Words by Hass Yusuf, images by David Ransted. This blog will be constantly updated throughout the day.
Are we really only on Day 6? It feels we’ve been here a life-time! But it’s all jolly good fun.
Let’s start off with a few colourful images from yesterday’s rehearsals.
We’ll eventually feature shots from all the performers in due course. David Ransted is standing up all day again at the arena. All his best shots will be featured in the next edition of Vision magazine and elsewhere on this website.
Today we have second rehearsals for the rest of Semi-Final 1 and the first five acts from Semi-Final 2 – and later on in the afternoon, it’ll be time for the first rehearsals for the Host and Big 5.
Just went and watched Armenia performing in the arena. What a great spectacle it is. Along with Finland, this is one of the outstanding acts. Artsvik’s entry lends itself to a really face-paced kinetic performance – with some outstanding graphics. This deserves to at least achieve a top five placing. Actually it would be a worthy winner.
At her press conference she wanted to thank everyone for their support. She was very inspired going around Kyiv because she spotted a eagle – and her name is actually based on the bird! Bird-like images play a big part in the imagery of the act apparently.
Omar from Slovenia is on next and gives us a rather old-fashioned offering – which isn’t a bad thing. He’s got a powerful voice and he’s been given an interesting backdrop effects to give his entry a bit of oomph. And he looks dapper in his glittery jacket and trousers. I’ll have those off him. When he’s finished with them of course! Omar is a seasoned performer and really knows how to connect with the camera.
Triana Park from Latvia finish off the Semi-Final 1. This is a great fusion of colour and costumes, but somehow I feel a bit underwhelmed – it seemed to stand out more in the first rehearsals. To me, it was the surprise act of the show. But it is a perfect act to end the show though. You can tell they are an experienced live band. If Eurovision is to offer diversity of sounds, this entry should really be in the Grand Final. It’s a modern sound that might prove popular on the night.
Serbia start off second rehearsals for Semi-Final 2 now. Tijana looks very nice in white chiffon – which is this year’s black for Eurovision. She tells the story of her song very well and is helped along by her male dancer. It’s a decent show opener, but it might get lost by the end of the evening. Still, it’s a different style of song from Serbia this year – quite a modern feel to it, but with nice ethnic sounds added in as well.
Nathan from Austria is on next with his charming act. And he’s also dressed in white. He has a really happy look about him – always smiling and the simplicity of the song and act should stand out. The moon on stage and and the backing vocalists nicely add to the act. But like many male artists this year, he doesn’t seem to be able to afford a pair of socks and likes to show off his ankles.
Are we ready for Macedonia? Oh yes. The lovely Jana is back – but still no improvement on this disappointing act. This could’ve been Macedonia’s year. It’s by far one of the best songs in the contest and Jana is a lovely personality – but there’s nothing right about the stage performance. The promo video of the song they had prior to Kyiv was outstanding and told a great story. Jana is strutting around the stage which could give the impression that she wants dollar bills to be stuffed down her bra! Of course there’s nothing wrong with being sexy on stage (the more the better), but this so, very, very wrong and sad. I can only hope the pervs of Europe will put this fab song through to the Grand Final.
After the press conference I had a quick chat with the producer of the song – who’s also worked on the Serbian and Bulgarian entries! I told him I loved the song and Jana, but the designers of the act had ruined it. But the Macedonian delegation were pleased with the second rehearsals.
The next act just looks sexy and all Claudia from Malta does is stand there and sing. And she does it beautifully. She looks radiant in her white gown. It’s a simple act with a simple graphic backdrop and the wind machine going at full blast. The act is all about her voice – hopefully it’ll last out until her semi-final on the 11th. This is by far one of the best ballads of the contest and so deserves to get into the Grand Final.
I asked her at the press conference if she was holding anything back for the big show, because her whole act is reliant solely on her great voice – she has no gimmicks on stage (except for the wind machine). Is she doing anything to keep her voice in check? She replied that yes, she is trying to hold back, but she’s like a radio – she can’t keep on talking! Her delegation are always trying to stop her unnecessary talking. Very wise.
One of my guilty pleasures is on next – Romania. This in contrast is all over the place. All very bright, loud and colourful. It’s so much fun. Yodelling and rap – two genres that shouldn’t really be seen together, but the Romanians have uniquely meshed it together, And Ilinca and Alex have great chemistry between them, despite only performing together for a few months. They were brought together specially for this entry – hurrah! However, their first run-through wasn’t very good this afternoon. But it just better with the second performance. I love all the stamping!
At their press conference Alex said that he surprised how important Eurovision was for many people. All he had to do was ask Ilinca who said her dream had come true to represent Romania in the contest,
The rest of the Semi-Final 2 will perform tomorrow, but now it’s time for the Host and Big 5. These first rehearsals are a closed set.
Ukraine are first with O.Torvaid performing Time. This is one of the few rock bands in the contest – and it’s a welcome change. It’s the nearest thing we have to Britrock this year, so it gets top marks from yet. It’s very fast-paced and full of energy. There’s a big head on stage. Not sure of the significance, but what the hell – don’t ask, just enjoy! It does look spooky though.
Next we have the potential winner and bookiies favourite, Italy. Francesco Gabbani performs Occidentali’s Karma. This is a slick, colourful performance that will be both popular with the juries and public. Francesco is joined on stage by his dancing gorilla – and four vocalists. who aren’t hidden away for once! Francesco is dressed in a smart grey suit, obviously a Italian cut and his gorilla has had a nice comb. The graphics for the performance cleverly mirror the lyrics of the song. Italy have threatened to win the contest when they returned a few years ago after a 13-year absence. They were robbed a few years back when
Il Volo won the popular vote but not the contest, so this should make up for that. And deservedly so. The act on stage may be a bit gimmicky with the gorilla, but there is a point to it. But what makes the performance is Francesco himself. He’s got a nice gravely tone to his voice and sings the song perfectly. It’s got a great beat – and it just makes you smile. Fab.
Next on stage is Spain who’s not going to win the contest. But Do It For Your Lover performed by Manel Navarro is a decent enough ditty. It’s a very summery act, with Manel playing his guitar and showing off his right nipple. It all surf-boards, palm trees, flowery shirts and happy buses. Manel is joined on stage by his band who add a bit of youthful fun to the act. Well Germany shouldn’t come last again this year…
Speaking of which, next on stage is Levina performing Perfect Life. This is a rather interesting sound, with a nice beat. Levina is quite conservatively dressed, but barefoot. She starts off laying on the floor, as many acts do this year, gets up and sings. There’s not much more to it than that really.
Time for the United Kingdom! Lucie Jones sings, of course, Never Give Up On You. Wow! First off, as usual, Lucie knows how to sing and project her voice. She’s standing in front of a mirror-shard construct which reflects images of her above. And it also produces its own effects, and when combined with the wider backdrop looks excellent. Lucie performs with much passion and is pitch perfect. We can be proud of this performance. We even got an applause from the rest of the foreign press!
The last rehearsal competing all 42 entries goes to France. Alma sings Requiem. It’s one of my favourite songs and the act does justice to it. The effects are fabulous – scenes of massive cities including Paris. Alma does a lot of walking around and is in good voice. Perhaps she could’ve done with some company on stage, but the French should be pleased with this.
And that’s it for tonight. Back tomorrow with reports on the Meet & Greets.