Jonida Maliqi's rehearsal is good vocally as always. She now has her hair tied back. The camera shows us the backing singers, who now moved a bit forwards. They got rid of the black eagle in the graphics. Her see-through black dress gives her a nice silhouette. Camera work has improved, and there is a video of flames in the background. On the LED floor there's a video of a nest, where people gathers, as a metaphor to Jonida's cry for immigrants to come back to Albania.
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Jonida Maliqi is now. She's wearing a black and golden dress, a modern dress with some ethnic elements. She stands at center stage throughout the entire performance. The main colors in the performance are gold and silver, with glimpses of red and black. At the end of the performance, there's a big black eagle flying. His facial expression made people giggle... In addition, her dress had some lights in it, which lit towards the end of the song. She sounds well, and so did the backing singers, but I doubt this has any chance of qualifying.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Today the second country to rehearse is Albania and not Iceland, as the Icelandic delegation is delayed by a traffic jam.
A mainly red background here for Albania. Eugent is still sounding absolutely fantastic. In the hall it does seem he is giving it all, so looking forward to hearing it when it does matter!
Some issues before the 2nd run here but as soon as it started it went on as usual.