this long. Lol, he put us through the misery again!
But there’s no way to push him. He does things when he feels like it, if he feels like it. And now there he was, directly in front of me. My seat was in the middle of the first row so I could easily see the sweat drops. He must have felt a huge pressure but we really couldn’t hear it. I listened to his voice and the combination it made with the orchestra music and was so shocked by the amount of pleasure I was practically shaking the whole concert and long after that.
The second night was more relaxed, probably to everyone. It was easy to focus on every song as a story and it seemed to be easy for Mika as well. And by saying that I don’t mean his singing wasn’t equally good it was night before even it wasn’t as controlled or careful. I’m simply saying he looked more relaxed and able to live every story together with the orchestra and that was a wonderful experience. I described it earlier as “making every song as a painting” and later read Mika talking about ”colors and patterns and bringing out the emotional range”. Whatever the words, it was beautiful and it was something I hadn’t felt this strongly before. I wasn’t shaking anymore, felt just quietly happy and content.
The third night was a bit of the combination of the the first two nights. I could both hear and see even better than earlier (if that’s even possible) and let myself be amazed by the orchestra and the acoustics that let me for once to separate every sound and voice. I could hear everything so clearly: Mika, Ida, Max, the orchestra. It was magical and something I had always dreamed about. I didn’t want to let the ”last night sadness” take over me. It wasn’t the moment to be sad, there’s plenty of time for that now. I just enjoyed and tried to listen to every lyrics as carefully as I could and was and still am more impressed by his new, thoughtful songs than I’ve ever been before. Now waiting for new music even more eagerly I did before!
He did a little speech to his fans after the last concert and reminded how we go to his concerts covered with mud and beer OR with make-up and jewelry and that his music is everything between that. A sweet little speech and a good way to end the Montreal concerts.
An important part of the week was of course meeting fans from all over the world. We had a big fan club meeting on Wednesday and gathered for drinks and dinner in an Italian restaurant where the mama mod Deb and the Canadian fans had made all the arrangements. In the end of the meal the restaurant brought us a special surprise from Mika. A beautiful cake decorated with exactly the same illustration as in the official concert poster. More a piece of art than a cake. So special and made me think he wants to do everything (even cakes!) with his own style: beautiful and sophisticated with a creative, colorful twist. Like his elegant navy suits decorated with little flowers, letters and hearts.
I arrived Montreal late Saturday night so I had Sunday and Monday for sightseeing and decided to visit Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and their orientalism exhibition. I love museums. I love them as places, I love the serene atmosphere and people focusing on art or science. I’m not specifically into arts but I enjoy visual beauty and find it fascinating how art describes our society across time the way artists have seen – or wanted to see – it. It makes me think of what kind of life they lived, their working environment and their social circles that always seem to been so small and wonder if it’s similar these days. If it’s similar for Mika. Just think of all the people he knows (Dario Fo, for example).
I visited the Montreal chocolate festival and Notre Dame Basilica (beautiful and definitely worth visit) and did small walks in Old Port (tbh not so interesting this time of the year.) The weather wasn’t cold and dry as I had expected and as it is in Scandinavia but nasty and brutal with wet and salty streets so I stayed underground more than had originally planned. On Thursday we went to Grevin wax museum as a big group of fans, took pictures of wax Mika and just had fun.
Montreal is an easy-going place. It’s French speaking but everyone speaks also English. It’s easy to walk around underground and find all kind of food (makes the quality of my life always better). It’s expensive though. Well not more expensive than Europe but it feels like it because you never know how much you need to pay (taxes or services are not included in prices). People are kind and polite and pay attention. A huge thank you to the Canadian fans for their help and for letting us to invade their country and thank you all the lovely people I met during my trip. Thank you Mika and the Montreal Symphony Orchestra for the amazing performances. Can’t express how grateful I am for being able to see these three special events xx
The three concerts with OSM turned out to be a success hard to describe. The audience simply adored him, the Montreal press is praising him as one of the best artists in the world and his fans had an experience that can’t be easily topped.
I got my dream concerts. Nothing – absolutely nothing – was disturbing the experience. Not on stage, not in the audience. Eagerly waiting for future tours, acoustic settings, theatrical elements, imaginative outfits and wild party in the audience but had my dream come true in Montreal. Listening to Mika without a slightest distraction.
I thought in advance that a giant symphony orchestra on stage could be a bit distractive. That was not the case. Amazing that more than 100 musician can play in such a harmony. Not a single disturbing sound, pure bliss to my ears, so easy to separate Mika, Ida and Max. Wonderful acoustics. Never ever experienced anything like this. I love the band but it is a distraction (unless done in a small way like the Intimate tour).
About the third night. The setlist was naturally the same. He started with Toy Boy, a gentle start as the change to the original version isn’t that huge. Continued with Underwater that got even better night after night. Then Boum Boum Boum which was one of my favorites on the third night. Ida was rocking, loved it! Somehow can’t remember Rain, I was mentally preparing myself to Last Party, my absolute favorite at the moment.
A bit worrying that something that depressing can totally take over my mind. I love everything in the song: the dark lyrics, the melody, the atmosphere and the way it’s performed. It’s a huge song, really can’t wait it’s out there for everyone!
Then Karen (one of my favorites even without orchestra) and finally Overrated, one of the biggest surprises and highlights of the week. Any Other world, Drunk and Ordinary Man. Ordinary Man is a thoughtful song and I enjoy listening to the lyrics even the song lacks passion for my taste, he is pondering the situation, feeling a bit sorry for himself. It’s very thoughtful and mature, and I can see a lot of people liking it and I will surely love hearing it live especially when the setting is suitable.
Before the break Heroes which was definitely one of the most important songs on the whole set list. So strong, so powerful. After the pause Grace Kelly. Not the best option with an orchestra (imo) but his most popular song and could see how the audience liked it. Over My Shoulder perfectly performed. Then Good Guys.
Loving the song more and more. The lyrics felt cynical at first – all the icons can’t be gone – but impossible not to love it after seeing the smile on his face while singing it. He looks pleased with the song and must say I adore the melody around it. Then Make You Happy, maybe not my favorite version (nothing tops the version from LA) but still extremely good. Outstanding Happy Ending with Ida once again. Origin and then Relax with some tears in my eyes. So grateful Relax was done this small and fragile way.
In the end partying with EMD and Love Today and as an extra treat Toy Boy and EMD one more time (the audience was allowed to dance!). Then massive applauds and hugely smiling star. Super special week. Brilliant arrangements by Simon Leclerc, we can’t thank him enough for making this happen.
All three nights were equally good in their own, slightly different ways. The first night was the most powerful, almost shocking experience for me. The second night more relaxed with a different vibe. On the third night I remembered the set list well and focused on details and my own favorites. Now on my way home. Time to have a little break. A huge thank you to everyone I met, will post pictures etc later. xxx
Another incredible night watching Mika and the Montreal Symphony Orchestra. He came on stage wearing a navy, letter appliquéd suit, Ida and Max located on his left side, Ida looking breathtakingly beautiful in her magical, flower decorated white dress. My seat was a bit on the right side but I had a good view and could easily watch the performance and observe Mika and the peculiar little movements he does with his fingers when he is concentrating on his singing very carefully.
He wasn’t technically as careful as he was on Tuesday, he rather seemed to be somewhere deep in the story while singing the songs and it was incredibly wonderful. I already knew what to expect from the night and could therefor enjoy the concert on more detailed level than I did on the first night.
With a symphony orchestra every song becomes like a little painting or small film. The orchestra illustrated every single song; I could literally see proper landscape images in my head while listening to it. The wavy sea and burning sky during Underwater. Dying autumn nature at the very moment the first snow arrives on Over My Shoulder. I’m lacking words but the whole experience was incredibly powerful and special and seemed to have an effect on Mika as well, he was totally putting his soul into every song! He looked a bit tired in the end and relied more than night before on Ida who was fantastic. So happy to see her on stage again!
Underwater was – if possible – even more powerful than it was on the first night. I gave special attention to Any Other World, Karen and Origin as I wasn’t concentrating on them enough on Tuesday and really enjoyed them all. I was extra grateful for hearing Overrated and Heroes for the second time. The most important songs on the setlist. My personal favorite (along Relax) was a new song called Last Party. It’s so extremely sad and depressing that the feeling really becomes a pleasure. I love it, it’s my new favorite song.
I’m not yet in love with Ordinary Man as there’s no passion in it and it reminds me of Pick Up Off the Floor which never was my fav song. I do like Good Guys but don’t properly catch it yet. The French speaking Montreal audience loved Boum Boum Boum and EMD and Mika was thrilled to perform Drunk with an orchestra the same way he is always thrilled to perform Billy Brown in a church.
I was so proud of him tonight. I know he is amazing and incredibly talented and I never doubt it, I wouldn’t otherwise do all this, but sometimes the world doesn’t seem to know it. I prefer him being the kind of artist he is – not someone who wants to be popular at any cost – but I want him to feel valued and supported and a big part of joy during the OSM concerts is the atmosphere and to be able to feel how the whole audience is holding their breath and following every detail he does, listening every single note and spontaneously showing their appreciation to him throughout the concerts.
During the first night loud clapping from the audience was really disturbing me so this time I loved watching how Simon Leclerc silenced the people with a tiny hand movement. He is my new hero, I hope he will do the same again tomorrow. One more night to go, can’t believe this dream is almost over and I won’t see Mika performing for a while. Already preparing myself for missing him again. Loved the amazing cake he sent to the fan meeting (below). More pics and a report about the meeting later.
The first night with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra was by far the most amazing thing I had ever heard or seen. Mika did a magnificent performance, his voice was in a perfect shape. I still can’t decide if I should be angry at him for doing other things instead of performances like this for two years or if I should be grateful that he was doing other things and became motivated enough to do a performance like this now. I guess I choose the latter one.
The symphony orchestra concept is a dream come true for a fan but also much more I knew to expect in advance. New arrangements for old songs made them all new and fresh experiences and we heard even three new songs (Last Party, Ordinary Man, Good Guys) from the fourth album. The evening felt like a live version of album pre-listening event. Such a privilege to be there.
The orchestra itself was a mind-blowing experience especially to someone who is not used to hear live orchestra concerts. It was huge and made Mika look tiny on stage. However, he handled his role so well. I wish we could hear him with an orchestra more often, his songs deserve to be performed this way, it’s like giving every song performed an extra honor. I assume Simon Leclerc is the person to thank for the arrangements, loved watching him and Mika on stage, their chemistry seemed to work well.
I can’t even try to list every magical moment, the concert was pure firework from the beginning to the end. I’m still slightly in a shock and physically exhausted after being nervous for hours before the show. Mika must have been nervous as well but we really couldn’t hear it, just saw how he breathed relieved between some songs. He was smiling a lot and surely a bit touched while watching how much people loved him.
He started with Toy Boy (always a lovely treat) and continued with Underwater which felt an obvious choice with an orchestra and was as beautiful as I had expected. I can’t remember the exact order for the songs but the first of the new songs was called The Last Party and was my favorite of the new songs. The lyrics are dramatic and tragic and I wonder if the album version will be a party song with black lyrics (very much his style) or something else.
He performed almost equally many songs from LICM (AOW, GK, OMS, HE, Relax, LT) and TOOL (UW, Karen, Overrated, Heroes, Drunk, MYH, Origin, EMD) and just a couple of songs from TBWKTM (Toy Boy, Rain). Overrated was definitely the biggest highlight and Heroes outstanding and so suitable to be performed this way. Boum Boum Boum and Drunk were lighter and funnier in the middle of some serious songs and Happy Ending probably his best ever performance (the audience rewarded it with a deserved standing ovation). My personal favorite was Relax. Surprised and happy that it was kept so gentle.
I wish I could share photos or videos but both were officially forbidden by the venue and didn’t want the security to disturb the concert and kept my camera in my bag. It was lovely to meet so many other fans. Looking forward to the second concert and a big MFC party before the gig. Definitely going to blog about the party and give quick comments about the the second and third concert but will probably leave proper reports to write them when rested and thought everything through.
Not totally sure about the order but the setlist for Mika’s LA show at El Rey Theater was more or less like above. Filming was not allowed so I didn’t take any videos, but there are some clips uploaded on Youtube (not his wish, but very difficult to avoid, and way too tempting for fans not to watch). As the links for the vids are listed on his official fan club forum (and even tweeted by GW) I linked a few videos to the songs on the setlist above (and again, if you filmed the videos and don’t want them linked here, just let me know). Black and white videos for some songs are amazingly beautiful and great quality!
The highlight of the show was definitely Make You Happy performed together with Greg Wells. Any album version can’t possibly compete with this stunning acoustic performance, it was extremely powerful and so full of emotion and he was singing every word like meaning it, I loved it. Also, it was so heart-warming to hear Mika’s producer’s words about him, I felt so lucky to be there and see them performing together.
Beside MYH the most beautiful songs were (once again) Underwater, OMS and Hia Leah. Mika’s voice is simply perfect for the songs and – as I’ve said in every post – in a brilliant shape. Loving the way Curtis is playing in the beginning of UW and OMS (I think the instrument is called melodica, just correct me if I’m wrong) and Max singing like an angel in OMS and Hia Leah. Of course I knew he is a good singer and I’ve heard him before but I never realized his voice is this pretty! The simple setting makes it so effortless to hear their voices and every different instrument. No female backing vocalist needed. I can so perfectly understand why he decided to do the tour together with Max and Curtis. Such a special setting and I must say I don’t miss the band around him at all.
Also, loving some new details they’ve added to several songs: church style intro for Popular, tapping in SITM, Saxophone for Billy Brown (not new, but we can hear it so much better now) and energetic drumming in several songs (Lollipop, LT, Only Lonely Man, Century Man). My biggest favorite on the setlist is the new song Century Man. It’s classic (somehow Beatles style) and full of energy (omg, listen to around 1:55, 2:55). I can hardly handle how awesome it is, I haven’t heard anything like this for a very long time. Acoustic Relax is always like a dream, but you know how it is with the most famous songs… The audience is singing so much it’s difficult to really enjoy his voice. Still beautiful as always.
The venue was intimate and quite fancy. The audience was a bit different than usually, imo, (lot of VIPs and special guests, Mika joked about them and thanked people he works with) but still loud and energetic. I went to see the gig alone but managed to find Sivan and another MFCer at the venue (thanks for your company, girls!) and we had a chat after the show. I’ve seen some great LA reviews, especially loved the words by a local music site: Many moments found me thinking about how absolutely adorable he is, and so completely unassuming about his own career and success that you just want to throw love at him. Oh, that’s him, I totally agree. I’ve always wanted to see a Mika show in LA, definitely worth traveling.
You know how some places can steal your heart from the first second you arrive? You feel it’s almost like your destiny to go back – some kind of a soul mate thing? Well Las Vegas is not one of those places for me. I was still really curious to see it and I’m happy I did. It’s always nice to have a real mental picture of famous places so many movies, books and songs refer to. I stayed two nights and saw only Strip which was a noise polluted, absolutely nerve-wracking place full of horrendous overconsumption (and all I could think of was getting a hammer and destroying the game machines one by one, lol, but it was probably just me, I can tolerate only pleasant sounds). The street view was interesting though and the night-time view especially impressive with thousands of colorful lights.
The main reason (for me) to travel to Vegas was of course the temptation to see Mika performing in this intimate, tiny venue and I loved the venue indeed. He did a show at Hard Rock Cafe Las Vegas on Friday and I went to see the place on Thursday and was absolutely thrilled to see it. The upstairs night club was empty but people were allowed to go there and I had a possibility to enjoy a moment of peace and quiet and see how small and intimate the place was. I had breakfast and lunch at Hard Rock Cafe restaurant on Friday and the food was surprisingly good and the service really friendly (not sure why I was so surprised, I guess I didn’t expect Hard Rock Cafe to serve good food) and I had some nice chats with people working there (one of them happened to be a tattooer for example). I met Lucy (who I met in San Francisco) a couple of hours before the doors were opened and people gradually started to arrive. I really loved the venue. The stage was low with no barriers, and I got a great spot for the gig in front of stage near the piano and immediately knew the show was going to be one of those rare moments to hear and see Mika really close at small stage and decided to concentrate on enjoying every second.
Max and Curtis did their DJ set and they really are getting better, imo. The sound is loud enough, they dance and laugh a bit and they’ve added some catchy old songs for the crowd to sing along. It’s still too long, I’m sorry to say it. I enjoy watching them, but a part of the audience seemed to be bored, and they probably should concentrate on a shorter set with really classic, catchy hits.
The show was fantastic. The crowd wasn’t nearly as good as it was in California though, and I think even Mika was disturbed by people talking loudly at the back of the venue. He chatted to the audience, talking about Las Vegas to get their attention but mostly concentrated on his performance, singing partly even eyes closed. I’m definitely not complaining though, he sounded perfect and I really enjoyed listening to him and watching him, Max and Curtis work together (he made them drum until they were exhausted, so hilarious to watch!). It was a lovely evening. He was really close and his voice was absolutely perfect, I felt really lucky to be there. I especially enjoyed Underwater, Happy Ending, Stardust and OMS (he added HE and Stardust to the original setlist, very happy about it).
The more I hear the new songs Hia Leah and Century Man the more I love them. LOVE. And when he started Century Man I felt like bursting with excitement and I had to seriously control myself to stay still because everyone else around me looked just calm and normal like not realizing what was happening (well I guess most of them didn’t because they heard the song for the first time).
I’m not sure if I should say it was just another tour for me. It wasn’t. It was perfect and exactly how I’ve always wanted to see him performing. And I’m not sure if he prefers doing bigger shows but I think he should do more intimate shows like this. It maybe doesn’t bring him as much money (as bigger shows/festivals do) but it definitely brings him a lot of respect and real music lovers to the audience. Everyone can see how talented he is; it’s impossible to do amazing and special simple shows like this without being amazing and special for real. I loved this tour and saw my all time favorite shows.
Saw Mika at El Rey Theater in Los Angeles tonight, a few words about the great show. He told El Rey is the first venue he saw in the US when trying to get signed by a record company and seemed to be excited to perform there, was in a great mood and flirted with people in the audience (surprisingly male audience, a lot of record company people and several of his celeb friends as special guest).
Firstly. He performed Make You Happy together with Greg Wells and as I’ve always wanted to see him I was super excited about the surprise (of course wanted to hear MYH for a long time too). So special to hear something like that! Secondly, Century Man is my new favorite high energy song, it’s awesome! No idea how it feels to hear it performed in a movie by someone else, I’m totally in love with this simple version. Thirdly, Max and Curtis were fab, especially Curtis playing in UW and OMS and they both drumming for their lives. A few pics from tonight above, more later.
I had such a special day in Solana Beach! Taking a train from LA near to the ocean was already an experience and Solana Beach was a lovely beach town with lots of cafés, restaurants, colorful shops and relaxed beach atmosphere. I spent my day having lunch, chatting with shop owners and dog walkers and waiting for Lowell to arrive. Turned out that practically no one wanted to queue for the gig and the venue told they offer two possibilities for going in: using the front door or through the restaurant in case we wanted to have a dinner before the show and we definitely wanted to do so. To tell the truth I was probably more excited to meet Lowell than see Mika (I see Mika more often, lol!) and Lowell and I had a lot of fun eating, chatting and watching the show and I can’t thank him enough for being so kind and helpful and generally such an awesome person!
The Belly Up Tavern was a tiny venue (max capacity 600 but the show wasn’t sold out) and the audience was surprisingly wild. It could have been a disaster but was absolutely a success. People were loud but they could sing (also understood to be quiet when needed) and some of them knew lyrics even for the rare songs like Only Lonely Man and China Boy (Celebrate with China Boy parts). Mika seemed to love them and was smiling, laughing and chatting through the show. He showed his “USA” shoes and made jokes about people shouting “USA, USA” – hilarious!
– Mika is in his top form, his voice and singing were absolutely brilliant. He did Happy Ending partly without a microphone and it was one my best Mika moments ever. I could hardly breath. Remember the cherubs I used in my last post to describe some very special and beautiful moments? So many cherubs they almost couldn’t fit in the venue. Amazing.
– I don’t miss the band. Max and Curtis are wonderful! The concept of Mika playing piano and Max and Curtis using different instruments adds extra value to every song, old and new. Both Lowell and I agreed that especially drumming gives a lot of energy and power. Not sure about the DJ thing though… Shy and Gentle are adorable, but most of the audience didn’t realize they are a part of the band and the set is too long.
– The new songs are fantastic material, I hope he knows it. Hia Leah is really beautiful and quickly becoming one of my favorites just after two listening. Century Man could seriously be a huge hit, it’s classic, catchy and full of energy. Only Lonely Man fits well to live shows especially the way it’s performed now, the audience loves it.
– This was easily one of my top3 gigs for many reasons. I’m really happy to see his NA tour is going so well, the new response is extremely good and the old NA fans are super loyal. Long time fans I’ve met have seen some legendary and special early gigs and events already 2006/2007.
A few photos from last night:
I saw my first NA tour gig in San Francisco last night, for Mika it was the third one (after Vancouver and Portland, I think). The small San Francisco venue was really lovely: legendary old theater type building with red curtains, fancy lamps and balconies for dinner. I read some unpleasant stories about the shady area around the venue before my trip but saw only harmless looking homeless people who peacefully let us wait for the concert (but I took a taxi after the show just in case).
The DJ part before the show was kind of a part of the show. The stage was full of vintage books, suitcases, vintage style educational posters and small furniture. Max and Curtis played a set of songs dressed in vintage style suits. They are adorable of course, especially Max giggling behind the stage set, but they didn’t have any proper plan or main idea (they just spent time playing little clips of different songs) and the session was a bit too long, imo. It will probably be much, much funnier as soon as they add a little bit dancing into it and plan the setlist more carefully. However, I loved the setting and it was interesting and fun to spend time looking at it before the show, see some pics below.
Before the show everything was moved away and the stage was extremely simple: just piano, the other instruments and some lights hanging. I don’t have any videos to share because we were especially asked not to film or upload anything to Youtube and it made the situation even more special for the audience. I didn’t even take pictures. He was so close and everything was so simple that even taking photos felt almost violent. Also because every song was somehow different and he did three new or at least very rare songs and a couple of songs he hasn’t done for a while I wanted to concentrate on listening and remembering as much as possible.
You know, sometimes you want to be able to save some special situations and “record” them into you heart (um, brains) so you can have them with you forever. I always try to carefully memorize the most special concert moments to be able to remember them forever (like Lady Jane from Jam Sessions 2009 or Toy Boy from Vienna 2012). Underwater last night in San Francisco was definitely one of those moments. He was really close in front of me, I just had time to think he is so skinny and looks so human just like any of us and then he started to sing and it was perfect, really. Seriously, it was perfect. Totally worth traveling to another side of the world just to hear Underwater.
Only Lonely Man
He was playing piano during most of the songs, really concentrating on his singing which was excellent indeed. Every song was a bit different than we are used to, I couldn’t even recognize the songs after the first notes. Curtis was using at least saxophone (Billy Brown), clarinet (Toy Boy) and melodica (UW, OMS) and both Max and Curtis were drumming during several songs (loved the drumming parts, especially in LT). The first part of the setlist was a bit tense. Then he started to chat to a girl in front row (and was very chatty after that and told several stories) and everyone (both Mika and the audience) relaxed and he was very much on fire during the rest of gig, still keeping himself in control (meaning not too much jumping) and his voice beautiful.
Underwater was one of my all time favorite versions, really loved it. Only Lonely One was exceptionally nice played with Max and Curtis (well I’ve probably seen it only once before SF) and Hia Leah (“California song”) absolutely beautiful, can’t wait to hear it again. Century Man had a lot of energy and fit perfectly with BG and LT. The ending was breath-taking with lovely Celebrate with China Boy parts, OMS and finally Happy Ending and Stardust. I admit I cried a bit during HE, I was extremely happy to see it back on the setlist and I could almost see some little angel boys flying around the venue during the most beautiful parts of HE and OMS. The cherubs are back, haven’t seen them for a while. Awesome stripped down gig, loved it.