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Eurovision 2019 Rehearsals: Day 2 Review

A slightly later start this morning due to Ukraine’s exit after the semi-final draw and it’s already 25°C outside. I’ve never been to a Eurovision where I could enjoy a cappuccino in the sun at 9:30am. More of this, please.

Belgium were first up this morning, and even though Eliot appeared slightly nervous, there was a sense of purpose in the choreography. It was certainly a little rough around the edges; however, Eliot has come along way compared to his more recent performances. The styling is quite contemporary to match the modern arrangement of the song with Eliot wearing a modern ‘Off White’ influenced jacket against a Tron-like backdrop. The camerawork needs to be sharper, but the feeling is that Belgium are moving in the right direction. If I was to offer some advice, I would suggest some pulsing lighting during the verse as the stage can feel a tad lifeless towards the end of the song.

Oto Nemsadze has a great vocal which is the only redeeming feature of Sul tsin iare, or Keep On Going, as it is now called. The staging features dramatic visuals of mountains, fire, barbed wire along with what looks like a funeral procession as the five backing singers enter the main stage. It’s nice if you like that sort of thing, but Georgia will likely to struggle for support from outside of their limited sphere of influence.

Building from her national final staging concept, Kate Miller-Heidke is mounted on one of those swingy pole things with two more swingy pole women behind her. They spend most of the time hovering over an overlay of the Earth, thus enforcing the zero-gravity theme. It’s fair to say that there are contrasting opinions in the press centre, but the betting table are very much on the fence for Australia. For a concept with so much motion it’s quite remarkable how static the staging feels once the dance beat kicks in. The anthemic “nothing holdin’ me down” parts offer the strongest visual moment yet it made me feel rather motion sick. Kate also struggles to connect with viewers and there are zero shots of the crowd from memory.

There are some subtle changes to Hatrið mun sigra since their national final. To me it has lost some of its artistry and visual energy having got rid of the caged dancers. Something is missing. Maybe it’s the larger stage diluting the intensity of the smaller national final stage. The falsetto vocals are not 100%, especially at the key change. Work to do for Iceland!

Over to Estonia and Storm remains in national final form. The main difference is with the backdrop which is now a bland sunny cloudscape slide show that would look more at home in a funeral parlour or as a Windows screen saver. It really is a bizarre choice given how adaptable the year’s stage is. We’ll need to see Estonia’s second rehearsal before making a final decision on their fate.

There were rumours Conan had hired some Swedes to help with staging. If that was to ensure he won the Barbara Dex award, then job done guys. Wearing emerald green pleated costumes, the whole performance looks like an avian mating dance. The ‘what the f*ckery’ has been cranked up to the max with Portugal and it’s hard to see who will vote for this. I don’t want to sound too disrespectful, but this is too avant-garde in what is largely a commercial contest.

The main question is what the hell is going on with Greece? Concept wise it’s all over the place like an international buffet, it specialises in nothing. There are fencers, fairies, lotus flowers, an upside down condom, a giant balloon being tossed out into the audience and the look of pain etched all over Katerina’s face. Better Love should be performed like at a concert in the same way as A Million Voices. Towards the end the vocal mix gets a bit messy as the baking singers make the noises of kids playing with guns (piaow, piaow – how is it spelt?).

After what has been a rather left-field day of rehearsals, Serhat delivered some conventional cheesy pop for San Marino. The staging is perhaps the most distinctive in this half of the semi and it’s a great show closer. Serhat still has a tendency to sound like Dracula when he sings, which is what counts against this earworm making the final. We haven’t seen a winner yet.

We’ll be back tomorrow for the first half of semi-final 2.

About Gavster

ESCtips Owner   I’m a qualified designer and dedicate a lot of my free time to keeping the ESCtips show on the road. My family routes allow me to support the UK, Ireland and Italy.


  1. EurovisionTales

    Better love is not a concert song, I am somehow glad they threw everything on it coz it could easily look and sound ” empty ” on stage.
    Gav, what is happening in the tradition to the first chorus and everyone went WOW in 2 live streams I watched? Something with a flower?

    • I can’t remember what they cheered. There was nothing remarkable about Greece. It was probs my just open mouthed surprise at how weird the staging was.

  2. Catriona Colville

    Australia just laid down the first marker, I feel. I know Gavin isn’t sold, but I think the staging will ensure they easily qualify. Im thinking top 10 in the final, but obviously need the next 2 days to really be sure.

    • Australia won the press poll as well. Ranked #1 overall

      1. Australia 77
      2. Cyprus 72
      3. Serbia 67
      4. Czech Republic 58
      5. Greece 55
      6. Iceland 55
      7. Hungary 53
      8. San Marino 38
      9. Georgia 30
      10. Belarus 28
      11. Belgium 24
      12. Portugal 20
      13. Slovenia 19
      14. Estonia 16
      15. Poland 16
      16. Finland 2
      17. Montenegro 0

    • No marker at all. Qualification yes. Anything more than that will be quelled once the live show exposes its weaknesses.

      • Hi Gav hope you having a great time in TA 😎👍😁 and thanks for all your efforts.

        Do you think with general improvements and better camera angles Oz could pose any threat at all to the big hitters? I do think tele will love the Wicked style theme and be captivated too by the Kate Bushesque wuthering heights vocal and it could do well with juries.

  3. I’ve seen nothing yet to dislodge my view that the winner will come from SF2 OR Italy. The songs in SF1 are playing catch up.

  4. What Mark says–semi 2 has 5 or 6 songs that could walk this semi with decent staging. Can’t say anything really impressed today. Australia has gone up in my estimations but only to certain qualifier from a little vulnerable. Agree with Gav completely on this one.

  5. Based on the various commentators it looks to have been a good day for Australia with Portugal appearing increasingly vulnerable.

    I agree with Gav. Australia is qualifying on the basis of the staging. But I still don’t think the juries will go for this in a big way.

    Conan’s effectively come with a variant of his national final staging and in my book that’s a big mistake. The only factor that might save him from NQ is that in this semi juries are short of obvious alternatives to vote for.

    There is a division of opinion on Greece, not least on this forum, but Katerine has quashed any doubts about her vocal and the staging, while not to everyone’s taste, appears to have been by no means a disaster and brings a lot of the qualities of the video (which I liked) to the live performance. (How many times at ESC have we seen good songs with good videos let down by live performances?). In short, I see Greece as an even stronger candidate for the semi one win. I imagine it will be some way in front with the juries, as there are no other strong modern jury-friendly songs in this semi to compete with it.

    However, I do agree with Gav and the others that this year’s overall winner is likely to come out of semi two or failing that, Italy.

  6. Mike G'day Mate

    How can juries NOT vote for Australia??

    Its a technically complex piece both aurally and visually! And has the potential for a good televote…

    Once they iron out the inevitable kinks I’m sure it’ll do great…

  7. G’Day, Mike!😉

    In answer to your question, in the Eurojury Poll, Australia came 29th with a mere 16 points.

  8. Unfair review for Greek rehearsal … As far as I know you are the exception and this is very important fo a better Eurovision Contest that we need ! One of the greatest and sophisticated entries is this year’s greek song !

  9. If Conan looks like an avian mating dance, then it looked that way before in the NF, because not much has changed exept for the costumes. So I see you have evloved from “difficult but interesting entry” to “artsy pretensious, we don’t need art – we need commerce” argument, which is very disapointing. I do see problems and yes the the whole act is underwhelming, but I would expect a more objective analysis from you. (And no, I am not not Portuguese…)

    • Not at all, I’m just saying that this song is too far on the outer boundaries of avant-garde in what is typically a commercial music contest. I accept that not every track needs to follow that format, but it depends how you are viewing the contest. I’m making money from it and enjoyment is secondary. And the daily reviews are designed to provide a snapshot, not encyclopaedia-sized analysis. However, you are more than welcome to read the full song review here: http://esctips.com/2019/03/03/portugal-conan-osiris-telemoveis/

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