London’s Shadow Lounge held its traditional Eurovision preview event last night. With fewer artists than last week’s Amsterdam show, a more cramped stage and poorer acoustics, it didn’t feel like as many clues could be gleaned from it as from the Eurovision in Concert event.
Nonetheless, whilst there were only two acts who weren’t seen in Amsterdam, one of them was Denmark’s Emmelie de Forest, hot favourite for this year’s contest. It’s to her we must turn first. (Once again, for videos from the event keep an eye on the youtube channel of those hard-working lads at esckaz.com, who will be uploading them during the course of the day.)
Emmelie sang only an acoustic version of ‘Only Teardrops’ and to be honest she sounded much as she did in the Danish final, but it’s worth commenting on that in greater detail.
I really like the tone of her voice and the feeling she puts into the song. But during rehearsals she will come under greater scrutiny as the pre-contest favourite, and I reckon her distinctive style will have its critics, just as Alexander Rybak had during his rehearsals. But like Rybak, I don’t think it will make a difference to how well she does.
I’m not saying that Denmark is necessarily this year’s winner, as Rybak proved to be in his year. In fact, I think its current price of 6/4 is far too short. Nonetheless, if she doesn’t win in Malmo, I don’t think it will be because of her vocals; it will be for other reasons. The way she emotionally invests in performing the song is actually the main strength of ‘Only Teardrops’.
The only other act we saw last night who wasn’t in Amsterdam were the Latvian boys. PeR were hugely entertaining and both are talented beatboxers. Still, I think their hopes of qualification are pretty small from the first slot of what I perceive to be the stronger semi.
Six of the eight entries who performed last night are involved in that second semi-final, and my belief that this is a tough heat was reinforced. The Finnish team are hugely entertaining and may well gain a cult following among fans and bloggers in Malmo. This one is moving up my sliding scale in the second semi, and I don’t think I’m alone in reckoning that.
The Greek boys are also huge crowd-pleasers who perform the arse off ‘Alcohol Is Free’. Both this and ‘Marry Me’ are made for small gigs like this one, so I won’t get too carried away, but I don’t have any worries about how either of these songs will be performed in Malmo.
Valentina Monetta was at this event in 2012 and was welcomed back by the crowd as if a conquering hero. Like last year her vocals were good in this small venue. Her renditions of ‘Crisalide’ were fine, as she waved the drape she sports in the official video. But her supporters must worry that coming on second in the second semi gives her a tough task despite her popularity with fans.
One of the acts to follow soon after her in Malmo, apart from the memorable Finland, is Malta’s Gianluca Bezzina, who got some very positive reviews in Amsterdam. I actually thought he was better here, with the more intimate surroundings suiting him and the song, ‘Tomorrow’. He charmed the crowd, and this is another strong entry in that second semi.
Also performing from that second semi was Romania’s Cezar. Just like in Amsterdam, he dropped to the lower register for the second verse of ‘It’s My Life’ which I think is a definite improvement. Overall, it still divides opinion between ‘memorable’ and ‘preposterous’ (indeed, many like me think it’s both). I think it’s an act I will leave alone regarding betting on its qualification chances. I’d feel like too much of a fool to be proved wrong either way.
Apart from Denmark, the only other act from the first semi to perform was Austria’s Natalia Kelly. I thought she was better here than in Amsterdam despite problems with the sound mix. I don’t think the first semi is such a tough ask so I can’t rule out qualification, despite the draw.
Were you at the London event last night? Either way, what do you think of last night’s show based on what you’ve seen. Let us know below.