It’s early to say we are past pandemic. However, we are certainly getting a taste of how life can be with less strict restrictions. In Finland 80 % vaccination rate is supposed to achieve in October. Not totally sure that will happen, whether people will be active enough or not will be seen. In Helsinki we don’t use Covid Certificates regularly but the system is occasionally tested at different events. Masks are still recommended in stores, in public transportation and in different public gatherings.
My trip to Paris to see the Amex Golden Tickets concert went smoothly considering the current situation. The airport formalities at Helsinki airport took a bit longer than they usually do. Instead of being able to get a digital boarding pass or even print my boarding pass at the airport I had to queue to the desk, to show my Covid Certificate and to fill in and sign a document where I assure I have no Covid symptoms and that I follow all the given instructions. The form was checked at the desk and given back to me but no one ever collected it so I’m not totally sure about the purpose of it.
We went to the plane in reverse order. People sitting in front were the last ones to get in. Everyone was wearing a mask also in the plane and during the whole flight except while eating or drinking and the staff gave us wipes to clean hands and the seat and the table. At Charles de Gaulle airport the exit routines took a bit longer than they usually do as well and I chose the line for fully vaccinated people and showed my Covid Certificate and all that went without any additional difficulties.
France is using Covid Certificates widely and that way things there were very different compared to Finland. When I checked in my hotel, ate in a restaurant or went to the concert I showed my certificate at the door. Everyone working with customers had a mobile in their hand to read the code and the reading happened quickly. I have the digital certificate in my mobile but I noticed it’s even quicker to have it printed on paper and that way I didn’t need to keep my mobile screen open all the time. During my visit basically no one checked my ID, only the Covid Certificate, but I recommend to keep your ID ready as well, never know when it’s needed.
In Paris everything looked so normal again. I didn’t go to the biggest tourist attractions, just walked around and it wasn’t too crowded anywhere, it was just lovely to see the city full of life and people being active again. The circumstances at the gig were also even more normal than I ever expected. For example, the venue was using the full capacity, no one talked about safety distance like it was done at gigs I saw in Helsinki during the summer. We used masks while waiting to get in and while waiting for our drinks but during the show it wasn’t required and that made our dancing in the hot and sweaty environment much easier than I had thought in advance.
Mika did everything to make us feel we are back to normal again and it looked he enjoyed it himself as well. As this was the first gig after the long pandemic I felt he made the experience even more special to the audience than any regular gig (obviously, every gig is always special in their own way). Even though this was a private gig it was full length. Mika did many high energy songs to allow people to dance and jump and to remember how the high gig energy feels, he added some breathing moments like the casual and very relaxed Popular Song with people from the audience on stage and – what made me particularly happy – performed also several extremely intense and emotional songs. It was like a wild roller coaster ride to remember our forgotten feelings.
It was especially those intense songs that – in addition to that simple fact it was finally possible to see him in front of us – made up so many moments of distance we had to go through during the past months. I feel grateful and honoured every time I see Mika sharing something genuinely intimate with his audience, whether it’s talking about a personal topic or sharing a particularly emotional moment in a live situation like he did performing Tiny Love Reprise. We couldn’t gather together for concerts for a long time but when it finally happened it was worth all that waiting.
It’s been a challenging time period but now I know the emotions we used to experience at gigs together are still possible and feel as good as they did before if not better. Fingers crossed that the situation allows us to be back in Paris in October and to see each other again. Looking forward to seeing Mika performing two concerts with Paris Philharmonics. I added above a few Paris photos from my mobile.