Expect a full house for the show tonight, every bus we passed was full of people heading out to the Crystal Hall. So as not to have tickets wasted I gave Andrew's (who's taking the night off) and my tickets for tonight's show to a couple of members of the wonderful volunteer team as a "thank you" for the help and friendliness that have shown in the last two weeks. They seemed delighted and I can only imagine what they'll think when they find themselves three rows from the front of the centre of the stage!
My duty tonight is a rolling blog of the Jury Final which will make up 50% of the votes in tomorrow night's show. Five music experts from every country are seeing tonight's show live, each one will pick their Top 10 songs in order and from these a Top 10 Jury vote will be compiled and this will be added to tomorrow's televote.
I'm also going to make predictions as to where I think each song will finish tomorrow night. and the latest betting odds.
There is a Press Area poll but it's totally useless as it basically just shows who has the greatest number of accreditations here (Azerbaijan is first and Spain second). The Press Area is very empty tonight as there are a couple of parties going on.
THE SHOW BEGINS
Monday night's firwork display over Baku and the Crtystal Hall open the show before we have some traditional Azeri music mixing with some modern dancers with men flying through the air and then back to some local dancers in some beautiful ethnic costumes. The we get the drummer from Tuesday's interval act back again. We end with a firework wall and Ell & Nikki reprising last year's winning song. Nikki is in a short silver and white dress while Eldar is in a white suit.
The two female presenters start their introductions, seven minutes into the show. We then get a 60 second reprise of the building of the Crystal Hall. The 60 seconds give Eldar a chance to join the two female presenters on the satellite stage.
1. UNITED KINGDOM (20/1 - fifth favourite).
Nice art based postcard for the U.K. before Engelbert sings in a spotlight dressed in a dark suit and shirt. Engelbert's vocal sounds a little raspy to my ears. The backing dancers making fleeting appearances. The colour-scheme is green and purple then going to blue before we have another firework shower and pyro spirals. Rather suspect vocally throughout and I'm now predicting this to finish 16th to 20th.
2. HUNGARY (250/1)
The lead singer of Compact Disco now wears a black PVC coat with red lining and there seems to be more red in the stage lighting. Very similar to the Tuesday performance. Vocally fine and could do well with juries but it's doomed from the #2 draw. Prediction : 21st to 26th
3. ALBANIA (150/1)
Rona is her black and blue dress and that now famous hairstyle. Red backdrop. The crowd go wild for those amazing high and sustained notes. Totally OTT and operatic and it will be remembered, but I suspect that there is a limited audience. Prediction 21st to 26th.
4. LITHUANIA (250/1)
I suspect that being performed last had a major part in Lithuania qualifying last night. Donny is still performing this song amazingly and he seems more confident tonight, perhaps because his aim of qualifying has been achieved. Best backdrop of the year and a virtuoso performance, but is the song strong enough to do well from an early draw? Prediction 21st to 26th.
5. BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA (150/1)
Lovely long spotlight shot that gradually closes in on Maya to open the song. Like Lithuania, virtually identical to last night's semi-final show. This is another song that benefitted from a late draw in the semi and now has to be performed early. I still think that this would benefite from a falautist on stage for the instrumental part, but Maya is singing well and I like the subtle use of the wind machine. Prediction 16th to 20th
6. RUSSIA (13/2 - second favourite)
Still off-key to my ears in the firsat 30 seconds. The audience go wild for this and for the first generally uptempo song it really standds out after what went before. I still think it's a cute novelty act selling a second rate song but it's bound to do well, very well. Prediction 1st to 5th (I'll spit these at the end).
7. ICELAND (80/1)
I'm not sure why Jonsi has opted for a lower key at the start. It does sound more dramatic but it means that the voices blend less smoothly. Nice staging, but far from their best performance of the week. PREDICTION 11th to 15th.
8. CYPRUS (50/1)
Personally I'd prefer this in a higher key but vocally it's fine and Ivi and her team are very tight and the camerawork is great. Ivi looks stunning but the instrumental break is not getting the reaction I'd have hoped for. It's not got a great draw either. PREDICTION 6th to 10th
9. FRANCE (150/1)
Dreadful vocal by Anggun who's off key and no amount of gymnastics, shiney bodies can compensate. Worst performance so far. PREDICTION 16th to 20th.
10. ITALY (12/1 - Fourth Favourite)
So it was "product" that Nina had on her hair this afternoon. Looking great in her silver dres and really delivering the song down the camera. The backing singers now look like they know what they're doing. Really helped by France being so Poor. PREDICTION 1st to 5th
11. ESTONIA (100/1)
Ott is a lot more smily and not closing his eyes as before, he's still putting in swirls and holding notes that are not in the original version and I suspect this is getting lost, despite Ott's photogenic appeal. PREDICTION 21st to 26th
12. NORWAY (66/1)
The vocals in the verse are just totally under-par and it's only the chorus that saves it. Some very nice camerawork. The pyros are amazing and it's far more attractive to the eyes than to the ears. PREDICTION 16th to 20th.
Unusual place for a break but it helps the build up to the home country's entry.
13. AZERBAIJAN (66/1)
A few dodgy notes from Sabina at the start of this and her pronounciation is way off at times but visually the "dress of many colours" is fantastic. The little "genie on a box" warbling over the last minute of this song really adds nothing to non-Azeris, but it gets the locals go wild. Rather under-par for me. PREDICTION 11th to 16th.
14. ROMANIA (33/1)
Initially much more assured performance than in Tuesday's semi but then the singer drops a line and it all goes to pieces for the last minute. They are still missing the impact of the passge into the last chorus. Disappointing. PREDICTION 11th to 16th
15. DENMARK (40/1)
Same as it ever wa, Soluna smiles a bit more and her hair looks better, otherwise identical to every previous performance. PREDICTION 11th to 16th
16. GREECE (50/1)
Sounding aful as there is a clear split between the lead and back-up vocal. The routine still looks too simple and not polished enough. There are so many better Europop songs in the contest. PREDICTION: 16th to 20th
17. SWEDEN (11/8 favourite)
With so many songs being underpar tonight, things could be moving in Sweden's direction. Loreen was very poor this afternoon, but was clearly holding back, but this goes badly off the rails when she appears to swallow some of the snow effect and never fully recovers. Very disappointing. PREDICTION: 6th to 10th
We get told about Switzerland's first victory and the annual Lys Assis in the audience shot before there's a special introduction to "our neighbours, Turkey".
I really think this is a nothing song being sold by a brilliant stage show, but Turkey are masters at this (remember 2007?). The crowd support is as strong as for the home entry. Like it or not, I can see this doing well. PREDICTION 6th to 10th
19. SPAIN (40/1)
Another underwhelming song being sold by a good performance but at the opposite end of the spectrum to Turkey's floor show. Pastora in a duck egg blue gown which is rather old fashioned but catches the wind machine well. By God is she delivering it in buckets. I still don't see the need for a choir, which only break the intimacy of the performance. What a shame that she doesn't have a stronger song. PREDICTION 6th to 10th.
20. GERMANY (40/1)
I'm not sure what the instumental lead-in add to the song bar making synchonisation easier. Romanis in a plain black shirt over a white t-shirt. Fantastic stage lighting. Really sweet charming ;performance and vocally fine. Juries are likely to lap this up. PREDICTION 6th to 10th.
21. MALTA (150/1)
Again a lovely contrast to what went before. Best backdrop and lighting and if this could qualify from #4 in a tough semi, what can it do from this draw? I still don't like the backing vocal but Kurt is playing the audience for everything and they are paying him back. PREDICTION 1st to 5th
22. MACEDONIA (150/1)
Another one that qualified from an awful draw and now gets one of the better places in the running order. Kaliopi is a master craftswoman in action. She really delivers this song and with so few rock flavoured songs this could do very well with juries, but is it instant enough? PREDICTION 11th to 16th
23. IRELAND (33/1)
There's a long pause before the backing track kicks in, suggesting a problem with getting Macedonia off stage and Ireland on in time. The fountain which wasn't used today is now in full effect. Vocally fine, and they are using more overrhead shots which add variety. The boys havce to drop their mics before jumping in the shower. It's well performed and has a good draw, so anything is possible. PREDICTION 1st to 5th
24. SERBIA (10/1)
No question that this has been the big beneficiary of the draw. A solid song, well staged and performed and likely to hoover up votes from those that like songs with an ethnic twist. It's vocally perfect. PREDICTION 1st to 5th.
25. UKRAINE (40/1)
The camerawork is better tonight and the draw is great. Why does she have to thump her chest to get a vibrato effect? PREDICTION 11th to 16th.
26. MOLDOVA (100/1)
This look to have the best draw until Ukraine got number 25. It's fun, slick, well performed, but I think many people will have chosen their favourite before we get to this. PREDICTION 16th to 20th.
So time to split the Top 5 of Russia, Italy, Malta, Ireland and Serbia.
I only just put Malta and Ireland in there so I call Ireland 5th and Malta 4th.
Then it gets tricky. Italy is my favourite song and singer, but I'm not sure it has enough going for it to be a big televote getter from an early draw, so I'm putting that 3rd.
Then it's Russia vs Serbia. Very tough to call, but I think Serbia may stuggle for televotes in the west and Russia will not do well with juries, so I give the win to Russia as I think this will hoover up televotes everywhere.