In a few minutes the first dress rehearsal for semi-final one will start and we just heard that the opening act will be done twice. I'm live in the hall where I will keep you continually updated, so please refresh from time to time to read the latest news!
The start is delayed for a few minutes. Spain, Italy and UK will also perform.
And we're off! just 5 minutes later than initially planned We start with women wearing traditional gear and Ukrainian folk music in the background. Then a dancer on stage to be joined by Monatik, who proves to be very versatile: rapping, sing and dancing a very modern song that could've been a nice participating entry. Unfortunately I haven't been able to catch his name yet. I hope to update you on that after we have seen him again.
After the second run his name is not mentioned, but instead he introduces the hosts who are in casual clothes for this rehearsal. Some introductory speeches later the lineup for the semi-final is shown on screen and the voting is explained. No surprises here.
Next: song 1 from Sweden!
Post-card: Stills from Robin and his dancers, rehearsing, motor riding, getting ready to perform.
Performance: The lights seem to flicker a bit in the beginning. First time I notice it, not sure it's meant to be like that. Once again a very solid performance so it's bound to at least qualify and possibly do very well. On the other hand, there is still the issue with the 'OK' sign he makes with his hands that means something different in other countries.
song 2: Georgia:
Postcard: Rehearsing with Anri Jokahdze, running in the park, getting ready to perform and walk on stage (which seems a common thing already for all countries).
Performance: There's a delay in the start of the Georgian performance, so stay tuned! A solid performance by Tamara, who has no need at all to hold back.
song 3: Australia
Postcard: Isaiah in Melbourne and in a car, getting on a stage, watching the stars.
Performance: In the hall Isaiah really seems a bit overshadowed by his own images on the screen. A very good performance again. No further issues here.
song 4: Albania
Postcard:Running, singing with a band, doing sports, working on her dress and making the heart sign with her hands.
Performance: Vocals a bit shaky in the beginning. Only yesterday evening she was going all out in the Euroclub.
The long note is not working completely as it should so she sings it lower to save herself. Will be something to look at tonight and tomorrow evening.
song 5: Belgium
Postcard: Blanche playing the piano, reading, doing press conferences, autographs.
Performance: Blanche wears a different dress now - in black! so her nickname nnow no longer fits her outfit. The black dress is very dark, as the staging is as well. I know the white one was criticised a lot but I prefer it to what she wears now. The high parts near the end still sound very weak. However, a good reception in the hall.
Song 6: Montenegro:
Postcard: Slavko in the park, in a theater.
Performance: The visuals of Slvako while he lays on the floor have changed now. In blue, no more bright pink lipgloss. Looks a lot better and a bit less over the top. Slvako still fills the stage on his own, Could be better vocally. I am quite worried about its chances but I still enjoy this song a lot after a few ballads.
First break: Hosts on stage (minus greenroom host Timur). App mentioned. Timur in the greenroom speaking with who performed.
Song 7: Finland
Postcard: Norma John working/sitting together, walking in a building, shopping sunglasses, playing the piano.
Performance: Dry ice. Looks beautiful at the start. Vocally it seems not as solid as we have heard before. Big applause though.
Song 8: Azerbaijan
Postcard: Dihaj in a music store / performing, hanging out with fans, getting a tattoo. Is that her own kid in the postcard? That'd be so sweet!
Performance: Dihaj's hair is covered with a black hat now. Might be just for now, hope so, doesn't look that good for me. I am still torn on what to think of this. She has amazing backings and most of the performance looks great.
Song 9: Portugal
Postcard: Salvador in a library, recording music, walking on the streets. On the piano with his sister Luisa.
Performance: So the first time Salvador is on stage. We get to see his suit now, black with a red flower/rose (presumably..). Huge reception even before a note has been sung. There are now quite a few people around him already, giving an idea how it will be on the night. His manners that we saw in the nf are still there. It sounds beautiful here in the hall. Unfotunately the screens are off here during the whole performance so can't see how it looks there. First applause in the middle of a song. Salvador sings the song as we know it, no rising voice before the end. HUGE applause at the end.
Another short break already, Hosts in front of the greenroom - reading tweets from fans.
Song 10: Greece
Postcard: Rehearsing, with her dog, walking in nature,
Performance: Demy seems out of breath already at the beginning of her song. Recovers soon, sounds good vocally.
Still not convinced on how the backings sound though. Looks still great on screen. Some weird camera shots in the instrumental break before the last chorus.
Song 11: Poland
Postcard: Kasia walking with her dogs in the forest and walking with them. Listening to an orchestra performance/rehearsal. Jumping in a puddle of mud.
Performance: Maybe I'm just getting used to it but I think that this is my favourite time I've seen her perform until now She seems to hold back just a bit more to keep t he mystery of the song alive. During the second chorus she again goes all the way. It's still all very loud.
Song 12: Moldova
Postcard: Buying LP's, having drinks in a bar, rehearsing / having fun in the park, performing in clubs.
Performance: Still looks and sounds as polished and professional as it did before All girls reveal their skirts during their 'bridge'. Good reaction.
Song 13: Iceland
Postcard: Showing some beautiful images of Iceland, Svala in a cafe, buying clothes, in a studio, with her dog.
Performance: First time I see this in the hall. I like Svala's white costume. Would wish it ws a dress instead of a jumpsuit though. Now I see the staging other than a different costume and different background is still similar to the NF. I know many people are very negative about it, but I still think it's a good song and she is excellent vocally. With the backings it sounds brilliant as well. The movements are not as wkward as during the NF. The purple spotlights all through the hall look very impresive. On screen it looks too dark though.
Break again. Also green room. Among others Sunstroke Project (Moldova) showing a clip of Epic Sax Guy at ESC 2010.
Song 14: Czech Republic
Postcard: Marta in a studio, meeting people, having drinks with friends
Performance: Sitting on the stairs of the stage. Her hair is tied now. Not many closeups from Marta until the first chorus. The stage looks very empty. The visuals from the video don't add much - neither in the hall. Vocally great as always, but a very low applause.
Song 15: Cyprus
Postcard: The screen is off since halfway Czech Republic so I haven't seen it.
Performance: Hovig seems to have worked out his choreography finally. It looks really nice on stage. The graphics when Hovig lies on the floor are really nice (screens were back for some seconds!)
Song 16: Armenia
Postcard: Beautiful views from a balloon with Artsvik and her team, driving through the streets, toasting with friends.
Performance: Sounds a bit different in the beginning. A lot softer than it was, really good though. Sounds and looks amazing. Either a lot has been changed or I changed my mind.
Song 17: Slovenia
Postcard: Omar singing Stop (Slovenia 2005)! Walking through a city, having drinks.
Performance: Some issues with the high notes, bu tcould be saving his voice for tonight. Looks still good on screen. The rest of the song is good vocally.
Song 18: Latvia
Postcard: Sporting, enjoying the view in a city, eating donuts with chopsticks.
Performance: Today Agnesa's hair is black/white again, but the buns are more orange-ish now. It makes her look a bit like a barbie doll and I assume that is everything she is not. The vocals are not that great today. Oh it's my favourite backdrop again of the drumming and dancing colourful robots! It's better visible on screens now as well. Quite some support for this act in the hall, hadn't expected it! Could Latvia surprise after all? Smoke columns towards the end still (and blocking that background for a small time).
So those were all the songs competing in the semi-final!
But we're not done yet of course. Still three direct finalists to perform as well as the interval acts.
Spain first - the postcard is not ready so we get to see the Italian one instead. I'll comment on it when Italy is on, to keep you all curious!
Performance: Spain is not ready to come on stage right after the postcard, takes about a minute. Shaky vocals at the beginning. The staging is the same as it is, just like Manel's vocals who is still struggling a bit. Oh, we have Manel sticking out his tongue now. Not sure that would be a good idea if he wants to be taken seriously.
On a general note now, I think it's great that the direct finalists now get a chance to perform the full song in the semi-finals, so that it won't be completely new for the viewers. Only too bad we won't get the full songs on screens.
United Kingdom: the time of the postcard is not enough to put UK's prop on stage, so wherever she will perform in the final, big chance she'll have a break before! We'll also have to see how they will solve this for the semi-final. Will we get a longer postcard, green room talk, will the order be changed? Timur is indeed on screen now in the green room to kill the time.
After quite a long break Lucie finally gets to perform. Vocally excellent performance and the staging is growing on me even though I still don't see the need for the mirrors. Very atmosphereic in the hall.
Italy - postcard: If you think Francesco would be the perfect waiter, well you're right! Or as a chef? Francesco showing different sides of him.
Performance: again with a delay as it takes time to get the prop off and set things right for the Italian performance.
Francesco's performance is back on point. A great performance, looks colourful, bright, happy - definitely a party song. The only question that remains - will the act and staging understood by the viewers as the staging doesn't really explain the meaning of the song.
Shortly after Italy it's time for the first voting recap and then Jamala performs 1944 in a silver dress, with many dancers and in a dress that I personally like better than what she wore last year. Vocally it's a bit toned down. The arrangement for the song is different as well, almost classical and more emotional to me, with a beautiful instrumental break. If she hadn't won already, I'd say she will win with this performance. I'm very very impressed.
Another shorter recap - and by now I also know the name of the rapper at the beginning: Monatik! It's edited of course, but just thought I'd write it here as well. After this recap the lines almost close.
It's time for another interval act: Verka Serduchka. To not spoil anything, I won't comment too much on the very funny introduction video ... There's some love love peace peace involved! No performance. After the video it's Jamala again performing 'Zamanyly'.
More greenroom talk, with the direct finalists, whose performance clips recorded earlier will be shown.
Not long after that - it's time for the qualifiers...
So that's it for now.. Tonight of course it will become really important as 50% of the votes will be decided.