MIKA and his band of suspender-wearing pop machinists descended upon Hollywood for the first of a two-night engagement at the Henry Fonda Theatre Sunday, and the positive energy radiated like ripples over Tinseltown. MIKA’s blue velvet jacket and gold-striped tuxedo pants adorned his famously lanky limbs. Bouncing onto stage with his curly locks, the man was part cartoon, part fantasy, and 100% British idol.
“Relax” from Life in Cartoon Motion kicked off the night to the delight of the awaiting crowd. “Blue Eyes” from The Boy Who Knew Too Much followed with live steel drum accompaniment. It wasn’t until the 5th song that MIKA even began playing music from his October 16th release, The Origin of Love, and it was “Lola,” the second album track, that received that honor.
As his homage to the global sensation Wicked composed by Stephen Schwartz, MIKA played “Popular” from Origin with the help of some friends. Called the Polkadot Choir, a group of around 15 local teenaged singers in green speckled robes ascended the stage to sing backup for MIKA. They transitioned into the squeel-inducing “Big Girls You Are Beautiful” (from the largely male audience, mind you) with its echos of Queen and which MIKA sang from atop his cracked-mirror piano (like a bad luck disco ball).
Playfulness is key to MIKA’s concert experience. Perhaps the most palpable example of this occurred during his performance of “Love Today,” in which MIKA’s instrumentalists all chanted the famous “Da-di Da-di Dooms.” One by one, MIKA pretended to club his band with his microphone until they all lay unconscious on the floor, at which point only his guitar player remained singing the difficult a cappella falsetto backgrounds and MIKA comically clubbed himself in jade envy.
The remaining concert highlights were Origin tracks “Love You When I’m Drunk,” “Origin of Love,” the French “El Me Dit,” which proved he could have sung to the audience in any language and we would follow him loyally, and the single “Celebrate.” He wound things down with “Happy Ending” and the finale “Grace Kelly,” two songs he sang with the same robust enthusiasm as his newest singles although they came off his first record 5 years ago. Of course, it wouldn’t be a proper concert without an encore, and MIKA’s tore the roof off of the Fonda with “Lollypop” followed by a riot-inciting “We Are Golden.”
It is MIKA’s infectious, bubble-gum-fueled euphoria that captures the hearts of his listeners and encourages them to chant along to every number in the concert, emulating the joie de vivre that MIKA exudes from the microphone. The night was unlike any smaller-venue concert I’ve ever attended. MIKA never quite made sense to American Top 40 listeners, but his pure-pop appeal is equally on par with that of Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, or any other Candyland pop fantasy artist of today. If men had the Top 40 appeal of the largely female-dominated Billboard charts of the past 5 years, MIKA’s fate in America could have been very different.
I only wish I could see MIKA’s concert vision realized on a budget of something like the California Dream Tour or Monster Ball. Without it, however, MIKA still managed to masterfully elevate the spirit of a largely vapid and jaded Hollywood for two nights. His charm and demeanor, his British humor, and his unmatched live vocal endurance made for the most refreshing concert experience I’ve had in months. I have a newfound appreciation for The Origin of Love, which is a bit of a grower, but which I invite everyone to check out on iTunes.
For more on MIKA, visit his website, and be sure to check him out next time he rolls through LA.