October 18, 2009

Mika/ Gary Go – United Palace Theater - Friday, October 16, 2009

The United Palace Theater in Washington Heights was a fabulous place for Mika to play, but no so much for his opening performer Gary Go. At this point in Mr. Go's career, it looks like the choice is to work with one other musician (a guitarist who's name I never got) and fill in the blanks with sequencers and drum machines. Unless Gary Go is touring with a band, his set is way too intimate to capture an audience in a place like the United Palace Theater.

My first impression of Gary Go is that he sounds a lot like Chris Martin in a slightly higher register. There is definitely a Coldplay influence noticeable in most of his music. However, that doesn't take away from the fact that there are some well written songs. While listening to Gary on Friday night, I noted songs that resonated with me like “Open Arms” and “Engines.” I then checked those particular songs out on-line - they're Great! My favorite song of Gary's set was “Brooklyn,” not because I'm from Brooklyn but because the vocal was brilliant and so was the lyric. In concert, the line “Cause while I've been feeding your ego, mine's been wearing thin – It's all so quite in Brooklyn” caught my ear. I'm sure Gary Go will be around again – I'm anxious to see him perform a second time, in different setting.

And then, after what felt like a half hour intermission, there was Mika !

The United Palace Theater is grand and garishly beautiful. It's the perfect place for Mika to play. The boy is grand in the most musical way. He's Elton John, Freddy Mercury and the Bee Gees all in one. He's kitsch. He's Cool. He's Corny. He's Opera. He's Soul, Jazz and Rock-n-Roll. I can go on but I think you get my point. Mika is a phenomenon. Which is why I guess the intro to his show was kind of 2001:A Space Odyssey .

The show starts with the band members sitting on a red couch watching a 50's black and white TV show. The TV then goes to color footage showing a space rocket take off interlaced with a news announcer's commentary. The rocket takes off, the rocket explodes, TV screen goes dark and out comes Mika floating in a spacesuit which he then strips off down to his underwear (Boxers – not briefs).  As the band starts playing , Mika walked off stage to put on his white attire. Then within seconds  returned to do the opening song “Relax.”

From the moment Mika hit the stage, the sold out packed audience stood up from their seats and remained standing for the rest of the show. “Big Girls” was the second song with 4 actual big girls in bathing suits on the risers behind the band. As with most of Mika's material, the audience sang along.

Gyrating, twirling, dancing and walking back and forth to opposite ends of the stage, Mika kept the show going at a very high pitched pace with both his energy and his falsetto vocals. (He was barefoot for his entire set as was another performer I previously talked about in concert-log)

Whenever Mika disappeared he usually returned behind the band on the risers. The first time he did this was for “Touches You,” a song written and totally delivered a la George Michael. During the song “Stuck In The Middle”, Mika did the mock horn solo and laughed at himself before doing it by saying “Like I'm Dizzy fuckin' Gillespie.”

There were little boy touches to show which were really charming. In the earlier part of the show, Mika kept picking up a animated teapot puppet. I can't remember which song it was before but the teapot became part of a bit. Mika drank an imaginary cup of tea from the teapot puppet and then was pulled backstage by the puppet. A large teapot returned holding a Mika puppet crossing from stage right to stage left. The bit was cute, not all that necessary but cute nonetheless.

“The Boy Who Knew Too Much” is a great CD. In my opinion it's stronger than the first. The new material was performed and went over really well. “Blame It On Girls,” “Rain,” and “Blue Eyes” are great songs. One of the three songs is always my favorite depending on the mood I'm in when listening to the CD. In concert, on Friday night, my favorite was “Rain.” When Mika performed it, he kicked ass!!!

The thing about Mika's high range is that he goes there with such ease. True – there is a powerful re-verb on his microphone and he is backed by a female singer who can double in the higher vocal register. Still, with all the moving around he does, it's amazing that he hits and sustains such high notes with ease.

I couldn't find the names of the band members on-line, which is what I do because introductions are generally mentioned so fast in concert. (Not to mention, I often can't remember the name of a person I met 3 minutes ago) Backing Mika was a keyboard player, a guitarist/background vocalist, a bass player, a female background singer and a drummer, also female. Mika did play keyboard several times during the set, but would often leave the keyboard mid-song. The band's keyboard player would pick up where Mika dropped out. The only thing that bothered me a bit was that with the background singer in a party dress, the look of the band came off esthetically like the Scissor Sisters. I think Mika is a strong performer in his own right and therefore I do not want to be continually reminded of the comparison.

The show ended with thunderous and I mean THUNDEROUS applause for “We Are Golden” followed by a 3 song encore. Mika performed “Toy Boy” at the piano as the little Mika puppet danced along the upstage risers. Then he did, as could have been easily predicted by anyone, “Grace Kelly.” The final song of the evening began with Mika and other band members banging out rhythms for the song "Lollipop." The crowd went wild as white balloons came out over the audience from the stage.

Did I enjoy Mika's show? Well, I came home with a hoarse voice from yelling and singing along.
What do you think?

Here's the set list:

- Relax
- Big Girl
-.Stuck in the Middle
- Dr. John
-.Blue Eyes
- Touches You
- Pick Up Off the Floor
-.One Foot Boy
- Blame It On The Girls
- Happy Ending
- Billy Brown
- I See You
- Love Today
- We Are Golden

- Toy Boy
- Grace Kelly
- Lollipop

After posting this another blogger commented and then graciously advised band member names which are:
on guitar: Martin Waugh
on bass: Jimmy Simms
on keyboard: David Whitmey
on drums: Cherisse Ofusu-Osei
background vocals: Imma

(dcdeb - thanks!!!! )




  1. Mock horn solo? You mean he was scat singing?????!!!!!! This is one of my favorite things for a singer to do -- if s/he can do it well.

    Sounds like it was amazing. Wish I could have been there. And sounds like it was worth every penny.

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  3. Nope, I mean he was doing a mock horn solo. He cupped his hands over his mouth like he was playing a trumpet. But the band did the vamp from Brubeck's Take 5 at one point and Mika did actually scat over the vamp.

  4. It was a fabulous show, wasn't it? I've seen Mika 6 times now, each time better than the last!

    BTW: band member names:
    on guitar: Martin Waugh
    on bass: Jimmy Simms
    on keyboard: David Whitmey
    on drums: Cherisse Ofusu-Osei
    background vocals: Imma