Mika at Philharmonie de Paris 2021

I have never looked forward to any concert as much as I did look forward to these two symphony concerts at Philharmonie de Paris on October 23rd and 24th 2021. When everything finally started to happen on Saturday evening it felt like a pause button was pushed for the rest of the world and us, the luckiest of all inside the venue, got two extra hours. Two generous and full extra hours. It was an incredible night, I’ve never felt as focused and as fully inside of music as I felt that day. We saw a long, glorious concert which was rich, even luxurious with elements and details. 

Symphony concerts are my favourite part of everything Mika does. The classic environment offers an extraordinary possibility to enjoy his voice and I love seeing him serious and totally focused on his singing. He's more than his music and his music lives its own life but that moment they become one and are totally inseparable and that’s what I love most. That moment is everything. I see it momentarily at all kind of concerts, in all kind of circumstances, that state of mind must be something he hunts, yet the symphonic environment is ideal for it. A natural environment for him to be totally focused on his music.

Another element that takes his performing to a new level during symphony concerts is the way the orchestra tells stories and almost paints different scenes. It makes Mika very, very expressive with his performing and I simply adore watching that. The Orchestre National d'Île-de-France lead by legendary Simon Leclerc was phenomenal and the Stella Maris choir lead by Olivier Bardot an absolutely wonderful addition. The songs that usually make us dance at pop concerts got strong and theatric, even film style atmosphere. 

At Philhamonie de Paris Ida Falk Winland was joining Mika's expressive performing more than we have seen before, her performing was more expressive than it usually is and I immensely enjoyed watching them both on stage. As an opera singer Ida is more than capable of performing that way. What I admire most is her dedication to be there to support Mika. She follows Mika's performing automatically, always offering the exact amount of presence. Ida is an exception I love seeing on stage with Mika. Not only because I love hearing her voice together with his but also because of the bond they have, she makes the stage a safe place for Mika to perform. We saw small sweet gestures between these two and Ida got a standing ovation after her part which was well deserved. Ida had Max Taylor next to her and his angelic voice is a part of the symphonic experience as well, it's always a pleasure to have him there.

The symphonic setlist was long and satisfying. I saw the list in advance and just reading it filled my heart with excitement. The setlist included the most important classic symphony songs Toy Boy, Underwater, Last Party, Heroes, Over My Shoulder, Happy Ending and Relax. It had big, interesting favorites Boum Boum Boum, Rain, Les baisers perdus (performed with Thibaut Garcia), Tiny Love and Good Guys and it had the usual energetic songs Drunk, Origin, Elle me dit, Grace Kelly and Love Today. The setlist had two songs we had never heard with an orchestra before (No Place In Heaven, Blue) and even a song we hadn’t heard live before (I Went To Hell Last Night). No Karen or Any Other World – both powerful symphony songs - but this way we got new additions and the setlist was more “pop” which was probably what Mika wanted. I felt we were extremely lucky and spoiled with what we heard. 

I worried in advance Mika’s insanely busy schedules might disturb his concentration, in his usual style he had been flying from one country to another on a daily basis. However, when he walked on stage on Saturday night in his stunning silvery Valentino suit he showed no signs of tiredness. His voice was perfect, his performance was flawless. It was detailed, it was emotional, it was everything it could possibly be. The night was perfect in every possible way. It was a full, whole experience. It felt one big moment starting from the orchestra coming on stage for the overture and ending long after Mika had already gone leaving the audience to applaud. The audience didn’t want to stop their cheering. He came back and thanked twice and eventually run to continue his responsibilities with The Voice All Star final show. We all knew he had to go yet people still stood and applauded and I only wish for his sake he could have stayed a bit longer to enjoy that moment. The touched look in his eyes and the smile on his face told it was very special to him.

The concert didn’t grow gradually, it started with full volume and maybe for that reason felt so whole from the beginning to the very end. Toy Boy is one of the most suitable symphonic songs with a very clear story and it gave a strong start. Mika told the story like it was a fairytale, with a compassionate tone like telling it to a younger person, and I really liked the version. After Toy Boy came Underwater and it was an explosion! More powerful than ever, very dramatic, very much painting a scene. Underwater was one of my personal favourite songs on Saturday for sure, even though it’s hard to tell any favourites, everything was strong. It almost felt like there were no separate songs at all, just one big story taking turns, the atmosphere changing. These were the exact words my husband used as well: it was one big moment. Boum Boum Boum and Rain were the two songs my son named when I asked his personal favourites and I was pleased with his answer, very good choices. 

Last Party, I Went To Hell Last Night, Les baisers perdus, No Place In Heaven. All four my very, very favourite songs, I almost couldn’t believe I was there to witness it all, the feeling was surreal. I hardly remembered the world outside, we were literally living inside of music. That is always the biggest dream of mine – being able to live inside of music - and it was happening now. It truly felt that way and I still wonder if it really happened. The song I had waited for most was I Went To Hell Last Night, we hadn't heard it live before, and it totally surprised me, the tone was different than on the album, not purely comforting but more complicated than that, thought-provoking. Drunk and Heroes before a break and the break was necessary indeed, just to breath and to process everything for a moment. It was a full and nutritious first half. 

The second half started with Over My Shoulder which is personally one of the most important songs for me at all kind of gigs and now with Ida and symphony arrangements even more. I always think Over My Shoulder must be a special song for Mika as well, he wrote it at a very young and delicate age, he was just a boy that time. Stunningly beautiful song, calm yet strong and impressive. Poetic, and the symphony version creates a scenery for it. Then Tiny Love and my another big favourite, starting in a gentle, sweet way and then changing the mood with "My name is Michael Holbrook". I loved the singing style Mika used for Tiny Love at the Paris Philhamonie, so different from the usual at gigs. Good Guys has been one of my favourites since Versailles, it has become an important symphony song, the orchestra takes it to a new level. Then Blue and an utterly calming version of it. The context is sad but in a contradictory way this song makes me totally calm and takes my worries away. Listening to the symphony version made my every muscle to relax and I could breath easily. Absolutely beautiful with the choir and together with Underwater my biggest favourite of the night even though, said again, it's difficult to name any favourites.

During Origin the choir started to encourage people to clap and that is the part I don’t like, I would prefer the audience not clapping during songs, the rhythm seems never right. My son asked why people didn’t follow the example the choir gave them, why clap in a different rhythm and I couldn’t explain that, that’s just how it is. The audience is a chaotic and not an organised element. To my huge pleasure my favourite ever Mika song Relax had calm circumstances and for me that moment was like a beautiful small gem before the chaos with energetic songs started and something I want to particularly remember and keep safe in my heart. Elle me dit, Grace Kelly, Love Today. The French audience truly loved Elle me dit, no doubt about that, and not only French, my family named it as one of their favourites as well. I loved Grace Kelly even more than Elle Me Dit and thought here's some Grace Kelly challenge to you all. This is how it’s supposed to be done!

The applause wasn’t going to stop. Throughout the concert people simply didn’t want to stop their applause. The audience gave several standing ovations to Mika and separately to Ida and in the end just wanted to thank everyone on stage again and again. Mika, Ida and Max. Simon LeClerc of course. Thibaut Garcia. The whole orchestra and particularly the first violin Ann-Estelle Médouze, Olivier Bardot and the whole Stella Maris choir. There was a bow and another and Mika disappeared and came back and again there was a bow and another and then he run leaving the audience to applaud. 

After the concert I headed to Montmartre with my family and even though it was almost too late to eat we managed to find a lovely restaurant that tailored us a suitable dinner and it was an ideal way to end a day that turned out to be perfect in every possible way. What a night it was. For a moment I wished we could repeat Sunday exactly similar as Saturday was but that's not possible and not what I want for real either. On Sunday we all continued from where we were left on Saturday and saying the concert on Saturday put me in an emotional state is an understatement. 

On Sunday October 24th I felt more emotional, more sensitive and also more easily distracted by everything around me than I did on Saturday. Each song became so dramatically emotional, extremely moving and touching. I reacted to everything that happened both on stage and outside of it, I paid attention to the smallest distraction in the audience and to the photographer who took photos next to me. The clicking sound during delicate songs like Blue gave me tears of frustration. I saw since the beginning that Mika is even more emotional, even more expressive than he was day before and I simply wanted to catch every single detail of his singing and performing. He added drama to the songs and seemed to be touched both to perform and share his stories and by the love and reactions his performance caused in the crowd. 

The audience was loud and again encouraged to clap by the choir and again that surprised me. Mika could have casually asked to save the clapping between songs not to disturb the orchestra. Even better, Simon Leclerc could have silenced the audience with his hand. Neither of them did that and I wondered why and only later understood maybe Mika even liked it how loud the audience was. For him it was another way to break rules at a classical music venue. His unusual audience highlighted the fact he was bringing his world to the classical world, highlighted him mixing his pop with the symphony elements. With his pop and his audience he challenged the orchestra and the classical team. I would love him to challenge his listeners as well. I would love him to ask us to adapt to the symphonic rules and not only the other way around. Symphony concerts are a small part of everything Mika does and I love enjoying that side as fully as possible. I don't want Mika to think his audience is too uneducated, too unsophisticated to learn something new. I want him to tell us: this is the classical world where I grew up, this is what partly made me who I am, I want to show it to you, I want to teach you about it.

Being sensitive and emotional meant I couldn't control my emotions and tears during the songs at all. Not at all. Everything was even more touching, even more moving than day before. Last Party and the story in it felt more emotional than ever before. I cried my mask so wet I had to change it. Even my shirt was wet. I felt embarrassed for that but when I looked at my sides I saw almost everyone had a tissue in their hand. It's safe to say we all felt on Sunday more emotional than on Saturday, Mika probably included.

Les baisers perdus offered a lovely way to calm down. It was the most calming song for me on Sunday and a huge, huge highlight. My seat was luckily exactly in front of Thibaut Garcia. I was able to see every detail of his playing and that was absolutely fascinating as the guitar part is one of my favourite instrumental details in the symphonic songs. My favourite song on Sunday along with Last Party and Les baisers perdus was definitely Over My Shoulder. It was particularly moving and it looked to me that Mika was moved after his performance as well. I could see the bond between him and Ida and it warmed my heart as it always does. I felt emotional during Tiny Love and I cried, I had absolutely no control over my emotions at all. Tiny Love made me think of Mika as an artist and his journey to this point and everything he has gone through during years and particularly during the past two years. Because of the camera sound it was difficult for me to focus on Good Guys and Blue but particularly the latter song was hugely emotional. What was the most important was Mika being able to focus, in the end nothing else matters. He dedicated Blue to his mother and after the song there were tears in everyone's eyes, both on stage and in the audience.

Obviously also the end of the second concert was even more chaotic than night before. The audience stood up, people danced, during the encore Elle me dit the crowd was in front of stage. It was a combination of joy and chaos and I kept wondering how people on stage saw it and hope at least Mika in a positive way. His audience went wild because it loves him. It was moving to see his smile. During the encore I took a few photos with my mobile and even though only mobile quality they are hugely important memories from these two beautiful nights. 

When I think of the setlist it's easy to see how drastically the mood and atmosphere changed between the songs. The first half started with Toy Boy which sounds a nursery rhyme and also describes the feeling that can be felt already as a child. It continued with the deepest possible love in Underwater and physical attraction in Boum Boum Boum but quickly changed to break-up vibes in Rain, drunk break-up vibes in Love You When I'm Drunk and ending the world in Last Party. It visited Hell and asked to be in Heaven. It's typical for Mika to go through all extremes. The second half ended with a cavalcade of classics but before that offered several melancholic or at least pondering moods in Over My Shoulder, Tiny Love, Blue and Happy Ending. 

With Mika there's always darkness next to the most euphoric feeling. Even during the after-concert high and happiness I felt some heaviness in my heart. What if I won't see him again? What if I won't see him ever again? My husband who has an optimistic and wise approach on life immediately guessed my thoughts and told not to even think about that. "You will see him again. You saw his face. He loves performing, he loves being on stage." I think that's true. I saw his face, I saw how he smiled to the audience.

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