#ESC2019: Blog of Day Two rehearsals #Dare to dream Live from 9.40am CET

ESC2019: Blog of Day Two rehearsals #Dare to dream Live from 9.40am CET

Welcome back to day two of the rehearsals for the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest. Today we see the final eight songs in the first semi-final that takes place on Tuesday 14 May. Will the eventual winner be amongst them?

You know what to do. Hit ‘Refresh’ to see our latest thoughts. Feel free to add your views.

All times are in CET (local time is one hour ahead of CET) and subject to change.


Shalom from Tel Aviv! We’re just getting settled in at the Press Centre for another day of Eurovision 2019 rehearsals! Keep checking back for all the latest goings on, live from sunny Israel!

Belgium – 9.40am – 10.10am

RICHARD: Eliot is joined on stage by two drummers. Two drums are situated on stage left, while one is situated is stage right as you look at it. Eliot is dressed in a strange black hoodie with red straps, along with two yellow chords – as if you could pull them and the whole hoodie will inflate like a life jacket. The back projection uses vivid red colours, channeling the shape of strobe light tubes. While it is a rehearsal, Eliot is giving a competent vocal performance, but isn’t giving it his all. I feel Eliot has more to give us still.

JAMES – Belgium kick us off this morning, though from the looks of it Eliot is about to go skydiving. I know some people think costume choice is a good way to grab the attention of televoters, but there’s memorable and stunning, and then there’s down right weird… I mean, seriously, what happens when you pull those chords?! (Actually, probably best we don’t know…) In terms of vocals he’s solid, if maybe holding back a little for rehearsals and Eliot connects well with the camera. It does somehow feel like it’s lost some of the original darkness and melancholy we felt in the video. The challenge for Belgium now a stylistic one: there are a lot of colours here that don’t quite match and doesn’t give a very cohesive show at the moment.

John – I wasn’t sure what to make of this song before I arrived in Tel Aviv, and I’m afraid to say I’m underwhelmed today. Maybe Eliot isn’t trying because it’s only a rehearsal, but he should know that people are still commenting. Like us for instance. His jacket/tunic looks like a parachuting outfit with its D-rings and tags. His two cohorts on stage bang big drums and make the same arm movements Eliot is making. But it’s just dull, and I hate using this word because it could be so much more.

Georgia – 10.20am – 10.50am

JAMES – Oh wow… I liked the Georgian entry from the moment I heard it, despite protestations from my nearest and dearest! That was amazing! Oto has a very powerful voice anyway, but when combined with scenery of mountains, fire and smoke and his backing singers, the end result is SPECTACULAR! After that, Georgia definitely won’t be at the bottom of the betting odds for long! That got the biggest reaction in the press centre so far this week and will blow the competition out of the water. They may have come last in the semi final last year in Lisbon, but Georgia should storm into the final now!

RICHARD: Not been a fan of this year’s Georgian entry so far, I can clearly change my opinion after today. Oto has brought plenty of dramatic content to the stage, after the previous countries in the running order of this year’s first semi final. Oto is dressed in black. He walks over a video projected bridge on the stage, while mountain ranges are seen on the back video projection. Mumours of “Winter is Coming” can be heard around the Press Centre, as if Game of Thrones as appeared. In the last third of the performance, we have a sudden burst of smoke and Oto is joined on stage by a powerful and vocally sounding five-piece choir. This adds another level of drama to the stage show.

John – Blimey! That was good! I’ve got goosebumps, and it isn’t from the air conditioning. Oto knows how to take a song, grab it by the scruff of the neck and give us three minutes of brilliance. He’s a cracking singer, and his five very able backing singers give this an added touch of goodness. I don’t care that this isn’t in English, but the passion from Oto, the dramatic staging, and the dark element to the song just has me absolutely hooked. To be fair, I always had a regard for this song, but it’s zooming up in my estimations now.

Australia – 11.00am – 11.30am

RICHARD: We knew changes to the staging were coming, but we didn’t expect that mess that was just put up in front of us. Katie oozes the Ice Queen look quite well while stuck up high on a bendy straw. Katie is also joined on bendy straws by two backing dancers. Two backing vocalists are off stage. With the use of CGI graphics on the television screens, been high above over an earth graphic will make the whole thing make more sense.

John – We were told the Tel Aviv staging would differ from Gold Coast. Well, it does. Kate is on a bendy straw, as are two ladies behind her (not the same bendy straw, obviously). It gives the impression she’s floating and her long all-white dress is very striking. However, she’s almost singing “Just get me down”. Needless to say, she’s a pretty good singer so there’s no real issue with her vocal. It’s also challenging being on said bendy straw and warbling operatically. I’m not sure whether I like it. It’s contrived but goes with the message of the song. And it’s not really a performance for anyone with motion sickness. I still think it could be Australia’s first non-qualifier.

JAMES – Looking like Glinda, the Good Witch from the Wizard of Oz, Kate soars across the universe accompanied by two figures in black. Taking Zero Gravity to it’s most literal, the three are hovering over the stage and a projection of the earth. The staging has instant impact and is hugely memorable, so we have to hand it to Australia for bringing something truly unique to the Tel Aviv stage! Vocally she seems to be holding back, but three Australians flying around on huge bendy sticks is televoter bait. With Kate’s voice, it’s jury bait… she’ll be floating straight to Saturday night I suspect.

Iceland – 12.40pm – 1.10pm

RICHARD: From one mess to another. While I’m not a fan of this song, I can appreciate what it is, just like Hungary 2017. This is Paul Oscar, modernised for the current day. Hatari, while never vocally great anyway, were slightly off today. A giant Atlasphere, taken from ITV’s Gladiators is used as a prop centre back of the stage, with someone standing on top waving things about. Orange and red patterns appear throughout on the back projection. Pyrotechnics are well in use in this performance too.

JAMES – We’ve been waiting with baited breath for Iceland to take to the stage and they do not disappoint! It’s very similar to what we’ve seen in live performances from them already, with added pyro! This is going to be hugely divisive. The public (and bondage enthusiasts) are going to lap this up, whereas the juries I feel are going to be reaching for the holy water… Hatari have been one of the talking points of the whole run up to the contest, and will continue to be. People scoffed at Lordi’s chances in 2006… so the Nordics have a history of winning with shocking entries… they came second in 1999 last time the contest was in Israel and in 2009… is 2019 going to be their year?

John – The descent into surreality continues. Hatari give us everything we expect, and then so much more that we don’t. If you’ve seen the national final performance, you get the general idea. There’s the dancer in even more leather than before, replete with black contact lenses. The muzzle-masked member is stood atop a spherical cage, hitting it with cats o’ nine tails. The singers do their stuff with as much attitude as they can muster for a rehearsal. There’s so much going on that some of it might get missed by the arty camera angles. A qualifier? Well the televoters should for it at least. But it would liven up the Grand Final.

Estonia – 1.20pm – 1.50pm

JAMES – Victor Crone (not to be confused with Viktor Krum) gives an effortlessly confident rendition of Storm on his first run through. Similarly to a lot of acts this year, the national final staging is the template for the performance with a few minor edits. The nice touch here is the plenty of arena shots behind Victor, so we’ll see an excited audience cheering him on. Slight moment of confusion when Victor’s stand-in made an appearance during a CGI shot towards the end of the number, but we’ve just watched Victor film the segment himself. It’s a competent performance, my biggest fear for Estonia is performing between two songs with much flashier and attention-grabbing performances. It could stand out as a beacon of normality, but it’s also just as likely to blow over unnoticed.

John – We’ve had craziness, and now something to bring us temporarily back to reality. I say reality, because Victor replicates his Eesti Laul performance and mixes the live camera work with a bit of CGI. We didn’t get to see that properly on the first rehearsal, and it cut to what we assume is the stand-in. The song bounces along nicely and there is nothing wrong with it all. That is, if he gets at least one run-through due to issues with the green screen.

RICHARD: It’s safe to say Victor was unhappy at the end of that rehearsal as he walked straight off stage – I’d have done the same thing too do be fair. Vocally, Victor was fantastic and excelled. Sadly for him though, time was wasted having to film the CGI sequence for the performance, meaning only two run throughs could take place – no wonder he wasn’t happy! The camerawork has a lot to be worked on.

Portugal – 2.00pm – 2.30pm

RICHARD: Conan Osiris certainly brings a Doctor Who style, alien look, to the stage. Conan Osiris’ backing dancer can be described in a similar way. We’ve had the sublime of Hatari, to the ridiculous of Portugal. Think green monsters in front of a red rose lit back projection. This is an opposite to the Estonian delegation – camerawork great, but vocally it doesn’t do anything for me.

JAMES – After a brief detour to normality, it’s straight back into good old Eurovision bizarreness with Portugal! Dressed like Ming the Merciless, Conan and his dancer strut around the stage with their signature staccato dancing (as one of our table noted, we didn’t know it was possible to do ballet points in trainers!) against a backdrop of rose petals and archways. Imagine Paris Fashion week in some outlandish alternate universe and you’re abut half way there… this is going to end up in stock footage for “What is the Eurovision Song Contest?” for the next century… vocally as strong as ever, this will definitely be a double-take moment for a lot of viewers around the continent.

John – Performance art at its most arty, with a small flight of stairs thrown in for good measure. Conan is dressed like King Titan from Gerry Anderson’s Stingray. He’s in a green suit which has extra pleats, and he’s shed the spoon mask for something more black and ceramic. His mate is in similar green, but only from the waist down. The stage show is the same as we’ve seen with the artistic dancing and writhing around. I think despite all the hype this may struggle because it’s amongst a lot of other weird, which Europe may find just a bit too much.

Greece – 3.00pm – 3.30pm

JAMES – Wearing a white gown reminiscent of a wedding dress, Katerine’s vocals are flawless. It might be down to the fact that Portugal, Iceland and Australia have been so OTT today, but by comparison, Greece’s staging feels quite tame and safe. It’s a lovely visual though, very floral, lotus blossoms, flowing chiffon – and rather bizarrely, two dancers fencing. Every rose has it’s thorn, I guess! It is quite busy, and a narrative isn’t immediately obvious. Greece seem to have lost their way at the contest in recent years with a few dreaded DNQs – Katerine should be able to spare them that at least.

RICHARD: A giant wedding cake esq-prop is on stage with Katerine in an elaborate wedding dress. Katerine sounds vocally very much like Annie Lennox, while her backing singers/dancers remind me of Belarus’ 2010 butterfly outfits. There is plenty of netting about the stage here! Quite frankly, after a day of bizarre performances, we have two people on stage fencing – yes you read that right!

John – This, just so you know, has a British co-writer, who’s written some big hits in his time. Sadly, unlike some of those other songs I just can’t warm to this. I want to, but I can’t put my finger on why. The staging is a cut-down version of the official video, with two fencers brandishing their épées in various poses. Katarine is also accompanied by three dancers in yellow chiffon, one of whom throws a weather balloon into the audience. There’s also what looks like a giant headstone behind the whole tableau. The headstone blooms by the end of the song. There’s too much going on I think and it proves a bit distracting.

San Marino – 3.40pm – 4.10pm

Finally, we have the fun, froth and wonder that is Serhat. Is there anything wrong with his little song, allegedly written in a matter of minutes? Well, it’s a great way to end the presentation. There are five dancer/singer types, who have luminous megaphones at one point. Serhat has a big screen behind him with pink and yellow words from the song appearing at the right times. Yes, it’s dated and a little bit cheesy. But after what else we’ve seen today, this might well sail through to the Saturday night show. I’d love it if this did.

JAMES – I’ve been waiting all day in my San Marino t-shirt to see this and it was worth the wait! Yes, it’s very reminiscent of the staging of “I Didn’t Know” in terms of style and content, but it’s in glorious technicolour with neon pink and it’s a lot of fun – and isn’t that what Eurovision is about? I’ve heard words like “dated” and “childish” bandied around the Press Centre, but all I can say to that is NA NA NA!! Is it going to win? Unlikely. Is it a bit of fun and levity in a contest that’s sometimes a bit too serious? Yes. Could it bring San Marino back to the final? I hope so! Serhat looks like he’s in his element and it’s great!!

RICHARD: I’ve been waiting for Serhat to come on today as it’s quite frankly my guilty pleasure of this year’s Contest. After a day of bizarre craziness, this familiar piece of pop has brought some kind of sanity back into the Press Centre. I can’t fault Serhat because he is fantastic – but I suspect many will.

Author: Eurovision Ireland
Source: Eurovision Ireland
Image Source: Eurovision Instagram

2 replies »

  1. Unfortunately only a 15 second clip on YouTube doesn’t give much opportunity to make a judgement but the staging for Georgia looks fabulous Belgium….I have yet to warm to this song. The clip I have seen hasn’t left any lasting impression on me so far

  2. Looking forward to seeing Portugal today,James and I were coming up with a quite interesting idea about their staging yesterday 😂

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