Greetings from the host city of Eurovision!
I have travelled to Liverpool with my euro-buddy Brian Singleton, my travel companion to now nine ESC host cities (and often mentioned on the blog over the years). We have have been welcomed by my dear friend, and our host for the rest of the week in the grounds of Liverpool Anglican Catherdral, Reverend Canon Dr Ellen Loudon. Some colleagues and friends may remember Ellen as a former member of the Performing Arts department, as a Senior Lecturer in Drama. Ellen left EHU in 2006 to train as a priest in the Church of England , and how brilliantly she has done in her career since then to become Director of Social Justice and Canon Chancellor for the Anglican Catherdral. Thanks for hosting us, Ellen!
On Monday evening Brian and I attended the first public preview performance of the first semi-final (SF1). Approaching the arena the now familiar host theme branding is everywhere – signalling the approach to the mothership!
We queued for the VIP hospitality package, and when we arrived it was amazing…
This was a premium experience that came at a premium price – we got what we paid for, and rest assured that this was not on EHU’s dollar! It was a very special start to the evening. We do it all again on Wednesday evening. Like Loreal, we’re worth it…
Following the fabulous food and drinks we took our seats, and in keeping with a very good experience – had a really good view of the stage. The arena and setting as a whole looked stunning…
We had a great view of the green room where the artists take their seats after each performance. Directly in front of us were Malta, Norway, Finland and Ireland.
There are fifteen songs competing in SF1, sixteen in SF2. Thirty seven songs in total including the ‘Big five’ and Ukraine. Slightly lower than in previous years.
The running of SF1 will give you a good flow of tempo and musical textures, although there are very few ballads in SF1. A bit of ethnopop (but not a lot) and the usual Coldplay-lite song in the mix (you will know when you hear it). And there are the generic pop bangers from female singers that you know already even though you have never heard them before. Overall, enough good songs to get ten songs through to the Grand Final on Saturday.
There is more than just a whiff of songs pointing to the reality of the war in Ukraine – see if you pick up on the subtle and not so subtle messaging on this tonight.
Our runners and riders for this evening are:
01 Norway: Alessandra with Queen of Kings
02 Malta: The Busker with Dance (Our Own Party)
03 Serbia: Luke Black Samo with Mi Se Spava (Само ми се спава)
04 Latvia: Sudden Lights with Aijā
05 Portugal: Mimicat with Ai Coração
06 Ireland: Wild Youth with We Are One
07 Croatia: Let 3 with Mama ŠČ!
08 Switzerland: Remo Forrer with Watergun
09 Israel: Noa Kirel with Unicorn
10 Moldova: Pasha Parfeni Soarele și Luna
11 Sweden: Loreen with Tattoo
12 Azerbaijan: TuralTuranX with Tell Me More
13 Czechia: Vesna with My Sister’s Crown
14 The Netherlands: Mia Nicolai and Dion Cooper with Burning Daylight
15 Finland: Käärijä with Cha Cha Cha
Below are a few dodgy pics from me with some observations from what we saw on Monday evening and what you will see tonight (8pm BBC1 in the UK)…
Ireland were left stranded on stage as their performance was preceded by a pre-filmed segment. Worth the wait, and you will see that Elvis is in the building…
Israel give us a very clever optical illusion in the choreo and staging at the start of the performance. Singer Noa is static on stage, but with the optical illusion you’ll think she’s spinning. Very clever, but we have seen this done before – think Sergei at ESC 2016 when he did it on a bigger scale. Ah, the magic of telly!
You will be delighted with the staging of the hot faves: Sweden and Finland. Returning champ from 2012, Loreen is giving an ethereal and impassioned moody performance, with moody lighting and fog. Brillianlty done…
Finland’s Käärijä is the opposite – full throttle, and as he has said “It’s crazy. It’s party!”. Which it is. It’s bonkers. Good bonkers for me, and it’s been a bop on my playlist since I was asked to be on the UK jury voting for the eventual Finnish entry, back in February.
One funny comment that I heard from the row behnd me was when one of the interval acts, Rita Ora, came on stage to do her medley. The chap said, “Does Rita Ora think she’s making a comeback?”. He made me chuckle. She did a good job with an army of dancers.
BTW, the presenters are all really good this year (thankfully), and the script is well written and naturally funny. Hannah Waddingham is especially good after her triumph hosting The Olivier Awards recently. It’s girl power all the way and Graham Norton doesn’t appear until the Grand Final (not really sure why he his needed, but hey…).
So that’s it from me for now. I will report back on Wednesday on what we learnt from SF1. You will enjoy the show – newly promoted (obviously) to BBC1 this year for both of the semi-finals. This will mean that more people will know more of the songs come Saturday night.
Enjoy the show, eurochums! Predict away your ‘napkin of death’ with who you think are the top ten songs going through. I’m less inclined to do that these days, so I probably won’t. We’ll see when the gin and fanta kicks-in tonight! 😉
Oh, and one last thing, what was the view out of your bedroom window this morning? This was mine…
(have a good night!)