Tonight the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest kicks off with the first semi final in Liverpool. I don’t think I’ll ever fully comprehend that’s actually a thing that’s happening. This is still Ukraine’s party, just round Liverpool’s gaff. It’s a party both Ukrainians and Scousers can be proud of. So let me take you through what to expect from the first night of this incredible show.

The opening film is a poignant one, filled with influences of Merseyside and Ukraine. Lots of familiar faces connected with both areas will pop up, including one particularly moving appearance that may cause a tear or two given recent events. This leads into a beautiful routine from two young dancers, further highlighting the connection the two cities.

This is followed by a rocking performance from one of our three hosts, Julia Sanina, of Ukrainian band The Hardkiss. She is joined by Alesha Dixon and Ted Lasso star, Hannah Waddingham. Eurovision has had it’s fair share of iconic hosts over the years, and as of tonight Ms. Waddingham will be joining the esteemed list. The trio work well together…almost a shame they mess up with the formula later in the week.

Another element that reminds the view of the unique hosting situation we find ourselves is the postcards. Each postcard contains three elements with a theme running through throughout. They open in a location in Ukraine, then on to a similar location here in the UK before finding the artist enjoying something fun in their own country. The best example is the Finnish postcard and Croatia is the funniest. But to be fair, everything Croatia does is hilarious so no surprises there.

Whatever you think based on this picture, it actually gets weirder.

I’ve already discussed this in my prediction post from yesterday but this is a ridiculously tough semi-final. Never before has there been a semi-final where I haven’t disliked a single song until now. Although there are definitely a couple of weaker options that will struggle to make it through there really is something for everyone is amongst this bunch.

Even in this most competitive of semi-finals the big name act is Sweden’s Loreen. The 2012 winner returns attempting to claim a record equalling seventh, enraging Ireland in the process. She goes into the Contest as the bookies favourites and will likely sail through. It’s not all easy going for the all conquering Swedes, with a hilarious dig in the script from Graham Norton and a reminder of their single non-qualifer in a quiz between former hosts Måns Zelmerlöw and Filomena Cautela.

Can’t see many Swedes looking like this come 10pm tonight

Once we’ve had all the competing entries there is the most wonderful interval act featuring Rebecca Ferguson & Ukraine’s 2010 entry, Aloysha. The pair perform a rendition of Duran Duran’s Ordinary World that brought this particular writer to tears the first time seeing it live. The vocals are complemented by stunning visuals that tell a heartbreaking, but beautiful, story.

Rita Ora will also be performing.

Then after all that we will lose our first five competing nations. There was supposed to be an all new, exciting Strictly/X Factor style vote reveal with all acts on stage and the ten qualifiers announced. Leaving the five dropping out just to shuffle off the stage alone, with the support of their delegations around them. Mercifully this needlessly cruel act has been ditched and we return to the standard green room reveals.

However it’s unveiled, five will fall and ten will progress. The hunt for the successor to Kalush Orchestra is so nearly underway.

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