Grand Final - Dress Rehearsal - Part Three - Songs Seventeen to Twenty-Six

17. Finland
Postcard: It's a day on the golf course for the Finn femme.
Performance: Saara belts it out and the staging continues to enhance the song. Probably the best climax of the final due to her stage dive before being caught by her dancers...even though it always looks worryingly as if she might be dropped.

18. Bulgaria
Postcard: It's a tram ride for Equinox and then the downtown viewing point in Lisbon.
Performance: As can so often be the case with five-piece groups in this contest, it seems it's more a case of competing rather than synchronisation. Strong vocally but what was seen as a top-three certainty may just be a top-ten finish now. Having said that...

19. Moldova
Postcard: A little bit more sightseeing
Performance: A light, fun song with very entertaining staging (if a little slapstick), this may see Moldova trouble the top five for the second year running. Certainly ranks in many people's favourites this year due to the cabaret feel of it all. DoReDos dos what they dos best.

20. Sweden
Postcard: It's off to the farm to make some cheese for Benjamin...no reflection on Swedish pop music of course...
Performance: The lighting is impressive and Benjamin glides effortlessly through the performance, as vocally smooth as it gets. More than likely another top five result for the Eurovision powerhouse. If it weren't for Cyprus, Israel and France this may have just sneaked it...

21. Hungary
Postcard: Chocolate making and a wander about for the hard rock AWS boys.
Performance: If Sweden, which precedes it, is smooth and refined, this would be its antithesis. Rough rocking it as much as you like, AWS really take the decibel level up to like it has never been seen before at Eurovision. The sreeches and screams and pyrotechnics would scare Lordy away any day of the week. Given the fact that it differs to everything else in the contest this year and the band's energy on stage, expect a solid finish for it - top ten in all likelihood.

22. Israel
Postcard: A Lisbon rooftop DJ set for Netta (and a few eager facial expressions too).
Performance: This could be a talking point from the first rehearsal. Netta's mike seemed to be set into the off position for the intro and the first verse. We were expecting a re-run but no such thing happened. The so-long favourite, now relegated to second place on the list, has it experienced an Italy-style YouTube burn out? If it does, it won't be anything near as dramatic and probably still not wise to bet against it. A top three shoe-in but will it win?

23. The Netherlands
Postcard: Just as well Waylon wasn't waylaid in his semi and came out tenth - he was tasked with baking the pastel de natas (custard tarts in a filoux-style pastry and Portugal's signature sweet).
Performance: His first time on-stage before proving the Dutch (and much of the) media wrong, Waylon isn't likely to get anywhere near to the highs of 2014 but perhaps sitting somewhere between 10th and 15th may suit him fine.

24. Ireland
Postcard: It's a walk along the beach and deep-sea diving for Ryan.
Performance: Well, it's the luck of the Irish for the draw. Really the only out-and-out ballad in the second half, its understatement may stand out and take them to a slightly higher finishing place than expected when it qualified on Tuesday. The market is certainly hotting up for it.

Grand Final - Dress Rehearsal - Part Two - Songs Nine to Sixteen

9. United Kingdom
Postcard: Rather aptly SuRie goes tea-picking before enjoying a nice brew. Some of these postcards are perfectly suited to the artists and their countries.
Performance: Complete with her stage prop, SuRie shines and brings the song to life. It may even trouble the top of the second half of the scoreboard based on this performance.

10. Serbia
Postcard: Sanja and Balkanika team go wine-tasting in Porto. Another appropriate postcard sequence given the group's love of the grape.
Performance: A deserved qualifier from last night, vocally they just keep getting better and better. Reverting back to the initial Nevena Ivanovic-designed costumes they first wore before they were refitted for the semis, they really shine. From the betting odds, it seems it may have come in at 10th place in its semi but it is worthy of a good placing tomorrow night.

11. Germany
Postcard: Another country walk with waterfalls and forests before Michael paraglides.
Performance: Solid all the way vocally. One of the better performers of the Big Five on the scoreboard this year?

12 Albania
Postcard: Eugent takes a gondola-style boat trip.
Performance: Incredible vocal - as always - exactly why he has earned his place in this final. Great song, powerfully delivered. If the contest was judged solely on vocal ability, Albania would be beating their best finish (5th) of 2012.

13. France
Postcard: More scenery and a funicular ride for the French duo, before busking.
Performance: Immaculately and simply staged with just enough understatement to see it creep up. Still my tip for the winner and it may pip Cyprus to it just yet. France for the first since 1977? C'est possible...

14. Czech Republic
Postcard: Carnival time for Mikolas Josef.
Performance: Still lacking the gumph that the original acrobatics gave it, it will easily give the Czech Republic their best ever result. A finisher between sixth and eighth, or maybe a little higher on the night depending how it's received.

15. Denmark
Postcard: Rasmussen head to a library among other things. Maybe to read up on Viking history...
Performance: The chorus and the chanting coupled with drum beats make this incredibly catchy. Could see it finish top 10, but unlikely to conquer Eurovision as much as the Vikings did Northern Europe all those years ago.

16. Australia
Postcard: A quick rooftop and waltz around Lisbon before some guitar/banjo playing.
Performance: Jessica can relax a bit now after weathering the storm and making it through after much undeserved and unfair criticism in the last week or so. Some lovely vocal adlibs - especially in the second verse - and the vocals will be spot-on come tonight for the juries and tomorrow. A top-ten finish should still be in the offing - especially if she continues to sparkle like this.

German Embassy Reception with Cláudia Pascoal, Michael Schulte and Mariza

AidaK on Fri, 05/11/2018 - 14:04

On the occasion of Eurovision in Lisbon, the German embassy held a reception in the garden of the Goethe-Institut.
After welcoming words of the Ambassador Helmut Elfenkämper, the Director of the Goethe-Institut of Lisbon Elisabeth Völpel and the Head of German Eurovision Delegation Christoph Pellander, the stage has been opened for Eurovision contestants.
As Portuguese representor Cláudia Pascoal sang her entry “O Jardim” supported by the composer of the song Isaura Santos.
Of course, the main act was the performance of the German participant. He sang the ballad “Collide” from his new album “Hold the Rhythm” and his entry “You Let Me Walk Alone”. As a bonus, Michael performed a medley of “Fly on the Wings of Love” (in Danish), “Satellite” and “Amar Pelos Dois” (in Portuguese).
During a “commercial break” when the audience waited for the next musical surprise, Michael and the host of the German national Final Linda Zervakis were chatting along. However, even if they ran out of topics very soon, Linda and Michael managed the situation by joking around like the hosts of actual Eurovision Song Contest.
The surprise guest was Portuguese fado singer Mariza who performed in a characteristic dramatic way the song “Trigueirinha” (“the darkhaired girl”) from her new album and a classic fado ballade “Quem me dera” (“if only”) accompanied by a Portuguese guitar. Starting her show in a theatric manner by stepping out of the audience Mariza finished it in same way.
It’s not to say if the reception will help Michael Schulte marketing-wise, but the bookmakers already see him making 6th place in the Final. Fingers crossed!

Grand Final - Dress Rehearsal - Part One - Intro and Songs One to Eight

So here we are after all of last night's drama - the dress rehearsal for Saturday's Grand Final (and of course, tonight's all-important Jury Final).

Intro and reprise

Ana Moura kicks off the show, treating us to some Fado. Salvador Sobral won't be performing his segment today we've been informed, as we are running a little late. Mariza then takes up the Fado reins, with drums and drummers-a-plenty surrounding her.

The flag parade of the 26 finalists is next, with the flag-bearers walking the outer perimeter of the circular stage before the acts move to the Green Room.

Filomena Cautela, Sílvia Alberto, Daniela Ruah and Catarina Furtado then introduce themselves and as standard, briefly explain the voting and display the running order with the graphics for those watching at home.

1. Ukraine
Postcard: Melovin takes a cliff-walk before horse riding.
Performance: Melovin kicks us off lying in his coffin before being released from it as part of the staging spectacular that we so often see from Ukraine. He's in good voice and it makes for an excellent opener while his coffin burns as he sits at the piano. Should be a top 10 finisher.

2. Spain
Postcard: It's a romantic country walk ending with a meal boiled underground in a hot spring for the Spanish duo.
Performance: The staging is classic and Alfred and Amaia are in fine voice. Although it's unlikely to trouble the top 10 on the night, it sounds great in the hall.

3. Slovenia
Postcard: Lea visits the very windswept and grey Azores. Just as well her pink hair was there to brighten up the weather.
Performance: Very much more of the same fantastic vocals and perfectly executed choreography (including THAT "malfunction" break) that saw her make the final last night against the odds and many of the press predictions. The cult of Hvala, ne! is now a Eurovision phenomenon regardless of Lea's overall placing on Saturday night.

4. Lithuania
Postcard: Ieva takes an antique car out on a quick spin down a country road.
Performance: Ieva's delicate vocals shine in the darkness and her husband can give her her first on-stage embrace as a finalist. Outside shot at top 10 possibly but it's likely that its high placing on the betting market is due to a slight skewing from Tuesday's semi-final's voting demographic.

5. Austria
Postcard: Cesar takes a mountain bike ride through small country villages, ending at a viewing point.
Performance: Cesar seems a lot more relaxed now (as is so often the case with many a qualifier). The pressure gone he gives his best vocal performance to date. Austria is unlikely to trouble the top half too much, but solid it is.

6. Estonia
Postcard: A country walk for Elina before a sheer-cliff face rock climb.
Performance: Impeccably delivered and with a mesmerising light show within the dress. Should sit mid-point in the first half of the table come 11pm on Saturday night.

7. Norway
Postcard: Mr Fairytale is given a spraypaint task.
Performance: As professional as slick as we've come to expect from Alexander Rybak, the song without any sort of notable lyric (ironically) and its on-screen graphics, sits early on in the running order but is still likely to put him on the cusp of the top 5 - despite the betting market effectively deserting it as a serious contender overnight.

8. Portugal
Postcard: The girls put a hard day's graft in with the Portuguese Navy.
Performance: Claudia is strong vocally and brings the song to life a lot more than we've seen in previous rehearsals. It may pick up a few thanks-for-having-us votes but something around a 20th-place finish would be my prediction for this one. However, the girls have done the home nation proud.

Now there's a short break before we see songs nine to sixteen performed.

Semi two shocks and gasps

Well first up Serbia. Neither of us saw it coming - but in the end we were very happy for them to pass to the final on Saturday - scooping up the Balkan votes on 12th May perhaps? Well done to them...

I was a little emotional for Moldova, having followed them from the National final until their arrival in Lisbon and backing them for a top 10 place - I now feel they could go one better and place in the top 5. They would be overjoyed simply to qualify - so this is great for them.

Hungary, again, with it being my favourite song/performance in the whole show, I was totally OTT when they made it through - well done to the AWS, they also announced at th press conference that they are booked for a big metal festival in Berlin later this year. Funnily enough I think they were more excited about this

Ukraine. Possible winner of the televote in this semi, kinda deserved on this performance, even though I am not a huge fan of the song. Why do Ukraine always bring it with their staging?

Sweden. With such a weak song this year I was wondering if they would fail to make it to the final this time - that said he worked the camera like magic and turned it around on the night

Australia. Bad staging, ok vocal, but still they made it. This, apart from Mother Russia, was the big "shock" from last night - I have a feeling they just scraped in in 9th or 10th place

Norway. Again hate this song, such a load of nothing - but he performed the pants of it. And now, despite what the bookies say, he's in a great position to scoop up Eastern Block votes - along with Moldova and Ukraine

Denmark. Well performed, dark and gothic, worked for them. A great bunch of guys and was happy for them to pass - can see this doing a top 10 in the end

Slovenia. Big shock for me. Just do not get this at all. Despite what colleagues on the team say. It really does nothing for me - but it must come across very very well on stage

The Netherlands - Dad Rock did good in the end. I'm sure it was Waylon's eyes that sold this to the TV viewing public

And to all the other participants - you did your countries proud, especially Romania, Montenegro, San Marino and Georgia. I am sure you were all bubbling under the top 10 and did not miss out by that much....

Footnote. Mother Russia. Gone. Probably deserved that they went home. Do we think they will withdraw now? A quick scan of online Russian media today reveals next to nothing of the mood back in Moscow - but who know's - watch this space I guess....

Bullet (with support) in RCA Club

Andy on Fri, 05/11/2018 - 10:15

Finishing the year with the concert events I've attended a heavy metal conert (finally pure hard'n'heavy). It was a concert of Swedish band Bullet with support of Screamer and Rexoria. The concert amazingly started in time, but I arrived late since I was pretty tired after the tour and just wanted to see the headline band (sorry).

Bullet having six album releases since establishment in 2001 are playing traditional hard'n'heavy which nowadays is considered old school. They didn't disappoint, despite the crowd actually was the smallest of all concerts this week with around 40 people attending. What is with so many great metal concerts in Lisbon and hardly 100 people attendance to any of them? Prospects of metal music in the country are disappointing if we compare it with Stockholm or Vienna where such concerts were packed with youngsters and even girls.

Bullet in RCA Club

Semifinal 2 qualifiers

Andy on Thu, 05/10/2018 - 23:00

The following ten countries have qualified for the Grand Final (in order of announcement):
Serbia: Nova Deca by Sanja Ilić & Balkanika
Moldova: My Lucky Day by DoReDoS
Hungary: Viszlát Nyár by AWS
Ukraine: Under The Ladder by MELOVIN
Sweden: Dance You Off by Benjamin Ingrosso
Australia: We Got Love by Jessica Mauboy
Norway: That's How You Write A Song by Alexander Rybak
Denmark: Higher Ground by Rasmussen
Slovenia: Hvala, ne! by Lea Sirk
The Netherlands: Outlaw In 'Em by Waylon

Tour around Lisbon

Andy on Thu, 05/10/2018 - 20:22

Lisbon tour

Using the benefits of the Lisboa card given to all press-members (valid for 24 h from the first use, when date will be marked on it) me and Maxim have planned today a trip through Lisbon points of interest.

We've started with the Pantheon, we already were there in front of the building a week ago, but now we actually got inside. It was quite an interesting visit to the history of Portugal and a majestic building.

IMG_1107

"The National Pantheon, housing the tombs of Portugal’s major historic celebrities, is located on the original site of the church of Santa Engrácia. Founded in the second half of the 16th century, the building was totally rebuilt at the end of the 17th century by the architect João Antunes. Even though it was never used as a place of worship, it still preserves, under its modern dome, a majestic nave with a polychrome marble decoration typical of the Portuguese Baroque architecture. Being an icon of Lisbon’s cityscape and having a privileged location, as it overlooks the city’s historic centre and the river Tagus, it is listed as a National Monument"

"The personalities entombed here include the Presidents of the Republic Manuel de Arriaga, Teófilo Braga, Sidónio Pais and Óscar Carmona, Presidential candidate Humberto Delgado, writers João de Deus, Almeida Garrett, Guerra Junqueiro, Aquilino Ribeiro and Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen, fado singer Amália Rodrigues, and footballer Eusébio"

Official page: http://www.patrimoniocultural.gov.pt/en/recursos/cedencia-e-aluguer-de-…

Next, and we made a huge mistake there, was Teatro Romano. Not because it was uninteresting, it actually was fine, but to get from Pantheon there you have to climb a lot. We calculated that we had to do 30 floor climb on that day. The museum is made of two parts: excavation site and ruins itself and the museum demonstrating antiques discovered on the site.

IMG_1119

"The Roman Theater was built in the 1st century, at the time of the Roman emperor Augustus . It was rebuilt in the time of Emperor Nero, and during the reign of Constantine was partially dismantled. Abandoned in the fourth century, it remained buried until 1798, the year in which the ruins were discovered after the earthquake of 1755. The object of several archaeological campaigns since 1967 there have been recovered part of the benches, the stage and a large number of decorative elements. The museum itself is housed in a seventeenth-century building in the probable area of ​​one of the old theater entrances"

Official page: http://www.museudelisboa.pt/en/equipamentos/teatro-romano.html