The heat is on…

It’s not just the Contest that is hotting up. The weather has been a scorcher.  Moving around the two cities, and between the press centre and the arena, you can feel the heat.  Upwards of 29/30 degrees today.  Luckily, the press centre is well ventilated – otherwise there would be blood, sweat and tears both backstage and in our working area!

Today (Monday) saw the business end of the week begin – it was the first dress rehearsal of the first semi-final. It’s the first full run through of all the acts back-to-back. As a result the press centre was noticeably busier…

At 3.00pm the usual German efficiency seemed to have evaporated with the heat, as quite uncharacteristically the dress rehearsal started late. It’s important that the three rehearsals are treated “as live”, so that the timings are kept to schedule, in preparation for the broadcast on Tuesday evening.  BTW: you guys can follow the action on BBC3 at 8.00pm.  Make sure you tune-in… there will be a quiz!

From our allotted seats, here’s (I’m sounding like a broken record already) the stunning stage…

Is it me, or does it look the the Starship Enterprise a wee bit?  That’s the front of the arena, here’s the rest of the huge arena (66,000 seats)…

I’ll review the songs for you in a short while – so you can watch with an informed eye and ear tomorrow. But in keeping with the sci-fi theme, here’s an image from the Azerbaijan entry.  I think it looks like the spaceship in E.T. …

All in all it was a smooth dress rehearsal, with only a slight wobble as the Icelandic entry took their places: the stage hands had a delay and couldn’t quite assemble their set in the allotted time.  A slight pause and we were back in action.

What you guys don’t see – and what I have never seen before – is that as the acts take their place on the huge stage there is a green laser which guides them to their position – they are quite literally on point as the songs begin. Another laser projects the countdown before each song begins. It’s fascinating to see all the stage hands rush the stage and do a seamless changeover – how they do it all within 50 seconds is quite amazing.

I left the press centre 19:10 local time, with Karen off to the Irish reception with Jedward.  As Karen writes for The Irish Times she gets that gig to get the scoop and file a story for them.  Word has it that they are going to win. I just can’t see it, but then what does Edge Hill’s very own “Eurovision Expert” know anyway! John Cater once introduced me to Jennifer Saunders and Tanya Byron as that, and Jennifer Saunders looked bemused and thought he was joking!

After an eventful day I made the long trip back to Cologne. I think we’re getting the hang of it – it took just over an hour today. I’m actually quite pleased with myself.  I know that you know that I’m an intelligent bloke, and I get things done, but if you expect me to get from A to B in the UK I’ll probably get lost.  So to navigate my way back here – on the edge of nowhere, was quite a relief!

The ERN events are being finalised, with Karen doing a cracking job of sorting locations and the final speakers. Toni has asked me to contribute to the event on Thursday at Fachhochschule Düsseldorf, University of Applied Sciences. It’s “ESC as TV”.  My paper that I’m delivering on Saturday crosses over between Eurovision and the ‘New Europe” session and that event, so I’m happy to contribute to both.  More on that later in the week (see more here: http://www.macromedia-fachhochschule.de/esc/home.html).

Right, back to the music…