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MIKA BIG EFFORT TO IMPRESS; A memorable night as the popster takes a break from.

Byline: JOHN KELLY

Why play a set when you can put on a show? That seemed to be Mika's motto at this Edge festival gig, where the stage dressing and many of the surprise set pieces that occurred were as arresting as the songs themselves.

One particularly odd moment came at the start of Love Today, when a procession of women (presumably) dressed in bright neon-coloured wedding dresses paraded onto the stage in a funeral march, followed by a group of stagehands carrying a more than life-sized doll of a smiling ginger-haired boy.

On they came and off they slowly went, leaving the doll sitting in the middle of the stage so Mika could knock it about during the song.

If that sounds weird E well it was, but at least the singer was making an effort.

Whatever you might think of his light, poppy and sometimes a bit over-the-top music, Mika (real name Michael Penniman Jr, from London) seems dedicated to putting on a show that his audience will remember.

The singer, in white shirt and trousers, pointed out during the set that this will be his last gig in the UK "for a while", and it was clear he wanted to leave the live stage with happy memories.

So among the distinctive extra touches were the sight of him performing Dr John while standing on top of his piano wearing a cape bearing multi-coloured feathers and a top hat, kind of like Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat meets Cabaret.

A huge pink and yellow flag bearing the word Billy! was winched up into the air until it was almost blocking out the stage during Billy Brown, while heart-shaped pink balloons were passed out to the front few rows of the audience during Happy Ending.

Of course, it was all as camp as the proverbial row of tents, but there was also something playful and charming about it.

Mika seems to treat his shows like playtime for himself and his audience, and heandhisfive-piecegrouparelikethe In the Night Garden house band.

The backdrop of flowers offset by two giant, dove-filled wreaths at the sides of the stage emphasised the fact that he was trying to create a kind of innocent fantasy world.

Musically it was also a sweet set, with the singer having sacrificed a bit of his over-the-top performance style for the new album The Boy Who Knew Too Much.

The likes of Grace Kelly and Big Girl (You Are Beautiful) were still there and fans were delighted to hear them, but far more affecting were gentle Happy Ending and the tender piano ballad Over My Shoulder, while We Are Golden, Blame It On The Girls and the housey Rain are more universal pop songs than what he's written before.

It's tempting to say there was more style than substance here, but there was just enough of the latter to make sure everyone went home happy.

JOHN KELLY

CAPTION(S):

MIKA Picture House, Edinburgh, August 23
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Aug 29, 2010
Words:497
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