Congratulations, I have arrived! And I don’t think I have ever been that excited about the prospect of live blogging a train crash of major proportions as I am about my upcoming date with Senhit’s wig. Once again, I’ll be here for the first rehearsals of the day – that’s San Marino, Estonia, Czech Republic and Greece – before my evil time zone forces me to actually sleep at some point, and then Felix will be taking over for the rest of the day.
As always, don’t forget to refresh once in a while and remember it might take a bit at the beginning of each rehearsal slot before anything will actually show up here as the first run throughs aren’t shown in the Online Press Centre.
San Marino: I thought I was prepared for the psychotic giant kitchen sink that this is going to be. I was wrong. I don’t even know where to start with this. Basically all the things happen in it, including all the colors from the video, the hairstyle, the rotating platform (but not the Flo Rida – there’s a Flo Rida replacement guy, though!) and then there are approximately 89,003 other things happening on stage that I might need about 10 more run throughs to capture properly. I think – maybe, I’m still sort of dazed – that it works, though, as this is will be delightful for the Eurovision madness seeking audience at home.
We’re waiting to see another run through, and I was really hoping to use this time to get some of my thoughts about this sorted out, and managing to flesh out more details of this visual overload – but there was just so much to absorb, including, but not limited, to the really weird costume she starts the song with, which I’m assuming will show up in some photos later and will do better job in describing this.
Second run through, and I can pay more attention to the creepy zombie dancers in red rain boots, the patterns and colors sprayed all over the floor and backdrop and the 3D effects with the word Adrenalina because obviously, we wouldn’t want anyone to miss this little detail.
There are pyros! Of course there are pyros! How can you get every other element in the history of staging in and NOT use pyros!
That aside, she has great energy and she really gave everything in both takes that we’ve seen. Vocally, for whatever that’s worth, it was a bit all over the place, but not worse than pretty much anything else in the vicinity of this musical territory. And honestly, for all of the Flo Rida talk, this really doesn’t need Flo Rida. The kitchen is already packed. Not that it’s going to stop them, obviously.
Estonia: For someone who was so unhappy about Victor Crone going to Eurovision in 2019, Uku sure managed to get a staging Victor would have been proud of, including weather effects, screen effects that we can’t be entirely sure whether they are working correctly or not and suspicious vocals.
As much as I thought that I’d appreciate something a little less busy after the madhouse that is San Marino, there’s such a thing as too little, and not much happens here. He mostly stands and stares into the camera (I imagine the director’s instructions to him were “just be pretty and try to do a smoldering look that doesn’t look like any expression Koit Toome will use and don’t move). There are a lot of quick cuts of camera shots showing his face framed slightly differently, and lots of lightning bolts in the backdrop, as well as a quick visit underwater because why not. The most effective shots are actually the opening, where he kneels on stage with a full moon projection behind him, which is a relatively striking image, which we return to at the end as he stands in front of that same moon. The rest is less so, with the only development happening visually is that at some point towards the end we have red replacing the dominant dark blue lights.
Uku’s next take brings us (mostly) the correct key and dry ice, and I still don’t entirely know whether the background effects I’m seeing (storms and underwater scenes and whatever it is supposed to be) is showing correctly or not. It might be, but the staging feels so empty I can’t tell for sure whether it’s intended or that they learned nothing from the logistical torture that their 2019 staging was.
Czech Republic: The good news? Benny is adorable.
The bad news? Pretty much everything else. Vocals aside – I don’t think his in-ear monitor working correctly – this is the Czech Republic of old, when they were constantly clueless about all the things that make staging work. There some abstract backgrounds effects and lights that don’t really do much or add much, there’s a lot of dancing around and having fun with his dancers, which is nice in itself but doesn’t really serve a purpose except for being there and making the stage feel less empty. As far as I can tell, it looks like one of those stagings where the delegation leaves everything up for the local production so there’s no concept or effort beyond using different lights, effects and camera shots without any particular reasoning.
The next run demonstrates that he actually sounds the same even when he doesn’t fiddle with the in-ear monitor, so he’s either not even trying to do vocals or that nothing can save that aspect. We shall see. And hear.
Otherwise, it’s pretty much the same, with the color choices for the backdrop and lights probably meant to make this feel a bit more urban, but the overall impact of this packs no punch at all. It’s there and he and his dancers look like a group that is fun to hang out with, but there’s only so much you can go on that when every other staging element does very little to help you stand out.
Greece: It started so well. Sparkly purple costume, dreamy galaxy backdrop and floor, and for a second I thought, “oh, wow, that’s so classy and understated for the Dream Team!”
Well, then. Famous last words.
While the color scheme of pinks and purples and silvers remains throughout the performance, the rest of it is a TV series of mini episodes, each one dedicated to a different chapter in the career of Fokas Evangelinos.
Let’s put it this way: if you are into pretty much every gimmick Fokas has brought to Eurovision before, you’re in luck, because they’re all in here, some in physical form, some in digital form. Some in both. We have projected digital dancers (including just legs of a dancer. I guess the head is the Belgium video clip. Not sure where the torso went to. Oh, it is actually there too, just not at the same time). The invisible steps of Russia 2016 are also there, and ooh look, our digital dancers have hopped to the stage and now they are real!
A lot of this does work well with the retro feel of the song – like the backdrop changing into stripes of color and back and white, and the light effects are used really well, as are the camera angles. But once more I wish Fokas knew where to stop and how to not overdo it, because I think it would have benefited from focusing on a few fun ideas instead of just throwing everything they could come up with at it. But for what it’s worth – and I imagine it’s worth a lot for Greece fans – it does look very different than anything else on offer and it will definitely have its fans.
The second run is on now, so I can be reminded of all the details I forgot in the first run, because it’s a lot. Much of the backdrop – from the point in which she climbs the invisible steps onward is of high rises which become more futuristic by the end of the performance. Some of this looks really cool, but a lot of the digital illusions does look a bit on the cheap side (which is ironic for a production that was probably anything but cheap).
My biggest worry after seeing this, though, is that it didn’t look like Stefania enjoyed it much. The vocals were sometimes good, and sometimes less so, but it wasn’t even that. I don’t know if it’s the pressure and stress, the fact that so much is happening in the routine which isn’t perfected yet or that she’s just not that comfortable with this kind of performance. It will be interesting to see how this evolves in the next rehearsals.
And that is all from me today. Felix will be here after the lunch break with more rehearsal shenanigans!