#ESC18: Day 2 Rehearsals – #JoinUs from 10:00 GMT/11:00 CET for the #LiveBlog


Just when you’d thought you’d had your fix of Live Blogs from us this year during the National Final season, we are back for daily Live Blogs from Lisbon – home of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest.

You can follow the LIVE BLOG HERE – as always just refresh the page from 10:00 GMT/11:00 CET for all the updates throughout the day. Honest opinions about how the rehearsals are going will be delivered to you by John, Richard and Andrew today.

The videos you will see on this blog are the official ones taken from

Day 2 Rehearsals

Today sees the second half of Semi Final 1 taking to the stage for their first 30 minute rehearsals. The first half of Semi Final 1 took to the stage yesterday.

10:00 – 10:30/11:00 – 11:30: Macedonia

Richard – Due to technical issues, we currently don’t have as feed to the rehearsals in the arena – we hope this will be rectified before Macedonia ends their first rehearsals.

We had lost them and now we have found them for their final run through. It was a good run through although the ending felt like the choreography hadn’t ended right. Marija is dressed in pink with a silvery sparkle outlining at the top of the sleeve going around her back (a suit jacket the wrong way round). She flirts with her male compatriot Bojan as well as the drummer. The three female backing singers are dressed in black – two with orange dresses and one with a hot pink dress. From what we saw, it was very good overall. Tidy up the ending choreography wise and it should do well.

John – After a long technical problem – that is, the feed to the press centre wasn’t working – we got to see one run-through. Marija is in a very short pink dress that leaves little to the imagination. There’s the full compliment of her, her two fellow band members and three backing singers. They all have a good old move around and finish on the bridge to our left of the stage. I’m not keen on the song as it goes from ploddy to catchy and back to ploddy. It also ends a little abruptly. If it qualifies, it’ll be borderline.

10:40 – 11:10/11:40 – 12:10: Croatia

Richard – Franka is all alone on stage and owns it like Kylie Minogue would. Dressed in a long black, sparkly frock, Franka performs her heart out with perfect hand movements and emotional gestures. The camera work is dynamic and adds a bit of attitude the overall effect of the performance. This has to be a qualifier from what we’ve seen so far from all of the first semi finalists.

John – Franka is keeping things simple. There’s very little choreography or even accompaniment on stage. She just sings to a microphone on a stand. There’s a bit of movement by her, principally during the spoken part of the song. We also have a wind machine and a bit of dry ice to complete the effect. She did hit every note so there appears to be no worries with her vocal capability. If I did have one criticism, it would be that it need a backing dancer or two to set it off. But it looks like she’ll be around after next Tuesday night.

11:20 – 11:50/12:20 – 12:50: Austria

Richard – Cesar clearly knows what he wants from a performance. Starting up on a raised staging, with the backing singers behind, Cesar is eventually lowered before using full use of the main stage and the cat walk – in fact Cesar does a full circuit utilising everything available to him. Cesar is dressed in a graphite grey leather top and black trousers. Little needs perfecting and should be a qualifier.

John – Excellent performance from Cesár. He uses the stage very well and starts on a raised platform. During the course of the song he gets lowered and does a circuit of the stage. He’s alone but there are backing singers somewhere. This is the best thing we’ve seen this morning and could hopefully spring a surprise. It’s optimistic, a little gospely and very very televoter friendly.

Andrew – A polished performer with a great voice Cesar certainly is. A very gospel inspired song there is certainly no trouble with its quality. However I found his movement all around the stage at times very messy. At one point he jumps down from the upper stage to a lower level and it just looks awful on camera. Polish up the movement and camera work and we will see this in the Final.

12:00 – 12:30/13:00 – 13:30: Greece

Andrew -Yianna is in a lovely sleek white dress and has her hair long. There is a wind machine and she is alone on the stage. She has a left hand painted with something which she holds up at a few points to emphasise the note. There is a little bit of hand and body movement from her but overall a simple though effective performance of this ethnic ballad. The overall lighting is mainly blue with some oranges and yellows at the start and ending. I don’t think Greece will be a contender for the win but am sure it will qualify from this tough semi final.

13:40 – 14:10/14:40 – 15:10: Finland

Richard – Saara Aalto has fulfilled her ambition and has made her first rehearsal on a Eurovision stage. Starting off attached to a spinning board – without knives been thrown at her, she rotates half a circle, before turning back – this is with the audience behind her. After that she comes round to the audience to dance with her Monsters, before climbing a pyramid and falling backwards into the hands of the Monsters. Underwhelming for many of us and the pyrotechnics add something. To be honest, it’s nothing different from what’ve seen her do on the X-Factor in the United Kingdom before. A finalist yes, a winner not yet.

John – We’ve got a stage show on our hands here, with lots of things going on to fill three minutes. Saara has five people on stage with her, and her two male dancers are in on the act all the way. Worryingly, they appear to be dressed like soldiers from the 1940s. On stage is a large construction with steps up either side and a spinning wheel. At the start of the song you see her on this wheel, with her back to the audience. It means if you’re there next Tuesday, you can only watch her on screens if there are any. There are also pyros aplenty I think it will qualify, but there’s a lot that can go wrong.

14:20 – 14:50/15:20 – 15:50: Armenia

Richard – Armenia has one of those nice songs and that is about it. Sevak stands inside a giant prop, which is imitating Stone Henge (minus the stones across the columns). Sevak does get his groove on and looks as if he enjoys himself immensely. The use of lighting makes the whole feel of the performance quite powerful too.

John – The first thing you notice about this is the circular construction around Sevak that look like skew standing stones. Think a certain ancient monument in Wiltshire and you’re about there. But no lintels. Sevak himself has a beautifully manicured beard, and wears a long grey gown – the sort of thing you could picture a high-class zombie wearing on Hallowe’en. There’s no doubting his voice but I think it needs a bit of work if it’s to shine.

15:00 – 15:30/16:00 – 16:30: Switzerland

Richard – Corinne is one any chick as the singing half of Zibbz. Not only does she throw a drumstick across the stage at the start of the performance, but she struts around the stage with an aggressive passion. After all the passion needs to be there as it’s a song about standing up to bullies. Stefan, the drummer boy half of Zibbz stays behind the drums all the way through until the bitter end when he stands up to be next to Corinne. While I like the song, the aggressiveness will help Ireland’s chances. At points I thought it was a echoing in places, but that might just be down to technical issues.

John – The drum kit is central to the presentation of this song. Stefan stays with it for the whole three minutes and he’s flanked by a large amount of white lights at ground level. Sister Corinne struts around a lot and treats their time as a rock gig. She shouts at the crowd to clap their hands. She stands on Stefan’s big bass drum. She holds a pyro stick at the end. She means business. I didn’t reckon much to the song, but it’s grown on me slightly. It might still struggle to make the top 10 on Tuesday night, but there’s a little more hope now.

16:00 – 16:30/17:00 – 17:30: Ireland

Richard – Ryan has brought enough to the stage I believe. As we discovered in London, he doesn’t appear in any of his music videos, but aspects of the music video has been brought to the stage and it works with the exception of one or two camera shots. Ryan is joined by the two dancers, as well as a backing singer on the piano, along with a further to backing singers. The lamp post and bench gives us enough of the setting needed for the performance, without going into too much town detail like the music video. Vocally, Ryan couldn’t be faulted and it’s just a case of tidying up the overall performance aspects. While it doesn’t make me warm and fuzzy like Lithuania did yesterday, it does enough for me.

John – This is an interesting stage performance – in a good way. Ryan is not alone on stage: he has a pianist and two male dancers joining him. The staging is dark and most if it takes place courtesy of Steadicams. That makes it a little Common Linnets. The dancers are the guys you saw in the official preview video, and their routine is very similar. There’s a lamp on stage. And a bench too. And we get snow falling from above. The similarity to parts the video, there’s a nice familiarity about it. If I did have a criticism, it would be that we perhaps need to focus more on Ryan than his pianist. However, after the in-yer-faceness of Switzerland, I have high hopes.

16:40 – 17:10/17:40 – 18:10: Cyprus

Richard – Wow, we have the Cypriot Beyonce in the house! I will truthfully say I wasn’t a fan before today, but my goodness am I a fan now. All the performance elements are there and for me has quite frankly already qualified. Someone will think Eleni has had too much curry with the amount of flames on show!!!

John – Finally, Eleni gives us choreography to remember. She emerges through a tunnel of lasers and smoke, wearing the tightest gold lamé outfit I’ve ever seen. It has been choreographed to within an inch of its life, with strutting and pouting and head-shaking. And flames coming from somewhere rather odd, which could have been last night’s biryani. I don’t want to like the song, but I can’t help but watch from start to finish and end up smiling. It will qualify. Easily.

Author: Richard Taylor

Source: Eurovision Ireland

2 replies »

  1. And this is the surprise that kept us from seeing Franka in the pre-parties ? She may be singing OK, but I see nothing special, I’m sorry.

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