Lisbon Blog: Day 2, Monday 30 April

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Reporting for OGAE UK and Vision magazine we have Hass Yusuf (words), David Ransted (photos), and along with Robin Scott who’s helping us out, especially with any videoing. This blog will be updated throughout the day.

Today is the first closed rehearsals for the second half of Semi-Final 1.

But first a few highlights from some of yesterday’s the Meet & Greets:

Aisel from Azerbaijan:
Her name is inspired from the moon.
The emotion she’s getting from the contest so far will live with her forever.
Her production team are mainly Greeks.
Azerbaijan is celebrating ten years in Eurovision – and haven’t they done well?!
Aisel prefers to play the piano – she’s classically trained – but is happy to just sing for this project.
The act on stage is meant to inspire a sense of wind and clean.
She is very much into animal rights.

Ari from Iceland:
He feels very small on the huge stage!
He comes from a classical background, but is very happy with the pop genre.
He loves a power ballad – and more importantly is a huge Eurovision fan.
He’s made loads of friends on the various tours he and his competitors have gone on.
Ari shows us his technique of how to breathe properly and empty your stomach of wind. I would’ve thought a good fart would do the trick.
The red stripes on his white jacket are meant to signify a sense of pain that lies beneath the surface. Hmmm… wind, again?
He’s not ashamed to show his emotions – he shed a few tears at his national final.

Eugent from Albania:
He felt the first rehearsal was perfect – and wanted a simple staging.
Missing his family inspired him to write his song, Mall, which translates as Yearning.
While he doesn’t consider himself a poet, he did try hard with lyrics – especially the English version.
He found it vert difficult to cut the song down to three minutes from its original longer version.
He wasn’t even aware that he won the national final at first as he couldn’t hear the result!
When he retires from performing, he plans to become a dentist. That’s not a bad Plan B.
He thinks the rock genre can only benefit Eurovision and add diversity.

Sennek from Belgium:
Couldn’t get to her press conference – will catch the next one. But here’s a nice of her.

Mikolas from Czech Republic:
The poor lad was in hospital getting better we hope!

Onto the rehearsals.

Macedonia is on first today. Eye Cue perform Lost And Found. The band are a very successful around the Balkans. The lead singer Marija is all legs in a ill-fitting short magenta outfit exposing her underwear from behind. The backing singers are in black leather with colourful add-ons. There are a lot of hip movements. But enough frivolous chat – this is actually a decent pop number, but the nice electro up-tempo bits suddenly stop for awkward key changes. To be honest it may struggle to go through to the Grand Final in this very tough semi.

Eye Cue from Macedonia

Croatia is on next with Franka singing Crazy. I can’t say that statement comes through the performance. Franka is tall, elegant and beautiful and looks stunning in her organic-like out with a chiffon tail. She’s all alone on the stage, has a bit of a walk-about fighting the wind machine, but that’s it really. However, she really knows how to deliver! It’s quite an interesting sound – very dramatic – but to get through to the Grand Final you sometimes need that special visual hook. Fingers crossed for it – sometimes a good song with an understated – but powerful – performance can make it.

Franka (centre) from Croatia

Cesar Sampson from Austria is on next singing Nobody But You. And it’s another great performance. Cesar starts his act on a raised platform and eventually goes on a tour around the whole stage. It’s nice to see his backing singers in the shadows. The gospel/anthem-like qualities of the song really work well. As performances go, this is one of the best in the contest so far – with a great song as well. It’s one to watch out for.

Cesar from Austria

Time for Greece now – with Yianna Terzi looking like a vestal virgin as she sings Oneiro Mou (My Dream). This is yet another powerful performance by a soloist. Yianna is aided by a wind machine that shows off her long hair and sleeves. She’s making a few strange gestures that are probably for some special effects that will be added on. The lighting effects are used impressively. This really is a fab entry from Greece again – it sounds great in Greek and its ethnic sounds are most welcome. Let’s home Yianna’s dream come true with a place at the Grand Final.

Yianna from Greece

Most of us already know the singer representing Finland, who’s on next – X Factor’s Saara Aalto, who’s singing Monsters. Well there’s nothing ‘orrible about this performance. It’s not as gothic as I expected, but there is a subtle sense of oppression with her backing singers and dancers in pseudo-military outfits. Saara starts her act on a spinning wheel, struts around the whole stage and does a backward dive at the end. Does she get caught? We’ll all find out in the Grand Final, where this act should end at!

Saara from Finland

Armenia is on next. Sevak Khanagyan (I’m sure his name is inspired by Star Trek) sings Qami (Wind). The bearded gent certainly knows how to belt it out. This is another song where the performance will make or break the act. The staging is different – with Sevek standing in a circle of pillars. I have to admit that this is my least favourite song of the contest – last year’s effort was amongst the best. But what do I know? and to tell you the truth, this is such a strong year that the worst songs are still quite decent!

Sevek from Armenia

Switzerland are next on stage where ZiBBZ sing Stones. The female sibling, Coco looks very cool wearing a red hat, hipster trousers, high-heeled boots, and tight laced-up bodice! You could say it’s time for ‘naval’ gazing. Coco has even decorated her mic stand with red ribbons. She ends her act standing on a big drum. Now, what was her brother, Stee, up to? It matters not, as all eyes are on Coco and her marvelous performance. Stones is an impressive rock song which deserves to go through to the Grand Final!

ZiBBZ from Switzerland

Time for Ireland now as Ryan O’Shaughnessy sings Together – a gentle sad love song. Ryan is centre stage playing a guitar, but is joined on stage by a female pianist while two male dancers convey the story of the act perfectly. The relationship shown is that of a gay couple, but it’s relevant to anyone. To add the right atmosphere there’s even a bit of snow. It would be so nice to see this qualify – but it will be tough.

Ryan from Ireland

And going from snow we go to fire with the final act, which comes from Cyprus. Eleni Foureira sings Fuego (Fire). This is hot, hot, hot! Pure sex. Eleni wears a gold one-piece outfit with her midriff on display. Navel lovers rejoice! Eleni is joined on stage by four female dancers. It’s a great act for this up-tempo number. The subtle fire effects are also a lot of fun. And the hair-flinging. Hair-flinging always helps. The act will enhance Cyprus’ chances of getting through to the Grand Final.

Eleni from Cyprus

And that’s it for Semi-Final 1. Back tomorrow with the first part of Semi-Final 2 and more updates on the Meet & Greets.

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