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#ESC22: #LiveBlog Of The Second Rehearsals Day 2 – #JoinUs From 09:00 BST/10:00 CEST

Finally! The time has come when we can bring you all the going ons from the rehearsals here in Turin. As you will be aware by now, the first rehearsals were closed to the Press and access was given exclusively to TikTok and of course, eurovision.tv.

So #JoinUs today as we get to see the final three Acts of the first Semi Final and the first seven Acts of the second Semi Final take to the stage. Join me, Richard, throughout the day, while the rest of Eurovision Ireland will dip in and out with their opinions too.

Refresh From 09:00 BST/10:00 CEST

10:00 – 10:20 Iceland

Richard: Systur have brought their National Final performance to Turin – as well as their brother on drums. Systur are stood in a line with their guitars – as simple as that. The performance is very simple and probably too safe when you look at qualification for the Final. The outfits sort of remind me of ‘The Story of Fire Saga’ – completely unintentional I’m sure. 

Sarah : As already said, it’s very like the National final performance. Very simple and charming, yet….there’s something missing for me . I felt myself lose interest after a while. This sadly may struggle to qualify.

John: Due to ‘une problem technique’, we only heard this song once online. It’s not bad. The sisters are good singers, and they know their stagecraft. The schtick isn’t that different to Songvakeppnin except there’s more bright orangey-yellow light. It’s such a pleasant song that I neither like nor hate it. Pleasant doesn’t win, although I suspect this will do well from the jury vote. The televoters on the other hand…

James: There are some nice elements to the Icelandic performance – they harmonise beautifully, Icelandic is gorgeous to listen to and the lighting looking like warm starlight (or perhaps the gentle glow of lava?) all adds to the mystical feel of this song. I think Iceland have done a fantastic job staging this, it’s suits the song perfectly. I still fear for its chances completely, being caught between two big hitters. I fear a sweet little melody will be trampled.

10:25 – 10:45 Norway

Sarah : Subwoolfer have brought their National Final performance to the contest and it does transfer to the larger stage really effectively! The guys are in their now traditional yellow wolf gear with their backing dancers in their all-covered yellow heads with sunglasses. An astronaut is in the background at the rear of the stage. It’s slick, catchy and love it or hate it , it will pull in loads of televotes on the big night. It’s sailing through to the final!

Richard: Subwoolfer have brought a new twist to the Little Red Riding Hood fairytale, which the majority of viewers will be familiar with. We have our first CGI graphics of the Contest during a performance too. I’m not sure ‘I Wanna at Your Grandma, Yum Yum’ will appeal to the younger viewers – that’s if they are allowed to watch. This is an easy qualifier.

John: An early highlight – perhaps. There’s a lot going for this. It’s choreographed to within an inch of its life, and the singers are good at their job. The staging has DJ Astronaut in a flying saucer behind the other five. There’s lots of yellow and lots of colourful pyro towards the end. It’s all very effective. But there’s a contrived element to this which I’m having trouble with. It will qualify, and the slightly inebriated televote will go this way. The jurors? Well, hmmm. There’s more jury bait before and after it.

James: A pair of neon-yellow wolves (apparently from space according to some comments I’ve seen?) dancing around to techno music played by their friend the tin-foil clad DJ-astronaut, saying they want to eat granny… these are the moments that make the contest for the casual viewer!! As has already been said, it’s very similar (if not identical) to what we saw in the national selection, but I said back then that is was Turin-ready and I stand by that. Once this has an audience behind it, I think this will go huge in the hall. And I think Saturday night’s viewing audience will love these guys!

Bogdan: If you’ve watched MGP, you know what to expect from Subwoolfer. The idea remained the same, we just have a background made out of two main colours: yellow and blue – these change only at the ‘Ba-Na-na’ part when we have flashes of red. I must admit, without the audience, the whole performance seemed a bit sterile, but I convinced the cheering from the arena will make this moment come to life. There is no doubt: Norway will qualify.

10:50 – 11:10 Armenia

Richard: Rosa Linn vocals are stunning. You might look at the stage and think it’s covered by a pandemic supply of toilet paper, but during the performance panels are removed to reveal words/phrases and a hole so she can see the audience. It’s clever and is bound to qualify.

Sarah :Rosa Linn starts on stage sat on what looks like a bed made of paper ,then as the camera zooms out, you see what looks like a bedroom armchair and wall made up of paper. Rosa Linn then gets up and then moves around the stage ripping parts of the ” paper” wall to reveal lyrics of the song. I just worry it might detract a little from Rosa Linn herself , as her vocals are spot on and the song itself is definitely a clap along song . If Rosa can engage the audience and the televoters find themselves tapping their feet to this on the night, she will very likely qualify .

John: I lie this song. It’s simply constructed and has a very current vibe about it. So I was looking forward to a sympathetic staging. I’m not so sure now. Rosa Linn is in a bedroom that has walls and furniture covered in what look like white oversized Post-It Notes. She rips clumps of them off to cleverly reveal words and dates. Then she finds a hole in the wall, which has by now revolved to face the audience. Think Lesley Roy and, dare I say, Dihaj. Then there’s the guitar backing track that continues when Rosa Linn stops playing it. There’s generally too much going on. Last on should see it through, but I would have preferred a far simpler staging.

James: Rosa Linn has a great voice and she’s showcasing it today. While performing in a room covered in what looks like tissue paper is a memorable visual hook, I’m questioning it as a choice… it kind of looks like someone in lockdown, hoarding tissues… I like the idea with pulling sections of wall away to reveal lyrics, it’s really sweet, but I feel this opens up a lot to potentially go wrong… indeed, she seemed to be struggling to keep up with bounding across the stage to reveal the next words, having said them before she got to the point. That being said, that big finish ripping away the wall and stepping into the circle facing into the audience… that was good, enjoyed that a lot! There are some great components here Armenia, with a little tweaking this will be solid – well done!

Bogdan: Love the likeability of Rosa Linn and that you can relate to her song. I think the idea of her in her bedroom, peeling pages of her life is a simple yet effective way to convey the message of the song. When you add the fact that her voice was on point, Armenia should not worry about their qualification chances.

11:15 – 11:35 Finland

Richard: The Rasmus open up Semi Final 2. Their lead singer, dressed in yellow, starts off stage holding a yellow balloon. The group certainly rock out the performance and it’s a great opening number. Yellow and dark lighting is used throughout. Giant black balloons are also in place on stage. Will it qualify though? I feel too many Acts are trying to imitate Maneskin this year.

Sarah :Yellow and black seems to be the colour theme for The Rasmus . They give a solid performance but for me, it’s a bit like a watered-down version of Måneskin  . It’s a rock song and what we can expect from The Rasmus but for me the staging lacks that certain oomph and excitement to engage with the audience in the way Måneskin do. It needs a big finale with pyros to make it memorable . As well known as The Rasmus are, unfortunately I feel they may get overlooked when it comes to both televotes and jury voting and going first in the running order may not work in their favour.

John: Balloons. Lots of balloons. I’ll be having nightmares about big black balloons that set off the Finnish song. Oh, there’s a yellow one too if you look hard enough. The set shifters will be loving this. Anyway, I’m not over enamoured with this song. The delivery seems off, the nod to Måneskin’s guitar antics seems too contrived. And it all just is generally very forced. The Rasmus were also late getting through their run-throughs, which either indicates tech problems or an unawareness of how things work around here. I wasn’t too impressed and I’m afraid and this might be a casualty come Thursday night.

James: You too shall float O__o I mean, as beginnings go, that was grabs your attention… but in a haunting, terrifying kind of way. Working with balloons was never going to be an easy task, and The Rasmus look like they’re lost in all the ballonacy, resulting in little connection with the camera and a stage show that looks underprepared. This is one of my favourite songs in this year’s contest and I want it to do well. After seeing it staged like this, I think it’s going to rely heavily on people remembering who the band are, rather than on what they’re seeing… Jezebel, so they say, was a dangerous woman… and this is a dangerous strategy for doing well at Eurovision…

11:40 – 12:00 Israel

Richard: Well, what can I say about this camp, fashion show of a performance? It reminds me of the opening of the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest in a way. Michael clearly knows whose his audience. He is dressed in white, as are his four backing dancers. If this qualifies, Israel will knock out an entry more deserving – in my opinion.

Sarah : Michael Ben and his backing dancers are all dressed in white in tradition with many Israeli entries over the years. There is no doubt as to Michael Ben’s enthusiasm but for me that’s where it stops .The dance routine is nothing that we haven’t seen before ,it’s camp , almost fashion show like and it’s almost like he is trying a bit too hard to please . The staging is quite dark and in my view , an uptempo number like this needs slightly brighter staging .He’s in a strong semi and going so early in the running order may not help his chances.

John: We know Israel is a very progressive country in places. Sadly there are parts of Europe less so. And that could be Michael’s undoing. He’s not got the greatest of songs to work with and it’s very reliant on the non-singing elements. There are dancers, there is a red and white motif running through it. There is a slightly hypnotic beat, so that could work in its favour. I just think it might be too much for your average televoter, and the juries might not be massive fans. On the plus side, it’s an improvement on the previous song.

James: Michael has charisma by the truck load and swaggers around the stage, clearly in his element. The white and black offset with red motifs throughout the performance work well and it’s definitely going to get the arena and Euroclub parties moving for years to come. One slight let down is I remember watching the national final performance and saying I wish he would connect more with the camera, feels like there are quite a few moments that he is looking past it… and he’s still doing that… but given he’s a natural showman, I’m tempted to say that makes up for it. This entry is very heavily aimed at one demographic of the voting audience, which might narrow its chances… I’m undecided. But Michael is clearly having fun and that will translate well.

13:05 – 13:25 Serbia

Sarah : Konstrakta has brought the National final performance to Turin with her and we have the hand washing , the gospel like backing singers and reference to Meghan Markle .Considering the song is about health and the mind, she also looks the part on stage too, dressed very formally in white, rather like a nurse but  with a flower corsage with a silver cross underneath it. Some clever use of background graphics showing several hands washing. It’s weird but in a good way and carries a strong message…..when you can understand the lyrics, which in the rehearsal was subtitled in parts to carry across the message the song carries out ..The only thing I would say is that it would be better to have the full lyrics subtitled if possible so that the non Serbian speaking audience can get the message of the song .This should grab the attention of televoters because of its weirdness ,but very catchy tune , which does get inside your head . As a retired nurse, I would have loved Konstrakta to do our hand washing lectures when training !

Richard: Konstrakta is in control of this rehearsal. If she has sound issues, she soon let’s the production team know. While Konstrakta has the connection, she has quite a stern face. Quite a darkly lit stage and five backing singers join Konstrakta on stage. We even are provided with some subtitles – explaining the need for healthy bodies etc. It has gone big down here in the Press Centre.

John: This song is so hypnotic. And if ever a song were to draw you in, it’s this one. What is Konstrakta going to do next? Whatever she does, it’s still genius. You don’t need to know Serbian or Latin to see that it’s a carefully thought out song, with precise staging and a message too. The actual staging is what we saw at PzE in March so there are no real surprises. It’s good. The audience will be clapping along at the right points, and even possibly washing their hands too. It’s a qualifier for me.

James: Nurse Konstrakta will see you now! When this was chosen to represent Serbia, I wondered what they were playing at… but I think this is a masterpiece on so many levels: as a performance, as art, lyrically, as a song with a message… it’s G-E-N-I-U-S!! Edgy camera work with frequent cuts and jumps works really well, adding to the slightly agitated feel, while the intermittent subtitles keep you hooked – you want to see what she’s saying, so that was a great idea whoever decided that! I still haven’t entirely ruled Serbia out as a potential winner. It’s certainly going to be a talking point of the 2022 contest and suspect it’ll be on show reels of Eurovision for decades to come! Свака част Србијо!

Bogdan: Like Norway, if you’ve watched Konstrakta’s performances in the last months, you know exactly what you’re getting and this is not a bad thing. The performance is polished, the graphics could be more expressive, but we do have parts of the lyrics translated into English which will help the audience understand some of the song’s message. All in all this was a good effort from Serbia.

13:30 – 13:50 Azerbaijan

Richard: Nadir is sat one some white steps, on a darkly lit stage. He is joined by a contemporary dancer who is mimicking his moves. This really isn’t getting going. |Instantly forgettable sadly for Azerbaijan. Another non-qualifier on their hands I feel.

Sarah: Nadir has brought a contemporary feel to the song where he is sat on white steps ,along with a contemporary dance mimicking his moves . We then get a very effective water fountain effect on stage to try and create the mood of the song. While it’s a pleasant enough song , it is unfortunately sitting between two very different and more eye catching songs, so could struggle to make it out of the semis .Which ..is a shame as Nadir’s vocals are good, but Azerbaijan have sent better songs over the years.

John: Nadir has a hard act to follow, and might get overshadowed by what follows. His prop, sorry, PROP, is a big staircase, The steps are bigger than average and split during the song. That reminds me of a Morecambe & Wise skit. He also sings from the lying position, which can’t be easy. I’m struggling to like this. I know Azerbaijan are past masters at staging, but even this might come a cropper. In SF1 it would scrape through. In this semi-final I think it’s doomed.

James: It’s very up close and moody camera work to kick off Azerbaijan, before panning back to reveal Nadir on a set of bleachers with a male dancer (who I didn’t actually notice if he danced much, being completely honest…) It reaches a dramatic crescendo with his vocals and moving set pieces, so there are a lot of good elements here, but something just isn’t adding up. Considering it’s coming after Serbia, I’m wondering if a televoting audience will all still be discussing Konstrakta until quite a way into this song…

13:55 – 14:15 Georgia

Richard: The music seems to be over-powering the vocals of Circus Circus in places, but this is easily fixed. Visually, it is a feast for your eyes, although if you suffer from epilepsy, you might want to watch this from a far. While they don’t have props on stage, this is made up for with the bonkers graphics on the back projection. Does it work as well from Official Video to stage like Moldova, no, but it does grab you none the less. I’d like to see this qualify, but I feel it’s borderline at best for now.

Sarah : Not sure what to make of this ! The music seems louder than the vocals, hopefully this can be fine tuned for when it really matters, the jury rehearsal.There are some very eye-catching outfits and as Richard says, some bonkers graphics  that are making what would usually come across an average song into something more interesting. I am not sure that Europe will get this though. It may qualify based mainly on the bonkers effect.

John: I was expecting slightly more from Georgia. I like the song. I like the crazy crazy costumes. I even almost like the arrangement. But it’s missing something. It’s too static for me. Even having two more on stage to do all the jigging about would help. I do like how Georgia always enters stuff they like, rather than stuff that necessarily generates oodles of votes across Europe. This however has me baffled. There’s a lot going on, yet there’s not much going on at the same time. It would be a fun finalist, but there aren’t many places left for the borderline songs from the semi-final.

James: “Show me what you got” Circus Mirkus demand – well, let’s see what you brought Georgia! It’s quite psychedelic in terms of colours and weird graphics with eyes and mouths… if anyone ever saw The Mighty Boosh when it was on TV, this is what I’d imagine Howard and Vince would be like as Eurovision contestants! I’d love to see this make it to the final, just because it’s brilliantly bonkers – but that was a very static performance and I wonder if it’ll stun televoters for the wrong reasons.

14:20 – 14:40 Malta

Richard: Emma is in a shiny silvery dress. She’s starts off sat at the piano, before walking on top of it! Before we know it, she’s moved off the main stage on to the surrounding stage in front. I have no issue with the vocals or the song, but the performance element isn’t what I was expecting. Are four backing dancers needed? Would it have worked better with Emma sat at the piano throughout? Sadly in the Semi Final of death, this could be a borderline qualifier.

Sarah:Emma is wearing a silvery , short dress ,starts off sat at her piano, she then get up and stands on it while  singing . After the first notes of the song, gets off the piano and is joined by her backing dancers ,they  then perform a dance routine to the finale of the song. Emma’s vocals are fine . While juries may go for it, for me the performance just lacks a little something to keep it in the memories of the voters out in Europe but I can’t pinpoint what at this moment .

John: Emma is singing at, and then atop a piano. Does the Health & Safety Executive know? She’s in a silver dress and makes an effective use of the staging. She starts alone but has five dancers with her by the end of things. She’s enthusiastic and doing her best to sell her song. I have more issues with the general performance. A colleague suggests it’s more a JESC song and I think they’re right. A 14 year old could get away with this song. A 22 year old might be a different matter. I love Malta, and I can’t wait for that first Maltese win. But I think it might be a tight call on qualification this year.

James: Pianos aren’t for standing on, Emma! There’s a lot of low camera work that shows off the shrubbery in the green room, which is a bit unusual but works! For a song that feels like it’s trying to be anthemic, I think the backing dancers come in just a little too late to have any real impact. This being said, Emma is a strong vocalist and the silver and gold look work well together. It’s the kind of song that strikes me as having broad enough appeal to pick up points from most everyone, at least in smaller denominations. Not sure that’ll be enough to bring the contest to Malta this year, but I think it should be enough to get a spot in the final.

Bogdan: What a beautiful performance from Emma! The voice is there, the camera work is at it should be and there will be shots with people clapping along. What else do you need to vote for this song? Malta made a wise choice to change the song and even though this is not my favourite song from this semi-final, I can see it receiving at least 1 or 2 points from each country.

14:45 – 15:05 San Marino

Richard: What can I say? Achille Lauro brings everything to this performance – not just the kitchen sink, but an actual rodeo bull, which he mounts and sings on! Anyone that thought Georgia was bonkers, will need to think again. You can’t fault the vocals and while there is a lot going on, Achille seems to maintain those vocals throughout! A third consecutive qualifier is coming San Marino’s way me thinks.

Sarah: Well, this is one of the few occasions where I am actually lost for words! There is so much going on on stage, this may not be one for your grandma to see ! The LED blinking eye effects on the stage floor add to the sheer bonkers element, then we get Achille Lauro mounting a rodeo bull ! This will be a love or hate song. I can’t see the juries going for it but televoters just might !

John: One we’ve been waiting for. Achille is a showman and has lots going on. He’s dressed uniquely in see-through sparkly black. There are drummers in cages. There are guitarists playing like they’re playing for their lives. He even has a bucking bronco machine on stage, which he mounts towards the end. The cameras cunningly cut to a guitar solo whilst he sits astride said bronco. The crowd will go mad when this comes on. And as he’s a showman, that will play to his strengths. For all its bonkers charm, this will qualify.

James: Blimey San Marino… if Europe doesn’t know who Achille Lauro is today, they will do come Thursday 12th May!! This is filthy filthy filthy and it’s brilliant – unrestrained sexuality, sensual red (brothel?) lighting and a mechanical bull to ride… in more ways than one!! I think the audience in the hall will go wild for this and I can see it qualifying quite easily. Don’t want to jinx it, but I think San Marino could have their first finish in the Top 10 with this!

We will be back tomorrow morning from 09:00 BST/10:00 CEST for another eleven rehearsals from Semi Final 2. Let us know what you think about the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest – either in the comments below or on our FACEBOOK and TWITTER pages.

Author: Richard Taylor

Source: Eurovision Ireland

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