#ESC2019: BLOG OF DAY ONE REHEARSALS #DARE TO DREAM LIVE FROM 9.00AM CET
So, we’re here. After months of national finals, internal selections, withdrawals and parties, the Eurovision Circus has finally arrived in sunny Tel Aviv.
As ever, we’re blogging the rehearsals. You may not always think we’re right, but these are our views. Feel free to disagree with us.
You know the drill, hit ‘Refresh’ to see our latest thoughts.
But what are we seeing today? All times are CET and subject to change.
ARMENIA – 09:00 – 09:30
RICHARD: Armenia isn’t the opener we were hoping for. While it isn’t all that bad, Srbuk could do with some backing dancers on stage – I say this purely because of some of the camera angles that are been used. Visually, the graphics add some drama and edge to the performance. Outfit wise, Srbuk is rocking a pair of knee-high boots.
JAMES: Srbuk does well at commanding the stage, but a song with such striking backing vocals needs singers or dancers on stage. Especially as Richard said, it’s a huge stage and she can’t cover all of it by herself. I love the effect of shattering glass at the bridge of the song, and the whole package of the performance is a good start from Armenia. Vocally, Srbuk brings it!
John – Srbuk is alone on stage. Presumably there are backing singers off stage. But these needs dancers. Just to enhance this nicely modern song. On a stage as vast as this, she looks a little lost at times. And wearing predominantly black on a dark stage doesn’t necessarily help matters. But let’s not take that away from this song. It’s decent, and a pretty good opener for the second semi-final. It should qualify, but we know there’s at least one country that won’t vote for it.
IRELAND – 09:40 – 10:10
RICHARD: Sarah McTernan suits the 50’s vibe that has been brought to the stage! From her make up, her look and what she wears – it feels the elements of the performance have been built around her. At the start, she is seen walking on to the stage, meaning the performance has an actual start. The Pop Art graphics on the back projection also suit the vibe of the performance too. The overall result is an evolution of the first live performance on Dancing With The Stars back in March.
JAMES – Ireland up now! Sarah is bringing us a very retro look, with nice Pop Art visuals throughout. Entering from backstage at the start of the song, she gives a competent vocal performance and there are some nice moments with her backing dancers and reclining on the diner counter. It’s only a first rehearsal, so there is time in subsequent rehearsals to neaten up little details here and there, but visually very memorable and striking, and a good run through for Ireland. So far Sarah is the only performer to make an entrance on the stage, so it stands out! And that red dress suits her perfectly!
John – Sarah’s turn, and I’m thankfully not disappointed. She’s on a stage which has a 1950s pop-art theme, which is very pleasing. The counter on stage is used to full effect. She sits behind it, she lies on it, and sings and dances in front of it. The two backing dancers ably assist Sarah and come and go during the song. It’s a very nice three minutes. Maybe not quite a winning three minutes. But at this stage, she needs to be tenth or better, and that is not beyond the realms. Being constructive, Sarah needs to perhaps smile a bit more. Nail that, and we cold be seeing her perform on Saturday 18 May.
LATVIA* – 10:20 – 10:50
In a change to some advertised schedules, Latvia are rehearsing now, rather than Moldova
JAMES – When I first saw this song at the Supernova semi-final, I thought it was a really intense performance and quite sublime – I never imagine then it would come to Tel Aviv! The main issue is, now that it’s in colour and in a aircraft hanger of an arena, it loses a lot of the intimacy that made it so special. As a song and piece of music, it’s lovely. But it’s also lacking anything that will make people pick up the phone and vote for it. Sabine connects well with the camera, which is a huge plus, but otherwise I think this will struggle, which is a shame.
RICHARD: Carousel have come to Tel Aviv with a rather nondescript performance – I don’t want to use the word bland, but I can’t really think of much else to describe it as. I fear at this moment in time, Latvia won’t see beyond the Thursday night, considering what else is yet to come.
John – This song has almost completely passed me by in the run up to Tel Aviv. I don’t have it as a favourite and it won’t make my top 10. So I’m going to be constructive. It’s a reasonable song for its genre, which is – I think – very laid back lounge music. But it seems like a 90-second long song stretched out to three minutes. Not a qualifier for me I’m afraid.
SWITZERLAND – 11:00 – 11:30
RICHARD: Switzerland have cracked it. The camera shots are arty and a strong presence of red lighting is used throughout. While Luca is dressed in black, his backing singers are also in red. The back projection uses blacks and whites, interspersed with the reds. Luca deserves a top 5 in the final. Had Luca interacted with his backing singers (like the official video), it could’ve been top 3.
JAMES: For the first time in a long long time, Switzerland have generated a lot of hype at the contest, so many of us were waiting to see what today’s rehearsals would bring. Some people around us are underwhelmed, but I wonder if it’s a case of not being able to live up to the hype? Luca is definitely the selling point of the performance, dressed in a black vest and it feels like the staging is relying a lot on him and his sex appeal. There are dancers, and they are good, but some of the group moments look a little cluttered as they’re not as neat as they could be (but this is why we have rehearsals!). The black and red lighting and costumes are simple but striking. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that performance at all! Bravo Switzerland!
John – A potential winner and we can see why. After an indifferent first run-through Luca soon got into his stride with a song that will wake everyone up. The singing is on point, the dancing is nicely slick, and the TV view is that letterbox effect, which works as is cuts out the superfluousness of the high stage. There are backing effects that reminded me of what Benjamin Ingrosso did in Lisbon last year. I think we can be sure this will make the final.
MOLDOVA – 12:40 – 13:10
JAMES – Moldova have always known how to bring it to the stage, so was curious to see what they’d do with “Stay” – and they haven’t disappointed! With detailed sand drawings being created (jury’s out yet as to whether this is live or VT!) and appearing on the screen behind her, visually it has instant impact and is memorable. But therein lies this performance’s biggest problem – it’s all about the sand art, and Anna feels almost surplus to requirements in her song. So far we’ve had barely any close-ups of her, so she appears on stage looking like she’s only 6 inches tall while we all gawp at the screen. It’s a bold choice for staging, I applaud Moldova for that!
JAMES – Ah, OK. In the second run through we had more shots of Anna close up and some more traditional ESC camera work. It’s a solid performance both vocally and in terms of staging. Had it been in the other semi, I would have rated its qualification chances a lot higher, but in this bloodbath of a semi there will be casualties. Who’ll be among them is anyone’s guess, but I’d like to see this make it to the final
RICHARD: I’ve only seen the final run through from this rehearsal session. For me, they’ve replicated Mika Newton’s Ukrainian performance from 2011. Why do I hear you ask? The sand box artist is back! While there maybe different designs in the sand and a different artist creating them, the true Eurovision fan will probably remember this.
John – Sand. But it’s not Mika Newton. No, it’s Moldova. I didn’t see much of it, but from what I did see the backdrop of ever changing sand. It’s a bit ordinary.
ROMANIA – 13:20 – 13:50
RICHARD: What can I really say? There is so much going on in this performance that my mind loses attention after seeing Ester sitting in the red chair for the first thirty seconds. Ester is dressed as if she was from victorian England. The backing dancers are on loan from Hatari or at least have taken inspiration from them. It’s three minutes that need simplifying.
JAMES – Ester Peony starts the performance in her signature red chair dressed in a puritan frock, looking incredibly pale and if I’m honest, quite uncomfortable – is that a deliberate staging choice? Meanwhile, a guitarist, two Hatari-lite dancers and two backing vocalists dot themselves around the arena stage and do their thing. Vocally it’s really moody and haunting just like the video, but from there onwards it starts to unravel for me. With a flock of (vampire?) bats fluttering from the back of the stage, lunging backing dancers, images of fire, underwater scene and flowers, there’s a lot going on and it almost feels like 6 performances in one… Romania, you know I love you… I hope I’m wrong, but I think this might struggle to make it out of the semi…
John – Well this is interesting. Gothic is a word I could use to describe this. Ester looks very pale – worryingly so – and her black outfit doesn’t help. She has a deep red armchair, like the sort you’d see in a stately home. Her backing dancers are in the leather straps that Hatari decided not to use. The staging is dark blue, changing to flowery pink by the end. I just don’t get it. It’s by no means the worst song of this semi-final, but it’s just bafflingly odd. I think this will fail to qualify this year.
DENMARK – 14:00 – 14:30
JAMES – Denmark have brought their huge chair with them (or a regular sized chair and Leonora is in fact the same size as Staggy) and the staging of the song is almost identical as it was in Dansk Melodi Grand Prix, save for the addition of a ladder to get everyone up to the top. It’s all very twee and sweeter than fluffy ducklings dusted in icing sugar, but aside from the chair, it’s not very memorable for me.
John – The giant chair is back. Or Leonora and her chums are very very small. I suspect the former. Her stage act is very similar to that we’ve seen before. However, she has to climb a ladder to reach her seat. And there are five of them up there by the end of the song. This is the sort of rhythm that the Danes excel at and it’s good to see something shuffly back. I like this song as it’s fun and jaunty. It’s totally inoffensive and (aside from the chair) fairly gimmick free. Although the chair is a big gimmick I grant you. It may be more suited to a Junior ESC, but hopefully a finalist.
RICHARD: The staging from the National Final is back and thankfully hasn’t changed. Few acts have left things as they are and Denmark haven’t made that mistake. The only down side for me is the way she climbs up a ladder to get up on to the giant chair. Hopefully things are in works to rectify this, as Leonora doesn’t look graceful climbing it.
AUSTRIA* – 15:00 – 15:30
Austria have swapped with Sweden in the proceedings today.
RICHARD: Paenda has brought a raw and emotive performance to the stage during rehearsals this afternoon. The performance is mainly in black and white, which gives it a classic and nostalgic feel about it. She is stood on a podium surrounded by many light sticks. Overall, very effective.
JAMES – PÆNDA gives us such an emotional and heartfelt performance, it’s hard not to be mesmerized by her. It’s simply staged in black and white, with PÆNDA standing alone on stage among some simple lights. It’s intimate, powerful and feels very special. I hadn’t given Austria much credit when it come to thinking about who would qualify for the final. After seeing that, I’m not sure my first reaction was right. Bravissima Austria!
SWEDEN* – 15:40 – 16:10
RICHARD: Wow! Sweden have done it once again. They didn’t need to change anything after Melodifestivalen and they have done just that – nothing. John Lundvik and his backing singers deliver. John is dressed in black, while the backing singers are in some shiny numbers. A strong end to the day and it should easily qualify.
JAMES – Sweden are doing what Sweden do best – it’s effortless, staged perfectly for the number and John and his backing singers shine. But before we go giving them another trophy, we expect this from Sweden. It’s not a surprise. If they’d sent something even slightly less polished than this, people would have a fit. It’s good – I’m not convinced this is our winner though.
Author: Eurovision Ireland
Source: Eurovision Ireland
Image Source: Eurovision Instagram