Where: Vic Theatre
When: October 18th, 2012
Grade: 4 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: Neil Miller, Jr.
Photographed by: Stewart Valentine
As an artist, Mika’s been alive and kicking since 2006, and this year saw the release of his third album, The Origin of Love. Boasting a more modern sound than that of Mika’s straightforward flower-pop debut, Life in Cartoon Motion, the new record features production from Klas Åhlund (the man responsible for probably 75% of your favorite Robyn songs), Benny Benassi, and Nick Littlemore of Pnau and Empire of the Sun. Walking up to the sold-out show at the Vic Theatre, I was unsure of how the new material would translate to the stage in the midst of earlier material. Luckily, Mika laid my doubts to rest with a vibrant and charming set.
Mika didn’t start dipping into his new Origin of Love material until about four songs into the set, but once he tore into “Lola,” it was clear that Mika can do nothing but sound like Mika… and that’s a good thing. The set flowed seamlessly, presenting the new material in between the old goodies, and it somehow all sounded so cohesive that it seemed as if everything could’ve been lifted from the same album. Even the uber-current sounding “Stardust” sounded magical and just as rich as anything else from Mika’s repertoire.
It was when the pleasantly flamboyant Mika dove into heartfelt songs like “Underwater” that his talent and vocal prowess were really able to shine. In spite of his effervescent stage presence that sees him constantly dancing and working his crowd, it’s more somber moments like this that really let Mika push his vocals to the limits and show everyone why he’s still pushing on after three albums. It’s also songs like this that really let Mika’s inner Elton John come out and play. In the midst of his constant channeling of Freddie Mercury (he’d be a fitting heir to the Queen throne if the job was ever presented to him), it’s nice to be able to stop and breathe for a minute after projecting so much energy — for both the artist and crowd alike.
Weirdly enough, by the end of the show it became apparent that Mika was really catering more to his old school fans than anyone who might have just tuned in starting with the new album. He only presented a handful of songs from The Origin of Love, which allowed him to perform nearly the whole shebang of Life in Cartoon Motion. Talk about an artist giving the audience what they came for, right? The set was presented in such an animated, high-octane fashion that he could’ve been singing us the phonebook, and we would’ve all still been dancing along the whole time. The most interesting part of Mika’s show, though, had to have been his Polka Dot Choir, who chimed in to sing backup on a few songs throughout his set. The fascinating part of this is that the Polka Dot Choir consists of fans that Mika picked in each city to sing as a part of this chorus. Whoever said you can’t put your fans to work and they won’t love every second of it?
After Mika closed out his show with arguably his biggest single, “Grace Kelly,” he came back onstage for an encore consisting of two fan favorites from his first two albums, “Lollipop” from Life in Cartoon Motion and “We Are Golden” from The Boy Who Knew Too Much. A fitting close to such a rampant show, “We Are Golden” encapsulates the Mika sound to a T and had me flashing back to the video which features Mika dancing around in his undies… and if this wasn’t a jam-packed sold out show, I might have done the same! The encore left us all walking out of the Vic on an emotional high that couldn’t have been matched from seeing any other performance. If you go see this man, make sure you’re ready to bounce and sing along with him because a performer as fiery as him will have it no other way.