Surprise, surprise it’s semi two here…

It was my second and final visit of the week to the Eurovision mothership on Wednesday evening, for the second semi-final (SF2) preview performance.

There is something really quite special about the approach to an ESC venue, every time that I have been over the years. It’s probably due to the inescapable host theme branding guiding us to the bubble.

We were spared the rain of Monday evening, and given that we knew where to go to enjoy our VIP hospitality once again, we breezed through security to enjoy the buzzing atmosphere, as well as the bevvies and scran in the hospitality area…

I missed the smorgasbord of desert bites on Monday night – didn’t make that mistake last night!

Someone better call Strictly…

Having soaked up the atmosphere and the various treats in the VIP, we were off to the arena proper…

What a lovely view across the Mersey…

We had slightly better seats for this preview – just slightly to the left of where we were on Monday. It’s a fantastic setting, one of the best I’ve been to…

The atmosphere in the arena seemed even more excitable than Monday. Every song got cheered to the rafters. Probably a sense of giddiness and relief that those of us in the arena were relieved that we’ve managed to get tickets in the scrum that we were all put through! And with one minute to go, all the young folks sat around us became even more giddy…

We were lucky enough to once again have a great view of the countries in the green room…

Presenters Hannah, Alesha and Julia did a great job once again. Everything seemed to a lot more fast paced, and there was less fannying about with skits in the green room. There was a brief appearance from Graham Norton in his commentary box, so he was in the building (was he pre-recoded for Thursday night?).

I haven’t seen any of the music videos or rehearsal performance footage, so seeing everything for the first-time last night was really fresh. That said, here are a few first impressions from me on a few stagings of the songs…

Denmark’s wee boy, Reiley, opened the proceedings with a catchy little pop number. With his boyish cute looks and his pop idol pastel stylings, it inhabits some of the BTS territory that they have used in the past. Looks great on camera and on stage…

Lovely to see the reaction from the Danish delegation (his team) in the green room. The boy did good, so wave those flags!

As always at the ESC, we get those throwback songs that get us all misty for who we were back in the day, for what we were wearing, what we were feeling, and for this next song – what we were dancing to. Pass me my C&C Music Factory cassette, locate my lycra cycling shorts (oh, no don’t!), and make me feel like I can Vogue with Madonna like we all tried in 1990! Belgium’s entry will give those of us of a certain age a chance to get all nostalgic for the 1990s!

(you can tell I like it by the number of pics! )

To be fair, it gave the entire arena life! I loved it. The staging – and the images on the backdrop were very effective. Get ready for a bop!

Amongst the songs tonight there are adequate opportunities to refresh your drinks and top up those nibbles (you know what I mean). One part of the running order loses a bit of momentum, but overall it was a very enjoyable SF2 without any of the main front runners taking part  (perhaps with the exception of Austria gathering popularity and improving in the betting odds).

After the run through of the sixteen semi-finalists, as on Monday we were treated to a full performance of three automatic qualifiers: this time Spain, Ukraine and United Kingdom. Spain is well fancied, but I just don’t get it. Ukraine is stylistically very well presented, and I like the song (noticeably different in sound and vibe to last year). And then there was really only one song to finish with – yes, our homegirl Mae Muller. I’ve loved it since my first listen…

You will hear a new mix of her song – much like what happened with Sam Ryder’s Eurovision performance of his song last year. You might not be hearing what you were expecting, if you have been bopping along to I wrote A Song for the last few months. It is confidently staged, with effective images and graphics on the backdrop. My one observation looking at the monitors in the arena is that the impressive visuals at times will not be seen on the tv screen, cropping Mae and her dancers out of what’s going in in the bigger (impressive) picture. There will be no national embarrassment for the UK this year, but don’t expect the Sam Ryder success of last year, I would say.

We left our seats before the pretend voting sequence, which aided an easy escape, and to us beating the crowds leaving the arena..

I am sure some of you have already had a photo opportunity around the city, and here…

So, for tonight the runners and riders for SF2 are…

01 🇩🇰 Denmark: Reiley with Breaking My Heart

02 🇦🇲 Armenia: Brunette with Future Lover

03 🇷🇴 Romania: Theodor Andrei with D.G.T. (Off and On)

04 🇪🇪 Estonia: Alika with Bridges

05 🇧🇪 Belgium: Gustaph with Because Of You

06 🇨🇾 Cyprus: Andrew Lambrou with Break A Broken Heart

07 🇮🇸 Iceland: Diljá with Power

08 🇬🇷 Greece: Victor Vernicos with What They Say

09 🇵🇱 Poland: Blanka with Solo

10 🇸🇮 Slovenia: Joker Out with Carpe Diem

11 🇬🇪 Georgia: Iru with Echo

12 🇸🇲 San Marino: Piqued Jacks with Like An Animal

13 🇦🇹 Austria: Teya & Salena with Who The Hell Is Edgar?

14 🇦🇱 Albania: Albina & Familja Kelmendi with Duje

15 🇱🇹 Lithuania: Monika Linkytė with Stay

16 🇦🇺 Australia: Voyager with Promise

BTW, the UK can vote tonight – ‘citing.

Look out for the final interval interval act – giving us all life and slaying the runway!

One final thing for now is that the running order for the grand final is causing some speculation and comment. A lot of the hot faves have been drawn to perform in the first half of grand final. This means that France, Finland and Sweden must be performed by song thirteen. Let’s see what happens tonight, and who progresses, and then how the EBU sequence the grand final – which we will know by the early hours of Friday morning.

More on all of that tomorrow…

насолоджуйтесь сьогодні ввечері!

(enjoy yourselves tonight!)

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