Another day of rehearsals has seen the back half of semi-final 2 take to the stage. There were certainly fewer props today but instead, there were flames, light shows and several surprising concepts. SF2 is proving to be a properly competitive affair.

The outright surprise of the morning was Ireland having quite possibly the best rehearsal of the bunch. In many ways, it felt like a highlights package from 2021. A female solo bop, matched with four backing dancers set to a bisexual colour palate. Half expecting her to join NikkieTutorials in the Looklab. They really should have Nikkie every year, based on the Jendrik interview alone!

I made it clear pre-Contest that my big worry for Brooke was just how creatively RTE could mess up. Whether that was by giving her staging that was not trying enough (2019) or trying too much (2021). Instead what we have is a polished performance from a confident artist that adds three minutes of energy, colour and fun. Ireland have played their hand and as things stand they got a fighting chance of making the Saturday night.

Semi-final 2 features the battle of the morose men. We had Azerbaijan’s Nadir rehearsing yesterday and Australia’s Sheldon and Poland’s Ochman running through today. Given the fact these three lads are competing for a similar vote share, I can’t see all three making it through. Of this group, I’m certain Australia are the safest. Given Sheldon has an obscured view going upstairs in a very heavy costume is high risk. Heath & safety advisors, look away! But of the three this is definitely the best overall package.

That leaves Azerbaijan and Poland to duke it out. Yesterday we saw Azerbaijan bring a very classy concept staged well. Today, Poland came with a much stronger song but staging that’s a little less professional. Dodgy-looking rainfall overlays, LED wall & floor projections, jerking camera movements paired with lightning graphics…it’s a lot. And within it all, it does feel at times like you lose Ochman himself. This is a tough one to call.

One of the safe qualifiers (given it’s a favourite to win) is Sweden, their rehearsals had tech issues aplenty. Mic problems, tripping steadicam operator, in ear issues…it made the nonsense we had with Ingrosso’s neon George Foreman in Lisbon look small fry (or grill).

BUT, when we got the clean run, it was spectacular. It takes the Melfest staging but adds crackling pyro and strobe lighting effects over the final chorus. Just when I felt like I was getting a tad tired of tis song that final run gave me those tingling feelings all over again.

I would say the very best of the day in terms of staging was saved till last, with Czech Republic’s We Are Domi. It oddly reminded me of Georgia’s staging in 2016 but removing the edgier rocky elements and adding in a cleaner look, befitting an EDM banger.

The lads either side of Dominika are surrounded by tech and vibe away throughout. Domi herself is strong enough vocally and is fully infused with the party vibe. The strobe lighting effects fill the arena and this will no doubt translate to the TV viewer at home. This will be the perfect closer come next Thursday night.

Dear Czech Republic…

And that’s it. We’ve now seen all our semi-finalists. Quick wee half day tomorrow, a rest on Sunday and then…we start keeping score.

Image Credi: EBU / Andres Putting

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