Busy day for us all here in the press centre, hence why the daily blog is being posted a little later than normal. Busy day for me individually too. Earlier I posted the reasons why we should all get behind the UK act, SuRie as well writing up my  experience of these first few days on the ground over on ESC Insight. Add this to the first rehearsals of our automatic qualifiers and it’s fair to say it’s all been kicking off!

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Our first automatic qualifier to rehearse this afternoon was our host nation, Portugal. This marked a first for me here in the press room, the first tears were shed. This performance has a stripped back style that lends itself a haunting beauty. Oddly it reminds of Hungary. Both convey such pain and heartbreak about the passing of a family member but do it in completely different ways. In particular this song & staging illicit such an emotional connection in spite of the fact I can’t speak a word of Portuguese. Two years in a row, well done Portugal.

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This was followed by our own dear Surie representing the United Kingdom. We found our lass in a cat walk surrounded by neon tubes creating a diamond shaped tunnel for Surie to walk in and out of. My overall impression was positive. The light tunnel is used mostly to good effect. Surie makes an immediate connection with the camera and then continues throughout. She also delivers vocally, but that’s no surprise. Camera angles still need quite a bit of work and the pyro either needs ramped up or ditched. If you’re going to do it, do it properly. Promising start.

Following the United Kingdom we had the underwhelming double bill of Spain and Germany. Both somewhat cynical in their emotional appeal, the staging of neither particularly grabbed me. The soft light and meandering nature of the Spanish staging brought Mørland and Debrah Scarlett’s staging for ‘A Monster Like Me’ to mind. Camera work felt messy for the most part but still conveyed the connection between Alfred & Amaia. Germany have brought their own LED screen thus undermining the feel of this year’s Contest. Run of the mill heartstring tugging family pics for two minutes then trippy visual effects for the final. Underwhelming and out of place. Horribly, I can still see both doing well.

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The two emotional big hitters were left until the end of the day. First of the two were Italy with ‘Non mi avete fatto niente’. The staging is going to be polarising. It combines the live performance of San Remo with the translation in many different languages from the video. Personally I loved the effect, I can see why many others wouldn’t. The very final staging of all 43 entries to be released was France. The emotion hit me hard as expected. The staging was paired back and simple. They could’ve so easily overdone this but they’ve remained classy and true to the song. I do feel this has winner potential behind it. If the crowd go for the hand gesture as one at the end, that’s your goosebumps moment. The win’s up for grabs.

Of the countries who we had already seen before only San Marino did anything different from their first rehearsal. The girls are in their actual outfits, the robots now have light up plinths but most importantly, the signs have changed. On the front read ‘this is just a rehearsal’, later revealed to say ‘Justice for Valentina’ cueing the biggest cheer in the room here today. The more I see, the more I want and think it should be in the final. What is happening to me?

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Leaked image of a San Marinese accreditation pass.

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