ROLLING BLOG: First dress rehearsal of the Eurovision Grand Final – 1400 CET

ESC2014 logo Copenhagen

ESC2014 logo Copenhagen

We’ve seen the rest, now we get to see the best as they vie for victory in the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest.  This first rehearsal doesn’t always go smoothly, but that’s the idea of what is a technical rehearsal.

However, we get to see the songs in their final running order, so may get an idea of what might be on the left hand side of the scoreboard on Saturday night.  See what we think.

As ever, we start a little late.

The stage is filled with dancers carrying flags of the 26 countries participating.  The stage wants you to #Join Us. We see wide angle shots of the stage to a very upbeat tune – it’s likely something else will happen at this stage.

We next get introduced to the 26 acts as they all come onto the stage.  Some are in their stage costumes, some not.  Aram MP3 is in a Union Flag T-shirt, and Greece and Poland come on in the wrong order.  Everything stops.

We restart with the parade of nations.  Each country is announced in English, French and their own national language.

Our hosts now take to the stage.  They tell us 180 million will be watching and it’ll be shown all over the world.  The stage is also the happiest stage in the world apparently.

We get the list of phone numbers and are reminded that we can vote up to 20 times, but not for our own country.  We get this in French too.  As an aside, the French autocue is done pho-net-ic-ally.

And now it’s onto the songs.

Ukraine opens with a postcard involving Post-it notes (other types of adhesive memo pads are available).  We get the hamster wheel and Mariya gyrating in front of it.  This is a great opener and for those of a certain disposition, Mariya is very easy on the eye.  We have her pulled over the wheel which could potentially go horribly wrong.  But she carried it off well this time.  Our hamster dancer fell as he got out of the wheel, but he seemed OK.

Teo from Belarus has ice hockey pucks in his postcard.  He’s all cool and charismatic, and a slick performance.  The vocals were not quite all perfect but it’s tonight’s jury final that matters more.  There is nothing wrong with this, and I can see why it qualified last night.

The Azeri postcard uses light as its motif.  Dilara has a great voice for this slow ballad.  I’ve still not quite worked out why the trapeze is there.  She sings it well but it’s maybe on too early to make a decent dent in the scoreboard.

Iceland has a waterfall in their postcard.  If you’re not a fan of vivid colour, then look away for three minute as this has it in spades.  It also has a message we should all stick to.  Hence why it probably qualified. Even the Icelandic government approves as one of the backing singers is an MP.  They could be a little tired, or perhaps they are holding back.

Carl Espen is messing about with a window frame for his Norwegian postcard.  The close up shots are what this song needs.  Sadly, these don’t continue for the whole song.  The distant shots work to a degree as the crowd have been asked to switch on their mobile phone lights to create that starry effect.  But I think the four violinists are too much.

Romania’s postcard involves light.  Ovi still asks if this is what it’s like.  The hologram of Paula ‘singing’ still leaves me furrowing my brow as I don’t fully understand why they need it.  We are safe in the fact that we won’t be in Romania next year.  With so many quality songs, this is just way too gimmicky.

Aram MP3 of Armenia uses heat and wire in his postcard.  I know he’s not in make-up but he looks tired.  Like all of us. But he still throws everything at it, though he hits a few wrong notes.  That aside, he carries this well and there’s the slim chance it could be there or thereabouts.

Montenegro has a postcard is based around a piano.   Sergej is not in his proper stage clothes and is saving them for tonight.  The skater does work and enhances the heartfelt nature of the song.  His backing singers are there, not hidden in the shadows.  I love this and really hope it does well.

Poland’s graphic equaliser is the key to their postcard.  This will get the crowd going – they’ll be shaking what their mamma gave them.  The dancing girls are in costume but the butter churner and washer girl seem to be wearing even less.  Apart from a slight dip in the sound of the backing track, it went well.

The Greek boys use a towel and seashells in their postcard.  We get the monochrome stage again and it’s instantly catchy.  However, singer Lukas didn’t quite hit every note in this rehearsal.  It could be he’s holding back, or a slight mixing glitch.  It generally went good.

Conchita uses her large array of dresses for her postcard.  I’ve commented before on the very very effective staging of this song.  A long camera shot of Conchita in silhouette, eventually revealing her and then sweeping back.  We get wings of flame in the background, seemingly coming from her shoulders.  This gets a huge huge reception from both the hall and the press centre.  Top 5 at least.

Our first Big 5+1 nation is Germany and uses confectionery in the postcard.  Austria is a hard act to follow so may immediately be fighting a losing battle.  This plods along fairly nicely but is maybe just a little too static.  I still have issues with the title lacking a question mark but this is a minor detail.  We get streamers at the end that should land forward of Elaiza.  But they all landed on the band, causing much hilarity in the press centre.

First ad break time, and also another record from the annals. What’s the highest note? I won’t give it away, but it’s from 1996.

We get reminded there are/will be over 11,000 people in this ‘amazing’ event. Hardcore fans representing all kinds of everything.

Sanna from Sweden uses a swimming pool for her postcard.  She’s in her lacey cocktail frock surrounded by lights that all work. There are no vocal problems but coming after the break is never a good draw for a song that wants to win.

France’s postcard bicycles and smoke.  But then…

We cut to one of the presenters who fills in temporarily.

..then back to Twin Twin.  The vocal lacks something and the backing mix is slightly off. They make up for it with the dancing which is all in time.  It’s good for what it is, but it’s not going to win.

Russia’s postcard involves fluorescent lights.  The girls are not in costume but are still dressed identically.  They have their hair joined which still disturbs me a little.  They make the best of the seesaw but the vocal is again a little off. We have some really good lighting effects.  It still leaves me a little cold.

Italy are the next of the Big 5+1 and Emma uses food for her postcard.  She’s not in the costume we saw her wearing at the last rehearsal, preferring to dress down.  There are immediately some very bad notes here.  There appear to be problems as we hardly hear the backing track.  She recovers it a little but I think if this is how she performs tomorrow night, she will have lost the audience.

The Slovene postcard has Tinkara in a library.  She keep the camera well and gives a very safe performance.  not a winner, but definitely safe.

The Finnish postcard has ice.  The band are in suits but lead singer Topi is also in a baseball cap – he may need to ditch this for tonight and tomorrow.  I was pleased this made the final, as it’ll get the young vote with its fresh contemporary sound.  There are also shots from within the audience during the song which helps.

Ruth Lorenzo is on next and has wool in her postcard. This is very well staged and gives the effect that it is actually raining on stage.  Her stage has changed, and she’s in a long silver gown.  As regards the vocal, it’s pretty much there, but Ruth is holding back.  Towards the end she gets engulfed in a bright white light.

Sebastiano Sebalter uses dominoes in his postcard.  Whistling is notoriously difficult but he pulls it off.  It’s an offensive song that got a huge reaction in the semi-final last night.  It has a sound that’s popular at the moment and the whole band are very photogenic. I think this could spring a surprise.

András from Hungary uses a large amount of Rubik’s Cubes for his postcard. I suspect this song may have won the first semi-final and he is not holding back.  This has it all covered, from the vocal, the choreography, the meaning.  It’s all there and should be top 5.

Malta next and they have fireworks on a beach. I have to admit I’ve liked this from the first time I heard it, and the staging for this is excellent.  The back drop of poppies and other meadow flowers.  The green stage floor works.  The vocal is spot on; I understand that there might have been a few problems last night.  Top 10 at least I would hope.

Song 23 means the hosts.  Denmark has gone for a dark stage with disco lights.  It bumbles along nicely and we get plenty of shots of the audience.  It’s very similar to the national final performance stage wise.  For the last chorus we get a banner fall from the light rigging with a big red heart and the word ‘Love’ across it.  No other banners.  It’ll do well but not win.

The Dutch naturally use tulips on their postcard…

But first, a quick word from a host because there are a couple of problems backstage.  While this happens, we see a some classic performances.  Alexander Rybak, Cliff Richard and Lena Meyer-Landrut.

…so it’s back to the Netherlands.  This caused a buzz on Tuesday and we can see why.  Very contemporary, very slick, great vocally, and just a little bit understated.  This will go top 5 if there’s any justice, maybe even higher.  We’re not sure here whether there will be an ad break immediately before it; if there is, it may hamper the chances of a Dutch win.

Valentina from San Marino takes us to an aircraft hangar for her postcard.  This was arguably a surprise qualifier but a welcome one.  Valentina has Ralph Siegel on one catwalk and her backing singers on the other.  The staging is sympathetic to the song with a slightly dreamy feel.

Finally, the UK postcard uses red double decker buses, red post office vans and people in blue smocks.  Molly is in a slightly feathery black and gold outfit.  She’s not holding back and hits every note.  There is a lot of good stuff here, from the setting, and the camera shots.  We didn’t see pyros, so can only assume they’re being saved for tonight.

Songs over and we see and hear from the hosts.  They point out the commentators who are probably talking overt them.  We meet one of them, but you’ll have to find out tomorrow to see who that is.

We get a recap of the 26 songs for the televoters to call.  As we know, the juries vote tonight and that will help to determine the voting order tomorrow night.

We see the interval act.  We look into the future when every nation in the world participates in the contest.  I won’t give too much away but you may see a Tooji-wannabe on stage.

Who fancies Beethoven’s Ode to Joy?  We get it performed in a very interesting style.

We then get an interview with Gaia Gauci, who won Junior Eurovision for Malta last year.

Another recap, to remind us of all the numbers.

The lines are thrown open and we visit a museum.  Not any ordinary museum, but the museum of Eurovision History. A few famous Eurovision stars are living there.

You know the rest.  So I’m signing off now.  There will be another blog later tonight for the Second Dress Rehearsal – The Jury Rehearsal.  It’s an important one.



Author: John Stanton

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