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I was so impressed with PÆNDA's vocal and visual performance on her first rehearsal. She once again opens the performance sitting down, wearing black strapless and black pants. The LED pillars are lightning up one by one and give the stage a very special appearance. It also looks like she's sitting on air. The game with the lights and the dark stage makes it hard to say where the stage begins and ends. They didn't use the black and white effect this time. Her vocals once again gave me goosebumps. Very good rehearsal.
PÆNDA's performance starts off in black and white. She stands in the center of the stage, surrounded by LED pillars. In the 2nd chorus, the screen changes from black and white to color. The stage is dark throughout the entire song with a burst of light towards the end of it. The Video art is mostly in silver. PÆNDA dressed in black plain clothes. She's really giving it all, with amazing vocals from both her and the backing singers, that are actually complementing each other. I see a final in her future.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The jury final has just started. As tonight it is all about the performances, this live blog will focus mostly on that. But of course, if anything special happens we will of course let you know.
Aisel immediately gets the audience clapping along with her - maybe eager to see the show started as it's the first one. The running before the first chorus looks very panicked now. OK performance but not spectacular, vocally she is struggling in some of the verses. Azerbaijan has a great record but I would not be surprised to see it broken this year.
Ari has been very solid all week through and again now his performance is good. However, it will most likely not be enough for qualification.
It seemed to me there was an issue with the lighting at the beginning as he was mostly covered in blue until the first chorus starts. Vocally a very good performance though that gets a huge applause in the press hall. However, Eugent seemed a bit nervous to me.
It took some time before we got a good focus in the opening and vocally Sennek sounds very fragile tonight. She improved as the song progressed though.
Just a general observation, I thought this jury final was sold out, but I see lots of empty chairs everywhere...
5. Czech Republic
Miklas struggles a bit to get his rucksack back on after the tricks in the middle. Otherwise a good performance and he looks relieved after it.
A bit breathy but otherwise very good performance vocally with a good reaction in the hall. In the end Ieva has decided to revert to English for the very last line again.
The beginning sounds good today, but for the rest it's not Netta's best performance vocally, however the long high note towards the end goes quite well.
An otherwise fine song ruined by the staging, it's still all too much. Not convinced about his performance tonight, his vocals seemed off from time to time. No specific issues though.
I would not say Elina is off, but in the verses she is not as good as she was before. In the higher parts during the chorus she is perfect though, and that is probably what will matter most and stay in people's minds.
Vocally competent but very cold performances. I'm just not really sure if everyone will go for this tonight and tomorrow.
Major issues earlier today, but they finally got the camera shot right with her walking to the drummer taking off her dress. During the end she's still out of breath though, and the (great!) backings are not able to hide that at all places.
Franka's confident performance from earlier this week is back. Some issues with the sound of the stream though that might be only here. Flawless performance, I still think this can surprise everyone.
Sometimes César is just walking in the dark through the end which is not so great to see. He and his backings gave a good performance though.
Yianna is out of tune in the first verse and also struggles during the end. During the second verse we get fireworks now which is just a bit too early really.
A seemingly effortless performance of Saara Aalto who does not miss any note. Based on this alone I would not be surprised if there's a space for Finland in the final after all. Oh, today all three firework fountains worked.
The Armenian performance also went well, though the high note with the guitar sounds a bit strange from time to time.
Dress rehearsal one for the first semi-final has just started - we start of course with some opening sequence showing, among others, images of Lisboa, Pasteles de nata, water, football... and of course the various logotypes of this year's contest before we move into the hall where our four hosts all come on stage, still a bit giggly at first!
I'm here liveblogging this semi-final from the hall and will most probably be back in the evening for the jury-final when it really matters, so I'm curious to see where my impressions will differ today comparing the 2 rehearsals!
Check back here from time to time to see all the latest updates, as the performances and more pass by!
Postcard: Aisel in what seems a typical Portuguese village with white houses before taking a balloon tour.
Peformance: Lots of smoke on stage in the beginning, not sure I noticed that earlier. Vocally ok until th esecond verse where she starts to struggle a bit. It's still very artificial, the glitter effect in the bridge seems to have been developed better now.
Postcard: More Portuguese villages but Ári gets inside a building where he makes a puppet-on-a-string - Now is that a Eurovision reference or not?!
Performance: Missed camera shots in the beginning where we see cameras through the screen while we should only see Ari. This better not happen tonight or tomorrow night. Otherwise great performance again from Ari who once again shows how good a singer he is.
Postcard: Eugent is taking a boat tour what looks like through the Venice of Portugal.
Performance: In the last part of the song the backings can be heard a lot more now. Vocally this is great once again and I can not see any fault to this performance but I immediately admit I'm biased as this is by far my favourite.
Postcard: Also Sennek went on a boat trip but this time closer to Lisboa, in fact it seems very close to where we had the blue carpet event yesterday.
Performance: They finally seem to get the opening right, even though I wonder if it's the right opening to this song. After Albania this is really quite relaxing without getting boring. Not completely sure the vocals in the chorus were as perfect as in the last rehearsal.
5. Czech Republic
Postcard: Mikolas finds himself with some very strangely dressed creatures with carnaval masks from the Tras-Os-Montes region of Portugal.
Performance: Mikolas seems more comfortable on stage than in his last rehearsal, he's moving around a lot more, but of course leaves out the backflips that caused him lots of trouble one week ago. Still a lot running and a normal jump on stage though.
Postcard: Ieva is taking a trip in the mountains in her now quite trademark comfortable wide pullovers, very similar to what she wore in the second rehearsal.
Performance: On stage she is now wearing a very princessy pink dress. Vocally it is very good and the song is so relaxing and smoothing that it is over before I know it! And, small detail - 2 lines in Lithuanian are back today!
After this performances we get to the greenroom where the host is already asking how Lithuania is doing, I wonder if she'll be back at all at that moment! Will be fun to watch tomorrow.
Postcard: Netta performing at an outside party.
Performance: The beginning now sounds better in the hall than it did during the second rehearsal. However, we get to start over again as apparently there were issues..
Thought the first time sounded better, but it's probably more noticeable in the press area that it didn't go well the first time. As if Netta may have thought she had something to prove after the issues in the beginning, she gave it all at this rehearsal, to send up a bit out of breath by the end.
Next is César Sampson for Austria who will perform just after the 2nd break - so far the breaks are completely straight forward with them being after each 6th song.
First run - in the hall the performance starts completely dark. As César Stands up we get to see more lights on stage. We now get to see that the backing vocals move away after the first chorus to a place where we can not see them anymore. During the bridge they are back on one of the bridges.
The projections of César in the background are also only visible only on tv. There we have also some strange cuts in the screen that are not really in its favour.
Something really strange happens though - almost at the end of the rehearsal César cuts off his performance mentioning about a form he has to sign....
The second run is then also cut off for unclear reasons.
The rehearsal is delaying the schedule as we get three full runs after all - the first one was held back a lot but in the second one sounded more like it should.
A pattern seems to be forming in terms of the lighting set-up. Many of the rehearsals opt for either blue strobes moving to red and yellow, or darkness with a spotlight, before the lights are turned up - Austria falls into the latter of these categories. Cesar starts atop a high-raise platform before descending. Solid vocals, we'll see how it develops as the week goes on.