Photo – Garrett Mulhall @ EurovisionIreland.net

Here we go people – The first dress rehearsal of the final. Fingers crossed that we have no technical difficulties. 2 minutes and counting!!

Opening act – Scenes of the fireworks form the Opening Ceremony followed by Hip Hop dancers in neon outfits – some eben dancing through the air. This leads into traditional Azeri Dancing and Drum playing which is spectacular.

Then it wouldnt be a final without a reprise of last year’s winning entry – Ell and Niki singing “Running Scared” – it appeared to be Lip Syncing – and then “Technical Difficulties and the video link went down. Not the start we were hoping for.

UK – We couldn’t see or hear the show on the video link but from our colleagues in the arena Englebert performed excellently and hit the high notes of the song. The dancers on stage were subtle and it came across well. Good Job The Hump

Hungary – I really cannot get excited about this song. Sounding like a B-Side Depeche Mode Song it was performed well but lacks any real impact and following The Hump it will get lost in people’s minds.

Albania – Rona puts on a stunning performance of her song. Passionate and the same wonderful vocal abaility that brings cheers from the audience.

Lithuania – The surprise qualifier for some people – Donny gets his trade mark blind fold entrance to the song and when the upbeat element to the song kicks in it is very impactive. As my friend Roy Delaney said – this is 2 different George Michael songs sandwiched together. Not a contender but good to see them in the final.

Bosnia Herzegovina – Simple staging but we are back to another ballad. A cute song sung well but I can only see this doing well with the Blakan countries. Not a winner

Russia – Thankfully a fast song that really gets this Eurovision Final started. The cameras focussed in on the Pin Up Granny aka the smallest Babuschka. This had the whole stadium on their feet chanting. There is no doubt that this is going to score HUGE with the televote but how will the Juries like it. So far Russia walking all over the competition.

Iceland – Back to a ballad but this is a quality ballad. Jonsi and Greta performed excellently and now looking good for a Top 10 place. The Juries will like this a lot and is visually stunning. Job well done Iceland

Cyprus – This is one that we have a close affinity to as we have befriended the Cypriot delegation. Ivi gave a stellar performance. Her vocals were spot on and we know that the delegation were having difficulties with the mixing of the vocals from the stage but they managed to get that sorted. Ivi was electric on stage. The camera angles were spot on and the choreography was slick. Ivi is having great fun and this comes across on the camera – We might be heading to Limasol next year is Cyprus wins – and this is their best chance in a long time

France – Loving the song but the presentation is totally wrong. Half naked gymnasts jumping aroud the stage and a singer dressed in a green neglichae does not make a performance. Sorry France but this looks all wrong on the tv and it is a shame as Anngun is an accomplished singer

Italy – Well you could not have 2 contrasting performances. Nina from Italy is sensational and following the circus routine from France this looks even stronger. Nina is dressed as a Silver 60’s Diva and sounding sensational. The Boom Boom Boom’s are captured on the cameras and are striking. This just gets better every time you hear it. Italy 2013 anyone? Turin I hear is the preferred choice of the Italian Delegation should they win.

Estonia – Ott as usual puts in a passionate performance of this simple ballad. Less is more for this song and I think this could do better than people are expecting. Keep an eye on this one.

Norway – This is a strange one. In the hall it sounds as if the vocals are off key but on the video feed it came across great. A complicated dance routine that executed with military percision. This has gone up in my expectations.

An TV Ad break

Azerbaijan – The host nation comes on. Sabina looks amazing and it is a very difficult song to sing but Sabina was almost 100% perfect – just one big note that was pitchy but I am sure she will be fine on the night. This song has really grown on me and I like it and expect a good Top 10 finish

Romania – A good upbeat song that is going to stand out from Axerbaijan’s ballad. Summer summed up in 3 minutes. Romanis is looking and sounding great. Not sure if it is a winner but heading for a Top 10 again for Romania.

Denmark – Well after Romania putting me into a happy mood, Denmark then goes and spoils the atmosphere. A very boring middle of the road song. The mixing between the lead and backing vocals were not balanced and the backing singers sounded too loud. All contrived and heard it all before I am very underwhelmed by Denmark

Greece – This has been a shaky performance all week but Eleftheria has pulled it out of the bag. An average sounding Greek Song has just gone up a gear and is sounding like a good strong Top 10 song. It benefits from coming after the very boring Denmark. Greece have put themselves back in the frame.

Sweden – Loreen is doing it when it is necessary and getting the great performances in. She was holding back on the full performance but it is coming together. The lighting of Loreen is getting better with each take and Sweden are getting themselves back into contention. A great reaction in the hall.

Turkey – Well this is almost like having 2 home singers performing as the local audience love Turkey. Can is singing well and his English is better than some of his European counterparts. Visually strong and with the reaction it will get in the audience it may sway televoters and bring Turkey hig in the leaderboard. Still not convinced on the capes and the boring grey colour of them but we are stuck with them now

Spain – One word – “Sensational”. Dressed in pale blue, Pastora delivers a song full of passion and emotion. She commands the stage and the camera. As she was singing the press were claspping for her. She is really the true professional. A beautiful performance and simply staged this has to be a contender if there is any justice

Germany – Roman performs adequately but for me this is a very average song and sounding like it should be on a Coldplay album. I cannot get excited about it at all and do not see all the hype about it. Feeling this will be in the bottom part of the leader board

Malta – WOW I have been banging the drum about this song for a long time and there is a buzz growing for Malta and that they could be in for a good result here in Baku. They are looking and sounding amazing. The dance routine is capturing the imagination of people and Jurt looks wonderful on camera. Watch out for Malta

FYR Macedonia – Kaliopi was looking and sounding great. Passionate performance and a rocky look to the song. We really like her and this is going to do well for FYR Macedonia. She knows how sell a song and does this wonderfully

IRELAND – Well Jedward were on the stsage now. Vocals were on the money and thge balance between Jedward and the backing singers was better that others that performed today. They did not use the water feature for this rehearsal but were in their costumes and their hair was down. Looking and Souinding great – and I am not being biased. This will be a good crowd pleaserperformance. JOB WELL DONE! I think we are going to score higher than our 8th place last year.

Serbia – Well this is a song that I have never really felt brough something new to the table for 2012. If this was bak in 2008 then I would have been raving about it but as it has been done before so I personally would not have it as a winner HOWEVER the International press are calling this as a potential winner. It is sung wonderfully and the stage performance is very good but I am not a huge fan of the song. Still this could be a winner

Ukraine – Well I am not sure why but Gaitana has taken the song up a key and it has lost some of the power from the vocals. I am not sure if this is because of a problem with her ear monitor but I cannot see the reasoning for going up a key. She had to pull out of the high note in the song and it just sounded all wrong. I hope they revert to the original key. Still a potential Top 5 for me.

Moldova – This was a fun performance and a great way to round off a great show. Visually and vocally strong and a dance routine that is very Benny Hill. You cannot help but be caught up in the feel good factor of this song. Not a winner for me but will score well and if the rumours are right – Moldova may have won Semi Final 1.

Interval Act – Starting with traditional Azeri Music the stage is set for the main attraction which is the performance of the Presidents Son In Law. It was a contemporary piece of music that could itself have been in the contest. Considering the wonderful interval acts we have had this week which highlighted the wonderful traditional music of Azerbaijan this was more main stream. I would have liked Europe to have seen the traditional Azeri Music as that is truly unique. But the Interval Act was very good. This is looking like a very close final indeed.

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