We are live in the Malmo arena for the second rehearsals of the Semi-Final 2 acts. As many have reported, the Internet in the Arena and the Press Center is very patchy. We seemed to have no issues yesterday, but today it’s quite the opposite. Luckily this has now been taken care of, so we shouldn’t have any other issues (hopefully!)
Check back and refresh as we will update this article as the artists perform one after another. We will also add video as soon as it’s uploaded.
The boys from Latvia are bringing energy. In the first run-through, they once again incorporate the lyrics of Grandmaster Flash’s “The Message.” The MC sends them praise saying “Good energy!” Nothing much has changed since the first rehearsal, although the energy they have should have no problem filling up the arena. However, during our interview with the Latvian delegation, Zita told us they would be stage diving right before the end of the show. A bunch of stagehands were there to make sure he didn’t to the floor thankfully or that could have been a disaster. There’s a bit of an extended break between the second and third run-through. The MC lets us know they had a problem with the steady cam. But it’s fixed and the MC asks us to give that cameraman a round of applause. The third run-through goes smoothly. One thing to note is that their beatboxing seemed really muted on the TV screens during the first rehearsal. But in the arena, it can be clearly heard. The MC jokes, “It’s going to be real exciting on Wednesday when we have the Eurovision school contest and it will be six year olds catching him.”
The MC announces, “Now we make space for San Marino.” Valentina walks out and a member of her delegation follows her with the illuminated globe. The whole arena goes dark except for the stage lights and lights hovering above us. As we wait, Valentina is practicing the first “ooooooh” in the song. As she starts, Valentina sounds great. The first rehearsal was deemed a bit messy by press but we thought it had to do with nerves. A member of the San Marino delegation told us that right after the press meet and greet, Valentina went right back to rehearsing. On Thursday, another member of the delegation told us she had been rehearsing day and night. The nerves seem to hit again as Valentina flubs her words during the transition from slow to fast tempo. Some members of the press laugh over this. However, she recovers and finishes strong. The uptempo portion sounds great and should get good crowd response from the live audience. A much better second run-through. It seems the issue with her vocals during the tempo change is that her backup dancers are trying to take her one layer of her dark dress off to reveal the bright red dress underneath. It affects her ability to hit the notes perfectly. The third run-through is spectacular. Everything works perfectly. No issues with the tempo change. If she can pull this off in the semi-final, we may see San Marino’s first qualification into the final. Valentina thanks everyone and leaves the stage.
The delegation is on stage. You can Esma offstage practicing her vocals. Even without the microphone, it’s pretty clear. The backup singers are in long flowly black dresses. Lozano is wearing a black suit, but more importantly, he’s singing in Macedonian. His strong voice sounds great in the arena. Esma comes out in a bright red dress similar to her promo pics. She looks spectacular, and sounds much better than the first rehearsal. While Lozano is on camera, Esma is off camera dancing her butt off. The only issue is backup singers and Esma are out of sync. It may be better for Esma to sing solo and have the backup singers come in with the chanting bit at the end.
We break for lunch and rehearsals start in an hour.
But before we go, check out Kristian’s first interview question at a press conference ever.
We are back from break and had the opportunity to go to San Marino’s press conference in the middle and I got to ask one of our reader’s questions to Valetina. Madame D’Eau, be on the look out for Valentina’s answer to your question.
The delegation enters and we get to see that red dress in person. Her train has to be over 50 feet long. She is helped into position by 2 stagehands. And during the entire performance before her entrance on camera, she stays seated on the bridge. Farid seems a lot more confident in this performance. After all, there was so much press buzz after his first rehearsal. At the end, the MC remarks, “Okay let’s open the box and get some air in.” The second run-through begins and the MC says, “Okay Alexander (the dancer in the box), big breath now.” “We will now fix the box up with water in this run.” This guy has a great dry sense of humor. No big changes in the second run-through, but at the beginning of the third run-through, the MC says, “I was wrong about the water. This time we will fill the box with Greek Yogurt.”
Krista has a lengthy conversation with one of the delegation members after setting up and prior to the first run-through. Her backup dancers and Krista chitchat as they wait for the music to start. The six on stage seem to be a very close bunch. Something is a bit off with the mixing. The bass and vocals are too prominent and you can barely hear the music. They fix it in the middle of the first chorus and what a difference it makes. The backdrop is clear and vivid. I know SVT has been bragging about how great the backdrop screen would look, and they had every right to! The costume change for the backup dancers from suitors to bridesmaids is so quick you have to watch very closely to notice. At the end of the song, Krista keeps the kiss with one backup singer, as the other four on stage cheer and scream. Krista then runs to the right side of the stage to mimic throwing her bouquet. Between the first and second run-through, the MC comes by the press box and brings espresso for us. Given the expected news of Apple releasing an iWatch, he’s already one step ahead: he’s got his iPhone attached around his wrist! The MC says, “I don’t think it’s coincidence our party man is from Finland. It’s affecting him very much.” The MC says before the third run-through, “And this time we want a real kiss. A real…hot…long kiss.” In the third run-through, pyrotechnics shoot from the top for a second into the final chorus. The MC laughs at the end of the kiss, and says “Thank you Krista. Thank you Finland!”
The MC notes, “And now onto another happy song…Malta!” The backdrop is like a YouTube lyrics video. Very cute and entertaining to watch. Gianluca is very laid back as a performer and at the middle eight, leaves the main stage to walk to the front stage. He meets up with the backup singers on a bench on the left side of the stage, reminiscent of the music video. On the second run-through, I finally notice the stagehands coming on to bring the bench right before they go to sit on it. The amount of work the stagehands do off camera is incredible. The MC notes, “The park bench was snagged from downtown Malmo. We will of course put it back when we are finished.”
Here come the drum sets. Elitsa is playing them prior to the set up. They seem very cool, calm, and collected. The music starts and the addition of the three backup singers adds good depth to the performance, both on screen and live in the arena. The backup dancer with the bagpipes was described at the press meet and greet as being skilled in fusing hip hop and folk dance. I assume the giant mask he wears in the final chorus must have some symbolism. Some may be confused by his presence, but the one thing you can’t criticize Bulgaria for is not having their songs include a part of their ethnic culture. On the second run-through, Elitsa drops her drumstick and misses out of the big drum solo. Still, she’s having fun and dances her way back into position. You can tell she is so happy to be back on the Eurovision stage. After the second run-through, there is a bit of the pause as Elitsa and Stoyan watch the playback, possibly to see what happened with the dropped drumstick. The third run-through is cleaner.
The MC says, “Let’s make room for Iceland…or maybe not” because the staging is very minimal. In the arena, you get a better view of the backdrop. It’s quite simple but gorgeous. Iceland really does excel in their backdrops. You see a lighthouse in the left part of the backdrop spinning its light around. A nice touch. The one thing I notice is that the houses in the background look small compared to him, but in the arena, they are huge! From my view, they tower over him. So an optical illusion it seems. Vocally, Eyþór sounds phenomenal. On the second run-through, he tries on a white blazer instead of the black blazer he wore in the first run-through. And on the third run-through, he’s back in black. They seem pretty confident with his vocals, and are instead figuring out the visuals.
The MC notes that “We now have Greece and they are following in the Scottish tradition that they have nothing under their skirts.” They come out on stage and seem to be tuning their instruments. Their outfits look like a mix between kilts and soccer/football outfits. A fun performance with the guys from Koza Mostra taking full advantage of the stage. They have a good number of Greek fans here cheering them on so they have the loudest applause of the day so far. Agathon continues jamming during the break between run-throughs. Sounds good from the arena. Three good run-throughs. The MC announces, “And later on at Euroclub tonight, these boys will show what’s under their skirts.”
Big cheers for Israel’s arrival on stage. Maybe it’s me, but the bottom of the dress seems a bit more fuller than last time. As the MC announces “Standby for Israel,” the Israeli fans cheer. This is what I like about Eurovision: seeing fans so excited to see their acts rehearse, and letting the artists have good support throughout. And the fans are very vocal. Cheering at every opportunity they can. She sounds amazing in the arena. Being the only Hebrew song, linguistically, it will stand out. The fans erupt once again when she hits the high note. It’s hard to tell who got the bigger applause: Greece or Israel. Very loyal fans present. Three solid run-throughs and the fans chant “Moran.” Some Spanish
As the song starts, there is some smoke effects going on. Gor has a gift with doing vocal runs. It’s amusing because he his singing voice is quite loud yet when he speaks, he’s very soft spoken. You can barely hear the backup singers though. At the instrumental break, flames come in and surround the band. They return at the finale of the song. There seems to be some confusion. The MC mistook the second run-through as the third run-through. So they bring Dorians back on stage to do a final run-through but without the pyrotechnics. Well wait, they changed their mind. Michael, who the MC refers to as the pyro guy, is giving them pyro for the third run-through as well, probably to make up for the slip of mind. As Armenia performs, we see some people come in with FAMILY passes. The artists are even getting support from their families in attendance. Awesome!
Twenty stagehands come on stage to take off all of Dorian’s instruments. It takes all but 20 seconds. What’s always impressed me was Eurovision’s slick production in getting one act set up after another in such a short amount of time. There’s a bit of a wait for Hungary to set up. They’re running a few minutes late. They get on stage and start the first run-through. For a second the backdrop is not working correctly but that is quickly corrected. On the screens, the backdrop, which has the lyrics displayed, come out very clearly. In the arena, they are a bit blurry as they run quickly from right to left. Still, visually stunning. I can’t help but watch it more than ByeAlex. But the song is very catchy. I’ve got many press members humming it here and there.
The light show for Norway is amazing in the arena. Her dress is the same as the National Selection, but as she explained in the press meet and greet, has Swarovski crystals on her shoulders. Margaret sounds great. And the staging is simple, yet effective. Just her, her three backup dancers, and the drummer. On the screen, they are using a lot of good camera angles so the performance should be more dynamic for viewers at home. On the first run-through, she was a bit flat on the first few lines, but has corrected this in the second run-through. Things seem very calm and collected during the breaks. This delegation looks confident about the performance. Three strong performances. The MC seems to have less funny comments. He is probably exhausted!
They announce a dinner break and we’ll be back in an hour.
And we’re back. The MC is sounding a bit tired of this. It is 1945pm Swedish time after all and we still have four more rehearsals to go through
The staging is bright red and orange with a lot of spinning lights. The drums are strong in the recording; you could mistake them as live. Bledar and Adrian’s vocals sound very muted on the first run-through. This is corrected by the second verse. Bledar moves to the front stage to do his guitar solo. Bledar, Adrian and company hang out on stage as the break occurs. The second run-through is cleaner. The camera work on-screen is nice with a lot of varying shots that pan the stage. Between the second and third rehearsal, you can hear the musician on the orchestral percussions (that is the big drums) practicing his part. The MC notes that no changes have been made for Albania’s pyrotechnics. So we see the smoke geysers in person They are quite loud in the arena. We also get to see in person the pyrotechnics that spit out of Bledar’s guitar during his solo. Wow, they actually had fireworks go off in the arena. The press went nuts!
Georgia has seemed to cut out the first bits of the piano intro, like they pressed “PLAY” and then turned the volume up. Sophe and Nodi stand on stage facing opposite directions on a dark stage. At the first chorus, the backdrop lights up to shades of blue. At the second verse, they stand together. Some of the strongest voices in the competition, and sounding great in the arena. But perhaps maybe a bit too loud. In the final chorus, they do a strange move where she leans back on him. Some people behind me that have been speaking Spanish scream, “Pastora!” from behind as the song ends, but it is muted out by the loud applause from those watching. In the first rehearsal, I remember thinking their facial expressions were looking strained. This time around, their faces are much more relaxed. Sophe is smiling. Nodi’s face is less tense. And this is without the pyrotechnics! These get added in the third run-through. In the second verse, you really start to notice the dry ice/smoke effects on the ground. Smoke geysers come up at the big note, followed by a shower of pyrotechnics. Looks amazing in the arena! It’s hard to say which country used the pyrotechnics effect better, Denmark or Georgia. Good showing from Georgia.
The six members of Takasa line up in a row to perform “You and Me.” The chorus is very anthemic and fills the arena very nicely. The backdrop looks like a wooden fence up close with what looks like to be shattered glass on top of it. There really is not much else to say about it, performance wise, as they are pretty much standing in one place for the entire three minutes. In the second run-through, in the middle of the first stanza, the music shuts off, so they starts over. The second run-through is vocally better.
Romania quickly comes up on stage to get in place. Cezar’s outfit is sparkling even with the minimal lighting on the stage. There is a lot of complex dancing going on as Cezar remains on center stage. His countertenor vocals really do fill up the arena well. The addition of the backup singer, who’s also a pretty talented singer, helps add depth. In the middle eight, Cezar rises a la Aliona Moon, and a fourth backup dancer appears. Confetti and pyrotechnics come in the final chorus. A good closer to Semi Final 2.
“We’re over by 10 seconds. Sorry for the delay of 10 seconds after 17 songs,” the MC sarcastically notes.
We have a press meet and greet with the Big 5 + Sweden tomorrow. And an interview with Valentina Monetta tomorrow afternoon.