I was fortunate enough to attend my first ever Eurovision in Concert in Amsterdam weekend 12th-1th April 2013. This concert had started out 5 years ago as a group of fans who wanted to have a get together and invited some of the artists to join them for a party. In those 5 years it has become the biggest preview event leading up to The Contest itself and this year the stage was graced by 25 of the participating countries.
With an excitement similar to that of my first contest in Belgrade 2008, I arrived in Amsterdam on Friday lunchtime. My hotel was situated in a famous part of the city and I must say the glare from those red lights does take its toll!!! We had been invited to a pre-event party in Amstel 54 a pub in the centre of the city to enjoy some Eurovision tunes provided for us by DJ Louis Klomp from 12pointstv and I must say it was a great warm up – particularly enjoyed the UK 25mins where we were treated to the delights of Scooch, Josh Dubovie and of course the wonderful Bonnie Tyler.
On Saturday afternoon there was a press event at The Delamar Theatre where the 25 participating delegations would be introduced. We were welcomed by Event Organiser Rene Romkes and also by Eurovision Event Supervisor Sietse Bakker.
Whilst waiting outside in the queue we were brushed aside by an important looking woman carrying a wind machine which meant 1 thing only – yes the arrival of the fabulous Carola who treated us to a wonderful rendition of Captured by a Love Storm. Her performance was great and seemed to be enjoyed by all the contestants who had been brought up onto the stage prior to Carola’s performance. There were definitely a few Schlager faints going on inside the theatre!!!!
We then had the opportunity to carry out some interviews with the participants who proved most entertaining and enlightening. Eurovision Ireland of course caught up with the lovely Ryan Dolan for a chat about his experiences so far. He was loving his time in Amsterdam and looking forward to Malmo where his family would all be joining him to wish him well. The Celtic connections were strong and we also managed to catch up later in the bar for a wee swally!!!!
You can never keep a Scottish woman away from a crowd singing about Free Alcohol so we headed swiftly over to The Greeks for a wee chat. We discussed Kilts, Free Alcohol and them visiting Edinburgh – with only a 1 bedroom flat myself of course I offered to put them all up J – We had a dance around and decided that I should become their 7th member.
The boys from Croatia were a quiet bunch but lovely with it and again my kilt became a talking point when they started interviewing me wanting to know if I had heard of Jai McDowall??? They loved his voice and had seen him on Britain’s Got Talent. We later were given a snippet of their song and what a powerful bunch of voices they have.
It was not possible to ignore The Finnish contingent who could be heard singing and marching all through the press centre. I think they may have ended up being part of everyone’s interviews as they drowned out many an interview with other countries but it was hard not to smile and get caught up in the fabulousness of Team Ding Dong!!!!!!
We caught up with many other artists on the day, including Gianluca from Malta who told us about him being a Doctor and being part of a large family as one of 7 siblings. He spoke fondly of his sister who was also a singer in Malta and it turns out that anyone who is friends with Gianluca is indeed a friend of Dorothy!!!!!
We spoke to F.Y.R. Macedonia, Belarus, Moldova and Israel and finally ended up with Nodi and Sophie from Georgia. Although mainly using an interpreted we still managed to get our point across that we love the song and the Georgian red wine and Cha Cha – we told them they were having a party this year and they invited us to it so we all went home happy.
There was enough time for a quick bite to eat, some window shopping (not in our part of town I hasten to add) and then to get glammed up for the concert. It was held at The Melkweg venue in town and was a sell-out. The hosts on the night were previous contestants Marlayne and Linda who presented their own songs to start off the night. Then as the lights went down, the flags were handed out and the unmistakable sound of Te Deum filled the hall the concert began.
The countries came on in the following order Lithuania, Serbia, Estonia, F.Y.R. Macedonia, Croatia, France, Bulgaria, Ukraine , Austria, Switzerland, Israel, Romania, Moldova, Albania, Malta, Slovenia, Russia, Belgium, San Marino, Finland, Greece, Belarus, Georgia, Ireland, and finally Italy.
(YouTube Video Courtesy of 111jvr111)
The stand out performances for me on the night were France – she was just oozing class, Malta – it really had a “Dark Horse” feel to it, San Marino – what a difference a year makes for this classy lassie Valentina, Greece – so much fun they sang it twice, Ireland – well with a River Dance start and a catchy dance song what is not to love?, Georgia – simply stunning and a definite moment and then what can you say about Finland – whether you like of loath it her performance energy is second to none and the same sex kiss at the end was met with rapturous applause. The “uh uh uh uh uh uh uh” reprise by the crowd of the song from Switzerland was also very unexpected and quite a moment in the arena too – it sounded amazing.
Once the 25 countries had performed then it was time for Miss Eurovision herself Carola to put on a show. She sang all 3 of her previous Eurovision entries and kept the crowd on tenterhooks about whether she would take part again. The Schlager fans nearly went into meltdown but boy can that woman work a crowd!!!!
(YouTube Video Courtesy of EscStats)
It was a great end to the concert then some of us who had after party tickets headed to The Van Dyke Bar to party until the small hours. It was here we managed to catch up again with the Irish and Serbian contingents and it was agreed by all that the event had been a great success.
As we traipsed home at 5am, all there was left to do was pack the suitcases, grab a few hours shut eye and then head to the airport. I had a wonderful time in Amsterdam and all I can say is Roll on Malmo where Eurovision Ireland will be out in force once more bringing you hot up-to-date news and of course all the juicy gossip you really want to hear!!!!!!
Stay tuned as we will have a review of the show from our good friend from All Kinds Of Everything – Mr Keith Mills – aka Our Eurovision Sage.
Author/Eurovision Ireland Guest Writer