Semi Two rehearsals as seen by Keith Mills
After a rather long adventure in getting to the arena this morning, I only just made it for the second run-through of Malta. I am really worried as to how people make it out here and back to the city on the show nights.
MALTA has some lovely backdrops giving an outdoor feel. Firelight are lined up and there are some nice panning shots from the front. It’s vocally perfect, and while I don’t think the photos in the backdrop add anything they aren’t as distracting as I thought they might be. This is very competent and a better show opener than Armenia in the first semi and should qualify pretty easily.
ISRAEL is much stronger than I thought it might be. Mei is a woman of amble thighs and we’re certainly seeing a lot of them in this performance but the semi-oriental staging is fantastic and the choreography is slick but at times not caught properly on camera with too many shot changes. Vocally it’s very strong but something here reminds me of Cyprus 2008 and Bulgaria 2011, neither of which qualified. However with only five songs to beat, this should make the cut. As good as I could have hoped for.
NORWAY is just a perfect contrast to Israel. It’s dark, moody angst-ridden and intense. Carl is good vocally, engages with the camera in a much better way than before and the violinists on the stage pedestal provide some variety of shots. Call me old-fashioned but I’d prefer not to see the tattoo on his arm. I’d prefer more use of the storm cloud motif in the background, but these are all minor quibbles. This should qualify easily.
GEORGIA is not only different from anything today but probably different from anything we’ve ever had in the contest. It reminds me of the folk/prog fusion and bands like Steeleye Span and Jethro Tull from the early 1970s. I’m not a fan of the paracute gimmick but otherwise I really like the staging. The female singer in lurid green is really pushing this up my ranking but I have the feeling that it might just be too different to appeal on just one listening and could lose out on qualifying.
POLAND has gone 100% ethno-pop in the staging and costumes. Cleo looks and sounds great and while I don’t see the point of having two girls doing nothing bar pretending to wash clothes. It’s got a pumping beat and the basic dance moves work very well and while the staging is just too busy in the arena it works on television. I think this benefits hugely from coming after Georgia and it could well qualify.
AUSTRIA is the bloke with a beard wearing a frock that everyone has heard about. The song reminds me of a rejected Bond them from 1974 and the backgrounds has the flame cliché that Azerbaijan didn’t go for. Vocally it’s a little shaky on the chorus and after a 25 second lead in before you see the singer, once you get over the shock value, it becomes rather dull very quickly.
LITHUANIA is another contrast with very minimalist staging and lighting and clever (possibly over-thought) choreography. Vilija is very strong vocally and really looks strong on camera. I could do without the leg wobbles and hands coming through the skirt and the 40 shades of blue staging lacks variety but otherwise I see little wrong with this. This is different and strong enough to sail into the final.