On her second run-through (we didn't see the first, due to some confusing internet connection shenanigans), Natalia is performing confidently. She'll still in casual clothes, so we won't get a real impression of how it's going to look until Friday, but she's singing well and finding cameras already. We're digging the Sandra Simó rectangular hair too.
The stage looks phenomenal, by the way - all shades of purple at the back. She's lit from above in an effect that bathes her legs in light before the camera finds her face in a strong opening shot, before wandering the stage during the second verse. The backing vocalists start among some tall Ikea lamps, which fly off halfway through the song as the singers surround Natalia. Towards the end she comes out towards the front-left of the stage, with some nifty camera shots.
It looks great, it sounds great, so a pretty good first rehearsal all-in-all, but her qualifying chances are always going to depend on what happens later. Based on this, she should stand a pretty good chance though.
The two people who clapped in the press centre agree.
Birgit is on stage in a long, white floaty dress, which constantly needs hitching up between rehearsals - keep an eye on that one on the night!
The performance starts out with an ill-advised black-and-white effect before moving into colour for the first chorus. Birgit starts on a podium in front of a wave-effect background, which frankly is just distracting, particularly in the black-and-white.
The song finally gains some energy going into the second chorus, but by then I fear it's too late. And the long note into the last chorus comes complete with a very unfortunate shot, where Birgit in a white dress in front of a white light looks rather pregnant. (edit: we're now being told on Twitter that Birgit *is* pregnant! Maybe we'll get Tom to ask her later.)
Estonia's one of my favourites, but based on this rehearsal, I'm not particularly hopeful. Martin over at esc-chat.com disagrees though.
Sild tells us there's a hottie in Slovenia. We're back in place to check this out!
And yep, he's there! So are
As for the singing, this is only a first rehearsal, but it's mainly fine. This is a difficult song, and every run-through has different dropped high notes, but I don't think it makes a huge difference really. In summary - competent, not amazing. And most of the problem is still with the song.
The difficulty with a song like this in a live arena environment is balancing the different vocals to create the harmony effects from the studio version. It mainly works decently here, partly because the six are all very skilled singers - the actual vocals were never something we were going to have to worry about.
The six mainly stand in the middle of the stage, wearing what looks like full 18th century navy dress uniform, though their delegation passes spoil the effect a little. As might be expected, the stage is quite dark and blue, as much of today has been. I thought they'd go with more of a 'sea' theme here, but there's little of that, and certainly nothing of the video - no disappearing birds, for example.
What there also isn't here is any interaction with the cameras - the group very much interact with one another through the singing on stage. It's all very authentic, but will it work for the audience? I fear it may come across as a bit 'yes, very good, but why should I care?'
To sum up my overall impressions from this morning, I think Austria came across as the strongest, with Slovenia as the weakest. Estonia has potential if they can tart up the first minute of the song, and Croatia is lovely, but the performance is perhaps rather unengaging.
Four more to come this afternoon, when Yami takes over the blogging. See you then.