#ESC18: Day 6 Rehearsals – #JoinUs from 10:00 GMT/11:00 CET for the #LiveBlog

Pastel De Nata

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, Andrew, James and Bogdan today.

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

Day 6 Rehearsals

Today sees the second rehearsals continue, as well as Portugal & the Big 5 for the first time. The first second rehearsals happened on stage yesterday.

10:00-10:20 Armenia

Richard – Armenia are back with a strong run through. Not a lot needed perfecting after Monday and it has a strong chance of qualification now. A quick note to say this is the first time they’ve had a full entry in Armenian.

Bogdan: Sevak is on the stage, surrounded by the “Black Stonehenge” – like construction singing his song Qami (Wind). It’s a bit all too static and bland for me, even though we can see through the performance flashes, smoke and a few colours that complement the performance. I would have liked a strong wind machine to be on the stage to emphasize the force of the song. I can’t fault Sevak’s vocals, but this leaves me middle of the road: neither bad, nor excellent either. Ok at the second time, the wind machine was present, but I would have still liked a more powerful one.

JAMES – Armenia’s Sevak kicks off rehearsals this morning with the ethnic yet soulful Qami. Surrounded by standing stones on stage, Sevak doesn’t connect much with the camera but this is one of the rare instances where it works. The disconnect suits the intense nature of the song and Sevak performs as though he’s the only one there (which he kind of is, but anyway…) I’m not sure how well this will translate to televoters, but I love the fact it’s in Armenian and with each run through Sevak was in perfect voice. Bravo!

John – Sevak has a great voice – especially this early. He’s a solid performer so there’s nothing to worry about on that score. However, whilst the song gives us power and ballad, I just feel it might get lost amongst the other tomfoolery taking place during this semi-final.

10:25-10:45 Switzerland

Bogdan: I just love the song and love the vibe of “Stones”, but while I understand the concert concept of the performance, we have to remember it is a TV show and not a concert. So Corinne, please focus more on the camera. We need to see your face and your eyes need to connect with the audience at home, not in the arena! If everything goes well, this song should qualify!

JAMES – If I am completely honest, I’d never rated Switzerland’s song before the contest. So admittedly, wasn’t expecting much from today’s rehearsal. But I’m actually pleasantly surprised! The gig feel of the performance suits it well and she owns that massive stage which is no mean feat. My one constructive piece of feedback is that she needs to try and connect a little more with the camera. Yes, you have a few thousand people in the arena, but there are millions more at home! Overall though, a very promising effort.

Richard: Zibbz have a chance of qualification now after a well polished couple of run throughs. Corinne is wearing a near-revealing black top, something I think is a change from Monday. It proves what rehearsing can do and it pays off.

10:50-11:10 Ireland

Bogdan: If there was a year in which Ireland deserved to qualify, 2018 is definitely it! I love the concept and the performance, his vocals were on point, but I do have to say I would have liked Ryan to connect more with the camera. I want to see his eyes when he sings “I thought WE’d be together ’til WE die” and by doing that, to feel he is singing personally to the audience watching at home. Update: The 3rd rehearsal was so much better than the first. Well done!

John – There have been changes. For the better. Dancers Alan and Kev have the same dance routine but the camera work is different. Before, they were briefly shown coming over the bridge then cutting back to Ryan. This time we stay on them longer which works. The snow we saw in the first rehearsal is now just on them – Ryan and his pianist are snow-free. The setting is far more sympathetic to the song. Ryan looks at the camera more, but there are also times when he (deliberately) doesn’t look at the camera, to give more effect. It’s all improved, which makes me a happy blogger.

11:15-11:35 Cyprus

Bogdan: Eleni is going on full Beyonce. She’s got the fire, the energy and the power, but she’s lacking better special effects on the screen. This is an easy qualifier for me and I applaud her effort. She is doing what she has promised: give us a powerful show. Goal achieved!

JAMES – Ay-yeh-ah-yeh-ay-yeh!! That oozed sexuality!! Slick, sensual and instantly catchy, this has all the hallmarks of a Eurovision classic. Portugal were the longest running country without a win… They then passed that crown to Cyprus… I wonder how much longer they’ll have that title, as I suspect it might not be long at all…

11:40-12:00 Norway

Bogdan: Alexander Rybak is basically performing on the same way as he did on the national final and we do have the special effects on the screen. The energy is there, the dance moves are there. We have no idea if Ryak can win again, but certainly people will be entertained.

JAMES: Alexander Rybak is ry-back! We’re getting more of what we got at Melodi Grand Prix, down to the squiggles on screen. I said at the time that just because he won it once, doesn’t mean he’ll win it again… it may have been a landlside victory in Norway, but Europe can be very varied in its musical tastes. Norway will probably qualify with this song, but in the event of winning I feel it won’t be with the same huge margin as Fairytale. But it’s not impossible…

13:05-13:25 Romania

Bogdan: The Humans just finished their first (second) rehearsal. I am from Romania so I’ll try not to be (so) biased. The vocals were very good, but there is still work to be done with camera angles. Cristina needs to look more into the camera in my opinion. Hopefully it will get better and better with each rehearsal. Update: The next one went really well and much better with the camera angles.

JAMES: I’ve never been so happy for a song to win a national selection as I was when this song triumphed in Bucharest. I like the concept they’re going for with faces and mannequins, but I must say the masks on the back of the guitarists heads are a bit much. Staging wise, it’s actually quite beautiful and Cristina’s haunting and powerful voice is sublime. It needs a touch here and there with camera angles, but I’m fairly confident saying Romania’s 100% qualification rate will remain intact.

13:30-13:50 Serbia

JAMES: A song plucked straight from the dark heart of the Balkans – quite literally! Dressed mostly in black, Balkanika are definitely letting their hypnotic vocals run the show and they tap right into ancient Serbian traditions. Honestly, I wasn’t a fan when the song won Beovizija. But I’ve found renewed appreciation for it seeing it in situ. Will it qualify? I’m not sure… but it’s a worthy addition to this year’s line up and I always love seeing native culture on the Eurovision stage. Cestitam, Srbijo!

Bogdan: I’m happy that they are singing in Serbian. More countries should sing in their native language in my opinion. I like the idea of the choreography, but it feels a little bit forced and unnatural. Their voices are good and I like the rhythm though. Will this be enough to qualify? At this moment I see it at the borderline.

13:55-14:15 San Marino

Richard – This is the first time I’ve seen the San Marino entry. Words can’t describe what I’ve seen. The robot that holds a cardboard message said “It’s Just A Rehearsal”, before it flips over to say “Justice For Valentina”. Jenifer and Jessica are dressed in red – maybe to link with their Maltese blood? I smiled throughout this, but I’d laugh if it qualified, however much fun the robots are and the possible messages they will convey to the world.

Bogdan: San Marino made us clap and laugh again all for the wrong – right reasons 😛 Their show has grown on me and I’m so curious what the robot will show next. Today was “Justice for Valentina.” You can imagine how all the press applauded and started laughing. If they keep it funny in the semis, they might as well qualify.

JAMES: When I saw this at 1in360, I had a sinking feeling the robots would be back in Lisbon… and here they are! I was half expecting 8ft tall robots, but maybe it’s best they kept their teeny bots. This was never going to win the contest according to anyone – BUT – it’s a crazy enough idea to grab the public’s attention. This might actually get San Marino back to the final.

14:20-14:40 Denmark

Bogdan: I love the whole vibe of this song. And those vocals and harmonies – you can’t fault Denmark at this chapter! It feels like a battle hymn and makes me feel powerful singing along. Well done Denmark!

Richard – Again, Denmark have turned up for the formalities, as their first rehearsals near enough had it sorted. The performance is strong and emotive – having no problem in qualifying.

15:05-15:35 Portugal

Bogdan: Portugal presents us a simple, yet effective performance. It’s calm, captivating and it fits perfectly with the stage.

15:40-16:10 United Kingdom

JAMES: UK in decent staging shocker! Standing in a triangular prism of flashing lights, SuRie looks like she’s moving through a tunnel, but she’s actually very stationary. Vocally, it’s a solid performance, but SuRie doesn’t connect much with the camera which is a shame as it’s otherwise quite a strong staging from the BBC. To be fair, it’s a first run through for her and the UK, so there is time to edit and make adjustments. My recommendations would be more camera connection and less sweeping shots of the arena. This being said, am pleasantly surprised!

Bogdan: I was pleasantly surprised by SuRie’s performance. She’s in a tunnel made up by neon diamonds flashing and changing colours. And of course SuRie’s personality shows through the whole performance – which is a plus. I’m not sure if it’s enough for a top 10, but there should be points from fans in Europe.

Richard – SuRie has brought a confident performance to this rehearsal. I only saw the final run through, and with the exception of the pyrotechnics, I was impressed. The staging looks very three dimensional with the neon tube corridor – something that enhances the United Kingdom over Australia. SuRie looks very innocent all dressed in white and definitely works the stage, the cameras and basically everything.

16:15-16:45 Spain

Bogdan: Amaia and Alfred are trying to serve us a sweet song with a sweet sweet performance. I would have kept the piano and definitely would have ditched Alfred’s jacket – the pattern on its shoulder is not very complimentary. On the plus side they sound good together and have time to work on details.

JAMES: Oooey gooey sickly sweet…. Spain’s Amaia and Alfred sound good, but they lack the chemistry essential for such duets. Both look uncomfortable, but in an awkward teenage way, not in a romantic butterflies way… I’m sorry, I’m not convinced in the least. It’s trying to be all twee and loved up, but… it just doesn’t work

16:50-17:20 Germany

Richard – Michael has a stage show that contains one of our many pet hates here in the Press Centre – words on the back drop – yes, they’ve brought in a small back projection screen to enable this. Vocally it was confident. At times the staging was too dark and then  the psychedelic patterns have proved too much causing motion sickness amongst some of the Press Core.

JAMES: Mr Schulte sounds a bit flat today, but he’s given us the first performance to have lyrics on stage this year (bear in mind we’ve seen 41 countries rehearse by now!) Fans of Ed Sheeren are going to lap this up, but the graphics behind him are more distracting than adding to the show. It’s not as superficially sentimental as Spain, but still lacks a bit of an emotional punch right now.

Bogdan: There’s no doubt the song is beautiful and Michael’s vocals are good, but the whole background is too much – too much of everything that covers the actual performance. Sometimes less is more.

18:25-18:55 Italy

Richard – This is a very pleasant, yet simple performance that Italy have brought to the stage in Lisbon. The lyrics from the song are placed on to the screen in CGI – but in multiple languages – whether this is for inclusion – who knows? Not a lot else goes on, but who knows how they will fare in the final.

Bogdan: It’s basically a lyric video the whole performance. I’m a fan of the song and I sometimes find myself humming it, but I’m not a fan of the whole lyrics in different languages shown on the screen. Maybe less words on the screen would be better; let the power of the song itself in the beautiful Italian language do the talking .

JAMES: Spoke too soon… Italy also have words flying around the screen! The Italian performance relies a lot on the power of its lyrics, which line by line flash across the screen in a variety of languages to get its message across to the broadest possible audience. But because the words are doing the talking, the singers are doing next to nothing behind their mic stands. They walk to opposite ends of the stage towards the end of the performance, then back to the middle… really not much happening here at all… I suspect the arena audience will be baffled and the people watching along at home might be too

19:00-19:30 France

Richard – What a perfect ending to the longest day of rehearsals we’ve had. The French have kept it as simple as it has always been portrayed, instead of mixing things up. The main stage, bridges and cat walk are used, with a sufficient use of dry ice/smoke to add the atmosphere in. If it isn’t top 3, or 5 at worst, there is something wrong.

JAMES: The last country to take to the stage for rehearsal at Eurovision 2018, and it was worth the wait! Stylish in their black Gaultier jackets with little red accents (such as shoes, nails, the guitar), they look immaculate. The staging is simple, but it works as they wander around the stage, seemingly searching for something. Portugal last year proved language isn’t a barrier to winning, so could a French language song be heading for the top of the scoreboard for the first time since 1988? Maybe…

Author: Richard Taylor

Source: Eurovision Ireland

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