Hello there, it’s Richard and I’ll be here LIVE from Stockholm over the next couple of days, bringing you some extra coverage before the Final on Saturday night, when Andrew will have the normal LIVE BLOG for you.
Tomorrow, I’ll bring you coverage of the Jury Final from 19:00 CET, but join me today as I guide you through the finalists first rehearsals – you know the drill, just hit refresh throughout the day to see the latest happenings from the Friends Arena.
Refresh from 13:00CET
As with all things, there are a few technical checks happening before we kick off with Mendez and his song “Everyday”.
13:00: Mendez – “Everyday”
Mendez is on stage in a black bomber jacket – unsure if this is final outfit. He is joined on stage by four female backing dancers – two in pink and two in purple sequin numbers, as well as the one sole male backing dancer – completely in black.
While Mendez starts the opening verse in the dark surrounded by a touch of dry ice/smoke, the entry soon gets the carnival vibe during the choruses – think oranges, purples and pinks.
This could be seen as a perfect starter for the show, that has in the lead up, seen nothing but negative press.
13:35: Renaida – “All The Feels”
Next up we have Renaida, who reminds me of an older version of Asanda, from the UK’s Eurovision You Decide. We have some orange lit-up steps for this performance, which also are lit-up in rainbow colours at time too. Other lighting is predominately orange and white.
Renaida is dressed in a orange boiler suit, while in backing dancers (both male/female) are in orange tops and trousers. This is much more of a 3D performance – this is enhanced with the use of the steps. The last time I saw such an element, was Ace Wilder and “Don’t Worry”, where we had a big pyramid consisting of squares.
Earlier I made the cross reference between Renaida and Asanda. What Asanda has going for her ahead of Renaida was she is able to perform the song – both singing and dancing at the same time. Unfortunately Renaida for me struggles to achieve this.
14:10: Martin Almgren – “A Bitter Lullaby”
Martin Almgren quite frankly looks rather lonely on stage and the performance starts off rather flat in my opinion. When it does getting going, we have some LED lighting effects that look fiery – but only thin slivers, not full on screens.
When it get’s going, it get’s going, but until Martin gives us some charisma from the beginning, people aren’t going to concentrate as much on “A Bitter Lullaby”, than some of the other entries.
Martin obviously isn’t in his final stage outfit. He is just wearing a casual shirt over some trousers, with his accreditation around his neck. Not the look you want on stage, especially after the Moldovan backing dancer had his accreditation on him all through the performance at the Final of the Eurovision Song Contest, in Stockholm, in 2016.
This is the first performance however, to make good use of the catwalk, that allows the artists to walk behind the initial three or four rows of the crowd.
14:45: John Lundvik – “My Turn”
John is sat at a piano for the start of his performance, on an unlit stage. As soon as a beam of light appears, John goes into animated mode and takes to the front of the stage. Lighting is rather limited throughout and once the piano segment is over, lighting takes on the form of blue beams.
Again, I’d be various surprised if John is in his final stage outfit. It seems rather too casual like Martin’s to be an obvious choice for Saturday night.
In Estonia at Eesti Laul last weekend, we had a couple of ‘nice’ songs. Unfortunately, while it isn’t the worst we’ve heard so far, it sadly falls into this category.
15:40: Jessica Andersson – “Party Voice”
Jessica has brought us the anthem disco-esque number that today’s proceedings has been lacking. The back projections start off with a purple disco ball design that ensures the vibe of the song is there from the start. While the purple isn’t always there and minimal lighting is used in places – this is another that’ll get the party started.
Jessica and her four female backing dancers look as if they are not in their final stage outfit at present. They use the stage to it’s full potential – even including the catwalk for the end of the performance.
With the full use of LED back screens in all the performances we’ve got here at Melodifestivalen, it’d be hard to imagine them on the stage due in Lisbon – with no LED’s.
Talking about vibes, I do get a feeling of Ace Wilder during Jessica Andersson’s performance of Party Voice. The vibe I’m getting is from Wild Child, that sort of late 1980’s club thing.
16:15: LIAMOO – “Last Breath”
So far, we have yet to have LIAMOO on stage to perform “Last Breath”. Instead we have had copious technical run throughs.
And we have lift off, not that it’s worth waiting for. I’m not a fan of rap, so LIAMOO has already lost my vote (well that’s if I was able to cast one anyway). We have plenty of dry ice/smoke during this performance, along with plenty of flashes of blues and reds. Whether if this is meant to make it look arty, who knows?
Visually this entry works well and actually once that odd bit of rap stops, it does flow. Still not top of the pile though.
16:50: Samir & Viktor – “Shuffla”
What we have here from Samir and Viktor is a rather ‘busy’ performance. With so much going on, it can be slightly off putting to be honest. Lighting is very bright and they have four movable screens on stage – not to dissimilar to Blue’s in Dusseldorf, when they sang “I Can” for the United Kingdom back in 2011 at the Eurovision Song Contest.
Samir has a denim jacket, while Viktor has a bomber style jacket – I expect these are the final stage outfits. While it is busy and quite frankly messy in places, it features plenty of the dance moves and mannerisms we have come accustomed to from these lads.
The fear Viktor has of his schedule having no room for Eurovision, shouldn’t be a concern. He’ll have plenty of time to focus on Let’s Dance (Strictly Come Dancing/Dancing With The Stars), when it returns in Sweden later this month.
For another run through, Viktor has changed to a red denim-esque jacket with white shirt – obviously, his final stage outfit has yet to be decided upon.
17:25: Mariette – “For You”
After ten minutes, the crew are still fixing some technical bits and bobs. It does look like we have a 3D video wall pyramid, with a bit of raised staging on top.
Mariette begins on top of this video pyramid in a crouched down position before standing up on this small bit of raised platform. Mariette is dressed in a white top and bottom (sort of Ace Wilder last year), which fits in quite well with the lighting of blues and whites, with the odd bit of electric pinks thrown in too.
To perform the whole three minutes of “For You” off the stage floor as it were, shows that all the entries have worked well on how they are going to convey each of their performances to the viewer and ultimately, the voter. Just from viewing it on screen, the raised bit of platform doesn’t look to sturdy.
19:00: Felix Sandman – “Every Single Day”
This is all very one camera shot type effect. Felix sits to start with holding a mic stand, with the mic in place. Once he stands, he’s placed directly in front of a spot light from the back of the stage.
In terms of lighting, it is very non-existent. Apart from the few spot lights placed specifically around the stage, the whole performance is otherwise done with very little lighting.
Sadly, this isn’t one that sticks in the head and would easily get lost amongst a field of 25 others, if it was to reach the final in Lisbon – sadly, I don’t think it’ll even make Lisbon if truth be told.
19:35: Margaret – “In My Cabana”
Margaret is here bringing some Polish carnival to the proceedings. We are in need of a party vibe again. The stage is full of fiery colours through lighting and back projections – certainly helps to warm things up here is a chilly Stockholm.
At present Margaret and her backing dancers are obviously not in their final stage outfits. I’m expecting some carnival flair from these – all should be revealed in the Jury Final tomorrow evening.
If this made Lisbon, I’d be interested to see what sort of back up plan they had for the staging – remembering there will be no LED screens in Portugal.
20:10: Benjamin Ingrosso – “Dance You Off”
We have a massive neon-stripped light bulbs prop here on stage that changes colours. This is near enough the only lighting on stage so takes the other stage set elements away from the viewers eye.
Benjamin walks from one side to the other repeatedly while singing “Dance You Off” and it does look quite modern. Been the favourite, they’ve obviously put a lot of thought into how they could stage this performance without the need of LED back projection screens.
For the second run through, Benjamin has lost his black leather jacket and is doing the routine with just a black t-shirt/trouser combo.
20:45: Rolandz – “Fuldans”
I’m still here and I’m no witnessing something really quite disturbing. Glam rock that should of stayed in the 1960’s, performed by people that should no better. It’s certainly very sparkly.
I know every year there has to be a joke act somewhere with the National Finals, but this is taking it a bit too far. I can’t actually see how anyone picked the phone up for this in the first place. If you like some unneeded fun, then this is the entry for you, but if it’s serious competition you’re interested in, then they might as well stop after song 11.
It’s not very often I’m negative like this, but why, just why SVT???
Well that’s it after a very long day. Join me tomorrow evening from 19:00 CET as we have the first proper run through in the Jury Final, where once again I’ll be based at the Friend’s Arena to keep your Melodifestivalen needs fed and watered. Until then…
Author: Richard Taylor
Source: Eurovision Ireland