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 eurovision.tv.
Day 3 Rehearsals
Today sees the first half of Semi Final 2 taking to the stage for their first 30 minute rehearsals. The second half of Semi Final 1 took to the stage yesterday.
10:00 – 10:30/11:00 – 11:30: Norway
Richard – Rybak is back to win the Eurovision for a second time with the Early Learning Centre song! Step 1, step 2, step 3 etc. Is it a slick performance, which is enhanced by the on screen CGI graphics throughout. This is something we are seeing more and more of this year with no LED screens available. The violin doesn’t make a show until the last third, but for this performance, it isn’t needed throughout. The pyrotechnics add an extra spark to the performance.
John – Worryingly, Rybak’s rehearsal was very good. Naturally, as this is an Irish website, I don’t want him to equal Johnny Logan’s record. But looking at this objectively, he knows what he’s doing and it was the slickest thing we’ve seen in three days. The graphics work, he engages (albeit in a gurning way) with the camera, the killer hook, and the nuances of a good performance. And there’s pyro. In short, this will be the one to beat. €10 a beer in 2019 anyone?
10:40 – 11:10/11:40 – 12:10: Romania
Richard – The Humans are bringing to the stage an army of masked manikins. From a song that has passed me by on the album, it has come to the forefront as one of those genuine surprises during the first rehearsals. Cristina is dressed in purple and is joined by Alexandru (guitarist) and Alin (bassist) either side of her. They caress at the beginning before everything gets going. Adi (drummer) and Alexandru (keyboardist) join them at the front of the stage after Christina works her way around the manikins throughout the song. It may come across a bit dark and eerie, but it sort of works.
John – I have always really liked this song and I still do. The staging is very striking. Singer Cristina is in purple, with the rest of the band in white – two guys have white masks on the backs of their heads. Around the stage are large groups of mannequins (also with white masks), giving the staging a very dark look to contrast with the white costumes. Steadicams are used a lot and there’s lots of engagement with the cameras, despite the mannequins potentially getting in the way. They have a hard job following Rybak, but I would like to see this qualify.
11:20 – 11:50/12:20 – 12:50: Serbia
Richard – Sanja Ilic and Balkanika has just transported me back to the 1990’s in terms of both song and staging. It is a simple staging for the performance. They are joined on stage with a man behind three or four drums, while their is also another male musician playing a traditional instrument. As I said it’s simple, but in my opinion it doesn’t grab me after following Norway and Romania.
John – This is everything you expect from the Balkans. Close harmonies – tick. Ethnic woodwind instruments – tick. Long flowy costumes – tick. It’s all there. All it needs is Željko Joksimović. I should like it, but I’m struggling to. The vocal is very good, and the old chap (Ljubomir) is a refreshing change. The slow walking around type of choreography does the job too. But I think it’s missing something and I don’t know what it is. Maybe it needs Željko. It might pick up a few votes from the further east parts of Europe. But in this semi-final I reckon it’ll struggle.
12:00 – 12:30/13:00 – 13:30: San Marino
John – Now there’s an interesting three minutes of ‘song’. Jessika starts in a long, hooded cloak which her two dancers eventually remove. If you remember the robots from the preview video, they are there, and they appear to have bred. One of the said robots is by itself and has a couple of signs held at ‘appropriate’ moments. One of the other robots didn’t appear to work – or it had gone on strike – as it wasn’t clapping when its fellow robots were. Meanwhile, Jenifer has joined Jessika on stage and she does her bit on the stage’s bridge before joining Jess. There is so much to watch here, and I’m not sure whether Jessika really believes what’s going on around her. I suspect there’s little chance of this qualifying, however for entertainment value it’s the most mirthful thing we’ve seen today.
13:40 – 14:10/14:40 – 15:10: Denmark
John – I like this song a lot, which is not something I can always say about Danish entries. If you know how Rasmussen’s performance at DMGP worked, you’ll be familiar with what to expect. It’s a dark stage flanked by two large sails. There is wind and snow too. Ras and his chums harmonise well and there are no issues vocally. There’s really not much to say about it in that it’s solid and a qualifier. Simple as that.
Richard – Welcome to Game Of Thrones meets the Eurovision Song Contest. If you watched Rasmussen take victory on Dansk Melodi Grand Prix, you’ll know what to expect with the viking-esque costumes and the giant ship sails. If it doesnt qualify, there is something really wrong with the voting.
14:20 – 14:50/15:20 – 15:50: Russia
Richard – Yulia is sat in her wheelchair on top of a mini mountain. Yulia has a Princess Elsa look about her from Frozen. Unfortunately, most of the camerawork is focussed on the two ballet dancers working their way around the stage, rather than Yulia or the two backing singers. I’m currently not convinced and will it be the first year Russia doesn’t qualify for the final?
John – I found the camera work in this rehearsal a little baffling. Yulia is on top of a mountain, but there are minimal shots of her. As the main singer I was expecting more. Instead, much of the focus is on two dancers in front of her. They perform some very acrobatic stuff, using much of the stage as well as on the catwalk/bridge in front of it. She has three backing singers too, making up the six on stage. They appear to be more prominent during the choruses of the song, with Yulia obviously leading for the verses. As I say I’m not sure what to make of it. I think there’s more to this than the song that is being relied upon to get Yulia through the semi-final. There’s nothing wrong with it, but I think it will polarise opinion.
15:00 – 15:30/16:00 – 16:30: Moldova
Richard – DoReDos are infectous and have just blown the Press Centre away with such a playful performance of “My Lucky Day”. As I said it’s playful, but it’s also sensual, colourful, boy meets girl, girl meets boy. The three dimensional big prop helps to portray the fun aspect. For those of you that had written it off, I think you’ll be more than pleasantly surprised. Moldova welcome to another final.
John – Moldova, you are brilliant. You have taken a song I had no time for and turned it into three minutes of genius. Who thought so much fun could be had with a big box with a collection of doors. I should explain. DoReDos are in this big box and come out one-by-one in some sort of farce stylee. There’s humour between what goes off and it almost takes your mind off the song. Which door is going to open next? Or which part of which door is going to open next. Our singers – in Moldovan colours – have three doppelgängers who we see parts of during the song and complete towards the end. It’ll be the most entertaining three minutes we’ll see today – possibly this week, and will absolutely sail through to the Saturday night.
16:00 – 16:30/17:00 – 17:30: Netherlands
Richard – What can I say about Waylon’s performance? Vocally there was nothing wrong and it was like Waylon was giving us a Country & Western Rock concert. That is where the positives tend to end. Two of the guitarists break out into some sort of wacky, weird and frenetic dance – quite frankly this is just odd. The other guitarist and drummer carry on playing their instruments. Work really is required for this to progress any further.
John – A decent contemporary pop song, and I have to say that it needs work. Waylon is on stage with four musicians – three guitarists and a drummer. It starts off fine, although the jacket is a high-risk strategy. Then the musicians do some sort of modern dancing that really doesn’t fit with the song. The dancing is way too modern. It needs paring back and concentrating on Waylon, so he can deliver the song. The vocal is sound enough, so they should just stick with the sort of thing in the official video. Nothing more.
16:40 – 17:10/17:40 – 18:10: Australia
Richard – Jessica Mauboy has brought her energy to the stage as one had expected. Neon tubes in a downward arrow shape are lit up behind her in blues, purples and pinks – which match Jessica’s dress. The neon tubes turn red when we get a burst of pyrotechnics – something I expect there to be more of on show night – these only tend to be tested during early rehearsals. It’s a safe qualifier, but at the moment I’m not sure if there is enough wow factor in it with just Jessica on stage.
John – Finally we get Jessica, who’s got a peach of a song to sing. It’s pure pure televoter-bait, so it will come down to the vocal. It was OK – not outstanding but not a car crash either. Jessica appears to be on stage by herself, and the backing is what I can only describe as fluorescent tube lamps at angles, flashing various colours. There are no LED screens, remember. It’s an easy one to put in the qualifying category, even though Jessica’s vocal could be just a tad better.
Author: Richard Taylor
Source: Eurovision Ireland