Mika @ In the Venue 03.30

Posted April 1, 2013 in

If I’m being completely honest, I’ve got a love/hate relationship with In The Venue. You see, I like to drink, and In The Venue likes to put steps every three to five feet all across their floor. It’s a combination that goes together quite poorly to say the least. That being said, if you’ve ever seen a show there you’ll understand where the love in my love/hate relationship fits in. There’s something about that monstrous pit framed by the wide balcony above that seems to always provide a fabulous acoustic experience.

Since I had to drive myself home after the show, I decided to skip the booze-drenched balcony and swim through the pit in search of familiar faces. The crowd was little different than what I’m used to (insert snide, sarcastic comment about all-ages venues here), but I eventually found some friends to enjoy the show with. The stage for the Mika concert was simple, yet elegant: A Steinway piano in the center, with additional instruments around the edge, and multiple uncovered single bulb lights hanging from above to provide a starry effect. Mika began his current tour towards the end of last summer, shortly before releasing his latest and third album, The Origin of Love, in September.

Now, nine times out of 10, when an artist or band opens with your favorite song of theirs, it’s all downhill from there—but, luckily for me, this was a special situation. You see, before this concert, I’d only heard about a third of Mika’s work. Which was basically the reason I’d decided to review the thing in the first place—I’d liked what I’d heard, and I wanted to hear more. So, when Mika opened with “Grace Kelly,” a fun song that’s really just a “fuck you” to record execs, I knew there was a good chance of things improving from that point.

After “Grace Kelly,” Mika stopped to rotate his Steinway so everyone up on the balcony could see him better—it’s not being vain if you’re pretty, right? Next up was “Toy Boy,” a song from his second album, The Boy Who Knew Too Much, which was lullaby-esque and could easily have been written by Amanda Palmer’s Coin Operated Boy. After moving through a few more songs from his first two albums, Mika dove into some music off the new one. I might have a new favorite song in “Love You When I’m Drunk,” which is possibly the bounciest, most catchy breakup song I’ve heard in my life.

In addition to the songs from his latest album, Mika also played some new music. First was “The Only Lonely Man,” which isn’t new, but has yet to be included on any of his albums. Later he played “Hia Leah,” a beautiful song about love and love songs—the end of which included some apparently improvised lyrics customized for Salt Lake City. In between the new music, Mika played “Elle Me Dit,” the first song he’s recorded completely in French—though tonight he sang it half in English and half in French, which seems appropriate considering the song is about a girl screaming at him in French to make better choices with his life (the title translates to “she tells me”).

The crowd was quite good throughout the performance, singing along and participating in everything Mika involved them in. He even got a volunteer to come up on stage to tap dance during “Stuck in the Middle,” and though the tap dancing wasn’t horribly impressive, it was nonetheless entertaining.

Towards the end of the show, Mika went back and forth between songs from the first album and songs from the third. “Happy Ending” and “Celebrate” were particularly enjoyable—“Happy Ending” was especially good at proving Mika’s incredible vocal ability and range, as he sang the end of the song completely off-mic, and the eruption from the crowd as he finished was perhaps the loudest I’ve ever heard In The Venue get.

Mika ended the night with “Over My Shoulder,” a song he first recorded when he was 16, and also the first song he recorded that he was happy with, which he included as a hidden track on his first album, Life In Cartoon Motion. All in all, Mika was wonderful and, with any luck, his future world tours will continue to include our little salty city.