As I’ve been moving around Belgrade there are places where the presence of Eurovision is prominent – and the logo as been plastered all over the place. On my way to the press centre yesterday I managed to snatch a photo of the billboards dotted around the city – given that I’ve posted some low quality images (I’m no photographer) the one below isn’t too bad… we were travelling on a tram at the time.
So far I have not really got a feel for Belgrade, as much of my activities have been based at the press centre and Beograd Arena. That should change over the next couple of days as there are fewer rehearsals and our commitments free us up. I’m staying in an apartment in old Belgrade, and I have to cross the Sava (via a bridge, you understand) to get to the new part – where the conference facilities and Arena are. So far we have all agreed that we are being well treated, and the cost of living is generously in our favour. Can you imagine getting a taxi at 2.00am and paying only four quid? Anyway, the main duty of the day (Tuesday) was to attend the final dress rehearsal at 1400hrs.
The two-hour run through was much slicker than the first rehearsal, and as you can see (below) we have really good seats – although probably just outside of the camera pan by a couple of rows if you are going to look for me during the broadcasts (we have seats to the left of the stage, second block of seats on the front row – worth paying £250 for a whole-week package!) This was the scene moments before the start:
Whilst it might look we have an obscured view, the cameras do move! I only took a couple of shots – I’ll get more at the next semi-final as that’s the more interesting group of songs, where qualification will be tough! I adore the Bosnian song, so I wanted to capture a moment of the magical madness on stage…
There is a stunning set design for Finland, and with all the impressive pyrotechnics it’ll be sure to get to the final (mind you, it’s a complete rip-off of Lordi – the Finnish winning entry from 2005)…
And so to the events of last night… My last post included my predictions for the semi-final last night – and if I’m right that means that I got 9/10. Not bad! This ‘Eurovision expert’ seems to have got it right for once (or as I said during an interview with Liverpool radio station citytalk.fm, ‘I know my bacon’). I have to say that being in the Beograd Arena really does change your perspective on the songs – and it underlines just how crucial performance can be. We’ve seen a few songs undermined by bizarre staging, and even more bizarre-looking performers… and we’ve seen some excellent performers perform song excellent songs very well!
Reflecting on the events of last night I think that ALL the right songs got through. I can imagine what Terry Wogan will be saying – that the attempts to stop block voting haven’t worked. Well if that’s what’s being said then personally I think it’s rubbish – the best SONGS got through on the night. The fact that the only Western song to qualify was Norway, for me, is incidental. The semi-final itself was really great – although I am sitting next to a guy from The Netherlands who was a bit crestfallen when they didn’t qualify. Here’s a few observations from my seat in the arena:
Bosnia and Greece went really, really big in the hall. In fact I think that there is a good chance that Greece will have the edge over hot favourite Russia – did you hear the chants for Greek singer Kalomira? (and it’d be nice to go to Athens for the Contest next year!). Also, could you tell at home that the Russian song was actually booed within the arena at the start? You will definitely have heard Dustin the Turkey getting booed – but it has been said that the main portion of that booing was coming from the Greek fans. After the Contest had gone off-air Dima Bilan (Russia) was behaving like he had won the grand final, not the semi-final – and having seen him behaving in a slightly distasteful manner, I’d quite like for him not to win.
Viva Bosnia! Viva Kalomira! Better luck next time, Dustin…
Bring-on the next phase and (if you can cope) semi-final number two!