Continuing my delve into the staging & presentation of Eurovision songs over the past 60 years, we’ve considered the results that can be achieved with the now huge video walls that form the backdrop of the modern Eurovision stage, last week we looked at the pyrotechnics because, let’s face it, who doesn’t love exploding fireballs and fire raining down from the heavens? Today we look at the stalwarts of Eurovision staging the wind and smoke machines.
It’s hard to imagine a Eurovision performance these days that even at it’s simplest wouldn’t include at least a light breeze and a little haze. At it’s most extreme these elements can create story, drama and impact (and ironic comedy!) and when used slightly more tastefully, shall we say, can just take the presentation of a song up a notch or two.
Here are some of my favourite examples of these machines in use at Eurovision.
Sweden 2006 Carola – Invincible
Yes, I’m starting with the queen of the wind machine, she was singing in a howling gale back in 1992, but by the time 2006 had rocked up Carola took wind machine-ography to a whole new level. The song begins in a soft breeze with Carola’s chiffon coat covering the stage and rustling the fabric trailing out behind her, it’s not long though before they hit the ‘hurricane’ button and she’s singing and dancing in what appears to be about a ‘Force 8’. Add the backing dancers with their flags and by the end of the song it’s a wonder that they all haven’t been blown into a pile at the back of the stage. Personally I love the bit at about 2:30 on the video when you can quite clearly see the guy operating the wind machine and blowing air into Carola’s face!
Denmark 2010 – In A Moment Like This
We are were in Oslo when this freak weather pattern happened, almost giving Chanée & N’evergreen on-stage facelifts with the power of the wind machine. We start with nothing, no wind at all, the stage is calm. Then comes a light breeze fluttering the hair and the chiffon of the dress all very nice. Our lovely pair then walk out on to the smaller satellite stage and it’s there that things get a little dicey. Suddenly a great Typhoon hits the singers and there is hair and chiffon flying all over the place, I’m amazed that her dress managed to even stay on. By the end of the song when the wind finally dies down, I imagine Chanée has to race straight to her hair and makeup stylists to put everything back in place.
Switzerland 2015 Melanie Rene – Time To Shine
I cannot say enough times how disappointed (and a little annoyed) that this didn’t qualify for the finals last year. It’s such a great song and the performance and staging of it was brilliant. Now I’m not going to talk wind machines here, I’m concentrating on the dry ice and the very cool way that it’s used in this performance. It starts off simple enough with the smoke covering the stage and ethereal puffs working their way up around the backing singers/drummers. But after the quieter bridge, when the chorus comes back in at it’s biggest you get these huge jets of dry ice around the stage that are blasted almost to the ceiling of the Wiener Stadthalle. Fabulous!
Denmark 2013 Emmelie de Forest – Only Teardrops (Performance from Eurovision’s Greatest Hits concert)
Ok, I am slightly cheating with this one but I really loved the staging of this winning song at the concert in London last year and I have to tell you I was in the front row and I hadn’t seen the dancers lying under the smoke until they popped up from out of the mist. This is a beautiful use of dry ice, it covers the stage, spilling over into the audience and soaking the stage in heavenly cloud, as the song progresses the smoke slowly grows and disseminates. Such a great performance of this song and technically it’s still a Eurovision stage, so I think it counts!
Georgia 2015 Nina Sublatti – Warrior
When the smoke machine fights back! Nina had performed brilliantly at the Semi Finals, with what I strongly argue is Georgia’s best ever Eurovision entry. The smoke machine billows out at the back of the stage flooding the whole area in cloud setting off this strong, powerful number. The same things happens at the start of the final performance, but it’s immediate from the beginning that there is a lot more smoke than the previous performance and we can see the storm brewing up behind her! Before it can be controlled Nina is engulfed completely in white smoke, the superbly rehearsed camera shots can’t pick out her face and for a moment it looks like she’ll be gone forever.
Some quick-thinking stage trickery comes into play. What is it that solves the problem, none other than our trusty friend the wind machine! Instead of the very, very soft breeze that had been used in the chorus before, the crew crank the wind up and blow the smoke away from Nina and off to the back of the stage, it momentarily obliterates the video wall as it’s get caught in the bright white lighting but then disseminates I imagine to huge sighs of relief from the stage and creative teams. And Nina, through all the craziness of what was going on, just carried on with a flawless performance of a brilliant song, she didn’t even bat an eyelid – what a performer!
What do you think of the wind and smoke machines? Can you think of any performances that have used them well or have over done it a bit? One thing’s for sure, I bet we’ll be seeing a lot more of these two cornerstones of Eurovision performances in Stockholm in a few weeks time!
Author: Lisa-Jayne Lewis
Source: Eurovision Ireland