From Wurst, the best…

Thursday brought with it the second semi-final of ESC2014. It also brought with it more cloudy and damp weather. A bit of a mooch in Copenhagen found us at City Hall, which opened the Contest last Sunday evening.

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As in Malmö last year, there is a countdown clock to the final on Saturday which is located next to City Hall. Every day brings us closer to finding our winning song for 2014, and a host country for 2015. Such is the perpetual nature of the Eurovision Song Contest, the dates for next year have already been announced – and if I remember correctly we will be back in the ‘bubble’ slightly later next year.

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I have previously mentioned the Eurovision Village and Fan Mile. I’m not entirely sure what criteria they are being measured by. True, there are lots of people moving around the city who are here for the Eurovision, but the fan mile does *nothing* to add to their experience. As you can see, the corporate bunting is up, but all it does is lead us through the high street, past designer shops, fast food joints, and tourist shops. Not exactly inspiring stuff!

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Take a look at the photo below. Is this Copenhagen readying itself for roadworks in the city centre?

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Nope, it is part of a Guinness Book of Records attempt to make the longest kissing chain ever. Slightly random, isn’t it. I’ll have to check whether the record attempt was successful. In that rain, I’d be surprised!

Arriving for the semi-final last night, the weather was being suitably unkind as the heavens opened…

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There are plenty of rainbow flags here in Denmark this week, and as if to acknowledge that, Mother Nature did her bit. I don’t think I have even seen a double rainbow before. Such was the weather is lasted for at least 20 minutes…

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Inside the main entrance, the 10,000 strong audience were being greeted by supporters of Austria’s artist, Conchita Wurst. It was a really fun thing to do: we were given a free hug as we arrived. It was a nice touch. There is a lot of love for Conchita Wurst. As I mentioned in my earlier review of this semi-final, the song is great, and the fact that the artist is anything other than conventional is really incidental. #JoinUs, #WeAreInclusive…

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I know I have mentioned the rather ramshackle approach to the organisation of the event this year. You saw the rather humorous image of the merchandise stand next to the waste bin, well here is further evidence of a rather underwhelming approach to customer service.  Here is the ticket help desk..

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Back in the arena there was a more energized buzz for the second semi-final…

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We had great seats once again. As you looked a the stage I was sitting by the walkway arrow to the right of the stage as you look at it, with a great view of the artists when they came off stage…

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It was a great show. On both the ‘expert’ napkin of death and my own I got 9 out of 10 songs. I only got Israel wrong, and left Poland out. Did you see what I meant with Poland – it’s filthy, isn’t it! Finland and Greece were fab, good for Malta, fantastic that Norway got through, Romania – dull but predictable.

Last night, if you were to have asked me what my favourite Eurovision memory is since attending for the first in 2008, it would be an easy choice. When Belgrade played host to ESC2008, they did a great job. On the evening of the final I heard a reaction to a song that I have never heard before, or since: it was the hometown cheer for their own Serbian entry. Actually it wasn’t a cheer, it was a roar – a wall of sound that would make the hair on the back of your neck stand-up. It was amazing. It might be because it was my first final that I remember it so vividly, but it was more special than that – it was being amongst the energy and emotion of that crowd – it was truly breathtaking.

Ask me today what’s my favourite moment – it was the performance from Conchita Wurst last night. Well, actually it was her performance and, once again, the reaction (and indeed performance) of the audience. It was a-ma-zing. I’m sure you guys at home could hear the reaction of the audience throughout (I watched it back on You Tube!). The ovation started as she took to the stage, and it pretty much lasted throughout – I have never seen or heard the like before. The reaction was extraordinary – and that’s what made is extra special for me. I am proud that I was part of the whooping and the hollering!

I think the reaction represented more than just the buoyant good will of the LGBT community – it’s going much further than that. Take a look at the betting odds today and Conchita is now third favourite (previously she was 10th). Clearly there is momentum building for this song. Part of it is because of the artist and the LGBT support she will have around Europe, it is also probably partly due to anti-Russia sentiments and attitudes to sexual equality. Also, because it’s a really good song (like I said, Bond Theme much). I think the television presentation was fantastic too – the ‘spidercam’ shot from the back of the arena to the close-up on Conchita was inspired. And the phoenix flame wings at the end looked really cool. I will remember that moment for a long time.

The television producers did their bit to add to the drama by leaving the announcement of Austria progressing to the final until the end. Great stuff. Live telly, eh! There was clear relief and excitement for the finalists, and the ‘walk of shame’ for the not-so-famous-five countries…

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We now turn our attention to the Grand Final. Indeed, I was on BBC Radio Lancashire early doors this morning discussing just that – was anyone listening at 7.20am?!

I will be back at the arena today for the Grand Final dress rehearsal, where for the first time, the ‘big five’ plus hosts Denmark will be in the mix. I would expect that the UK odds will narrow later today, as will Denmark. I still think that they will do the double, and an each-way bet might well reward you with a dividend. I don’t bet, but if I did there are too many good songs, this year and this whole thing is wide open. It’s great fun though…

More reaction to the final later…

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