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Eurovision In concert 2017 Review

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.

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About Gavster

Owner & Chief Editor   I’m a qualified designer and the official geek in the crew, dedicating most of my free time to keeping the ESCtips show on the road. My family routes allow me to support the UK, Ireland and Italy.

13 comments

  1. Where do u think the UK end up? Lucie has talked about how the BBC are creating a “SPEICAL MOMENT” with the staging but with the BBC they are hardly trusted with the staging.

    • Exactly that… the BBC can’t usually be trusted. Lucie has worn a crown of flowers at two events now. I’m not really a fan of that, but at least it shows they’re working on styling. If the BBC bring something contemporary, then I’d say left-hand side is achievable. I’m not enthusiastic for top-10, though.

      • First of all, I think you start overestimating staging a bit. Especially in the case of the UK. It does make a difference, but I never try to forget how the audiovisual total package will eventually look like. And there’s already enough positive stuff from the British national final that could give you a good idea about its chances.

        In the case of ‘Never Give Up On You’, I like to add that it is a fairly easy-to-stage entry. Lucie is on stage alone, which actually helps the song. So I do not believe why you think a crown of flowers could be a tad bit dangerous (If even Poli’s ugly Star Trek outfit is accepted, then other factors obviously are more important for success). Nor do I believe why you put so much weight on Lucie’s gown during the national final. I think these elements never really distract. So I do not believe that some twists and turns in the staging will make a difference between left-hand side or right-hand side scoreboard. There you give staging way way too much credit.

        The biggest USP’s of this years UK entry, and you keep beating around the bush for that, is the fact that:
        A) Lucie is an incredibly charismatic performer: One believes her when she’s belting that song, totally totally different when compared to ‘ice queen’ Molly.
        B) Lucie’s vocals are one of the more impressive ones in the contest: I think I wrote down a list of fairly by-the-numbers song that got helped by goosebump-inducing vocals. Just look at that. And…
        C) Lucie’s song: While not perfect on first listen, it is absolutely decent. But even more so, the quality of the song does not always lower the effectiveness/message of the song. Now thát is an element that is pivotal to songs. ‘Never Giving Up On You’ is the best cry for love in the contest if you ask me. I do not think the revamp really changed anything about that.

        What I do miss on blogs like ESC-Tips, Entertainmentodds and Sofabet, is the fact that they tend to forget how the final total package on stage will/could look like. Is it really that hard to imagine the effectiveness of an entry? What counts for me, is how all elements of the song (vocals, song, lights, camerawork, staging, charisma) are divided into a big USP. And with the UK the mix of all these elements is already good enough to create an audiovisual total package that will stand out. And in my honest opinion, it does stand out more than Bulgaria, Australia (and even Ireland).

        To summarize everything: I think the betters on here, who are actually mostly British lads, are too much guided by past results. Especially those running the popular betting sites 😉. I know what that means. We Dutchies have been there as well. But I do think it doesn’t help in objectively judging the chances of an entry. Each year there are new chances. We start at ‘0’. And so far there’s nothing with the UK entry that makes me shiver and tremble for a huge failure. Nothing. On the contrary actually.

        Now one last thing Gavin, I do think we are betting in very different ways. For you, it’s a professional job in which trading in and out per any given performance is pivotal. But for me, the challenge is predicting as accurately as possible on what will happen on May 9th, 11th and 13th, and using small amounts of money for that. Understanding these fan/preview parties is one thing, but the danger of underestimating or overestimating them is there. You eventually can jump the betting-bandwagon again, once everything I said becomes reality in Kiev. But I can’t 😊. Not with my wallet hehe.

        PS: I do loveeee discussing in here. If only I had more money to actually be there hehe.

  2. Thanks for taking the time to give a review Gav.
    Im very pleased Hungary went down well.Hugely talented and genuine.Its ethnic that works because its from the heart.The dancer is also great.Mentions of male backing at ESC to add more depth should really help this secure the jury votes it deserves.
    Armenia were what i expected.She turned up looking like a 1970s grammar school headmistress,but turned into a slaying queen on stage without being sexual like Iveta a big plus.As Gav mentions she also speaks fluent Russian and was on their voice (and lives there),so i expect the delegation to make good use of that on the intro card.She needs to add some Russian into that.The juries have gone for more radio friendly songs the last few years,but Armenia have the package to top 3 the jury maybe if they get the staging right.The omens are good.
    Romania is ESC gold.Rubbish,yet great.Ilinca’s vocals needs more control during the refrain though as she seems to be like a dog on heat.
    I feel sorry for Jana ,FYRM.She isnt a singer at all.Just a girl from a club pushed in over her depth.She turned up though,more than can be said for Belgium.I think we know why that was.
    France is also growing on me.It has an innocent feel,yet hints at naughty secrets.Her delivery is getting better and better.
    Im worried for NaviBand.I think they might end up swamped.Other songs are moving forward,and they have nowhere to go.
    It looks like a great ESC ahead.

  3. For me

    Ireland : Still work to do but an improvement on his Israel Calling performance, he said that he will have 5 backing singers with him in Kiev and is only starting his rehearsal’s on his return to Ireland so I’m quite optimistic that he will pull it off live in Kiev and therefore give Ireland a decent chance of qualifying. I feel this is the sort of song that will look and sound better on the big stage but lets wait and see.

    Spain : It is what it is, a song that regardless of performance is destined for the bottom 5 on saturday.

    Georgia : My least favourite song of the year os dont have much to say other than bar the singer there is nothing here that is anywhere close to qualification

    Lithuania : Another one of my least favourites, this song actually had potential and it frustrates me that Lithuania wasted it, even with its diaspora I can’t see this qualifying on the tele vote plus I think the juries will cream it so a NQ for me.

    Poland : Kasia has improved since the polish NF and has an interesting song which I haven’t a clue how it will play out in eurovision, without much competition in the 2nd half of semi 2 I think she should be through.

    Norway : This is coming along nicely and right now look a solid bet for top 10, my only concern is I’m not sure its instantly accessible, I had it as a NQ after my first few listens but now its my 2nd favourite and think its a certain qualifier.

    Germany : I like it but know its destined for the bottom 5 with Spain.

    Albania : Just your typical Albanian entry, completely un interesting. Unfortunately for her there are 6 strong songs in the first half of semi 1 and everything else is doomed which unfortunately includes Albania.

    Hungary : Must confess I had this on my non qualification list coming into this event as bar the romani appeal I struggled to see how this was going to score from any countries but now after both the performance and reaction last night I’ve now swapped them in for another country which ill mention later. Until rehearsals I’m still not completely sold on its chances in terms of both qualification & top 10 but I feel its an all or nothing situation, for me it lack’s memorability (at least to me ear) and in the recap I’m still not sure it will appeal to to enough public listeners to compensate for a poor jury score, then again it could look brilliant, storm the semi and come top 10 and I also wouldn’t be surprised, I just can’t call this.

    Finland : This would be a dead certain qualifier if it was in any other 3 of the 4 half’s in the semi final’s but semi final 1 first half is deadly where its hard to see anything other than 5 song’s qualifying, it really stand’s out in this line up and if it qualifies and with a good draw it should be top 10 on saturday.

    Moldova : One of my favourites this year, I think this is certainly qualifying but only around 8-10 but we should be seeing this again on saturday. I can’t see it finishing higher than there 2010 song.

    Switzerland : Criminally overrated by fan’s imo, the lead singer’s performing the life out of the song is there only chance of getting into the borderline section as its a typical Swiss entry and is a completely nothing song.

    Slovenia : Omar is a strong singer but at times can sing out of key, the song is terrible, Omar’s vocal and a late running order slot mean Slovenia do have potential to shock everyone and squeeze there way into the final.

    San Marino : The two are surprisingly good duet but sadly there song is really bad and therefore chance less in may.

    Malta : Great singer but bar skulduggery this really shouldnt be getting anywhere near the final, like I said great singer but the song is so boring that I even think juries will slam it.

    Israel : This is an interesting one, when it got picked up until a few day’s before the semi final draw I had no doubt they where qualifying but a few day’s before I started to doubt it but now the pimp slot has ruled out any possibility of NQ, the song can leave you cold and isn’t very memorable which isn’t great for this genre of song. In the final this song would need an impeccable staging to match Hovi Star’s exult last year.

    Azerbaijan : Like I said with Finland this would be a certain qualifier with any other half but in this half I think them and Finland are fighting it out of 1 spot, if this qualifies it should be top 10 unless they overcook the staging.

    Belarus : They remain on my NQ list and after this week that doesn’t change, coming before Bulgaria sealed it’s faith for me as it looks really amateurish in comparison and Belarus aren’t a country known for simple but effective staging at ESC and are usually on the other end of the scale so it’s hard to see this being brought to the level required to get through the semi.

    Bulgaria : For me this is simply brilliant for me this to semi final 2 is the equivalent to Italy in the contest, comfortably number 1 in the semi and is the only song that can challenge Italy for the win.

    CR : Nothing to say, the definition of a toilet break song.

    Denmark : For me Denmark should be disappointed as they have probably the best vocalist this year ( she seem’s out of breath in nearly all the performance’s but backing singers should sort this out) but the song is a typical Danish song that will stop Anja getting a result that her vocal deserves, for me this really puts a nail in the Netherland’s chance’s of qualifying as they are both in the same boat as poor song’s being brought to another level by the singer the only difference is Netherland’s is dated and forgettable whereas Denmark is vanilla and forgettable, who is more likely to appeal to juries? No contest for me. I think Denmark may struggle in the tele vote as voters at home generally don’t like going for shouty performance’s but not by a lot and I dont see it as a big deal as the jury will be putting this in or around there top 5 as she is amazing vocally and the song isn’t bad enough for juries to vote down unlike Netherland’s. One negative I have is I feel Denmark have already shown there hand which is why it looks so good but with other countries there yet to show there’s the outlook for Denmark could look a lot different come rehearsal’s, In the final I dont see Denmark troubling the left hand side of the score board.

    Austria : I really like the song and Nathan but I feel its the sort of song that needed amazing staging to get through the semi as its not a song that I see working on stage, being drawn 2nd probably mean’s we aren’t getting the required staging. for me already out of the race and unless the staging is weak I still dont get why the producers put it here as its a contemporary song sung by a charismatic guy.

    Sweden : Cant say much that hasn’t been said, not an amazing song but amazing staging is enough to ensure a top 5 for Sweden this year but Italy beat it all end’s up so I dont see them challenging.

    Ukraine : Its a song that should get Ukraine a respectable result given its USB of being the only rock band in the contest, that along with friend’s and Ukraine should be top half but won’t come within an asses roar of top 5.

    Armenia : This is a song that will be all about performance, I have no doubt we will get this performance so I would be certainly backing this for top 10 on saturday, no more no less.

    Montenegro : Stands out in the semi final but his vocals just aren’t good enough, like Albania I think its doomed already because of being in the first half.

    France : Looked to had butchered there chance’s with the remix and Alma’s performance in Kiev, I think the recent performance’s have pushed France into the battle for top 10 but I can’t see it doing anything other than dipping there feet in there like 8-10 or so.

    UK : Until rehearsal’s I can’t call this but I think based not the song I think finishing top 15 should be there aim, very good singer though so the staging should be the main focus now which is a good position to be in.

    Romania : Massively gone up in my estimation’s, cant believe i called this a potential NQ when it was chosen. Its now a certain qualifier and could challenge for top 10 in the final which Romania hasn’t done since 2010 which is hard to believe.

    FYROM : This has fanwank flop written all over it, I think at this moment in time they are hovering very close to NQ for me, she has had 3 performance’s and has yet to give 1 solid performance. If Serbia improve I think this could be toast already but if all the factor work out than FYROM are 9th-10th at best.

    Italy : What can I say, tick’s every box there is and should comfortably win ESC this year.

    Serbia : For the first time this season I’m starting to worry a little about Serbia, Tijana really doesn’t have the charisma needed to sell this song like I hoped she would so right now I think qualification should be Serbia’s only real aim this year and there last 3 song’s where all borderline and there last 2 which didn’t appeal to there diaspora where 9th and 10th in there respective semi. If Croatia come with amazing staging than Serbia could be in real trouble and of course Macedonia will aswell.

    Netherlands : Now I’m starting to fear for them, like I said I think its between Anja & OG3NE for a spot as they are sort of fishing from the same pond in regards to the jury as in being one-trick ponies and in this battle for me there is only 1 winner and that’s Anja, I can see Anja being top 5 in the jury whereas Netherland’s I really struggle to see being anything higher than 8th if the juries do there job as the vocal & chemistry are the only box they tick and with the tele vote I can see this being very low whereas Denmark I can’t see being any lower than 13th so imo Denmark really but’s a nail in the dutch coffin. Ill keep it as an amber until first rehearsal’s but after day 1 of rehearsal’s ill confidently know which side of the border ill be on.

    Those are my thoughts.

    • To me Anja’s boobs are her biggest USP’s. When it comes to vocals, O’G3NE is clearly winning from Anja here. Why? Bbecause their vocals are not the only USP. It are also their harmonies. Similar what worked so well with Il Volo in 2015.

      Anja’s entry is decent. But her vocals are screechy at best. Certainly not as impressive as Dami Im’s vocal ‘tour-du-force’. I also believe that staging-wise you can actually do much more with O’G3NE’s song than with Anja’s song. With Anja….what you see is what you get. No holograms. Just a camera circling around her impressive….ehh….posture. ‘Lights And Shadows’ offers a heartfelt message (commentators will mention that) and an Olsen Brothers-like bang near the end full of clapping opportunity.

      So I’m sorry, I do think Netherlands will win from Denmark jury-wise. Also, Denmark comes fairly late in a string of songs with good chances to qualify (Romania, Netherlands, Hungary, Denmark, Ireland).

      • To be honest I completely agree about staging, Denmark we pretty much know how it will be staged and it will be safe very stripped back. Its very weird because my opinion changes nearly every day, one day I’m totally with The Netherland’s in this argument then suddenly in with Denmark, I think Netherland’s has a higher ceiling but until we see rehearsal’s Denmark are the slight favourite’s but I’m pretty sure that will change come rehearsal’s.

  4. Albania seemed to go down big in the hall, Gavin. Vocally she is on another level of existence. I wouldn’t rule this out from qualifying yet.

  5. Cheers for the review Gav.
    Must say I’m very pleased with the Bulgaria performance he looks good visually last night, really well styled telegenic and polished, make no bones about it this will look a great package with the finished product 🙂

  6. We need to be careful about reading too much into these pre-parties. Some songs – (i.e. the uptempo fun ones are more suited to them than others). What the pre-parties can tell us is (a) can a singer sing in tune and (b) do they have stage presence.

    Gav, I know you are big champion of Bulgaria and rightly so. Kristian can sing, but this is the kind of song that needs to be vocally perfect. In the pre-parties some serious questions have been posed about whether he can 100% deliver in front of the juries when the pressure is on. If he can’t, them maybe Australia will turn out to be the better bet for a high finish.

    Belgium – This is more and more looking like the potential flop of 2017. From what I’ve seen, Blanche has no charisma.

    FYR Macedonia – Similar question marks – but the song for me has clear top 10 potential. It is very accessible –
    like Donny Montell last year – Look how the crowd were singing along with the chorus. For me the jury is still out until we see the staging.

    Switzerland – From the video I actually thought this worked very well in Amsterdam. It is a very solid pop song (improved by the revamp) and the hints are that it will be staged as such and not a ballad. The nearest parable for me is Hungary’s Freddy from last year – and a similar result may be on the cards. There is a question mark, however, over whether her vocal will hold up under pressure.

    Talking of Hungary – the fan’s obviously lapped this up and the song has merit. But I struggle to see the wider appeal to a Saturday night audience. Plus I still have a problem with Joci – his facial expression and the staging (inadvertently) makes him come across as an intimidating presence.

    France – Vocally it has improved, but this is not nearly as accessible as Amir last year. I still remain of my original opinion that a similar result to Italy last year is most likely.

    Azerbaijan – She doesn’t look voteable. Good though the song is, I’ve never seen this anywhere near the top 10.

    Romania – Yes, it’s still awful but there’s something watchable about it, rather like Poland 2014, so I can foresee a pretty strong televote, but little jury support

    Poland – Kasia has softened her image and her performance since the Polish National final and has been a big gainer at the pre-parties. The song is still crap and shouldn’t get much jury love. Nevertheless, I am starting to fear this is going to end up in Michal Szpak territory.

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