This will be a rolling blog, each country in running order, so please refresh to update.
Heyhey, it's me again! No, I wasn't in EBU jail, but simply enjoying the views from within the arena while my very capable colleagues shed their light on the second rehearsals. We're back to first rehearsals, so back to me as well! Bring it on!
🇪🇸 | Spain
Blas started his rehearsas standing in the dark with blue'ish lights. Blas is hardly visible. The staging and backdrop look quite beautiful. The backdrop is depicting a dark universe with stars and an eclipsed sun. At one point there are two spots shining on a giant moon that is hanging above Blas. Even though the moon is ruining the staging, it all looks rather gorgeous. The staging doesn't seem to be the issue here. It's the fact that Blas is howling like a frog that is being boiled alive.
🇬🇧 | United Kingdom
The first thing one notices are the two giant white trumpet props on stage that are slowly moving whole James stands on a little stage in between those trumpets. The rather simple backdrop and lighting is mostly a mix between red and blue. He's surrounded by four dancers who play the trumpet as well. James is wearing a long leather jacket with a golden necklace. This together with his attitude on stage of him being a badass doesn't seem to suit him at all. At one point James, after all the dancing with his mates, gets back on the small stage and lasers surround him. I'm guessing this was supposed to look impressive, but it really doesn't. It's a rather harmless performance and as random as unimpactful as we've been used to from the BBC. Other than that James vocals are pretty good.
🇫🇷 | France
Massive response from within the press centre for this rehearsal, but I'm a little less impressed. Barbara is a class act, sings amazing, captivates the camera, but (as I believe this is the question you all want answered) this doesn't seem like a winner. The staging is simple and effective. Barbara is standing behind a microphone stand with a spot direct at her. The entire performance it's spots shining on Barbara and camera shot from different angles.. and nothing else. At one point the camera seemed a little shaky and I'm not entirely sure whether this was part of the act. If it is it's rather odd. Anyhow, as said, I understand they tried to keep it simple, but at the same time it also feels like a waste not to make better use of the incredible features the stage has to offer to really go for that wow-moment. Now it's lovely and qualitatively well done, but also a little underwhelming. I can see the juries eating it up, but do I see Europe massively voting for this? Nope.
🇳🇱 | Netherlands
The performance starts of with a close-up of Jeangu with two of the backing singers/dancers joining him from the sides in the shot before a purple background. Throughout most of the performance the backdrop depicts some sort of transparent layer that seems to be broken/into pieces and also shows the lyrics of the song every now in graphics of bricks breaking (which is probably convenient since everybody seems to hear broccoli). Somewhere in the middle of the performance, while the backdrop depicts Lion-King’ish warm colors, Jeangu and his dancers move towards the bridge on which they perform the choreography we’ve seen more often, incl. the knee moving moves, while the transparent LED-screen (and later on the backdrop as well) depicts a true color-explosion. At the end they carry on to the extra stage to perform more dance routines. It’s solid staging and Jeangu is obviously a great performer. Unfortunately, the whole performance isn’t able to lift the song to heights that potentially might’ve been possible. This will probably keep the Netherlands away from the last spot in the final, but I can’t see it doing much better than that.
🇩🇪 | Germany
Jendrik (really, just name your child John or Hendrik), is on stage together with three other backings who stand on the side behind microphone stands. As expected, the whole performance is an energetic explosion. Next to the three backings, there’s also a saxophone-playing dancer wearing a.. hand. Throughout the entire performance they’re all doing some rather weird, but I suppose for some fun, goofy dancing, including a tapping part. The backdrop is an explosion of different colors. Jendrik’s wearing a pink blazer with a black shirt underneath and black pants. He’s playing around on his ukulele and at one point when he’s doing the let’s-say-words-fast-after-one-another part, he’s looking from side to side in different cameras. He looks like he needs a shower and although they’re trying to be playful and fun, it looks rather cheap and amateurish. This is absolutely not my cup of tea. I think it’s all rather annoying. I feel very much hate.
🇮🇹 | Italy
Damiano is on stage with three other musicians. He's wearing leather pants and is completely (apart from the straps) shirtless. They've placed a staired platform on the middle of the stage with LEDs, which has a drumset on it. At the start there's a camera shot of him walking around this platform. He's then joined by two guitarists. Throughout the routine there are lots of flashes with Damiano going wild while interacting with the others. It's what one'd expect from a rock performance. The backdrop is mainly white with shadows of musicians on it. Towards the end there's lots of fireworks, he's walking up this platform, performing together with the drummer, walking down and laying down on the stage. Vocally Damiano's flawless. As said, it's what one would expect from a rock performance, so I'm not blown away. It's good. Winner vibes? Not really.