I enjoy watching how tours evolve and it was important to me to see especially the first Imaginarium gigs in Belfast and Dublin and the last ones in Netherlands and Luxembourg and of course we saw many fantastic shows between. After Ireland the tour headed to London and the rest of the UK, then to Scandinavia and countries like Germany and Austria before continuing as “Arena Tour”, meaning bigger venues, in France and some other European countries. After Luxembourg there was a little break for me and then the tour continued with summer festivals including the Baltic area and my home town Helsinki, my dream come true. What a busy year it was.
The Imaginarium setlist was based on Life In Cartoon Motion and The Boy Who Knew Too Much but included only a part of the new songs and I felt very lucky I had heard One Foot Boy and Pick Up Of The Floor in Boston and New York during the 2009 North America Tour and By The Time with King’s Singers at Union Chapel in London in November 2009. I See You was on the Imaginarium setlist along with Touches You and got a beautiful performance with a glittery umbrella but the first version I heard in Boston will always have a special place in my heart.
We heard Rain already at Parc des Princes in 2008 and in the beginning of the Imaginarium Tour Rain started the show with the special school boy scene starring David, the keyboardist, as young Mika a giant notebook on the background. Later during the tour Rain was moved to the middle of the setlist and included an impressive nightmare intro in which a character with an animal mask took Mika under the stage. Even all that happened years and years ago watching video clips can still bring it all easily back to my mind and I can well remember how exciting, almost scary the nightmare scene was.
Blue Eyes, Toy Boy, Good Gone Girl and Blame It On The Girls were included already on the Songs For Sorrow setlist in 2009 and all of them got their regular places on the Imaginarium setlist in 2010. I had seen Ida several times the year before and she felt familiar already and her opera part in Good Gone Girl wearing a glamorous blue dress was one of my favourites during the whole tour. Ida was also an important part of Happy Ending. Happy Endings from Stockholm with Ida as a special guest and Dublin in 2010 are still some of my dearest Happy Ending memories. Another timeless Mika song from Life In Cartoon Motion is Any Other World and the version we saw during the Imaginarium Tour was amazingly powerful.
The small gig at Bloomsbury Ballroom in September 2009 promoted the new single We Are Golden and included also Dr John. I can remember hearing the both songs at several promotional gigs that time and Dr John from the iTunes Festival from London Roundhouse July 2009 was particularly memorable. The colourful feather coat Mika used for the Dr John performance during the Imaginarium Tour was an incredibly fabulous detail. Another detail and an interesting Imaginarium prop was the weird puppet we saw on stage during Toy Boy. Luckily we still hear Toy Boy every now and then, even during symphony concerts, but I haven’t seen the puppet after 2010. During Imaginarium Tour one of my favourite Toy Boy versions was performed in Vienna. Before starting his performance in Vienna Mika thanked the audience and I can still remember his words and how he really seemed to mean what he said. The audience in Vienna was absolutely fantastic and the energy was wonderful and after many years I would still list the gig I saw in Vienna 2010 among my very favourite gigs.
At first Relax was done almost in the end of the Imaginarium show and included a special “chair dance”. Later the song was in the beginning of the show like it often is with an amazing intro where Mika walks in the air as an astronaut. The space walk and the newsflash related to it – a clip that was shown on the background starring sir Ian McKellen – is one of my favourite theatrical elements Mika has ever used in his shows because it was so Mika style and somehow so perfectly described his personality and, I assume, his childhood dreams. Another super intense detail in the Imaginarium show was the mad drumming before Lollipop. During the intro Mika and his whole band were drumming bins like in a trance and the audience was dancing in a hypnotic state. Mika getting stuck in a bin during the crazy energetic Oslo gig is still one of the most hilarious moments that has ever spontaneously happened during gigs.
One of the reasons why the Imaginarium Tour became so memorable for fans was the way Mika included the audience in every single show. Before every gig his team collected a group of people and dressed them as Lollipop Girls and Big Girls and the group was on stage during the death march before Love Today (wearing Mexican style giant masks) and in the end of the show. The death march was a weird, dark and fascinating element. Being on stage wasn’t easy at all because it wasn’t possible to see much through the mask. I was on stage as a Big Girl in Marseille and the whole trip was one the funniest and most special experiences I’ve ever had. My second time on stage was also in South France and every time I travel in that part of France I meet someone I learnt to know during those short stage moments and I always feel something connects us.
Another dark detail that was included in the Imaginarium show was the shooting scene where Mika “killed” his whole band and himself. It was funny at the time but something he might not do again in the world and situation we are living today. The Imaginarium show ended with We Are Golden with a breathtakingly beautiful intro. One of my favourite We Are Golden memories is from the Luxembourg gig. Another highlight in Luxembourg was Mika covering La Solitude by Barbara. I had wished he would do that song and when it finally happened I had tears in my eyes. Luxembourg was the last gig of the official Imaginarium/Arena tour but of course not the last gig of that year. Later the tour continued as summer festivals and also as a small but successful Baltic leg of the tour and I could also see Mika in Finland and in my home town Helsinki.