Hello once again from sunny Tel Aviv! The team are here throughout today, as the first set of rehearsals for the second half of semi 2 get underway. With thanks to Danny Lynch and Robin Scott for reporting duties. And our friend the DISCLAIMER – most of this blog is being produced ‘live’, so the occasional typo or mistake may happen!
Last night was the first party of Eurovision 2019 at Herzliya Marina where many of this year’s acts were in attendance including Ireland’s Sarah McTernan and Greece’s Katherine Duska. Israel’s Shiri Maimon provided the entertainment for the evening! Today, the last 9 acts of semi final 2 take the stage for their first rehearsal.
Danny: First up this morning was Roko from Croatia with his song ‘The Dream’. Dressed in white with golden angel wings, he was in fine voice. The Croatians should be pleased with that run through.
Robin: Roko has probably the strongest vocal so far, and he powers through the song. Where are the wings? Well they are attached about half way through by ever so camp dancers. Those flying artefacts are golden, by the way! To end the performance those two “helpers” fly off into the sky. Lovely! So my (Robin) thoughts – great to listen to but weird to watch.
Danny: Michela from Malta brought a green screen with her and she is flanked by four dancers. She seemed to be holding back a little with her voice but visually, it looked great. I would say this is a pretty safe qualifier.
Robin: Michaela starts off in a virtual house and moves through being under water, a jungle and then different coloured backdrop and looks disjointed. Sometimes the projected lights make her look like she has some skin complaint. Now to the vocals – first time around she was really off key. Second time she started in a similar fashion but got it back during the song. The performance got a good reaction in the Press Centre but I just don’t think that it slick enough at this stage
Next to Russia. Sergey Lazarev returns to the Eurovision platform after a gap of three years. As always his stage presence is so powerful and his voice so strong. There is no ‘Scream’ing to be heard and the expected visuals are there. He starts alone on stage, dressed all in white, and then moves to what appears to be a set of eight mirrors. They reflect him, but suddenly one is different as it shows another Sergey moving. A clever video is at play and then another….He walks slowly on and ends up behind a similar full-sized shape, but this one has water pouring down. He presses one hand against the wet pane. As the song further develops you see this song master with a choir of himself. That’s so well done. The other eight disappear leaving only him to end the song. Good Press Centre reaction.
Robin: So to Albania and a passionate song from Jonida Maliqi. The setting is very dark and the set looks very different. If you imagine the Star Wars ships at the start of Eposide 4, then you have the shapes. She is dressed in Black. It’s a full length gown with gold braiding. First of all you see just her on stage but you can hear the errie sounds coming from her accompanying chorus. Those three backing singers are on stage to our right, standing on a raised area. The visual interpretation is using smooth sweeping shots and works very well. The background lights change from white to red to white, etc. Suddenly, in front of Jonida is a black bird flying towards us. As if that wasn’t enough this flyer reappears to fill the width of the screen. That’s a bit too weird. During the second run through both seem to have disappeared. Hmmm! Not sure if this will qualify in a strong field. (Robin’s opinion!)
Danny: Norway is up next and we didn’t get to see the visuals on the first run through although it sounded pretty good. Second time around we get to see what’s happening on stage. They’re making good use of the stage with Alexandra centre stage, with Tom and Fred standing to the side, and they join her halfway through the song. There’s some really nice camera shots here, and the overall theme is very simple, with the focus on the singers. Tom and Alexandra sound really good, but Fred has a few bum notes in his joiking part, which lets the side down a little. This won the UK fan vote but I think it’s going to have a harder time with the juries and the televoters across Europe. It’s a borderline qualifier for me, but I think the final would be a duller place without it, so I hope it gores through!
Danny: The big favourite is up next. Duncan is sitting behind a keyboard for the whole duration of the song. He’s great vocally, as he always is. The staging is very minimalistic for this, and not much actually happens. There’s lots of wide shots of the audience, and he gets a bit lost. It’s competent enough though it’s not screaming out winner to me. An easy qualifier though and is sure to do very well.
Danny: Next up is North Macedonia. Tamara is wearing a black and green dress (or is it blue? – the press centre can’t seem to decide! I’d say it was a shade of teal.) There are 6 mirrors behind her and during the instrumental break, there are projections of images of people behind her, and the song ends with an image of Tamara and her little girl. It’s a very emotional performance and her vocals are perfect. Coming after the understated performance of Netherlands, I think this definitely has a qualifying chance.
Danny: The final rehearsal today from Azerbaijan. This took a lot of setting up. There’s robot arms, a neon triangle, and a really cool laser in the image of a heart shining on his chest. At the crescendo of the song Chingiz does some wailing and then there’s a projection on the tv screen of him beaming up. It’s a very busy performance! Vocally he sounds decent. They have to be careful they don’t overcook this though but I’m pretty certain that we’ll be seeing them in the final after missing out for the first time last year.
Danny: And that’s it for today! All the semifinalists have now had their first rehearsal. Tomorrow is a public holiday so there’s no rehearsals, but we’ll be back on Thursday for the second run through of semi final one!