Free concert in Vars, France 11/12/2021

It’s difficult to go to Vars skiing center without a car so my travel plan was a bit fragile and because of snow a part of my connections were cancelled last minute. I managed to rearrange my transportations and arrived to Vars eventually quite smoothly. On my way to the village I saw Mika’s face and name in giant posters above the road, in regular size posters on sideways and even in small posters in every shop and cafe window. It warmed my heart to see how much the area was expecting him and I knew the event would be big. I met some friends and we spent the Friday evening snow sledding from the top of the long hill down to the stage which was already there ready and waiting for Mika. 

 I’m happy that I travelled to Vars and so grateful I saw the performance. The gig turned out to be amazingly beautiful. It was a wonderful and special experience, much much more special than I thought a free gig in cold circumstances could be. Even though the weather was cold the atmosphere was warm and good. The crowd must have been a record and the whole event was probably exactly what the area needed after the hard time period. The pandemic is not over of course and our green passes were checked before entering the outdoor concert area.

 What made the gig so special? There are several reasons and I start with the setlist. Festival size concerts are often shorter than regular gigs and those times it’s easy to go with the biggest hits and just add some Ice Cream on it. I would have understood doing that of course, it would still have been a good, energetic gig. Mika didn’t go with that option though. The gig was full length and the setlist was considered and reminded me of the setlist we heard at the small Amex gig and included also some songs that are these days rare and not on the regular list, songs like Rain, Billy Brown and Popular Song. From My Name Is Michael Holbrook we heard not only Ice Cream but also stunningly, stunningly beautiful Tiny Love and Tiny Love Reprise! A generous setlist that alone made the gig quite special and immediately gave it even extra value. 

 Secondly, the stage energy was absolutely incredible. After a long break Mika seems to have a lot of stored stage energy and I love the way he’s channelling it. There’s a lot of controlled energy, the performing is very considered like everything he does is. There are considered gestures and posing and with his outfits and lights the performance looks visually amazing all the time even without any particular stage setting. However, as an opposite to controlling himself he here and there just forgets the control, jumps around and is generally his crazy himself and I love that combination. I love the visual beauty but also feel there needs to be space for that free, spontaneous energy, they both are important.

 The stage looked beautiful and I took several photos of the lights to remember how impressive they were (have a look at my galleries for those photos). Mika and the band were all wearing white suits. The band members had beanie hats and black shirts underneath, Mika had a white turtleneck sweater under his white suit and I loved his white trousers-white turtleneck combination particularly after taking the jacket off, one of his most elegant outfits for sure. Simple, slim, one color outfits are always my favorites. I had three layers under my own winter jacket and was still freezing so I worried that despite of his jumping Mika would feel cold. I couldn’t believe my eyes when during We Are Golden saw him touching the collar of his sweater indicating he would take it off. I hold my breath and sent him warning thoughts but he looked mischievous and touched the collar again and quickly the sweater was off! The result of his hard work out looked naturally amazing but still, the temperature was at least 10 minus degrees! 

 Taking the shirt off in the freezing cold weather was one of the cool details during the show and there were so many of them. Quite often big outdoor gigs have less details than regular gigs simply because the schedule is tight and there’s time only to short introductions. Now the gig was longer and there were no other performers. Mika had time to talk to the audience and he talked a lot, obviously in French. I could recognize some familiar stories that I connect to certain songs and for some stories like talking about bullying before Popular Song I got translations after the show. Mika asked one of the photographers to give him snow during Ice Cream to play with it. He showed the little warmers he had in his gloves (those that you buy from sport stores to warm your hands) and soon after that threw them to the kids in front of stage. Sweet detail to acknowledge the children and the reactions were sweet as well. 

 In the end of Happy Ending he put his microphone down and did the ending part without it and that totally melted my heart. With an audience of 19 000 and in a freezing cold weather Happy Ending a cappella was definitely an unexpected treat. He added details in other songs as well and I particularly loved Grace Kelly and the little intro with it. This is the Grace Kelly I love. I’m not interested in TikTok challenges, I love Mika doing Grace Kelly in his own way, I love him highlighting the meaning of the song. 

 Even though the whole night was full of good energy and lovely details my biggest favorites together with Rain were Tiny Love and Tiny Love Reprise. I loved Tiny Love in Vars so much, we heard a beautiful, beautiful version. I was hoping to hear Tiny Love Reprise after We Are Golden - we heard a part of it during the soundcheck - and the gig ended with Tiny Love Reprise indeed. Tiny Love Reprise is the most impressive, most emotionally powerful song I know and hearing it at gigs makes me always literally shake. It’s the moment when I can’t control myself at all. Overwhelmingly beautiful gesture, both writing the song and now performing it at gigs. It was a magical ending for the night and I loved seeing Mika’s smile after the song. It warmed my heart to see how pleased he was with the huge crowd and how much he seemed to enjoy performing even the circumstances were that extreme and cold. 

 A wonderful performance and a memorable gig in many ways. It was so cold I couldn’t feel my toes and my fingers were almost too frozen to push the camera button but we can’t often see Mika playing with snow on stage! We can’t usually see his breath in the air! There was an amazing energy particularly in the high energy songs and even though I had a camera in my hand I couldn’t help but joining the dance. Vars was a beautiful environment, just driving the mountain route was an experience. We were lucky to get soft new snow on Friday, on Saturday the stage was surrounded by it. I often take a photo of the stage to remember the view behind it. I have several photos of palm trees but I think this was my first with snowy mountains. 

 As an extra treat the audience was let in just on time to see Mika to do his soundcheck. In circumstances like that it wasn’t possible to do soundcheck without an audience and I had thought the band would do it without him. I wasn’t expecting Mika to be there at all before saw him walking on stage wearing his leather jacket. Just seeing his smiles warmed us in the freezing cold weather. 

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