The Eurovision circus came to London last night with a plethora of Sofabet commenters in attendance. To be honest, there wasn’t much we learnt that we didn’t glean from Amsterdam. Each of the 2014 acts here were also at the Dutch event a week before, with all the caveats mentioned at the start of that article. Points of difference are in the detail rather than the larger picture. Videos of last night’s performances can be found at the essential esckaz.com.
It was a better evening for Armenia’s Aram MP3, with none of the booing that marred his Amsterdam experience. This seemed to confirm a sense that the controversy over his disputed comments has passed. ‘Not Alone’ retains a powerful punch and Aram is a strong vocalist. It remains the most fascinating entry from a staging point of view, given its potential for a cinematic feel in Copenhagen.
If anyone stole the show last night, it was Spain’s Ruth Lorenzo, but she was the first to admit that she was playing to a home crowd. Her rendition of ‘Nessun Dorma’ and that X Factor performance of ‘Purple Rain’ had the fanboys in raptures once more. She was powerful but not overblown singing the latter, and that’s how she needs to approach her Eurovision entry, ‘Dancing in the Rain’, which went down a storm here.
Ruth was in competition for the title of crowd favourite with a few other acts, including local entrant, Molly. This was a better night for her too. There is clearly going to be a large reverb effect used for ‘Children of the Universe’ in Copenhagen. It hadn’t come across effectively in Amsterdam due to technical issues, but its potential to fill a large arena was much more in evidence here. Molly also effectively showcased two very credible numbers from her new album.
Conchita Wurst was not going down quietly – not that this audience would let her – as she started ‘That’s What I Am’ at the top of the Cafe de Paris staircase, in diva style. “Con-chi-ta” the fans chanted in between her songs, and she was flawless again for Eurovision entry ‘Rise Like a Phoenix’. It was no surprise to see Austria’s price in the win market contract further as a result of her reception last night.
Another one the fanboys love is Portugal’s Suzy, and she seems to know how to play the crowd, based on her decision to start off with ‘Quedate Conmigo’ last night. She’s clearly got a much better voice than was apparent in the national final. ‘Quero Sur Tua’ doesn’t really showcase those vocals, but it’s a slice of traditional Latin cheese that the audience greedily lapped up.
Another act who worked the audience well was Greece’s Freaky Fortune, displaying their talents with two medleys – one of recent Eurovision winners and another of Max Martin-penned pop anthems. Otherwise, ‘Rise Up’ is always going to work well in an environment like this and supporters have to hope it’s as effective on stage in Copenhagen. The three boys have the in-built advantage of being highly telegenic.
As indeed does Switzerland’s Sebalter, who melted plenty of hearts with his charm and zest on stage. ‘Hunter of Stars’ is catchy, feelgood material – especially in his hands – and its qualification chances continue to go up in my estimation.
Norway’s Carl Espen is not so much a natural on stage. Joined by the cousin who composed ‘Silent Storm’ about him, he struggled a little with the higher register of the first chorus before opening up far more effectively afterwards. It’ll be interesting to see how he handles the pressures of the contest.
Ukraine’s Mariya was without her backing dancers this time, but showcased her own moves for ‘Tick-Tock’. I’ve been a bit dismissive of the overly-long verses in the past, but there’s no denying the relentless pure pop earworm of a chorus, and Mariya’s vocals are every match for it.
We got pretty much what we expected from Malta, Montenegro, Latvia and San Marino. The fans seem to have least interest in ‘Maybe’ of Valentina’s three Eurovision entries. Meanwhile, Romania finished off the night with another more rapturous reception for their previous Eurovision entry, ‘Playing With Fire’. There was nothing wrong with ‘Miracle’ here, save Paula’s continued inability to sing out the long note without needing to take a breath.
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