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review of Mika at Koko - 2007


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THE TELEGRAPH

26 Feb 2007

 

Thomas H Green reviews Mika at Koko, London

 

The crowd who came to see Beirut-born pop star Mica Penniman were not your average gig-goers.

 

Beirut-born pop star Mika plays to the crowd

 

Well-heeled London trendies and screaming twentysomething women were the order of the day. The atmosphere was consequently somewhere between a moneyed boho soiree and a hen party. They would have raised the roof if he had merely come on, waved and disappeared.

 

Such are the privileges of being number one in both the singles and albums charts.

 

As it was, he sauntered on stage dressed in a glittery hoody to deafening applause and sang Relax, Take it Easy, a song that shares its chord structure with the Cutting Crew's bombastic 1980s epic (I Just) Died in Your Arms Tonight.

 

While there is a popular perception that major label-backed indie rockers are somehow more "real", Mika has been subject to media sniping for his good-time pop. It is true, his schtick is beyond derivative - a combined pastiche of the Scissor Sisters and Queen - but he does have a host of deliciously crafted songs.

 

Recently recovered from flu, his falsetto was crystal-clear and, accompanied by a suitably photogenic band, including a glamorous female drummer, he dived straight into the cream of his album, Life in Cartoon Motion.

 

Big Girl (You Are Beautiful), an ode to voluptuousness, saw a pair of rounded cowgirls in basques join the throng on stage.

 

Billy Brown, a cheerful tale of homosexual love, was accompanied by a jaunty brass section, and for the album's hidden closer, the Radiohead-like ballad Over My Shoulder, the band left Mika to perform with just his keyboard and a cellist.

 

Naturally, the huge hit Grace Kelly closed the show but an armada of Las Vegas showmanship was saved for the encore, the postcard sauciness of Lollipop, wherein the venue erupted in an explosion of glittery ticker-tape and the stage filled with an array of dancers, including a gallivanting teddy bear.

 

However, when he finished, Mika had only been on for less than 45 minutes, more a PA than a proper concert set. If he doesn't have enough self-penned songs, he would do well to pad things out with a few well-chosen covers, yet his crowd seemed satisfied.

 

Despite Mika's best efforts, however, I was left with the feeling there was something a bit needy about him, something that takes away from his catchy songs and frivolous stage-show. Once he gets over this and inhabits his pop persona without pause for thought, he will indeed be the flamboyant entertainer he wants to be.

---

 

CW.

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