Eurovision 2014: First semi first dress rehearsal

Here are my thoughts on the initial full dress rehearsal of the first semi-final. Do remember that this is NOT the rehearsal that the juries vote on. That comes later this evening, and I’ll be tweeting my impressions live.

Nonetheless it’s good to get a quickfire, direct comparison between the acts to see how they’re shaping up against each other. I’ve jotted down my impressions as the show progressed, so the descriptions are brief.

Aram is still in his Dr Who outfit but without the gloves this afternoon. ‘Not Alone’ does take a while to get going, but when it does the effect is epic, aided by a spectacular light show. Musical diversity is one of Eurovision’s best features, and there’s hardly a greater one in Latvia’s ‘Cake to Bake’. This was as expected, and the band were all smiles.

Estonia’s Tanja is in her less minimal first rehearsal outfit. The pros and cons of ‘Amazing’ are as they were: there’s plenty of artistry in the dancing, but it somehow makes the song a little less involving. Sweden’s Sanna Nielsen is incredibly experienced, and that shows this afternoon with the merest few shakes in the first verse before a strong performance of ‘Undo’. I thought the light prism opened a few seconds earlier than in previous rehearsals, and the whole thing is incredibly polished.

Iceland’s Pollaponk boys give it their all, and their performance is much as it has been all week, except a little more breathy which doesn’t make any tangible difference to ‘No Prejudice’. Still, they benefit from a decent-sized break that follows. That’s not so useful for Albania who are first back. Hersi does her best though I recommend she doesn’t start the song with so much finger-pointing. ‘One Night’s Anger’ is still not holding attention for the three minutes.

I don’t mind Russia’s see-saw in itself, but the moment the twins start using it, their vocals wobble. Otherwise, this is a professional enough if gimmicky effort. The switch to the golden fireworks in the backdrop for the “rising sun” climax looks lovely. Azerbaijan’s Dilara has reportedly had a few throat problems and she’s not quite up to her previously very high standards today. The stage is almost a little too red for the climax, and we lose sight of the trapeze artist. Having said which, this is still very classy and sailing through.

I haven’t always been that impressed by Ukraine’s ‘Tick-Tock’ during rehearsals, but this was the most impressive run-through yet. Mariya’s vocals and performance have come on in leaps and bounds, and with the camera angles looking more polished, it’s becoming very compelling. Belgium’s Axel stands there and sings about his ‘Mother’ in the same way he always has. Ten out of ten for consistency here.

Cristina is another one to vocally improve in this rehearsal. The camera angles are coming together well, including the hair rip which is highly theatrical. The Moldovans are doing their best to sell ‘Wild Soul’. We know what we’re getting from San Marino’s Valentina Monetta. ‘Maybe’ still feels very dated but she is doing her best with it. There is a break after her performance.

Portugal’s Suzy may not be helped by being on after the break, but the male presenters tee her up by talking about how hot she is, which isn’t so bad. She obliges by wearing a revealing red bodice. One problem with ‘Quero Ser Tua’ is a weak start that it takes a while to recover from. The Netherlands’ ‘Calm After the Storm’ exudes quality and remains utter jury-bait. Waylon and Ilse know what they’re doing in every camera shot.

Montenegro is another improver. Sergej’s vocals haven’t always been brilliant over the last week, but he was at his best here, and as a result the ice skater doesn’t seem like such a distraction. Hungary’s ‘Running’ remains a really strong closer. Andras’ vocals were very solid, and the dancers were without masks – which pleased me.

First reprises: I agreed with the choices of all the clips shown except Hungary, where we get the end of the first chorus and the beginning of the second verse. During the second reprise, we got a brief shot of each act leaving the stage, X Factor results show style. There was no interview with any act before the phone lines closed. All in all, this remains a very competitive semi. Let us know your thoughts below.

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37 comments to Eurovision 2014: First semi first dress rehearsal

  • Sander

    I can’t wait! Could you tell me about the way they announce the (mock) qualifiers? I liked the shows before 2013 as you could hear a part of the song when the artists were revealed who qualified for the final. Last year they didn’t do it and instead showed a quick recap of the songs after all 10 qualifiers were named.

  • Justin

    Daniel, we get three of the acts with the biggest stage shows together in the middle – being Russia, Azerbaijan then Ukraine.

    Does this appear to act to the benefit or detriment of any of those three – or perhaps those immediately before – such as Albania? I would also imagine Belgium comes across as even more of a damp squib than it is already is following those three.

    Any thoughts from what you have seen?

  • Daniel

    Hi guys,

    Sander, there’s no initial announcement – a graphic of the flag comes up on the screen

    Justin, Azerbaijan is actually very low-key and serves to separate the two livelier stage shows next to it. The ultimate effect is one of contrast throughout this section and in others.

  • Boki

    Why the end of the first chorus in Hungarian recap!? Hopefully they will change that before the final…

    • Daniel

      Hi Boki, worth pointing out that they use a better recap featuring just a chorus in the second reprise. But still, fully agree.

      • Boki

        Thanks, but do you mean the same chorus as in 1st recap (he’s on the runway) or a later one? I would like to see the last shot when he protects the girl…

  • Donald

    Thank Daniel, hi all, playing catch up big time, looking forward to the week, lots of reading here on Sofabet first 🙂 Haven’t heard a song yet!

  • Boki

    Hi Daniel and thanks for the tweets. Did you pay attention which dress was Mariya wearing tonight, each time she was in a different one and I’m curious what’s the final choice?

    • Daniel

      Hi Boki, same as this afternoon, blue outfit with slits that allow her to swish the bottom part. Not the silver and grey one from the second rehearsal.

  • I’ve got my 10 qualifiers for Semi-Final 1 now. I hope everyone else is preparing theirs so we can play the annual sofabet prediction game (woohoo!). I’ll post mine tomorrow in the comments of Daniel’s Semi-Final 1 prediction article.

  • SirMills

    Does anybody here know what time tomorrow UK will draw their second half ticket :)?

  • Nick C

    Here is my prediction:
    FOR SURE: Sweden, Hungary, Ukraine, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia, Montenegro
    MOST LIKELY: Estonia, Belgium, Albania
    UNLIKELY: Moldova, Netherlands, Iceland
    NOT A CHANCE: San Marino, Latvia

  • Nick C

    .. and I am sure Portugal has no chance at all.

  • eurovicious

    Someone whose source (an EBU insider) is usually super-reliable told me last night during the show that most juries will be voting based on tonight’s live show rather than last night’s. WTF? Can anyone confirm/deny this or try to find out?

  • Guildo Horn Forever

    Loving this tweet from Daniel:

    UK draws 2nd half.

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      Yayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!

    • annie

      really good news.

      Bad news however is that I find her styling horrid. The furry thing around her neckline and her gladiator shoes are very off-putting I think. Anything else she wore so far, even her jumper-trousers combo at the presentation was more appealing.

    • eurovicious

      The breams are aligning.

      I haven’t seen much of her styling – as long as she looks relatable but also cool and magical, not inaccessible and mystical in a distant way.

        • Guildo Horn Forever

          Thanks annie.

          See what you mean about the styling. Bit late 70s spacetrooper-chic, star-child chic. Not inapt but not becoming either. It’s the material they’ve used on the outfit that looks the biggest mis-step to me. She dressed for Zena style action yet is performing slow motion hippy yoga. Needed to use softer material. Inviting material.

          On the plus side, I was pleased to hear she’s finally learnt how to get enough air in her lungs to be able to deliver her initial,and extended lyric-run without running out of breath and consequently mumbling and tailing off in those latter stages.

          And good to hear her voice sounding pleasant. Her Bonnie-reminiscent screechy tinged vocal seems to be more in the past now.

          • Guildo Horn Forever

            She should definitely be interacting with the drummer. He’s giving it loads!

  • eurovicious

    Off-topic shameless promo post: tonight at the Euro Fan Cafe at Huset from 11pm-3am we’re having Jelena Tomasevic and her band (who’ve flown in from Belgrade specially to give a concert) and a Balkan DJ, plus a midnight screening of disco sci-fi musical The Apple: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0BY9cvgrP1c. If you’re in town, come on down!

    • Rob4

      i can’t be there but my life will not be fulfilled until I’ve seen The Apple – could only have been produced in Europe – great choice EV!

      • Guildo Horn Forever

        Seconded.

        • eurovicious

          It’s an adaptation (shot in West Berlin) of an Israeli stage musical based on Eurovision, Faust and the Book of Revelation, about a devilish Simon Cowell-type guy who tries to take over the world through the power of disco and two innocent Canadian folk singers who get caught up in his plans after participating in the 1994 Worldvision Song Festival. It is humanity’s greatest cinematic and musical achievement, and the fact it’s so unknown and has never been released on Region 2 DVD is a shocker…

  • George

    Think Molly is the one to beat now. 8 second half and 12 first half left – the pressure is on for the favourites tonight.

  • Guildo Horn Forever

    I need to see this SO badly!

  • Armenia are opening the SF1 tonight I see. Is the general consensus here that it’s gonna kick ’em in the dick, or do you guys reckon they can overcome that to remain bookies’ favourite going into the Grand?

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