Anna Odobescu is taking the stage. Moldovan delegation surprised everybody with their first rehearsal featuring the sand artist Kseniya Simonova. This rehearsal starts off wrong when it seems the camera work doesn't work... it's completely static. Only later it works out, only to go completely blank, so they have to stop the rehearsal in the middle.
On the 2nd attempt, it works. The stage is mostly dark with a light that focuses on Anna. There are a lot of long shots so we can see the Kseniya's work with the snow (apparently it's not sand). Her work also being screened on the LED floor. Anna still needs to work on the way she pronounces the words "Stay" and "Way".
Anna Odobescu is up now. The performance is much like the one of Ukraine in 2011; it features Kseniya Simonova, a sand animation performance artist, that draws objects, shapes, and faces using sand. These are being screened on the background. On stage nothing much is happening; Anna is standing, in the middle of the stage, and the sand artist is behind her. There's a point where they interact for a brief moment. The camera moves from focusing on the screen and on the board the artist work on. On the board, there's two candlelights and a rose. Vocally Anna's on point, as always. She's wearing a sparkling white and silver strapless dress.
Epic Sax Guy is back. Moldova have a slick dance choreography and a modern backdrop. They have three girls as backing singers, they toned down the bridesmaid outfits from National Final Performance and I think that's the right choice. For the latter part of the performance the girls join the guys in a line. It's an uplifting entry.
Space man alert! Space man alert! Yes Moldova's will wake you up this year, and bring some of that good old Eurovision craziness to you.
Lidia starts off her song Falling Stars by her own. The camera work is pretty much focussed on her and varies close up shots with long shots. And then boom!!! He's behind you!!!! The cosmonaut that is...
Funny to think that recently Lidia invited Romanian hopeful Ovidiu Anton to join her on stage, and that would have most likely been his role. Whether he would have managed to do the same dance routine as cosmonaut, is a question we'll never have answered I think. Cosmonaut, has worked with that other Eurovision alum Aliona Moon.
Unfortunately we don't have any sound either, but we've been promised they are working hard on getting it fixed.
Hurrah! Sound... I'm not panicking yet, but I hope Lidia is saving her voice. She's sounding a little bit off at the moment. Could however be the sound as well.... Neither Lidia nor her backings are actually sounding like they are mastering the backing track at the moment. Let's hope that gets sorted out before the next rehearsal.
Ok, so we have our first spaceman this year....
Moldova appears on stage with a fluffy spaceman
Now we have sound this sounds greta actually, Lidia is in good vocal form, the gimmick is not so bad when the sound is in place.....
But it could be that we just have sound now :-)
The catering area for the press is well stocked with lots of tasty lunch options and isn’t overly expensive. There’s also free water and coffee so well done Denmark. It compensates for dragging us out to the middle of a post-industrial wilderness.
AZERBAIJAN was first up after the break and Dilara is in a beautiful deep red dress that becomes quite revealing with the lighting. The backdrop goes from gothic to Gotham and avoids the obvious fire cliché. Vocally this is better than I’ve heard it before and Dilara looks beautiful on the close-ups. The only issue I have with this is the trapeze, which I think is too distracting at the start of the song. I would have used her for the last minute only, after the initial crescendo, to add variety. Sailing into the final and a good bet for the Top 5.
UKRAINE is by far the worst vocal of the day so far and no amount of gimmicks using a man running in a hamster wheel or wind machines or mechanical backdrops can cover over the screechiness. The basic song was never up to much and it comes to hiding the basic frailty, Russia has done a much better job than Ukraine. If this was almost any other country I would say it was a non-qualifier, but almost all Ukraine’s neighbours are voting in this semi so it will undeservedly make the final.
BELGIUM Performance as in the national final but there’s less focus on the dancer. It’s not vocally perfect, but it’s good enough. The main issue I have here is the placement of Axel’s mic, which hides his mouth when viewed from the centre of the screen. The staging is also too dark for my liking. I think this presses buttons that the other ballads don’t and as long as he can deliver it, it should make the final.
MOLDOVA Christina was a little wayward on the first run through but really got her act together after that. She’s mixing a blue and gold in her half and half dress. The gladiators are a bit unnecessary at the start but when the song gets going they add some nice camera shots, especially from the overhead shots. The key change with added wind-machine really adds something. This is dividing opinion on whether it qualifies but I think it’s in the mix.
SAN MARINO isn’t helped by coming after Moldova as it’s a little pale in comparison. Valentina looks fantastic and is note perfect. She really has matured brilliantly in two short years. The white dress and background look nice and the overhead swirl of yellow look great on screen. The problem is not with the singer or the staging, but with the song, which sounds far too like a song that would have finished 7th in Sanremo in 1988. Not qualifying, I think.
PORTUGAL comes after a long lunch and after an ad break on the night. Suzy looks comfortable and the “suzyshake” is back. The green, red and yellow backdrop looks fantastic. On the night Suzy will be wearing be wearing a red dress with tassels. I love this, although there are elements of the presentation and lighting that I would change.. It’s got great energy and it’s fun, which is very welcome after the songs that come before it. I have a sneaky hunch that this will do better than many people think.
NETHERLANDS is another complete contrast to what goes before it. The overhead road traffic effects and long camera shot which introduces the singers at the start is great. Having them face one another is an inspired move as it makes the connection between the singers that wasn’t there in Amsterdam. Simple, effect staging, no gimmicks but is it instant enough? This is more likely to be a jury winner than a televote favourite but it’s back in the qualification mix for sure.
Christina's first rehearsal went brilliantly on tuesday. How did she do in her rehearsal today?