Saturday 8 May 2021

Day 1 | First Rehearsals | First Semi-Final | First Half | ๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡น ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฎ ๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บ ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ช ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บ ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฐ ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ช

This will be a rolling blog, each country in running order, so please refresh to update. 
Good morning and hello to you all, live from the Ahoy Arena in Rotterdam! Today, not counting Australia, six countries are about to set foot on the Eurovision stage to rehearse for the first time this week. Being the kind person I am, I've crossed three whole kilometers (I live nearby) and endured long sticks being stung and twirled around in my upper airways to be able to cover it all for you! Sit back, freak out a little because ZOMG Eurovision is back, relax and enjoy!
๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ช | Ireland
I'm struggling to decide what I find of this. The idea of Lesley's performance is to create a music video-like vibe. At first I thought they were partly using on screen projections, but it turned out to be on stage props, like a frame, that the camera films into. The props make it look like Lesley is inside some sort of viewing box with trees, waves and her face inside a book that's flipping pages. The props that are being filmed into, the props on stage and the backdrop make it seem like a multi-layered scenario in which Lesley is performing. The ending is very odd. At one point Lesley steps out of this music video-like scenario and we see wide shots of the entire stage. That's also when we see all the actual props that are being used and there's really no need to see those. It's definitely something we haven't seen before on a Eurovision stage - and although I believe this can actually be fun when they get it together - I must admit I'm a little underwhelmed. Taking into consideration that this is a first rehearsal and things are allowed to be messy (Duncan's IKEA light only worked properly during the jury show), I'm willing to give them the chance to get it together during the next rehearsals. Is it the master piece staging that some announced beforehand though? Definitely not. And Lesley's vocals are mediocre at best.
๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฐ | Former Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia (aka North Macedonia)
Me finishing lunch and seeing Vasil appear on the screen above me:

What the actual f? Vasil starts off with a dark stage and him being half-lighted (the bad half). He's wearing a dark suit hipster style (meaning with a pullover under it instead of an actual shirt). But that's not all he's wearing, because at one point during the performance he opens up his blazer and the discoball-pieced clothing he's wearing gets lighted with two giant spots and he's shining all over the stage Dotter-style. North Macedonia is using on-screen graphics. Vasil's heart and the veins attaching it are being projected on him. The projections don't really add much to the performance. The backdrop consists of orange/gold graphics and a display of what appears to be sound wave-like bars. At one point there are also several rays of light coming from behind him. Although it wasn't a total disaster vocally, Vasil lost his voice when he tried to reach the high notes and it wasn't a one time thing. He missed the notes for at least two runs in a row. It's not terribly bad, but incredibly corny and over the top.
๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บ | Australia
As Australia isn't here in Rotterdam, we're going backstage to the live on tape recording.

Update: we have now seen a bit more than is being displayed in the video that has already been uploaded on YouTube. There wasn't much more to see than in the video on, so it's hard to tell what this will look like from beginning till end, but my first impression is that Australia is disadvantaged by the fact they are not able to use the amazing features the stage is able to offer. Which was to be expected.

๐ŸŒฏ Lunch break *nomnomnom* ๐ŸŒฏ

๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ช | Sweden
Although the performance is similar to the performance we've seen at MF there are several changes and I'd say it has improved. Tusse starts off standing before the backdrop that's displaying a split of an ocean/a pool of water (it's wet) from which light is raying. He's wearing a velvet red suit/dress-like outfit with a ribbon around his waist and black arm pieces that have silver embellishments on it. The backdrop shows light reflecting in that very same water. The floor LEDs are displaying a red carpet-like red strip at which actual lights have been placed on the sides. When the background dancers join him, who are are more prominently present than during the MF-performance, the backdrop displays scattered stars. Sweden makes good use of the backdrop because when Tusse and his dancers get to the part where they march, they are being joined by twelve virtual dancers on the screen. Before the key change (YAY) the stage turns red and is followed by a burst of flashes. Although Tusse sounds a lot better than during his last performance that got many of us worried about how he might sound, he is still struggling at parts.

๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บ | Russia
Manizha is wearing a huge Russian doll-like dress in which she drives (yes, it has wheels apparently) around a bit on stage. At one point it opens up and Manizha emerges out of it wearing the outfit that we know from the NF. At that point the choreo is roughly the same as in the NF as well. The backdrop contains handpainted images of traditional Russian things/characters and both the backdrop and transparent LED-screen are used to display some of the lyrics of the song. When the backing singers kick in for the choir-like part in the song, some pyro appears in the form of flames. Towards the end the backdrop depicts pictures and videos of strong women structured in a Zoom-like way. These images are then embedded into the words ''Russian Woman'' at the very end. Manizha's vocals are alright, not better or worse than we're used to. I can't say I'm extremely impressed with the staging and we're used to better from Russia, but it's very playful and fun.

๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฎ | Slovenia
Ana's wearing a white outfit with a semi-cape and starts off looking straight into the camera with a black circle/planet behind her on the backdrop. Once she starts blasting the chorus this explodes into a bunch of stars which looks pretty amazing. The backdrop then continues to display the Earth and it's all a bit graphically underwhelming from that point forward, I must say. It's only until the part where the choir kicks when it finally gets interesting again. The transparent LED-screen is showing footage of landscapes (a beautiful forest, ocean etc.) and Slovenia is the first so far to make use of it. Towards the end it cultivates into one last explosion of stars and Ana singing her lungs out like we're used from her. It ends with a gentle close-up of Ana. Vocally this is very strong.

 ๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡น | Lithuania
And we're off! A little later than expected and with technical difficulties because we have no sound. If you want to blame the Dutch, then know I heard production members speak Swedish. It's all Bjรถrkman's fault.
My first impression is that the stage looks amazing on screen. The LED screen is ridiculously sharp and the effects Lithuania has on the backdrop look fantastic. The backdrop is filled with squares/waves in a techno-like way. The Roop are wearing yellow outfits in the style that we know of them. The choreography is similar to that of the NF with a few new touches. At one point the lead singer follows the camera to heat up the crowd and it's all great fun. The camera shots look pretty advanced already, especially for a first rehearsal. They use several split screens to play around. The color combinations are mostly black/purple/white/yellow and I'd say they work good together. This is fun! There was no sound, so I'll have to get back to you on this (if they manage to fix it).