History in Toronto, Canada 13/4/2022

The second show of the North American spring tour in Toronto, Canada, on April 13th was (as an experience) different compared to the first show of the tour in Brooklyn. There wasn’t the similar kind of overwhelming wow impact and that’s not a bad thing, that’s how it’s supposed to be. The biggest wow element is always reserved for the first gig of the tour. That’s the reason why it’s always important for me to see the first one. When the Toronto gig started I was happy but the most extreme excitement was already out of my system. I could finally focus on the story, the details, the little symbolic references. I will always remember this show for the people I met, for the warm, enthusiastic vibe in the audience and obviously for the new song, Modern Times. 

I’m impressed by the clear, simple story that continues throughout the whole new spring show from the beginning to the very end of it and is introduced by different visual elements and partly also by the setlist. Small elements can create a big impact when everything is well considered. Every outfit has their own place in the story. 

 Everything starts with black. The very first outfit of the show is totally black like symbolizing darkness and pain. Suddenly Mika rips off pieces of his suit like revealing a view to inside of him. The suit shows an image of the inside of the human body and watching the process feels literally painful, almost like he’s ripping off pieces of his skin and bleeding after that. There’s such a strong feeling of pain and vulnerability after being totally cut open and the symbolism is huge. I can’t stop thinking of what he means by it and several options come to my mind. 

 Is he referring to his fifth album My Name Is Michael Holbrook? Was it too much for him to be that open, to reveal that much of him? I hope not. I love the album, but also understand how exposed it made him. Is he referring to his career and the music business that rips artists open and then treats them like objects? I can imagine that pain. Is he referring to the pandemic and getting our lives back after that? It certainly feels like spring after the long dark time period. Is he referring to his personal loss which is unmeasurable and something he might not want to talk about and only express on stage? Considering the tour theme, maybe that. Maybe all that together. I can’t tell, I’m just going through options. 

 The good news is that in the next step of the story he starts the healing. White tank tops with “fixed” hearts on them are combined with purple (in Brooklyn) and blue (in Toronto) pants. No shirts like usually, just tops, but on Mika everything looks fabulous. Even the top is off soon and we can see only his statue like trained body. The next step is his flowery suit. The white suit has beautiful colourful spring flowers and - I didn’t see the detail during concerts, only afterwards in my photos - the jacket has also Relax lyrics on it. Such comforting detail! The final step is the royal moment in the end of the show when the nature is in full bloom and we see the gorgeous flowery cape with the word “RESIST” in the back and the handmade crown. In Toronto we heard him explaining how the theme comes from a quote by his mother “may your head always bloom” and suddenly it all makes perfect sense. What a beautiful spring story, what a beautiful way to show love to his mother.

The highlight of the Toronto show was obviously hearing the new song Modern Times. Hearing a song for the first time is always a unique experience. I heard Relax for the first time and it went directly to my heart and never left. I couldn’t exist without listening to that song, it has moved in me permanently. I heard Last Party and Underwater and loved them immediately and have loved them ever since. They are powerful, safe and everything a favourite song can be. I heard Modern Times and my first reaction was it’s different. So completely different than any song. Mika has said it’s time for change and this is a change. 

 I looked at Mika and he was smiling when he was singing. Suddenly I was smiling as well and then it hit me, we have a new song. We have finally a new song! It’s difficult to catch a new song listening to it only once but luckily I got the song filmed and been listening to it ever since over and over again. I can’t fully explain but this song can easily take over my brains. The way it works makes me think of artificial intelligence, it’s capable in a scary way. I’m impressed by the song the same way I’m impressed by the show and the story it tells. The song has a frustrated rant part and it has a carefree part that reminds me of Tomorrow. Maybe the change is not that big after all. There’s a strong message and I love that. Mika says pop music doesn’t have to be superficial and love it that he proves it this way. This is a theme I have given a lot thought. What I loved most was seeing him smiling when he performed the song. Modern Times is a lovely live song. 

It felt good to see the usual full band on stage with Mika. We haven’t seen the full band for a while and I had missed them on the background. These four musicians create a nice, balanced mix. During the first two gigs the situation wasn’t as relaxed as it usually is, I think we all have to get used to touring again. Mika was very focused on his performing, wanting to make it as good as possible. The band was focused on supporting him as well as they possibly could. I was focused on listening and watching him, catching every possible detail, being surprised, understanding the story and being able to see how he is for real after all this time. In Brooklyn I took many photos and at the time wasn’t sure if it was the right thing to do but afterwards loved having them. In Toronto I mostly just observed and paid attention. 

I still look forward to the vibe where Mika is purely enjoying being on stage, where he spontaneously laughs at silly, surprising things. I look forward to seeing the band sparkling a bit, Max taking his signature dance steps, Wouter drumming like in a trans. I look forward to the feeling where the audience is like an ocean and I’m a part of it and just move to the left and right waving my hand because there’s simply no point fighting against it. We are getting there, I know that. It feels amazing to have concerts back. 

The audience in Toronto was warm and enthusiastic and the vibe was particularly lovely. I met people before the show and I met people after the show and even though I was a bit too jet lagged for a smart conversation I enjoyed it and it made me smile. We are creating good memories again and that’s the vibe I will remember later when I think of this show. That vibe and hearing Modern Times for the first time. We have started a new era.

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