The following was mostly written (I had to clean it up and flesh it out a bit!) after my MIKA show in Boston, which was my first time visiting the city and seeing him live. Considering what occurred only days following, only blocks away from where I had such an enriching experience, this note feels as much as a love letter to Boston as it does to MIKA.
Bloody hell! I’m shaking and can barely speak. My voice is cracking and I’m chugging water and a mango smoothie to cool me down. Thank the Lord for the Panera on the corner and for MIKA. And to think I almost wasn’t going to come. I hadn’t realized that he was touring the States but wised up in just enough time to snag a ticket to his last show before heading back to Europe.
I have wanted to see MIKA since 2009 when I first discovered him and to have that chance fulfilled with an intimate acoustic show was more than I could have asked for. That voice can stand on its own and his allure on stage can make you feel like it’s just you and him in the room.
I could tell he was having fun. He was telling stories and saying how he felt like he was in his living room and the world felt small in a good way. He told us how our singing was just right in comparison to other cities. How he dedicated Love You When I’m Drunk to his grandmother the night before and she smiled. How his fingers felt like okra when was trying to play or singing, “Rescue Me” when he needed his band mate to come play Stardust on the piano because he couldn’t. He was as funny and silly as I always knew he would be. But his voice was as emotive and heavenly as you can only truly experience live.
Happy Endings brought tears to my eyes as I—for the only time that evening—allowed my thoughts to drift back into my life. But the beauty of his singing snapped me back into my awed state in that moment. His voice ascends and I follow to transcend my worries and memories. I’m not me. I’m not tired or alone. And if I am, I don’t care. I’m too busy being part of the choir and as I was one of the tallest in the crowd, looking directly into his eyes whenever I could. I was focused and felt such a chill come over me when he finished the song without the microphone. His voice rang clear bringing about a hush. He has one of those voices that I don’t even try to sing along to. It’s useless because no one can do MIKA but himself.
His music is like distilled joy, even when he is singing about pain. I think it is because he is genuine and that is comforting in times when things don’t often feel that way. But that wasn’t the case at this show as the genuinely nice people I met made such an impression on me. They actually introduced themselves to me and all. So far, I like Boston. I don’t feel the claustrophobic anxiety that besets me in New York. Its more open and I didn’t feel like I needed to constantly have my guard up. It was nice.
As I sit here, people watching and still cooling down, I can feel my shoulders are tense and my feet are aching. My body is still buzzing. I’m still thirsty with the smoothie now gone and the water about to follow. But I feel alive and energized. You wouldn’t think an acoustic show would get someone this worked up, huh?
Perhaps it was when he took requests and played We Are Golden for the first time in years? We sang so loud and those lyrics really hit powerfully when you have an entire crowd chanting, “We are not what you think we are…” Or the performance of Underwater that was breathtaking with the lights dim and him singing eyes closed with such passion.
Or maybe it was finally hearing Stuck in the Middle live! Or how during Origin of Love, the lights went out at his behest and he asked us to close our eyes and sing as if we were the last people on Earth, which was so exhilarating. Or his flirty-ness during Toy Boy and Billy Brown that just about slaughtered the boy in front of me who spent a good part of the show screaming ”Marry me?!” Or it was hearing him sing both Emily and Elle Me Dit in French interchangeably as smoothly as if he was just breathing? Or perhaps, it was singing the lyrics I wanna come home during Celebrate with him while looking directly into his eyes? When I recalled this hours later as I sat in the bus station listening to the acoustic version, I got chills and a bit teary-eyed. I could feel the magic in my veins still.
I think Russell may have described it best when talking about the feeing of being on stage for the first time, “I can taste my own mouth.” I feel so aware and in the moment and everything is right. I am going to miss this feeling when it goes. But the ache I would have been much worse if I hadn’t made this choice. If I would have missed this shot.
Another special show under my belt, four years in the making and it was completely worth it. How would I be able to tell the tale of seeing a crowd of people explode into song and dance as our pre-show DJs (MIKA’s band mates clad in suspenders and bowties) spun “Under the Sea”? MIKA did exactly as promised—put a little stardust my eyes, a little sunshine in my life—and I surely needed it. Thank you, sir. Until we meet again.