OK, so I arrived a day late. In missing Day 1 of rehearsals I managed to lose out on 4 of the big favourites. Not only that but Sunday saw a hospitalisation, a rose sprouting back (who knew that was a thing) and a Lithuanian heart string tug-fest. Note to self for next year, leave on the Saturday. However, I arrived bright eyed and bushy tailed ready to throw myself into this crazy world for the second half of semi final 1.
The most anticipated rehearsal of the day fell to Finland’s Saara Aalto. There was a certain amount of trepidation leading up to the X Factor finalist’s run. We’d seen fairly ridiculous staging when ‘Monsters’ was selected at UMK and the fear was all three of the stage shows would be combined into a car crash performance. And yes, she did combine all three. The falling back into the arms of dancers from Monsters, the spinning magician’s assistant awaiting knives from Domino and the purple & blue colouring of Queens. All were present and yet, it worked. I never thought I’d be able to describe something as over the top and restrained at the same time but Saara managed. I’m not a particular fan of either artist or song but it certainly deserves to make it to Saturday night, the final would be poorer place without.
Of the other acts rehearsing today I thoroughly enjoyed both Austria & Switzerland. Cesar returning to earth from his massive risen plinth is a moment that should stay with the voters at home. He even manages a full circuit of the stage once he’s down so when the arena is full he should hopefully feed off the energy of the crowd and deliver a knock out show. Switzerland will also need to feed off the energy of the audience as the performance does include some call and response. Other than that (one of my ESC pet peeves) CoCo & Stefan pull off an amazingly confident, polished performance. The sort you can only manage when you’ve been performing together for years. CoCo prowls round the stage with a swagger only matched by Eugent yesterday. Hopefully we’re set for the most successful sibling pairing at Eurovision since those boys from Ireland.
The surprise package of the morning session had to be Croatia’s Franka with ‘Crazy’. Now, I had gone on record in the past as not being a big fan of this entry. If I’m totally honest I’m still not a fan of the song itself but Franka’s performance takes it to places I really wasn’t expecting. She delivers a powerful performance and works the wind machine to a tee. With each run through the camera work got a little tighter and by the third & final attempt Franka was spot on in hitting her marks. Whilst I still doubt it’s chances of qualifying the fact I’d now consider it doing so is a complete turnaround.
The ‘Trijntje Oosterhuis Award‘ for the ‘oh my goodness‘ moment of the day came from our opener. Marija of Macedonia’s Eye Cue has carried the same look of bizarre pink top half and leggy bottom half we had from the music video. The way her ‘jacket’ sits it does provide some unfortunate shots when we see a little more of her backside than is necessary. I’m not convinced that Marija is all that comfortable with the look as she didn’t appear to have the confidence of many other performers we saw today. This along with some fairly questionable staging will maintain Macedonia’s run of good songs undermined by poor staging.
It would only be fitting to conclude today’s round up with the final rehearsal of the day. At a time when it felt like the press room was flagging, when we all needed that pick me up along came Cyprus. If there’s an entry that’s going to get people at home saying ‘that’s Eurovision’ it’s Cyprus. From the high camp dance routine to the glittery catsuit that would put Old Jordan to shame this is going to be an amazing showstopper. However, the flame overlays do need work. At one point she looks like she’s in an advert for a KFC flamin’ bucket, the next she looks like she’s suffering from the effects of said bucket. Cyprus, Eleni Foureira…I salute you, you mad beautiful bastards.