Well that is roll number 1 done - has it been successful?
Ooh think I have the hang of it - Keith will be pleased - hopefully I will be up to the task whilst Keith is in the arena, hopefully getting some good pics
Ok we are about to begin (I hope) Keith is now in the arena and Andrew is having the night off - sit abck and enjoy the ride
A good start, on time and everything. Lovely pictures and scenes of Baku by night as Te Deum plays, then a swift introduction by the hosts.
Serbia - Zeljko in black suit and white shirt, soft dark lighting with yellow soft spots for mood bursting into red as the song begins to lift - vocals superb as always - sure finalist for me.
Macedonia - Kaliopi is all in black and a striking figure under the spot light, stage then bursts into blue and the band come into focus as the rock element kicks in. I think I have heard her sing it better - she does not sound as powerful as she has in the past but still a great performance. Gives Macedonia a chance for the final..
The Netherlands - Joan in bright blue dress and headress - I love this look. The flame buckets are lit and it gives the performance a kinda campfire feel to it. Joan appears to be struggling a little vocally. I have heard it better. Joan works the camera well and is enjoying herself. The band joining her on the stage gives a friendly feel to the end of the song. Still a qualifier for me.
Malta - Kurt in black suit with white t-shirt. Still one of the best backdrops with crowd scene. There was a very long distant camera shot that did not look good. Backing singer solo was not good. Great dance routine when all dancers do the feet in unison. Have heard that song a lot better - definitely a borderline qualifier now.
Belarus - much better than this afternoons rehearsal. Looks great with the metallic rough and rugged suits. A great looking boy band here with a rock/pop edge. Dmitry's vocals were better. He hits his camera shots well with eyes to die for. Greatly improved performance and better than Malta i feel
Portugal - Filipa is in floor length split to the thigh silver dress. Lisbon city scape in the background with pink and red mood lighting. 5 backing singers in black ad depth to this beautiful vocal. This is the first time i have really "felt" this song. She has chosen a good night to give her best performance - will it be memorable enough? I am not sure. Beautiful though.
Ukraine - This uptempo dance number is a great contrast to Portugal before it. The dancing jelly babies on the screens behind Gaitana look really good. Her dress looks like it is made up from all the bills i shredded in my front room before leaving for Baku but she really is a stunning lady. Backing dancers are dancing with instruments but she is still sounding a bit shouty. Hit the long high note well though. Flashmob scene on back screen is really effective. Should qualify without too much trouble
Bulgaria - Sofi is in thigh high boots and a white short dress with gold belt. Her hair is scraped right abck giving a really strange look to her face. There are fireworks and pyros going off but no amount of effects will make up for the lack of dancers on the stage for this modern dance track. My mum moves more on the dancefloor than she does. Cannot see this qualifying.
Slovenia - Eva in a white floral dress and lead backing singer in a hooded white full length number. Dark blue lighting as this song builds up to the chorus - you can not get away from the Molitva comparison but I think it is a better song. It has a haunting quality to the backing vocals and a strength and determination in Eva's vocal performance. There are elements of Portugal 2009 in the performance with the strong choral backing girls all in white. Powerful and moving. This deserves to be in the final.
Croatia - Nina is in a black dress. All the way through this I am expecting there to be a dress change or gimmick but nothing comes of it. Do not really understand what the white sheet routine is all about. I think it is greatly overshadowed by Slovenia. Could struggle to qualify although her vocal is great.
Sweden - Dramatic performance of the night has to go to Loreen. It is difficult to take your eyes off the screen as so much is going on. It certainly is wild interprative dance but I find it facinating. The snow scene looks great and the slow mo shot at the end is stunning. Good vocal performance - cannot see this not qualifying.
Georgia - Anri inred monks outfit at beginning of song hitting some amazing operatic notes. Completely OTT and I don't mean as in Lepland from Estonia but facinatingly OTT. 4 girls in skimpy black outfits and Anri struts around the stage banging drums and a girl with flame red long hair shakes her booty - would not be out of place in a brothel but utterly fabulous. No one flounces wuite like Anri and he heads over to the piano. You will definitely love or hate this. If there was not already enough thrown at it there are some pyros at the end. I love it - many will hate
Turkey - great stage performance. Very clever using the caped backing dancers to form the ship mentioned in the lyrics of the song. Much more ethnic song from Turkey than we have had for a few years and good vocals. Thsi should be a certain qualifier.
Estonia - white t-shit and waistcoat for Ott gives a very casual look to this song. I think a suit would have been more appropriate but he gives a stunning vocal. His long note is still different to how it was this afternoon. No idea what he will do with it in the final now. Must admit some of his changes almost do change the origional tune from what it was but still can not deny how well this is sung and it brings goosebumps out in many. Far too many long loud notes in this for me now. Still a qualifier I think but I am quite disappointed in this now as it was stunning in it's origional simpler form.
Slovakia - wild shaggy hair on Max Jason Mai. Gives this performance 100% energy but the vocal is really off key tonight. It certainly stands out as the only song of it's type in the competition but don't see there being enough of a market out there for this to qualify and cant see juries voting for it. Really painful vocals at times. This is performance over tuning and quality but a good rock performance. Helping keep me awake more than the coffee at present.
Norway - Tooji and co are all in dark colours with red and yellow lighting and back drop. The vocal still sounds quite hollow on this. Almost feels like there is someone missing in the backing vocals. Dance routine is tight and looks good on screen. I think Tooji's vocal is off tonight. Under par performance in my opinion - not a sure qualifier for me although I know most will disagree with me.
Bosnia and Herzegovina - this Balkan ballad is a great contrast to Norway who precede it. They have sorted the piano lid error from this afternoon's rehearsal as it had been left up this afternoon and hid half of her face. It is now down and the camera shots look great. Great performance which I cannot fault - just don't know if it packs the same punch as Slovenia and Serbia in the ballad stakes
and finally Lithuania - Donny Montell is still in his pimped up blindfold at the beginning of the song. He sings this part well and the camera focusses right in on his face during this segment. Then the disco kicks in and the blindfold is ripped off and a quick cartwheel starts the club scene on the backdrop. This is equal to MAlta in the effective backdrop stakes. It probably could do with a few more dancers at this point rathen than just the dancing figures in the backgroud but a good performance nonetheless. It's 18th place in the draw may be enough to see it over the line.
I think after tonight's jury performances my top 10 will remain the same as my earlier predictions. Norway andMalta did not do enough for me to persuade me that I should drop other songs from my own top 10. Macedonia is the one song that is sitting in 11th and I would give it a place if i could see where I could remove another song from my list but just too difficult.
Am I allowed a top11 please?
So it's Serbia, The Netherlands, Belarus, Ukraine, Slovenia, Sweden, Georgia, Turkey, Estonia and Lithuania for me
Macedonia and Portugal are the 2 on the cusp for me - Norway and Malta need much better performances tomorrow night to be in the mix in my opinion.
Wow that is a relief - hope i just about managed to keep up with the action for you all. Now hoping for a little action of my own at the Euroclub later - a little "cultural exchange" as we like to call it in the press centre ;-)