So, this last few days have been fairly momentous for this year’s Contest. We’ve seen one of the most cut throat semi finals in this current era reducing our number from 43 to 34. After all the build up there were no real massive shocks in terms of the big favourites. All the countries high up in the bookies successfully made it through to the Grand Final on Saturday night to compete for victory. I’ll not go through all my thoughts on yesterday’s results as these can be found here. These are my hottest of hot takes, jotted down immediately after returning from main hall itself.
In terms of the fan experience it was far from great in the Altice Arena. Now, I’m not naive. I understand that for any massive concert let alone the Eurovision Song Contest you are going to have to get in early to get a good view. Actually never mind a good view, you’re going to have to get in well over an hour early if you want a view at all. In the middle of the standing area there’s a small island for the technical team running the show. Fair enough, can’t argue with that. Next to this island is an additional stand for a bank of 10+ photographers all of whom are standing. I found myself having to peer through the legs of a photographer to try and get even the slightest view of the acts. The lack of big screens for anyone at floor level also meant you have no real idea of the visuals on stage. For those of us who’ve seen the rehearsals umpteen times we know what we’re missing. However, if this is the first time you’re seeing it you’d no doubt feel very short changed.
I also understand that first and foremost the Eurovision Song Contest is a live television programme. Only in the last two decades has the experience of the fans in the arena become much more substantial. Whilst seeing a lively crowd in the audience certainly adds to the atmosphere and makes the TV broadcast look better we are not the priority. The main concern for the broadcaster is to make the best television programme possible, not to provide the best live experience. Most importantly though, if your show is sponsored by one of your national beers then surely you should be providing plenty beer. Get loads of bars on the go, stock it properly and get in lots of staff who can serve it. It doesn’t even have to be Super Bock, I’d be quite happy with regular Bock.
Today, our attention now shifts to semi final 2… from the sublime to the ridiculous! As I write I am fresh from the arena having watched the first dress rehearsal. We saw a number of sticky spots in terms of staging that will no doubt cause concern. The most obvious being Sweden’s neon tube wall duffing up and being shifted to the end of the show. Also the comedy interval acts, utterly dreadful. Don’t try to be Sweden, only Sweden do Sweden. You do Portugal. Predictions will follow soon and once again it’s going to be a lot of guess work. However unlike, SF1 when I could’ve picked 14 to qualify I can only find about 7 seven qualifiers from SF2. I dinnae ken!