Shalom from Tel Aviv. This is your OGAE UK team reporting ‘live’ from the press centre at the Expo Tel Aviv. Hass Yusuf is reporting, along with additional reporting and social media stuff from Danny Lynch, and Robin Scott who is kept busy with photos and videoing stuff.
DISCLAIMER: Typos and such are bound to happen as we write along, so just go with the flow. All opinions are of course personal and not necessarily those of OGAE UK.
Today we have nice acts on stage – the second rehearsals for the second half of Semi-Final 2.
First up we have Croatia with, Roko performing The Dream. Well who doesn’t dream of having a pair of golden wings? So, we find Roko lying on the floor, lots of mist and light, then suddenly two angels descend from heaven and reward Roko with a pair of golden wings. Roko knows how to deliver this powerful ballad and looks dapper in white – but weren’t angels supposed to be naked? Not that I’m advocating nudity on stage – but purists would probably demand it. Will this act rise up and up to the Grand Final?God knows.
Anyway, white is definitely this year’s colors evidenced by the next act – Malta, where Michela performs Chameleon. Some years back the country were really, really trying to win the contest and this is a worthy try. This is an upbeat techno-blast of an act – where Michela is joined by four dancers, again all dressed in white, though they spend a lot of time on the ground prowling away. We also get a bit of rain and fish, along with bright colorful imagery. The songs message is get out there and do your thing, change with the times, go and have fun. The beat is very infectious with a nice Latin-style influence. It’s very difficult to know how well this will do. It would be great Malta in the Grand Final again – it would make a nice change (pun intended).
We’ve had a lot of action so far today, but it’s a ripped-back performance from Lithuania where Jurij Veklenko performs Run With The Lions. He’s probably got one of the best male voices in the contest – really great range that you would think there are two of him singing. Jurij doesn’t really do much other than stand there and sing – and even the backdrop is very subdued – the act is all about him and his voice. This should do well enough to get into the Grand Final. It’s a very up-tempo number with the message to be brave and stay strong – somewhat like this act.
So now it’s time for Russia where Sergey Lazarev returns performing Scream. The Russians have thrown everything at it this year – after last year’s disaster, they want revenge! Hence they send in the big guns – and you can’t get any bigger than Sergey. And what a clever act this is – lots of mirrors and projections – Sergey (also dressed in white) is joined on stage by himself and himself, plus more clones. And with a bit of thunder and lightning you have the perfect performance. Maybe this solemn song isn’t the best in the contest, but the clever effects will make it a contender to the top slot.
Next is also a powerful singer – Jonida Maliqi sings Ktheju Tokes for Albania. This is hot stuff from Albania – the imagery is all about fire – and probably passion. Jonida looks fabulous dressed in black and gold and she’s she’s joined on stage by three backing backing singers clad in black. The act is very under-stated relying on the song – a powerful ballad – and Jonida’s voice. It’s main disadvantage is performing after Russia – but a good song will always prevail. (Believe that, you’ll believe anything – Eurovision doesn’t always work that way..)
A fan favourite is on next, Norway, where we find KEiiNO performing Spirit In The Sky. This is a fun up-tempo number with an ethnic Sami influence.
The trio start off their act at various areas of the stage then up together. The backdrop is all mountains and wind and lots of dry-ice mist. And a few pyros. You can’t go wrong with mist and pyros. It’s a fun act – not that original, but who cares – there’s lots of energy and the song is rather uplifting. It deserves to do well and will definitely add to the enjoyment of the Grand Final.
Who’s on next then? Why, it’s firm favourite Netherlands where Duncan Laurence will perform Arcade – probably not naked or submerged in water though, unlike his video. There are lots of non-naked people in this year’s contest.
Anyway, visually this is a bit disappointing. Duncan just sits down and plays on a small piano. On the piano is a glass box with a bright lamp on top of it. And in the background are images of the ocean. In the second run-through, the box and lamp have been removed and placed on the floor – wise decision. However, the effects have yet to be finalized so we might be in for a surprise.
Maybe the simple approach may work here, but I can’t help feeling that the song was so popular of the video. The composition however, is up there with the best this year – and Eurovision should all be about the song. It’s a really nice ballad which suits Duncan’s style perfectly. But can it win? Let’s hope it’s not now of those shock results where it fails to get out of his semi.
Next up we have the newly named North Macedonia where Tamara Todevska will perform Proud. And they should be proud of this entry. It’s a really powerful ballad with Tamara really delivering. She looks great on stage dressed in a luscious ultramarine outfit and is joined by projection of herself and emotive images of her children. This really is an classy act and so deserves to go through to the Grand Final.
And that’s it for today – a early finish. The Euroclub opens tonight – something to report on tomorrow – where we’ll have the second rehearsals for the Big Five and Israel.