The quiet before the storm

Day seven in Belgade (Friday)

There is a new energy around here today because we’ve got the preliminary part of the ESC over, and we can now focus on who is actually going to win this bloomin’ thing.  After being here for almost a week I’m not sure I can call it. There’s no way I’d have put Portugal in the mix, but following a great job in the semis it would appear to be the one to watch… still got good odds at 28/1.

I went to the arena today to watch the first rehearsal of the final.  The auditorium was more busy that it has been at any previous rehearsal, which is to be expected as for the first time the ‘big four’ (UK, France, Germany, Spain) and host country Serbia were performing – and also people will be judging all the songs against each other from here on in.

I was up early (again) to do two follow-up interviews with Radio Lancashire and citytalk.fm. Both went OK. BBC radio 5 Live had also requested an interview – but at 6.50am local time (that’s 5.50am your time). Let’s put it this way, with everything that I’ve done this week I couldn’t quite fit that in!  Also, I was contacted by BBC Northwest Tonight to do a live satellite link-up from Belgrade as their final story of the week, but they didn’t have enough money to pay for Sputnick!

A view from the arena today…

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Our hosts, who are now known as Will and Grace, continue to have no obvious chemistry. He’s not so bad, but you should see her face when she’s not on camera – she has a face like a slapped ar$5…

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I sat right in front of the stage for the rehearsal today and it was great to see Andy Abraham give an energetic performance.  It actually got a great reception in the hall. But let’s get real, whilst you’ll love his performance, we’ll be lucky to get to the middle of the table – and the curse of the ‘big 4’ might mean he doesn’t crack the top 20 – which would be really cruel!  Go Andy…

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Bonkers Bosnia also continues to impress. I’m sure that you all at home see more of the subtlety to the staging (bits to camera) than we do in the arena, but they’ve done a great job passing off something that should be a car-crash as something that is really quite entertaining.  A slight technical difficulty at the start of their performance left Laka (the male singer) trapped in the clothes basket. You can see the floor manager talking to him to give him his cue, and the steadi-cam man to the left him – that’s the first camera angle you see on the female singer…

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Still, at least whilst we waited for the technical problem to be fixed she could get on with some laundry…

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Boaz for Israel continues to impress. Amongst all the hyperactivity there is in this competition this year, Boaz is an oasis of calm. At times when I watch the song it does make me feel quite emotional… I really hope he does well – it’s not going to win… too many other big guns, I think.

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Sirusho is still belting out ‘Quele, Quele’ with an infectious energy. It’ll do very well for Armenia, but there are too many girls doing the same thing this year – and there seems to be only Ani Lorak (Ukraine) who is noticeable because of that awesome choreography.

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Portugal has been a sleeper of the competition for many of us – but having seen it on stage a few times it really is very good.  The audience will go barmy for this on Saturday night, so it’ll be interesting to see if the viewers of Europe agree…

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And as for Germany, No Angels performed a totally underwhelming song with underwhelmeing delivery and flat vocals – I was being distracted by the wind machines, which surely isn’t a good sign…

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One last thought for this post.  I’ve been given an awful lot of free stuff this week, and I can see how people get seduced by all the freebies.  It’s mainly a blatant attempt to coerce good copy from us all, and I’m sure that for some people it works.  For others it will be an opportunity to make a few quid – it’ll all end up on e-bay… mind you, I have an expensive trip to pay for!  Here’s some of my favourite freebies so far…

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Nice, eh?  When I arrived at the press centre today to check my pigeon hole, I was given what appeared to be a bag of take-away food…

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It looks like that, right!?  It is, in fact, a promotional bag from Azerbaijan with a t-shirt, cd, dvd and other stuff.  Like I said in a radio interview this week – some of these countries are in-it-to-win-it, and Azerbaijan and Georgia in particular are doing all they can to curry votes in this way.  Do you see what I did there – it looked like a take-away and they were trying to curry my votes…

Perhaps there is such a thing as too much Eurovision!

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