Monday 30 April 2018

Haiku #2

Black, grey, snow and flame
Throwing stones will get you hurt
Aegean blue dream

First rehearsals: Ireland and Cyprus


Pre-opinion: Very much the same as Azerbaijan, so they would be wise to do something different. Everyone around me is hoping for something trashy and OTT.

Set up: We can already see some of the on-screen effects, fireballs and volcanic ash. Eleni in golden tight suit leaving very little for imagination.

First runthrough: Well, the press centre had fun. Laser tunnel, overdose of flame effects on screen, Beyonce-esque dancing. And the singing, well, let's say she's very brave to not get backing help during the verses. Thank you for waking us up after a long sleepy afternoon.

Second run: She sounds better now. A well-rehearsed routine of her and the four dancers, perhaps doing enough to buy over the trashpop lovers. I'm not too keen on the on-screen effects, it looks like there's two little dragons living in her knees.

Third run: They're trying a different knee dragon effect (red bits of fire, as if the dragon has a cold), looks a bit better. Some real actual pyro at the end.

Overall: this comes for me in the right time and place, after what feels like a very long semi. We're off now to argue about what colour her suit is. Thank you for reading.


Pre-opinion: This is the strongest Irish entry in some years, but it's also easy for my attention to drift away after the second minute or so. They'll need to do something to keep us interested, and yet come off as sincere, which won't be simple

First runthrough: Ryan is holding a giant guitar (or is it a normal guitar and he's just small)? Props are an old street lamp, a bench and the familiar interpretive dancers from the preview video. Woman on piano helps him vocally. Euphoria snow effect near the end. Cute.

Second run: A pretty clever revelation of the piano woman (you'll have to wait and see it, I guess). Still a lot of bad camera shots and visible crew, but that should be sorted out.

Third and last run: Working a bit better, still the main problem for me is that the (really charismatic) Ryan becomes a side player after the first chorus, from the moment the dancers appear. You barely see him for the rest of the song, and it's a shame. RTE/P: More Ryan, less dancers please.

Day 2 of first rehearsals - Ireland and Cyprus


Glittery (that must be the best way to start a sentence) multi coloured (I think Yair is right, it's golden, but the different coloured lights make it shift) fitted trouser-suit is what Eleni is wearing. She starts by walking through a laser tunnel (many dangerous things on stage this year!), which was a cool start of the song. Then, it just went over the top. The press centre is in a *state* after this, what an energy boost!


There is quite some focus on the two male dancers in this act, which I think is a wise decision. It adds a dimension/illustration to the lyrics and music, and makes the performance more interesting to watch all the way through than if it would have been "just" Ryan and his guitar. He sings the song well, it was a very pleasant performance.

There was also awww-inducing (I'm from the north of Sweden, so no awwws from me for that part) fake snow in the end.

When it comes to the guitar being huge or not... My theory is that it's a normal guitar, but Ryan's dark jacket is slimming, making him look smaller.

First rehearsal: Finland to Switzerland


Pre-opinion: I failed to notice this when it was on the Swiss final, and it hasn't really grown on me either. It seems to have a lot of avid fans, so maybe there's something to it I don't hear? And if the Armenian stage concept is stones, can they just leave them there?

While we wait, I'm reading this fun blog at escgo, putting all those hysterical reactions, including mine (ok, especially mine) into perspective.

First run: Woman ZiBB with strappy black top that reveals a lot and pink hat. She drums a bit and then throws her stick and starts to walk about the bridge. Oh no, she's doing the "I want anybody who's been hurt put your hand up" thing. Invisible (male?) backing singers doing oh-oh-om, but nobody's helping her and her vocals are on the harsh side. Man ZiBB alternates between drumming and playing the keyboard.

Oh, and she takes her mic stand to the bridge, walks across half of it and back, then picks it up. The mic stand has long pink straps, when she walks it she carries it low enough for it to mop the floor behind her. That's Swiss efficiency.

Second run: Better vocals now. I guess the best thing going for it is Woman ZiBB's figure (she worked hard for it, I can tell) and perhaps being more colourful than the previous entry, by default.

Third run: I think they've worked out the sound mix issues, and she doesn't sound harsh anymore (thanks to backing vocals). She's now holding a flare while she asks us to put our hands up. Well not all of us, just those who have ever been hurt.


Pre-opinion: Another one I enjoy, and he's a good singer, although the performances I've seen so far were a bit tame (including the NF one), and they're going to do better than this to stand out. Curious how they'll do the high pitch qamiiiiiiiiii in the end, which has so far been assisted by pre-recorded bits.

First runthrough: He's standing inside a circle of long stones of uneven length, looking like remains of an ancient shrine, or a modern genocide memorial. Backing singers not visible (boo). It's all very grey/black until the 'climax' bit where we see some red lights. I'm not entirely sold on the concept, but he may still carry it on his charisma.

Second run: There's a heated debate on the ESC Nation desk on whether these are stones or wood planks (we may have to ask your opinion). The performance is much of the same, all very grey with a bit of red. Wind machine (a must with this song title) makes Sevak's top flap about.


Pre-opinion: The fan world seems to have gone from "OMGZ pop diva so winning" to "such disappointment, NQ". I was always in the middle about this: An OK Pop song with an OK performer that might earn itself a spot in the final in the right circumstances.

Setup: Triangles is the theme (but not in the Gabriela Gunčíková way). A platform made of tringles of purple neons, on top an eight-pointed star made of more triangles, and Saara (the only non-geometric shape in here),

First runthrough: Saara lying on the platform in a glittery black top and long boots, she has two male dancers who may have neck mics, but I only hear female singers ain't scared no more. Very purple and turquoise everything. It was very much the bubblegumy pop performance expected from this, Saara falling backwards and caught by the dancers is a nice ending.

* oh, she's not lying on the floor, it's a vertical circle and she's tied to it as it rotates. Pretty cool, but there's a lot of upside down head in this. Can she handle the blood rush?

Second runthrough: Dancers tried to release her from the disc, but couldn't quite do it fast enough. They need to work on that. Pyro geysers during the last chorus. People near me are not impressed, but I think that this staging suits the song, at least.

Think of this, but with fifteen tons of Swarowskis. And no knives (they're on the list of prohibited items, thankfully):

Third and last run: Pyro curtain! And more shooting pyro we haven't seen before. Those of you who like pyro will love this.

Day 2 of first rehearsals - Finland to Switzerland


It might be a sign of mental disease, but this outfit reminds me of another animal skeleton, a beetle skeleton. It's a short leather top with that pattern, that she's wearing. A pink hat tops the outfit off. We get a tour of the stage, that is, there's a lot of walking around on it. And as Yair already wrote, the vocals were not that pleasant to listen to (no disaster, but no relaxataxi either).

The top, mentally unwell (?) artist's impression...

Second and third run went better and better. Still, I had a hard time focusing on the song/performance. It just doesn't do much for me.


Sevak is surrounded by a circle of painted "3 tum 4" (quite thick planks) in different lengths. He looks pretty lonely in there. Yet another blue/dark light setting for the stage. I don't have much else to say about this performance. It didn't stand out in any particular way, other than being good promotion for building material.

The outfit is what I am focusing on during the second run. It is a dark grey well worn bathrobe looking long coat. I do believe there's some wind machine action there as well, it just doesn't have much effect on the thick material of the robe.

Looks like there won't be a third run for the eyes of the press from Armenia either. Rumor has it (at least from Greece, but it must be a general thing, surely) that means something awesome beyond words will happen, that they don't want to show us just yet. My guess is that pyro will set the planks (or whatever they may be) on fire and - or - the wind machine will get a boost of power and blow them off stage.


Saara performs in high glittery black boots and a short sparkly black dress with a statement piece silver necklace reminding me of a fish skeleton! There might have been some technical problems in the beginning of the song, the vocals were quite low in volume. She did a good job, even though it must be difficult being upside down in the end!

Second run through shows that fish skeletons can be dangerous, dancers can get caught it them trying to help singers off spinning discs! Although, catching dancer doesn't have to be a bad thing.

In the third and last run Saara put herself into even more danger, through pyro which she was a lot closer to than the recommended minimum safety distance. It was quite an effective end to the performance! Finland gets a good round of applause from the press centre.

Day 2 of first rehearsals - Macedonia to Greece

Time to eat. So far the food in Portugal has been super delicious. This is what Yair and I had last night:


Yianna is alone on stage, wearing a long white dress with extra fabric that goes down to the floor at the end of the sleeves. It covers everything except a small rectangular peek gap at the waist and a circle in the back. A mainly blue stage makes it all extra Greek in combination. A lot of blinking lights going on. Slightly shaky on the vocals at the end.

During the second run the vocals were good all the way through. And either I got used to the blinking lights, or there was not as much of that.

The last run was just hacked by a Macedonian press conference! They like skiing in the Austrian alps apparently. I just like Austria.


Cesár, wearing a sweater and trousers in three shades of silvery grey, starts off standing on a big platform. The effect of that and a hologram of his face made the press people here go Oooohhhh! This also got the best response in here from what we have heard so far. I was quite affected by it too!

I got goose bumps during the second run through as well. Such a great performance (and song)!


Franka seems very confident and sings the song very well. The performance gave a well rehearsed impression. Her dress is a black fitted long one, made of  lace with a lot of different patterns and many see through parts... See through lace - another theme for outfits this year! And there's a wind machine.

The second run through was spot on as well.


After about 30 minutes of waiting, we finally got to see Eye Cue rehearse. Unfortunately we just got the last run through. Something was weird with the sound, at least in the beginning of the song, a lot of extra echo. If it was intended, it is a bad idea... Marija's in a cute pink short dress with a lot of extra fabric in the back (back and jacket details seem to be the thing of this year). The stage was blue and yellow, and sometimes just blue, she was dressed in . Nothing that stands out really, not great, not bad.

Tourist information is all we are getting in the press centre at the moment, so here's a little taste for you - another photo from our historic tram experience yesterday.

First rehearsal: Macedonia to Greece


Pre-opinion: This stands out for me in this semi line-up, in a good way. But it will need to be staged with an 'atmosphere', and it won't be simple with this kind of stage.

Set up: Yianna is in a clean white dress with flappy sleeves that reach the floor.

First run: Oh. :-/
She's all alone on stage (more hidden singers..), which I think wasn't a great idea as she doesn't carry it visually by herself. She just flaps her sleeves about and looks robotic. Vocally fine until the last few lines, which made us squirm a bit.

Second run: Some improvements here, vocally and visually. The blue background and white dress make it look very Greek, at least. There's some light effect projecting on her dress during the drummy bit. She still looks lonely there, but they're on the right track with the vocals, at least.

Third run: We only got a few seconds of it, then the feed switched to the Macedonian press conference. Overall, they still need to work on the sound mix during the last chorus, but should probably sound good on the night. This is roughly how the whole thing looks:


Pre-opinion: I really like this one, but it depends on a strong backing choir for this to do well. And it better be visible too, because Cesár hasn't looked too comfortable on his own so far. ORF have a good record for doing their homework lately, so I guess I don't need to tell them that.

First run: Fabulous. He's on a futuristic platform that reveals itself dramatically, backing choir sounds great (they're behind the platform, we can only see their heads). Silver shirt that flatters his body really well. Giant hologram of his bust and face appears. He jumps off the platform and walks about during the bridge. Some wows and an enthusiastic applause from the press centre.

Second run: I should add he's wearing a neck mic and shakes his arms during the "I'm shaking til I fall down" part. The platform is quite a thing, it's a two-level device that lifts, both parts have lights. The top part looking like an alien spaceship. I both love it and fear green men will emerge from it and invade me.

Third and run and still looking and sounding great. If I were to say something negative about this, it would be that Cesár needs tighter trousers.


Pre-opinion: There's not a lot of opinion, really. Most of us struggle to remember it's there. Can they do anything to change that?

First run-though: Dark stage. Backing singers are off-stage. Franka sings well, but not a lot happens, apart from a wind machine. I guess they're planning the focus will be on her facial expressions, trying to look 'crazy', but in this run-through it's all very mechanic.

Second run: First shot is on her stretched hand, slowly revealing her face. She uses the mic stand until the 'talky' bit, then she pulls it out, walks about for a bit, then goes back the stand. Some yellow lights in the back. The camera shows her from every possible angle, when it runs out of angles it does it again. Sound mix is absolutely fine, it sounds a lot like the studio.

Third and last run: They're trying a sound effect during the talky bit that makes her sound like she's on a walkie-talkie. There's also smoke that shoots from behind the camera when she goes 'skyyyyyyyy'.

To sum it all, this is... fine


Pre-opinion: One of my favourites this year, finding the change of styles fascinating. But well aware that this is a difficult song to sell, and adding Macedonia's staging track record and the live performances of this I've heard so far, chances are against them.

(still not started, on our screens at least, we're getting views of Portuguese forest bike trails)
(screens are on, looks like we get to see the last runthrough only)

So, it's not the carcrash many feared (hoped?). A standard Pop performance, with Marija walking about and interacting with Bojan and the drummer, and sometimes joining the three female backing singers/dancer in the chorus dance from the music video. Vocals are ok most of the time. Best part for me: the backings snap their fingers! It's very loud in the sound mix, so possibly an added sound effect (guess that's allowed...?)

The routine and outfits very much remind me of Karma's final performance from Dora 2003 .

Bom dia

Lisbon is so lovely! The historic trams aren't just a sight, they also take you to nice neighbourhoods your foot probably won't. If you're a smoker, however, you're never allowed on the metro.

Sunday 29 April 2018

Haiku #1

Blue stage, pink roses
Poor Mikolas, get well soon

Also aboard for Belarus to Bulgaria


To me this felt like a 70's choreography (if you can call standing still and walking for a little bit choreography), it was a kind of ABBA style in the beginning, with two of the artists singing towards each other, and a very "Dallas"/80's way to divide the picture into three separate parts and other such effects.

We've now had four run throughs from Bulgaria, all very similar to me and vocally quite stable. Yair is over at the Israeli press conference not being a stupid boy - hopefully!


I got winner vibes from this the first time I heard it. Elina's performance, with perfect vocals and the impressive dress effects (similar to what we have seen earlier, but with a few nice variants added) has not made those feelings go away.

What struck me during the second and third run through is how huge the stage looks in this performance. It suits the song/dress/Elin(a)!


Just back in time to catch some of the lol-iness of Belarus, and my brownie, completely intact - equally amazing! In this performance, I actually thought Alekseev's back was missing at first! But it turned out it was just a rose wound. Such a relief.

First rehearsals: Belarus to Bulgaria


My pre-opinion: This is the best vocal harmony of the contest, a bit like O'G3NE but with a slightly better song and a much more eager broadcaster. Are they eager enough to take it all the way (if it's even possibly with this song)? Let's see.

First run-through: Similar to last year, a lot of quick camera changes and split screens. Venetian blinds Power Point transitions. Not for epileptics. They seem to have thought this through and hired Christer Björkman's best staging directors, I'm sure the younger attention-deficit viewers will love this. The vocals sound higher pitch than the studio version.

Trey stops the second runthrough after five seconds and says he's sorry.

Actual second run-through: More focus on Zhana (who looks a bit out of place and wears too much lipstick). They're standing on three platforms that look like they're made of scaffolding (not sure if this is their final form), and change positions, a bit like Modern Folk Üçlüsü & Aysegül Aldinç. Overall, a solid rehearsal.

I've skipped the rest of it to watch the Israeli press conference, and no, I wasn't a stupid boy, although the songwriter wore a "stupid bøy" t-shirt, and this kind of diacritic misuse annoys me to no end, but it was fun and Netta owned it.


My pre-opinion: When I first saw this, I kept waiting for something to happen and it never did. That's not exactly promising, and knowing the whole dress saga, not much is going to change. This kind of thing should have enough fans to take to Saturday though, one would think.

First run-through: As expected, an improved version of the Eesti Laul performance, in a darker, larger stage. The dress is centred in the round stage, which suits it well. Some nice patterns on it, including flowers and a swirly thing like ice cream n ithe end. Elina herself? She's good vocally, but I didn't notice her much, attention goes to the dress.

Second run: Much of the same, she's giving more effort and sounding good. Not much to say, this will do as well as this song can. My main reaction is that I really want ice cream.


My pre-opinion: I've yet to see a good performance of this, but the one that matters hasn't happened yet and I'm not ruling this out completely. Alekseev has the face to appeal to a lot of teens, and the song is 'basic' in a catchy and comforting way, and if done right, may slip into the final in this whole mess. Either way, I'm very much looking forward to see what kind of prop they've come up with this year - can they top a holographic baby and a futuristic airboat?

First run: LOVE IT. Alekseev pulls out a rose, gives it to the camera(!), camera gives it to a Flamenco dancer. Flamenco dancer shoots it back using a crossbow, then breakdances. Press centre is in hysterics. This is Eurovision. Wait, there's more. This ends with him on a very high platform revealing a torn shirt in his back and fake blood (or is it crushed roses?). I don't even.

Second run: I'll try to pay attention to the singing this time, the visuals were so distracting I didn't even notice it. Really, the amount of shock was so big that I didn't even steal Elin's unattended brownie. Well it sounds okish, except that he's mumbling the words. Sorry, got distracted again by everything that's going on. His eyebrows have their own choreography on top of everything. And did I mention rose effects on screen? This is loltastic. I Love Belarus. 

Third run: The rose has lost its petals by now so he's just holding a stem, which is actually made of a metal cord with a rather sharp tip, and he nearly pokes himself in the eye. Watch it, Alekseev, we already have too many artists taken to hospital today!

Mikolas taken to hospital

I popped over to the press conference for a bit. We had these nice men talking about Mikolas.

They assured us that there is no need for any plan B when it comes to his performance and the acrobatics etc, because plan A is still on. 

Still aboard - Czech republic to Israel


I'm scared I'll get hypnotised by the huge amount of "waving cats" (see Yair's post for photo!) on stage right now. But I like it!
The colour theme of the cats (yellow/gold, pink, read, sparkly) goes well with the chicken sounds, reminding me a lot of Easter. Netta was not as convincing as I would have hoped, but it's only the first run through of the first rehearsal yet, still hope for improvement!
There was some improvement second time around, and even more so in the last run through, her confidence came across a lot better towards the end. I'm pleased about that. She also made the whole press centre laugh when she worked wanting more vocals in her earpieces into the lyrics in the beginning of the song the second time. Netta is so cool!


Graphics in black and white of a family and after that a couple dancing, a child kissing another child (in a cute, not creepy way. Too cute in my opinion) is displayed now. Testing testing...
The first run through was surprisingly well received in the press centre. I think people were quite touched by this. To me it was a bit cheesy with the perfect family graphics, but the end was nice. Ieva's husband was suddenly there, held her hand and she sang the last bit in Lithuanian. In the second run through we could see him approaching, I thought the first variant was more effective. The third time was also the see-him-approach-approach, and the Lithuanian rehearsal ended with a husband kissing his wife on the forehead. People around me are loving this song and performance. I'm not convinced.

Czech republic

It seems Mikolas did the first run through half heartedly, focusing on *the jump* (a peek over to Yair for the proper English word: somersault) and problems he/they seem to be having with that. Half of the song he didn't even sing. We do however have pink lights, a backpack and a dancer with a trumpet. Second time around is happening now and it's more properly done this time. He survived the acro but lost his glasses in the process (I know the feeling)!

First rehearsal: Czech R. to Israel


My pre-opinion: Some here completely disagree with its bookie status, other think that as long as they don't do anything stupid, they'll leave dust behind them on the Saturday scoreboard. I sometimes enjoy this song, but upon first listening I was a bit confused, so it won't be easy to live up to expectations I think. IBA and their sponsors have invested unprecedented amount in this act, let's see if they spent it well.

Set up:
CATS! lots of small metal cats with moving hands on shelves that are on both sides of the 'looper' table. Although it's not the same looper we've seen, more of a Star Trek control board.

Yeah these:

First run-through:
Well this is taking forever to set up... finally. Netta is very pink, three dancers are on the bridge, but join Netta later when she leaves the Looper. This sounds different to what we've heard so far, the backing vocals are very high-pitched and Netta looks a bit awkward walking with these shoes. And there's actually not much happening though. Overall not a very impressive run through.

Second run:
They're trying new camera angles and Netta is giving it more, sounding and looking much better already. She's having issues with the looper and had to improvise a bit, and improvising is what she does best, showing her quirky personality. Her fans should almost hope something goes wrong on the night.

Third run:
Pink smoke when the first chorus starts got the fan-press excited. Camera angles much improved again and Netta finally singing like she cares, this should still be a contender if it was before.


My pre-opinion: This has been one of my favourites from first listen, but I'm well aware that I'm in minority here, and this will struggle to stand out. Still, Lithuania have always qualified when I thought they deserved it (and a few times when they didn't...), so a solid rehearsal should be promising.

First run-through:
Similar simplistic approach from the NF with her starting on the floor, with added b/w images on screen of couples dancing. These will need some work to align with the camera. I think there's a second vocal during the chorus, but some here say it's an echo effect. Towards the end she uses the bridge to meet her husband(?) and switches to Lithuanian, this is all really charming and everyone went awwwwww here.

Second run:
Still no improvement on the flash images, I guess that's homework for the video room later. They're trying a new approach of revealing her husband (now you can see him a bit earlier), I thought it's a bit less good but still works. Ieva's vocals are fragile, but in a good way, and overall this is the most effective package I've seen and heard today.

Third run:
Nothing much to say, still looking and sounding good. Saving words for the next country.

Czech (ia/ Republic)

My pre-opinion: It's pretty much a consensus that Mikolas is going to get his country its highest placing ever, and it's certainly doable if the Czech delegation has realised they have something good in their hands and made sure not to let it slip away. He'll need good backing vocals (which so far have been pre-recorded) and an engaging dance during the brassy bits, which has indeed been done well by a certain podium finisher last year, but it's perhaps easier if you have Epic Sax Guy on your team.

First run - or not? Stopped after five seconds when Mikolas said "it's dangerous".

Actual first run:
Mikolas starts without the backpack, but wears it later when we're not looking. There's a lot of focus on the two male dancers doing their own breakdance thing in front of colourful screens. Very very messy and they don't look prepared at all - will need a lot of work to do anything on Saturday (or even get there). The "la la la" bits are sung by female vocals, which I'm not sure was a great idea.

Second run:
There was a long wait, so clearly they had problems to sort out. Still a very messy act and the female backing singers sound weird, but Mikolas himself is a natural performer and just about sells it, adding an acrobatic somersault near the end.

Third and last run:
More improvement, added a split screen with him and the dancers which looks nice. Also added shooting smoke near the end. Now if they can only reduce the breakdance shots and change the gender of the backing singers and they're a shoe in the final.

While Lithuania is setting up, here's a drink that drew my attention.


The sun came out, and there's a really nice mall right outside with lots of options and outside seating area. I have to say that the complex is planned really well.

Congratulations, we are aboard! - Azerbaijan to Belgium


ood is next in line. And inside info from Iceland tells us that Ari's suit is here to stay. I approve!

Our lovely lunch view.


Belgium is currently setting up, right now all we see are eyes, well lit eyes! Which after the first run through seems to be the planned beginning of the performance, logically enough. I thought that was an interesting beginning, it stands out. Otherwise, the blue-ness of the stage continues, hints of blue on a mainly black setting this time. She is wearing a black sleeveless dotty dress with stripes and see through bits mainly on the top part, over black trousers. Nice stage presence from Sennek and she sings the song very well, Go Belgium! Our Belgian room mates were not happy with the performance though, I will convince them later that it was great.


The red and yellow theme of the stage continues, only a bit darker in the beginning. They're keeping it clean, so to speak, the feeling is "back to basics", letting the song and the band be the main attraction, which I like. The most striking thing is a back (of a leather jacket) that's missing! Or perhaps not missing completely, but it's a very open back solution of a jacket!


Next in line for rehearsal was Iceland. We are sitting near our Icelandic friends, they don't like Ari's costume. A white suit with red stripes on the shoulders and arms combined with a red shirt is not their cup of tea. There is a nice re-creation of the outfit in Yair's post!

The stage is lit up in yellow, glitter and red at the end of the song, giving a warm impression after an icy blue start. The camera work is focused on going around Ari in half circles and the vocals sound really good to me!


Azerbaijan started the rehearsal today. I always like going to the arena to start with, to get a sense of the atmosphere there, but it's not open for us yet. From the press centre screen my first impression was a calm one. There were not a lot of fast clips or unnecessary things happening on stage.

A first comment from a fellow blogger (not sure who to be honest) was "Her knickers are FANTASTIC!". I agree, very nice high waisted white undies! She likes to flash them a lot in the beginning of the song. She doesn't need to though, we can see them anyway.

First rehearsal: Azerbaijan to Belgium


My pre-opinion: I like Sennek, and happy for her that her song is getting a lot of love from the fans. I just don't *get* it though. I find the song as engaging as Blackbird, and think she has to do something stand-outy (+sing it flawlessly) to be heard again on Saturday. Good luck to her.

First run:
Starts very dark with a thin light across her face so we can only see her eyes. A bit like Trijntje. When the song kicks in she pulls the microphone from the stands and walks about a bit. This will probably look better with the audience when she gets close to them. Singing is ok, I think there's an invisible backing singer or two but I'm not sure yet. (three backing singers, a Belgian informant whispers in my ear)

Second run:
The light thing is wobbly at the start, hard to tell if it's intended or RTP's light technician has unstable hands. (just then she sings "sometimes it feels like it's meant to be broken", so leaning toward intended). Another fine rehearsal, fans of this song should be satisfied (although I'm still not engaged myself)

Third run:
About the same, with the light a bit less wobbly and Sennek a bit more confident. The stage is black with light beams, and it's refreshing to not have a red or blue stage, but I have to say I'm not a huge fan of this stage. It was a nice idea to get rid of the LEDs, as long as there's some 'character' to replace them with, but there doesn't seem to be any. Rant over.

Fourth run:
The camera is doing its best to find her face, but Sennek is doing her best to avoid it. There's one moment of happiness that it finds her, but she quickly turns away and shows her hair. It's a very long hair that covers most of her back. Echoes echoes of her:


My pre-opinion: I'm a big fan of this, but knowing full well it won't be easy to make the final in this competition. They'll have to get a lot of things right, and I don't trust RTSH who are known to be average at best at staging (Suus did well because it couldn't not, really). Hopefully they've rethought the awkward dancing and will use a couple of mime musicians, and a good choir that can carry the oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-OH-oh part.

First run:
Very dark stage, first shot on the hairy guitarist. Eugent in the dark. Lights up in the early keychange to reveal a drummer, two clapping female backing singers, another guitar player and Eugent's face. He's giving it all and sounds great. One of the guitarists seems to get bored and starts walking about behind him at some stage, but nothing else happens really (probably for the best - leave the focus on the singing)

Second run:
Someone needs to tell Eugent that this isn't the live show and performing the hell out of it now won't win you votes. A good applause in the press centre though.

In the mean time, there's a storm outside which blew over the plants by the toilet cabin. Where's SuRie when you need her?

Third run:
About the same, so I'll comment on the outfits. Mostly black/leathery for the entire team, with plenty of silvery dazzles, mostly around Eugent's lapels, and a white undershirt that sticks out behind his bum, looking like a tail (think Iceland 1986). Leather strips on his right arm. There's some kind of image on the back of his jacket, but we only see it for a split second. *peaks over Elin's blog* oh, it's just holes.


My pre-opinion: Ari is as cute as a puppy, a great performer and is going to enjoy these rehearsals, knowing that the odds are against him. As for the song's chances, well, I never say never, but they're going to have to pull off an unprecedented spectacle to have a chance.

First run:
Starts very similar to the NF, with the audience behind him. He wears a white suit with red lines on his shoulders that look like some kind of metro map - my guess he won't wear that for the show. Choir of five standing in the dark behind him, smoke on the floor.

Second run:
Not much to say about this, it's all as expected really. Stage starts in blue and during the high note bit changes to red/yellow, at least that's something.

This is (roughly) what he's wearing:

Third run:
OMG! Pyro! AMAZING! Þórunn Erna turns into a holographic fire puffin!
Or not really. Nothing to say about this one, it's as expected.


My pre-opinion: It's a decent Pop song and Aisel was surely trained to make the best of it, but will it be remembered by the time (the similar-ish) Cyprus has performed? They'll need a standout element, although going by Azerbaijan's historic semifinal televoting patterns, they have little to worry about anyway.

First run:
Blue stage, hurrah! Aisel in flappy white dress, four (visible) backing singers also in white, all on some triangular plinths with neon edges. Sounds fine, but it may be the studio version that we hear.

Second run:
Aisel starts lying down in a darkish stage, then sits up. Wind machine and transparent top leave very little for imagination. Stage manages to look quite sparkly for not having LEDs, There's also sparkle effects added on screen. Overall a professional, though not very interesting routine.

Third run:
Aisel does everything to point our attention to her mid-section (so much that the press area started calling it Crotch my Heart), it all looks a bit over-rehearsed and mechanic, but they have plenty of time to polish it and make it look natural I'm sure.


Good morning from a rather crowded press centre with very few seats available for community media with actual view of the screens. It's going to be a carnage, but we're being civilised so far.

At least the goodie bag is nice.

Quick guide to using our blog

Greetings from beautiful Lisbon! The city is lovely and welcoming, but one issue already: The airport has a 'generic' sign at baggage reclaim for all delegations, but a special sign for Macedonia. SCANDAL?

Elin and myself plan to deprive ourselves from our beauty sleeps in order to beat the accreditation queue and report for you from the Azerbaijani rehearsal onwards. The press centre coffee better be stronger than cannoballs.

As every year, we'll have a rolling rehearsal blog where the newest is on top. You can use tags to search for the country that interests you most.

And if you have any question, request, complaint or compliment, you can reply on here, on our Message Board, or tweet us @escnation.

And thanks for tuning in!

Sunday 22 April 2018

ESC Nation Starting Preparation

Yep, we will be in Lisbon and plan to give you the best rehearsal insight!

Unfortunately there's no Portuguese song about what it's like being a Blogspotter, but this is the closest we could find to illustrate:

More from us soon!