I spent lunchtime in Petra Mede's press conference with Martin, but now it's back to rehearsals, and very soon we'll have seen what everybody has planned on stage.
Like with Norway, the main concern here was how the Swedes were going to duplicate the sound from Melodifestivalen, where there were layers of backing vocals on the track. It's not entirely easy to tell in here, with sound echoing on various levels of delay from all directions, but as far as I can tell, the answer is that it's absolutely fine. Robin himself is singing well, nailing that final high note, and at least two of the dancers have microphones too. The effect is less 'wall of sound' than in the national final, but it's decent.
Less good are the outfits. All six are wearing what look like beige linen jumpsuits with grey or white waistcoats that make them look like they've just come from one of Farid's capoeira classes. Indeed, there's lots of arty kicking and lifting. And I hate to say it, but it's clear that the dancers have been engaged on their professional skills, rather than any other aesthetic factors.
There's a low, wide podium on the stage which is used to good effect, and as well as the whites the overriding colour here in the lighting is red. I've blogged about the effects of red before, but I'd also add here that it has the unfortunate consequence of making Robin's face look even more flushed on those high notes that it normally does.
The first run-through was incredibly messy - lots of missed shots - but it was quickly tightened up for the second try - though whoops, someone nearly got dropped on their head in the last run-through! Overall, I'm unconvinced by this - it has all the right ingredients, but somehow just doesn't come across like a real pop package, and against some of the other acts it's going to suffer for that.
A highly anticipated moment! Can Bonnie actually still sing? The answer is a very firm 'yes'. She starts the song standing to the side of a band on stage, rather than in front as we might have expected, which I think works well, as it give a more distinctive look and leaves the focus on Bonnie herself. Perhaps predictably she walks out along the catwalk during the middle 8 and continues the song from the satellite stage... WHICH GOES UP! It has an integrated lift! That's new! A phenomenal shot from below the podium as it rises and lighting from behind add a huge amount to the last chorus - a bit goosebumpy here even!
They've done a good job of creating a bit of an arena rock vibe, moving the song away from feeling potentially bland and middle of the road. Bonnie really does own the performance - she has a great combination of your favourite reassuring granny and rock goddess - though there's always the worry with an entry like this that we started with such low expectations that anything good seems great. One thing that concerns me slightly is that she's not finding all the cameras, and there are certainly sequences where she's performing down to the imaginary crowd - if she falls into that trap on the night, it could really hurt it.
Bonnie's turned up today in red jeans and a nice black cardy, so we aren't seeing the final stage outfit yet. I'm imagining leather.
And finally, the last rehearsal comes from Italy. Could we have a game-changer this late in the week?
I genuinely think this could win.
Marco is completely alone on stage, with a very simple performance. There's no gimmicks around him, he just stands there and sings the song in front of a simple blue background, punctuated with yellow spotlights from above. I'm not sure he finds a single camera in the whole performance, but it doesn't matter. He's just so charistmatic.
I already have my money on this. You should too.
(edit: oh, he half-heartedly came out to the satellite stage at the end. I hope they drop that, I don't think it needs it.)