As anyone who ever lived in Cologne would say:
“Et es wie et es, et kütt wie et kütt, un et hätt noch emmer joot jejange.”
That’s Cologne dialect for “It’s how it is, it will be like it is, and it has always worked out fine in the end.” It’s time for me to adopt this relaxed attitude now.
If you know me well, you’ll know I did live in Cologne before, and if you know me very well, you’ll know that I am the least flexible person in the world. One of my best developed typical German quirks is the fact that I have a compulsive disorder that forces me to do plan everything into the last detail, and try to stick to my schemes and plans… and obviously I fail, when my German organisation craze collides with the situation that we face here.
So, step 1: Delete the plans, and do what you can do, Step 2: Just roll with it, that’s how you write a blog!
Now my takeaway food is cold, because I focused on the introduction for way too long, but anyway, here we go.
Stunning view from Pavilhão de Portugal
I arrived at the venue, which is really beautifully located with a breathtaking view, around 9:15 in the morning. A little later, the arena opened for the press and fans for the first time. So, I grabbed a seat at the press area, and began to note my thoughts and impressions:
My personal highlights were clearly Albania and Austria. Sure, both of them were in my personal top 5 already, but they both work really well each in their own way: While I think Albania could have gone for a darker stage, Eugent’s vocal performance is so outstanding that the song gets sold no matter what. Qualification becomes a bit more likely for Albania now, but still, their start position remains a problem. Austria on the other side impresses with a gorgeous complete package. Wow. Winner? I still think it would have been better if he had a handheld microphone. He actually used one at one point during today’s rehearsals, but either they discarded my idea again or it was just a temporary substitute mic for whatever reason.
Speaking of which, there were quite some technical problems at the rehearsals, including Iceland singing with the wrong microphones. This and most other hiccups were, however, parts of a general mess that was originally caused by Iceland’s delayed arrival to the venue, and the slot swap with Albania as a result. Don’t blame Ari though, he’s adorable – and unlike the fashion disaster, this was not their choice. No, it’s a bit more serious, as the reason for their delay was a traffic jam caused by a car accident.
Lovely Lithuania doesn’t have the most rewarding staging for the viewer in the hall, but the camera captures the feel of the song very well. It’s the other way round for Israel. While it is fun, and will totally rock Altice Arena, and it is quite pushing Lithuania aside, the complete package somehow doesn’t work on screen. I think the strict shapes of the props swallow Netta and take a lot of dynamics and flow out of the performance. As a whole, it’s not the ideal execution of the big fan favourite, and if you haven’t been a fan of the song so far, you won’t become one based on the live performance. It’s certainly not bad, it’s still a strong one, but winner? Not so sure.
Pushing Lithuania aside: Netta from Isarel (photo: Andres Putting, eurovision.tv)
On the other hand, if you were not a fan of Belgium‘s song before, you might become one based on what I saw in the arena today. Sennek performs this one really well, and I had been a bit afraid she wouldn’t be able to sell the song as well as she apparently does. Great performance, though her look is a bit questionable. Also, the beginning is a bit odd, and not in a good way. First you only see her eyes, before Sennek gets revealed to the viewer in full, but the way it’s done is rather weird and makes me shrug.
The other country beginning with Bel? Belarus! Oh my god. Cheesy ad nauseam. While I love the song, and Alekseev performs it very well, this staging concept is the creepiest, weirdest thing we’ve seen since the Russian piano woman in 2006. Expect a lot of red on your screen.
Mikolas from the Czech Republic was obviously playing it safe with his back injury, so he didn’t move a lot, but decided to run in the last run-through (no pun intended). He still has a few days to recover, and we hope he will be able to show us his moves on Tuesday!
After I was told that it’s not allowed to take photos from the press area, I decided to skip Estonia (which was vocally flawless as I still could hear), and instead achieve some clarity about the situation. It turned out that nobody from the staff could provide clear information that felt trustworthy enough, and since my laptop doesn’t run on battery for a long enough time period, I ditched my plans and decided to not cover all the songs. Eventually I went back to the arena, just to watch a bit more, type some notes into my phone, and leave the arena after a very good Greek rehearsal.
Altice Arena in half glory
And at the end of my first full day here, Lisbon begins to feel really nice. I haven’t seen much of the city yet, as I was at the venue and in the subway the whole time so far, but the few metres between the subway station and my hotel already suggested a very good, bright and lightweight feel about this city.
So, under the line, this day wasn’t only a rehearsal day for the artists, it was also a lesson in flexibility for me. You’ll get the result now and in the upcoming days, as escgo!’s coverage will go very freestyle this year. I am really sorry that we can’t cover the rehearsals of each country in detail this time, but we’re just one F-accredited person on-site, and the information we get about permissions and restrictions isn’t particularly well rather poorly communicated and is often contradictory. But there we are – I’ll adapt to the situation and try to make the best out of what’s possible, both for myself and for our coverage on escgo!
So I’ll do what I can – after all, we are who we are, and who we are is who we wanna be. Let our freestyle Eurovision coverage continue!