Live Music + Gig Reviews

Mika @ Barfly, Birmingham

23 February 2007

He’s split the nation, so which side are you on? Grace Kelly still residing at Number 1 after five weeks suggests that plenty of people love Mika, but when someone hates him, they really despise him. He just seems to wind people up with his big hair, camp showmanship and impossibly catchy ditties. The aforementioned mega-hit is one of those rare beasts that treads the fine line between being teeth-grindingly annoying and irresistible.

Even if you think it’s the worse thing in the world, you’d better get used to it, as it’ll have already taken permanent residence in your skull. It sounds for all the world like a novelty song, but with a best-selling album now under his belt as well, it seems Mika’s going to be around for a while yet.

Needless to say, there’s a tangible atmosphere of excitement at seeing such a huge star in the Barfly’s tiny setting. Those that bagged a ticket for a paltry £8 seem very pleased with themselves indeed, and they range from 14-year-old girls to their Heart FM-listening mums and dads. So it’s an appreciative, if hardly raucous crowd that greets the big-haired one as he bounds onstage, takes his seat at the piano and launches into Relax, Take It Easy.

Mika’s certainly an accomplished performer, but after a few songs, it all becomes a little dull and repetitive. Beneath the ‘crazy’ exterior lurks a hollow centre, a vacuum where the heart should be. The Freddie Mercury and Elton John influences are there for all to see and hear, but there’s something missing; something that’s difficult to pinpoint. It’s like watching a drama school student asked to act out a role marked ‘camp, eccentric entertainer’: the moves are all in place, but where’s the soul?

Initially, the energy of his performance makes his less palatable vocal histrionics tolerable, but soon a sense of crushing boredom sinks in and one can’t help but wonder what all the fuss is about. The appearance of a couple of, well, big girls in corsets dancing around for Big Girl (You Are Beautiful) is a nice touch, and much of the audience does seem transfixed by his antics for a large portion of the show.

But that’s the problem in a nutshell: it felt like a show rather than a gig, one in which the same routine is acted out again and again. This all matters little, as he’ll probably be at Number 1 for another three months and then have numerous other huge hits and take over the world. But whether he has that special something (I refuse to call it the X-factor) to truly last the distance and emulate his heroes is debatable So, the lasting impression left by this rising star? Love? Hate? Nah, just damning indifference.

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More on Mika
Mika – The Origin Of Love
Mika – The Boy Who Knew Too Much
Mika @ Somerset House, London
Mika @ Barfly, Birmingham
Mika – Life In Cartoon Motion