Stockholm blog, Day 6, Saturday 7th May

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Vision editor Hass Yusuf writes the words and assistant editor David Ransted supplies the photos. This blog is updated throughout the day and evening.

Well it’s going to be another long day here in the press centre. Today we have the first rehearsals for Germany, Italy and the UK, followed by second rehearsals for Semi-Final Two.

Let’s start with the Meets & Greets from last night.

At the French Meet & Greet, Amir couldn’t have been more charming or positive.

He says everything has been overwhelming. After two months of extensive promotion, he’s looking forward to relaxing in Stockholm!

He got quite emotional seeing all the effects and cameras on stage.

He wants people to feel hope and smile when they listen to his song. He finds the whole thing somewhat spiritual.

He was asked that since he was Jewish, would he be representing his Jews. He replied, he’ll be representing his country and flag and not just any section of society.

Like Serhat (San Marino), Amir used to be a dentist, but gave it up when the calling for a musical career came about.

Barei from Spain was on top form – a very engaging character. She says the Swedes have set a new standard for Eurovision. She had a very good rehearsal, but there are more rehearsals to come to make her act perfect. Her act has a very positive message. It’s like a battle-cry for all fighters – use your will power to not let others get you down.

There is great symbolism when he falls down – in life all of us at sometime face difficult times, but we need to get up and dust off all the bad stuff.

Everything about life inspires her writing – everyday things you experience, death, challenges, love, etc.

She would love to write for Rhiana and Adele. She writes in English in mind, because for example, and soul and American pop songs might sound strange in another language.

Regarding the Come Together theme, she says we are all a universe in ourselves and we have to share our lives.

Rehearsals for the remaining Big 5 have now started.

Germany is on first with Jamie-Lee singing Ghost. She’s dressed very colourfully looking like a Disney character. The background has a nice mystical setting. She performs it wee enough.

Francesca Michielin for Italy is next on stage with No Degree Of Separation. Her background is very understated but impressive – it appears to be a tree of life. Francesca is an excellent singer – she just stands there and sings – which is all that is needed. At the end of the act, she offers us an apple. Very nice. I shall eat one now.

Right – time for the United Kingdom with Joe & Jake singing You’re Not Alone. And they were perfect. They have so much energy! They sounded great and are backed up with drummers. The background images of selfies works really well. These two have great chemistry together – with their voices blending in perfectly. One of he best UK songs and act in ages! Well done lads!

Time for some of David’s pics from yesterday’s Semi-Final One rehearsals.

Zoe from Austria. What a dress!

Zoe from Austria. What a dress!

Samra from Azerbaijan and her security guards

Samra from Azerbaijan and her security guards

Deen & Dalal from Bosnia trying to break down the barriers

Deen & Dalal from Bosnia trying to break down the barriers

The lead singer from the Cypriot act, Minus One. He's the one that howls like a wolf.

The lead singer from the Cypriot act, Minus One. He’s the one that howls like a wolf.

Gabriela from the Czech Republic

Gabriela from the Czech Republic

Juri from Estonia. Take a card, and card...

Juri from Estonia. Take a card, and card…(it’s the six of diamonds!)

It's Ira from Malta

It’s Ira from Malta

Where's Sergey from Russia going?

Where’s Sergey from Russia going?

It's Serhat, the cool dude from San Marino, as if you didn't know

It’s Serhat, the cool dude from San Marino, as if you didn’t know

Now it’s time for the second rehearsals for Semi-Final Two.

I’m going to have to miss a few things – it’s impossible to see everything, go tip res conferences and write everything up.

Ryyka from Switzerland has straightened out her hair. There goes the Mrs Slocomb blue rinse perm! It’s a much better look. But to be honest, this isn’t going to do well – there are at least ten better songs in this semi-final. It’ll be a surprise if it gets through., but good luck to Ryyka regardless.

Justs from Latvia just gets better and better. This act is really starting to impress me now.

Finally was able to see a full run of the Israeli act from Hovi Star. Again, this wasn’t a song that I liked much, but seeing Hovi perform it live, I’m quickly changing my mind. The setting is all dark and moody with effective use of two acrobats. Very smart indeed. And he’s voice is amazing!

Ivan from Belarus gets his wish to perform naked – but it’s only on video tape and you don’t see his tackle. Other than that it’s a good performance with excellent special effects.

Kaliopi from Macedonia just keep on getting better! They’ve changed the routine of the song and the lighting is more effective to convey the message of the song. She really is one of the best singers this year. Really hope this does well and that we see it in the final.

Back to the Press Conferences.

Azerbaijan (from yesterday): Samra says she’s still a bit ill – and as a nice ‘surprise’, she’s shown a video of her world-wide fans wishing her to get well. How very touching and spontaneous…

She asked the press if they preferred her white outfit from the first rehearsal or the gold one from the second. Bit of a no-brainer – the gold one of course!

In The Voice of Turkey, Hadise – who represented Turkey at Eurovision some years ago, coached her. (Other coaches included the guys from MFO and Athena!)

Eurovision, like the title of her song, is a miracle for her, as she has always wanted to represent Azerbaijan.

As a present from her fans, she was presented with a bicycle! The Azeri media know how to set up a photo opportunity!

Cyprus: Minus One said that they’re getting a lot of support back home and it feels like all of Cyprus is supporting them. Their song, Alter Ego, is about different personalities that we experience within ourselves. A bit like Ying/Yang. It was also pointed out that the words ‘alter ego’ doesn’t appear in the song at all.

Iceland: The second rehearsal was a huge relief for Greta, as a huge weight was lifted off her shoulders, as the technical difficulties from the first rehearsal were now sorted out! Previously she had difficulty locating the right position in the centre of the stage. Even though Iceland is a small nation, it has many musicians because he weather keeps everyone indoors so they have time to listen to music, play instruments, etc, Greta was very proud of her song when she got a message from a bullied girl who said that You Hear Them gave her the strength to deny her tormentors and not listen to them. I asked her how this experience in Stockholm compared to her time in Baku (where she was part of a duo with Jonsi). She said that since Baku, she has developed as an artist and is confortable performing on her own – without her violin.

OK ­ let’s get back to today with the remaining Meet & Greets.

First up today was Germany. Jamie-Lee said her first rehearsal was perfect, but she needs to practice. Her bright outfits reflect her passion street fashion. It’s all meant to look cute and bright. She gets a lot of support from fans of Manga – they like to show the world that they’re not a bunch of freaks.

Appearing in the German version of The Voice taught her about cameras and how to perform to a big crowd.

Being a vegan, her whole outfit is vegan – no fur, wool or leather.

She said it would be fairer if the Big Five actually competed in the semi-finals.

Francesca Michelin of Italy said that she was nearly too nervous to sing. She’ll try to improve things with her second rehearsal. But she was pleased with the first reaction to her act. She wants to communicate good vibes.

In 1929 the concept of six degrees of separation came about which connected everyone to each other. Her song is based on this concept – we should al team up – act like a community.

At the end of her act when she offers the viewers an apple, it’s meant to signify ‘seeds’ of life. While there may be different versions of apples, in the end we all from the same tree.

She decided to become a singer after hearing Adele’s 19 album!

Eurovision to her is a beautiful contest and loves meeting fellow singers from Europe – she really feels that she now belongs to Europe.

What lovely young men Joe & Jake, representing the United Kingdom, are. They really loved their first rehearsal. They’ve never had so much room to perform before.

They’re grateful that they have a big team behind them and that the interest from the UK has been positive. Eurovision for them is a massive celebration and are very proud to represent the UK,

The lads are both fans of Liverpool football club. They must be pleased that the team is in the Europa final.

The Come Together theme to them is represented in their act – with the dozens of selfies that appear on the screen. As they’re song says, they’re not alone.

They performed an acoustic version of You’re Not Along, where I told them that they proved they could sing and that watching them perform live in the press room and on the screen from the arena made me fee like a proud grandfather (I’m old enough!)

I said that they had great chemistry between them and hoped that they would carry on as a duo after Eurovision. They said that they had no plans to split up and that they were in it together. Hurrah!

I’ve had to miss out loads of press conference – too much to do and no let up, but here are a few.

Latvia: Aminata who represented Latvia last year with great success joined Justs on stage. She said after seeing Justs perform, she had to offer Heartbeat (which she wrote) to him.

Justs, sometime in the future when he’s had more experience in the business, wants to open an alternative music school. Latvia at the moment doesn’t have school for modern music. When he used to sing in the streets as a teenager, he always knew he would hit the big time.

Belarus: Ivan said it would be cool to have more rehearsal time to help him perform better. His positioning with the special effect projections isn’t perfect yet. His song was especially written for him. There was a big hoo-ha about him trying to appear naked on stage – he was only ever meant to be naked in a video at the start of the act – but of course the media got the wrong end of the stick. In the end it just proved great publicity for Ivan!

Israel: Hovi is a real entertainer. He wants everyone to know that while in public he appears with make-up and great outfit, that is to draw attention to himself so that he can talk about the serious stuff such as love is free, so give it! There’s nothing wrong with free love.

Back to the stage, where we find Jamala from Ukraine. You either love or hate this. I’m a bit under-sided, but it’s message of forced eviction will be understood by many in Europe. It’s a great performance from Jamala, with subtle but clever effects.

That’s probably it for today’s blog. There are a few more press conferences to go with another 10.30pm finish! Back tomorrow with David’s pics from today’s rehearsals.

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