Ahead of their participation in the grand final, this coming Saturday, ESCKAZ were invited by the UK delegation to the home of the UK ambassador in Sweden for a performance of Uk entrants Joe & Jake.
Set in a beautiful green environment, the UK ambassador treated us to champagne and canapés on the balcony of his residency, the home for the UK ambassador since a 100 years, overlooking one of Stockholm’s finest lakes.
The setting gave the perfect opportunity to meet other UK fans and the UK team, who are hoping to see Joe & Jake finish on the left hand side of the scoreboard. If their performance last night is anything to go by, it shouldn’t be much of a problem.
The boys confidently performed You’re Not Alone in front of all the people attending, which was met with cheers and applause.
Thank you so much to the British ambassador, and the UK delegation team for allowing ESCKAZ.com to be part of this wonderful experience.
It's hard to believe tonight the first semi final is taking place. How that week of rehearsals has flown by. So time to give predictions on who will qualify and who shouldn't.
Way back in March when Bulgaria released their song, I ended up with a top 42 after hearing each song once. So based on that list, my personal qualifiers would have been:
Azerbaijan, Russia, Armenia, Estonia, Austria, Malta, Czech Republic, Cyprus, The Netherlands and Croatia.
But two months on, guest apperances throughout Europe AND the rehearsals last week, have shifted things around a little bit. So my careful prediction for the countries going through tonight are:
and Czech Republic
We'll find out whether I'm right, later on tonight.
Happy Semi 1 everyone :)
Once again the Israeli delegation, spared no trouble or cost in transforming Euroclub in a massive party which would last til the dawn of day. The Israeli party, which coincidentally took place on the same day Dana International won Eurovision in Birmingham 18 years ago on the same day, has become one of the absolute highlights for the many fans during Eurovision week.
Promo Clip from the Israeli Calling Event;
While the fans had plenty of Eurovision classics to dance on, the Israeli party organisers were the perfect hosts providing us with plenty of drink and gorgeous Israeli food, to the delight of the public. Last but not least what would a party be, without dancing. On several occasion the host of the evening would be in the public, encouraging fans to dance together in circles to the rich history of Israeli Eurovision Songs. Incredible.
Several delegations also came to visit the party and performed. Nicky Byrne from Ireland, IVAN from Belarus, Poli Genova from Bulgaria, Denmark's Lighthouse X, are just a few of the names who came to enjoy the party. Some even performed their Eurovision entries AND in the case of Poli Genova, Amir and Eneda Tarifa, they added an Israeli entry into their repertoire. Austria's Zoe, who earlier last night had her Jury semi final, also came to the party to show her gratitude and sing Loin D'Ici for her fans.
Star of the evening of course was Israel's entrant Hovi Star, who treated the audience to three songs; Hozier's Take Me to Church, an adapted version of Belgian singer Stromae's Papaoutai, and his entry Made of Stars.
But he wasn't the only one; the French entrant Amir, who also has Israeli roots and one of the favourites to win Eurovision this year, got a very warm reception from the public. For the special occassion he also premiered a brand new version of his song J'Ai Cherche, recorded in Spanish.
Once again, an evening to remember for so many different reasons. Thank you to the Israeli delegation and organizers for another splendid memorable party, and allowing ESCKAZ to be part of it.
Refresh the page for live blog.
We start with Mans and kid performing Heroes. The complete kids choir joins them on the stage for the last chorus.
Intro about Sweden and we see hosts entrance. First words: Welcome to the Eurovision Song Contest 2016. Yes, it was really 3 long years, but finally we're back in Sweden again.
Mans thanks Vienna for the wonderful show last year in German.
Petra say she was doing absolutely nothing since 3 years ago, sitting home on the sofa and praying that someone would return contest to Sweden so she can get employed again.
Magic words: Welcome, Europe! show appearance of Europe the Band stand-ins performing Final Countdown. Hosts apologize for misunderstanding.
Bost hosts (Petra with numerous mistakes) impress with their French language explaining the voting. You can not vote more than 20 times from one phone.
We have titles and names of songwriters this year at the end of postcard part rather than during the performance itself.
Sandhja is much better vocally tonight, I'm still not impressed by her outfit, while backing vocalists look too dark as well. This is a good opener, but non-qualifier in my books.
Greece has no problems whatsoever in the performance, it is quite energetic and guys just give it all on the stage. Would love to see this qualifying as it is quite unique, we don't have many songs with national instruments this year.
Lidia is doing OK in her jury performance. The hilarious moment with astronaut appearance is still there, and it just distracts viewers on my opinion. They were not allowed by EBU to bring in French lyrics. The 10 seconds of backing vocals solo is a bit painful. It has minor chances to qualify.
Freddie is OKish vocally though synchronization with backings doesn't work at times. I'm totally not impressed by his outfit - white t-shirt. It gets really strong by the end, and may get enough votes to qualify.
Nina is totally amazing and vocals/outfits combined this is the song to stand out from first part and it's certain qualifier. We have a break after it, with video with Mans and Petra playing Taxi drivers, with special appearance of our friends from Wiwi, Verka Serduchka and others.
Douwe has no problems but I'm completely unsure if the pause works. Public seems confused of what is going on at this moment. It doesn't help to anything, and the song may just get lost among the others around it.
Iveta is great vocally and this is another sure qualifier, and get a big round of applause in the press-center as well. It's perhaps the only one who can challenge Russia in this semi.
Charming yet chanceless San Marino performs well. Serhat is amazing artist and sounds exactly like on the record.
Now to the potential winner of the semifinal Russia. No problems this time for Sergey but it still kind of looks he isn't yet delivering in the full force. Should have zero problems to qualify and there aren't really much candidates to rival him in this semi.
Press-center gets excited for Czech Republic as well. I much prefer Croatia to this even though ballads still kind of lack something. It can be a first qualifier for Czechia but it has a strong competition around. Gabriela delivers at her top vocally.
Cyprus is extremely energetic, quite fine vocally and with impressive staging is another sure finalist.
Zoe still on my opinion can bring the biggest surprise in the competition, I have her sure in top 10 in the final, this is catchy and she is ultra cute.
Juri seem to have some vocal problems through the performance and I'm not impressed enough to say this is a qualifier.
In the break Petra plans to say Douwe's name million times, she also plans to talk to Serhat, reveal her legs, talk to "lovely big boy" Sergey.
Samra is perfectly honest saying: we crush and we burn - this is definitely about her vocals. This will still qualify but only just. They should have hired complete backing choir instead of dancers.
Montenegro, despite confident performance is heading to the last place in this semifinal. There is nothing memorable in this song to a general viewer not called Mike.
Greta is doing quite well, even if she is a bit thin vocally. She gets applause in press-center and the visual part of the performance should help well for it to pass to the finals.
Bosnia should join Croatia in the list of finalists easily, staging is very impressive, they deliver live vocally and it looks really great on screens.
I would have had huge doubts in Malta's qualification if it wasn't performed last. Still it is quite a borderline entry, there is nothing to massively impress viewer and it's destined to get lost in the final.
Hosts mention international superstar to join us in the finals (who we now know is Justin Timberlake), Petra comments that of course she will be appearing in the final too, as she signed for all 3 shows.
After an interval act we're getting performances of Big 5 acts: Spain, France and Frans. Spain looks much more energetic and catchy than France and should do quite well. I'm still puzzled over what Frans result might be.
Serhat got back his hat from the audience. Jon Ola Sand, Dumbledore of Eurovision confirms we have the result.
Winners from tonight are (fake result): Azerbaijan, while Petra fails to name it, Austria, Estonia, The Netherlands, San Marino, Czech Republic, Cyprus. Mans says there are 11 tickets tonight, apologizes saying 11 countries are left. Armenia, Hungary, Russia.
ESCKAZ had today the privilege to be invited to and attend the official Australian party organised by the Australian Embassy in Stockholm.
This prestigious event held in Euroclub was kicked off with Swedish food and Australian wine, all courtesy of the Australian Embassy. Introduced by the host and head of delegation Paul Clarke the evening consisted of some introductory speeches, thanking the sponsors and some promo clips from the Australian Tourist board.
Then Dami was introduced herself, with Paul asking her a few questions for the gathered crowd. We also spotted Dami's parents in the audience.
After the chat Dami performed two songs; clips below