It was a record breaking turnout for this year’s Eurovision In Concert, held at the Melkweg venue in central Amsterdam. Belgium’s Blanche was a late no-show due to illness. After her two previous live performances, the vagueness of ‘illness’ hides what could be the primary flaw in Belgium’s entry this year. Anyway, 34 of this year’s Eurovision hopefuls duly entertained the crowd. You can watch the videos here.
Here’s a blow-by-blow account in running order…
Ireland’s Brendan Murray opened the evening giving a slightly more vocally assured performance, though he’s still struggling to hit some of the big notes. I still don’t know what to make of his voice, and while his slightly shy demeanour appeals, the high-pitched vocal is a tad overpowering.
Confidence wasn’t an issue for Manel, performing Do It For Your Lover. No issues here, but we know exactly what we’re getting from Spain. The crowd lost interest after the first chorus and I feel this will be the case in May. Still bottom-5 for me.
Tamara did her best to polish Keep The Faith, but this peace ballad schtick is so old hat now. She started by enthusiastically encouraging the crowd to sing along. They were having none of it. She’s a vocal powerhouse, but musically, Georgia’s song belongs in the outhouse.
Fusedmarc’s Viktorija is still wearing that red mac and sporting a strange erection of hair on her head. The crowd didn’t really get Rain of Revolution and I doubt Eurovision juries and televoters will either. Lithuania can’t make the final, can they?
I listened to Kasia Moś from the toilet and she was on remarkably good form. She is prone to grunting like a club singer, though. Poland are doing the right things, for now.
Finally a bit of life. Norway’s JOWST got the Melkweg moving and Grab The Moment is a genuine fan favourite. The chorus remains the Achilles heel where the slick energy of the verses seems to run out of steam. We know they’ll be great on the Eurovision stage, so no worries here.
“It’s the female version of That Sounds Good To Me” was my description of Germany. It’s so safe, so bland and so coming bottom-5.
Lindita suffered one false start which sort of got the audience involved. That interest dissipated rapidly and Albania look set to struggle in semi-final 1.
Hungary went big and it’s such a surprise to see a niche song get such a positive reaction. As long as the juries give Origo the recognition it deserves, Joci could be on for a solid left-hand side finish in May. Another big reaction came for Finland. I assumed the crowd had lost interest half way through, but they were genuinely captivated. Leena left her hair natural and appeared less austere. Good move.
The SunStroke Project are real pros; they’re slick, confident, and crucially, likeable. Moldova should be making the final with the catchy Hey Mamma! Beyond that hinges on whether the staging appears fun, or tacky.
Lots of playback assistance for Switzerland. Miruna also advertised her Romanian heritage at the end of the song. It’s a good ploy. She needs to concentrate on vocals, as she has the potential to crack at jury rehearsal.
Having already drafted my semi-final previews, I feel I should adjust my comments for Slovenia. Omar didn’t come across as cheesy as his recently released video and definitely looks capable of singing himself into contention. Likewise, San Marino’s duo of Valentina Monetta and Jimmie Wilson also impressed. Despite dripping with Ralph Siegel’s cheese, the chemistry and vocal confidence of these two has the potential to cause an upset in May. And great vocals also helps Claudia Faniello; there’s lots for the juries to like here. Maybe Malta will attract honest jury support this year?
Imri was much better for Israel, having suffered ear-piece issues in Tel Aviv midweek. He’s not setting the scoreboard alight, but should qualify with ease.
Dihaj was a late signing to this year’s EIC. Vocally there were no issues. Skeletons is a technically tricky song, yet she seemed to handle it with aplomb. Visually, however, there’s lots of work to do in softening and westernising her image. That’s me being polite to Azerbaijan. Frame it because it doesn’t happen often.
OK, so Belarus is popular, but I still can’t quite see Eurovision’s mainstream viewing audience getting behind it. It might be the lowkey EIC staging, but to me it felt somewhat cheap despite being well performed with plenty of zest. Navi Band ended with a shortened rendition of Calm After The Storm, which was warmly appreciated by the home crowd.
Kristian didn’t employ as many vocal variations tonight having got it terribly wrong in Tel Aviv earlier this week. Beautiful Mess is the sort of song that would traditionally pass this Europop-loving crowd by, but they genuinely appreciated Bulgaria’s entry. Non-gambling people standing by us were all fans of the song too.
Another toilet break for Czech Republic. I totally missed this performance. I fear most of Europe will be doing the same in May.
Nathan was a hit with the Melkweg crowd. It wasn’t the biggest cheer of the night, but because of his performing background, he handles it with such ease. Had it not been for Austria being given slot-2 in the semi-final, he may have been in the mix for qualification.
Anja exuded that typical Aussie confidence during her performance of Where I Am. Denmark will be heading back to the final this year and Anja should expect a decent haul of points from the juries. Her vocals are unmatched this year, it’s just a shame her song is so vanilla.
Neighbours Sweden were next and Robin appeared more at ease than at previous concerts. His vocals were solid, but the crowd reaction – despite everyone singing along – wasn’t what we’ve come to expect for Sweden; he was popular, but the crowd didn’t go crazy for him.
Ukraine were solid. The song is great, but it was selected because it had zero chance of winning. The reaction showed that.
Playing themselves very much into contention were Armenia. Fly With Me is rather alternative in style and Artsvik can get a bit shouty towards the end, but the crowd were really digging the song. If Russia are out, those eastern points have to find a home; and if they don’t go to Bulgaria, they could end up with Armenia.
I was scanning the markets during Montenegro’s song, so didn’t pay much attention. It was popular and he did plenty of hair twirling.
Alma’s confidence is growing and she genuinely looks like she’s having fun performing Requiem. France got one of the biggest reactions of the night, so they’re gradually moving towards the top-10 in my book. Staging will decide the rest. Likewise, Hovig also upped his game having previously appeared to be going through the motions, so Cyprus are looking more secure in the second half of semi-1.
As for the UK, I think I prefer the studio version. Even so, Lucie was in fine form and was popular with the crowd. Success for the UK will be edging slightly further away from the bottom-5.
I’m being reminded of Playing With Fire the more I watch these two Yodel It. Their chemistry and choreography is really coming together and Romania could be dangerous both in semi-final 2 and the final. Alex styled his hair and sported a neat bowtie – a very shrewd move.
FYRoM’s Jana had playback assistance again, so it was difficult to judge, but the view here is that Dance Alone is one of this year’s most overrated songs and Jana’s stage presence has a long way to go.
Francesco was the name on everyone’s lips after the show. He was phenomenal. Everyone was waving their arms during the chorus and shouting alé at the right moments. We know exactly what we’re getting from Italy, and at this point, they’re miles ahead of the competition.
Tijana actually bothered to sing this time and she did quite well. There’s no doubting that she can handle the song, so I’m keen to see what Serbia do in Kyiv.
Last up were O’G3NE for the Netherlands. They were vocally flawless, but we know they’re not the problem; it’s the song. The juries could certainly save this on vocals alone, however, I’ll be surprised to see the televote follow suit.
That’s it folks. There were no game changing moments, so until we get to Kyiv, stay tuned for our podcasts and semi-final previews starting from tomorrow.