Albania

#AllAboard: Live blog of the Jury Semi-Final from 2100 CET

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#AllAboard: Live blog of the Jury Semi-Final from 2100 CET

Hello Europe and Australia!

We’re back back back again with another LIVE blog for the second dress rehearsal of the first Semi-Final! This is the show that juries around Europe vote upon, so tonight’s performance counts

Are you excieted? This is the last time all contestants can make a mistake or adjust their performances before they are judged.

You know the drill, just REFRESH this page for new comments. John is tonight’s blogger, and I welcome your views.

Adjust your watches, it all starts at 2000 BST/2100 CET!

LIVE BLOG BEGINS HERE!

It’s all going quiet as we see sea. We see the 25 April bridge over the Tejo. Buildings. It appears we’re in Lisbon. Who knew? It was the succession of beautifully tiled walls that gave it away.

Our four hostesses are on stage now, in black, red (ad I mean biiiig red), blue and black dresses. Their witty banter is not scripted – honest. 😉

We get reminded that televoters (tomorrow night) can’t vote until after all the songs have been heard.

And we’re off…

1. Azerbaijan

An aerial view of Aisel lying on her pyramid/iceberg. The crowd is already cheering as she does her solo bit running around in her flouncy white dress. Her backing group arrive and help her out as she doesn’t quite every note. There were groans in the press centre. The CGI onto our screens is quite effective and we get to see Saturn. Despite the odd duff note, the choreography is all working. A decent opener, but the juries may punish her off-key delivery.
2. Iceland
Ari has his back to the audience before we get side views of him trying to look winsome. His eyeline switches between the audience and the cameras. It can work if you don’t overdue it. After all, it’s a TV show. There’s effective lighting which does slightly boost its chances. His delivery can’t be faulted and he throws everything into this. I think if this were in a contest 20 years ago, it would be nailed on to do well. However, I still fear it will get lost amongst the stuff to come.
3. Albania
Eugent’s guitarist is the first thing we see, surrounded by waving hands of the crowd. He’s in dark blue light in his leather suit. It’s “I’m a rocker, but a respectable one”. He’s putting it all into this and has an incredible voice and shows us his full range. I’ve got goose-bumps for the final chorus. And he’s getting applause – and this massive applause – in the press centre. Best by an absolute country mile so far, and might still be for the next few songs too.
4. Belgium
Blurry hand over the eyes. I think that’s deliberate. Before Sennek’s face gets gradually revealed to us. She’s on the front bit of the stage with fans behind her. I thought this was dour in the rehearsals but they’ve lifted it slightly. There’s nothing wrong with the song in a sub-Bond theme stylee. However it’s laboured and almost painful. She looks tired and like Bambi in headlamps. A few duff notes too. There’s big applause in the crowd but not the press centre. It’s borderline.
5. Czech Republic
The question is how much movement will Mikolas have. The crowd seem immediately behind it. But I detect a mix problem. The backing singers’ mikes seem to be turned up a bit too much. Or his mike is turned down. His chorus bit is better but still doesn’t sound quite right, well at least compared to the rehearsals last week. As the song goes on it improves, but has he already lost the juries. Maybe, maybe not. It’s not the worst thing we’ve heard so far, but there are better.
6. Lithuania

Silence descends momentarily, until Ieva gets cheers after the first phrase she sings. I’m getting goose-bumpy again. Excuse me if this entry is a little shorter, as she’s got me transfixed. Her vocal is faultless, the crowd are really on her side. Her husband appearing at the end is genius. Massive applause from the press centre. And the crowd. That’s a qualifier.

It’s Green Room time. You know what happens here. There’s chat in the Green Room. Lots of japes with tiny tiny pianos and details of audience figures in Iceland. They’ll move on shortly. Two more hostesses tell us we can post pictures on Facebook using the hashtag “#AllAboard”. Go on tomorrow night, you know you want to.

7. Israel

Apparently an even number of Chinese waving cats is unlucky. Just saying. Netta is a hot favourite which I still question. However, the song does what it does and they make a big thing of the chicken noises. I get the movement this is celebrating, but I still don’t really get it. Sure, she can sing and it’s a stage show that’s vibrant and bouncy. And yet, there’s the *almost* profanity clashing with the big audience reaction. It’ll qualify, but it’s not a winner.
8. Belarus
From one stage show to another that will shock and stun you in equal measures. He’s got his big red rose to sing to which he gives to the camera (cue giggles). But where does it go next? Why, it’s his lady in red and her take on modern dance. And the she fires said rose via a special bow through his hand. At least there won’t be that much damage. It could be possible that the viewers don’t quite see that the rose’s stem is through his hand unless they look carefully. And then there’s his back which is meant to be roses. It still looks like a bad wound. This lower borderline to me, just because it’s disturbing.
9. Estonia
Elina looks immaculate, like she always does. Her delivery is without question. Her dress and its patterns are nicely effective. So we have the complete package. Jury bait – definitely. However I have an issue with popera. This is a better version of it, but I do question the appeal. On balance, this will probably qualify as it follows two stage shows and she just sings.
10. Bulgaria

Group time and Equinox are a dark horse to win the while thing, in some quarters. It’s a nice contrast to the optimism of Estonia, in that it’s futuristic in a dystopian way. We’re being serious here, but the singing harmonises very well. There are some interesting camera effects featuring merging faces and split screens. On its own, this should be a cert for a top five finish on Saturday as it ticks all sorts of boxes – good vocals, sympathetic backing track and good direction. If there is a fault, it’s the possible ‘odd’ look of the act.

11. F.Y.R. Macedonia

Ms Eye Cue has gone for a simple short pink frock to stand out from the blue vibe of the staging. It’s nice when it’s upbeat but the ‘reggae’ ploddy bit lets it down. She then discards part of her outfit for ploddy verse two. As a song of two halves, I like one bit but not the other. Vocally, there were some problems. It was a bit shouty in parts. That might fall by the wayside tomorrow night.

12. Croatia

Back on track with a very contemporary song from Franka. She has poise and stage presence which i’d not really noticed until now. There’s steadicam angles which work well. Even Franka’s spoken bit is attitude-laden without being too angry. What we did notice is that the sound cut out a couple of times. If that’s just to press room, it’s fine. However, if that’s what the juries get, Franka could be in line for another go. I have this as qualifying, and the press centre agrees.

Green Room/Ad break time again, depending on where you’re watching in Europe and beyond. Mikolas likes being called Micky. Our hostess likes his spectacles and braces. Is she flirting with him? Alekseev’s hand wound has miraculously healed. He presents a rose, that hopefully hasn’t been through his hand.

13. Austria

Cesár is a very competent singer. There’s more very good stage presence going on. Even with his platform descending so he can get off it doesn’t faze him. It’s all there in fact. Good sound-mixing, a pretty decent voice, and plenty of handy crowd support when he crosses to the front stage. His backing singers are on one of the bridges, which I’d not noticed before (the singers, not the bridge). It was faultless. He should be through if there’s any justice.

 

14. Greece
Is she Yianna or Yianni? The caption picks the latter. Whatever her name, she’s in her long wafty white dress and silver left hand. The makings of a wind machine and early pyros from the stage are completing the look. They’re kicking up a lot of smoke.Or it could be out-of-control dry ice. As regards vocals, it doesn’t seem quite all there. I also think the middle-eight needed something like a backing dancer.  I want to like this – like the audience – but it’s missing that extra oomph it needs. It’s a non- to low borderline qualifier to me.
15. Finland
Another massive fan favourite, with a stage show to remember. A big wheel that singing Finns get strapped to. Saara obviously gets unstrapped, but we almost see the technicians do so. It’s another song I want to like, but there are a few things here. I’ll explain. Her backing singers/dancers are dressed in worrying grey and leather. Her look of the mohican hair with shaved sides might turn some viewers off. The hand-held pyros are not seen properly as we cut to a wide shot. I think it may well be through.
16. Armenia

Silence descends for our next big ballad of the night. Sevak is a great singer, of that there is no doubt. However, this song that stood out in its national final seems a little lost amongst the other stuff it’s up against tonight. If we went on vocal ability alone, he’s sailing through. But when it comes to the material you have to work with (like Iceland), there are some obstacles that cannot be overcome. Additionally, he’s not going to score off  a certain country, which makes his battle harder.

17. Switzerland
Attitude aplenty from Zibbz. Or is it anger? It’s a fine line between the two. However, I love the change from Armenia. If you like something that’s not *quite* rock and a good shot of a hand-held pyro, then this could be for you. A bare midriff might also tempt some televoters too. It would be interesting if Switzerland were to qualify ahead of, say, Finland. But it’s Switzerland. It’s borderline, but not because it’s a bad song.
18. Ireland
It’s Ryan time. This performance counts. Will it? Well the mobile phone lights from the audience is a massive plus point. Cue happy face. We get lots of applause when the dancers appear. Ryan looks at the camera just enough to engage nicely. And the snow that’s only on our dancers is very effective. Vocally there’s nothing wrong either. It’s liked in the crowd and the press centre. A qualifier? I certainly hope so. Go Ryan!
19. Cyprus
Finally,  choreography that you could set your watch to. And an outfit that must have been painted on. Eleni’s routine is slicker than slick and draws you in, like only Lithuania has done all night. The televoters are going to love love love this. And not just because it’s on last, or bacuse of the CGI flames that exude from somewhere on her body. Or the flames  – or should I say fuego – aplenty around the stage. This is definitely definitely through, and could even win this semi-final.
Songs over, and we get the usual parish notices about how to vote. Well, televoters can’t vote tonight, but juries will. Then the usual recap.
The sound’s gone in our bit of the press centre. But we’re reliving Kyiv. Some of last year’s performers are singing ‘Amar pelos dois’ for us. Then we see the reprise from last year of Salvador and Luisa.
In the usual bid to be witty, the hostesses wheel large sheets of paper on stage with flags and things on them. A sailor removes the pieces of paper from the stage. It would probably mean something with sound.
More recapping, just so televoters might want to vote some more. And shots of the Green Room. The Irish delegation has mascot Together Bear with them.
Our next skit involves people with lots of landline phones (remember them) ringing constantly, getting all tangled up, and flummoxing the everyone. Then the voting closes after 15 minutes.
Whilst the votes are tallied, we get another item. Portugal is the centre of the world. There’s an old empire, Eurpoean football champions, and a man in khakis and a red bandana. Hmmm. It’s your classic fish-out-of-water thing and goes on just a tad too long.
Next we get the plug for the CD and DVD. But them for the three shows and special features. Who knows what delights they will be.
More comedy. It’s a clip show of songs from previous contests. Some of your favourites *might* be in there.
Did you know there was a Eurovision board game? We recently has an article about it. If not, you can buy it from all quality websites no doubt. If you’re still watching.
Next, we see pink-haired Cláudia from Portugal in the Green Room. She plays ‘Te Deum’ on a ukelele. The Spaniards look in love. At least for the cameras. SuRie is there next and explains the story behind her stage name. Tomorrow night, we’ll see these three countries perform, to give viewers a taster of what they’ll see on Saturday.  These might be recordings from this afternoon.
Portugal
Cláudia is in a dark floor-length frock with a slit showing a bit of leg. The staging is very good, as you would expect from a home entry. Isaura is in dark clothing too, and has dispensed with the office chair she used at Festival da Canção. It’s nice. Not a winner if you ask me. I get the impression RTP don’t want the honour next year.
Spain
Alf is in a red-wine-coloured suit with detail on one shoulder. She’s in a gold dress. As a duet it’s very nice. But there’s still some sort of awkwardness between them. Certainly from him to her.
United Kingdom
SuRie is in a long white outfit and is not quite straight on to camera. If you saw the UK national final, you’ll know the staging for this. I like the song. I don’t love it, but like it a lot. She’s one of the best sellers of a song the UK has had in a while which can only help things. Can’t it?
Things are winding down now. Tomorrow night, you’ll obviously see ten computer-generated envelopes which will see nine unlucky acts go home.
There will be no live blogs tomorrow as nothing is likely to happen tomorrow afternoon. And we want you to enjoy the show tomorrow night. We’re hopefully interviewing Slavko from Montenegro tomorrow, and we might Tweet or Periscope from the arena tomorrow night. But whatever you do, watch the show, votes for your favourites (including Ireland).
Good night!
Author: John Stanton
Source: Eurovision Ireland, Eurovision.tv
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