Despite feeling a little under the weather, the ever-charismatic Mika put on an intimate acoustic show last night that would put even the healthiest pop stars to shame. The singer played to New York City’s Le Poisson Rouge, a small-ish downtown club, with a full orchestra whose members donned some very festive glitter hats on a stage that was even sparklier. The whole thing shimmered more than Edward Cullen sunbathing, really. But it wasn’t just the stage setup that shined, it was Mika’s roughly hour-and-a-half show. Click through to the jump for a full concert review.
Breaking with concert convention, Mika opened the show with arguably his most well-known single, “Grace Kelly.” While the venue’s layout made it nearly impossible for anyone in the back to see Mika while he played the piano for this tune, the crowd came with every intention of dancing and singing along and that they did. Mika announced it was their “last intimate party” before the release of his upcoming EP Songs for Sorrow.
But don’t let the words “intimate” or “acoustic” fool you. While Mika’s stage set may have looked like a subdued lounge show, it all became downright madness soon. Following “Kelly” was “Lady Jane” in which Mika vocally channeled Rufus Wainwright. He then segued into a new tune, “Lonely Alcoholic,” which he dedicated to writer Michael Musto, who had recently interviewed him. And after another newbie (“Blue Eyes”) and an oldie (“Billy Brown”), the show turned the corner from solid set to unabashedly carefree fun. During the always-great “Big Girl (You Are Beautiful)” the ceiling dropped silver confetti (more sparkly stuff!) onto the crowd and we had a full-blown dance party on our hands. Not wanting to let things slow down, Mika and crew dove into “Love Today.”
Having maintained a good rapport with the crowd all evening — Mika joked about on-the-fly set list changes and on-stage mishaps — he invited us in for a sing-a-long for another new song with the echoing chorus “Blame it on the boy/blame it on the girl.” But it was the less showy, but undeniably powerful “Happy Ending” that solidified the show for me. While Mika hit notes that would make Freddie Mercury proud, the truly heartbreaking tune (which has a bigger impact live than it does on Life in Cartoon Motion) managed to bring the house down without lowering the general good spirits in the room. No small feat.
Next, when Mika broke out a trash can for a Stomp-style jam, unleashed a torrent of giant balloons on the crowd, and wore a Willy Wonka-like crown for the joyous cautionary tale “Lollipop,” things got downright raucous. After exiting the show for a very brief time, Mika came back for two encores which included “Relax, Take it Easy,” “My Interpretation,” the new (and oddly Enigma-like) “Rain” and wrapping up with a second helping of “Love Today.”
While I didn’t, well, love “Love Today” popping up again (he should have simply ended the show with it, not had it twice), when he allowed a large portion of the crowd to jump onstage and dance with him, all was forgiven. Smaller shows like this one, if you were lucky enough to see them, were a great introduction not only to Mika’s upcoming album, but to his undeniable knack for being a great showman. Besides walking out exhilarated, albeit slightly tired and a little bit sweatier, all I could ponder was, “Why in the world isn’t this guy more famous?”
What do you think, Music Mixers? Are you a Mika fan as well, or is the hubbub beyond you? Did you get a chance to check out the Le Poisson Rouge show, too? We want to hear your opinions!
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