Glamor boy

Mika at the Orpheum Theatre, February 1, 2008
By VICTORIA WELCH  |  February 4, 2008


It’s been more than a year since Mika exploded on the UK scene with his multi-platinum debut, Life in Cartoon Motion (Casablanca), but the British dance-pop playboy is still working to find his niche on this side of the Atlantic. Thanks in large to part to a big push from blogger-to-the-stars Perez Hilton, he has slowly developed an audience for his sugary disco workouts among the young, Red Bull–swilling crowd who never got to experience the hedonism of the original Studio 54. They packed the Orpheum, shrieking well before the set even started last Friday, for what was only Mika’s second time in town.

Mika’s dance-a-rific world is a neon fantasy filled with pink flowers (which covered the sound equipment) and giant globular light bulbs that hung like strands of pearls from the ceiling. Even the neck of the bass guitar pulsed with blinking blue lights, and the rest of his band (a keyboardist, guitarist, and drummer) were decked out in bright short-sleeved button-downs, black pants, and the requisite skinny black ties. For the celebratory “Big Girl (You Are Beautiful),” he invited two Rubens-esque women to twirl across the stage in turquoise corsets and ruffled bloomers as a giant inflatable doll in similar garb emerged from the back.

Mika himself, with his big grin and floppy brown curls, was outfitted in a oh-so-’80s colorful suits with sequin piping, plus silver shoes. He led the crowd through an exhausting series of aerobic moves for close to two hours. But even the constant stimulation couldn’t conceal how scripted it all was, from the glammy rock-star pose that kicked off “Relax (Take It Easy)” to his final, exuberant “Goodnight.” At times Mika seemed to be rushing to get to the next set piece: perched at his keyboard for the mid-tempo kiss-off “My Interpretation,” he couldn’t sit still, working frantically to keep up the pace.

The late-set highlight was a sizzling cover of Eurythmics’ “Missionary Man,” for which he was joined by a female back-up singer who writhed with him atop a giant white “M.” As he prepared to say his final goodbyes, Mika acknowledged that he’s been counting on his live shows to do what Life in Cartoon Motion alone couldn’t here in the US. So far, it’s working.

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