Eurovision 2017: May 5 rehearsals

Today contained a mixture of the last three acts in the first heat, the first five acts of the second one, and the first rehearsals of the automatic qualifiers. We got off to a very strong start with Armenia’s Artsvik. She’s in a mesh black trouser suit, sounding great, and there’s a very coherent look and feel to the performance.

Slovenia’s Omar Naber was in fine voice today, and the staging was doing everything it can for the predictable ‘On My Way’. The LED panels that surround him give a sense of intimacy that plenty of others lack. He kneeled for the second verse, and the panels rose during the bridge.

Latvia’s Triana Park sounded better in their second rehearsal, because they have increased the volume of the backing singer in the chorus. Agnese, now in full 90s club gear with her gold boots, still struggles in the verses. This is a genre that hasn’t traditionally found favour with jurors or televoters, but they are one of the few upbeat songs, and do have the pimp slot.

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Eurovision 2017: May 4 rehearsals

Second rehearsals mean getting more judgemental about an act’s progress. Sweden improved on their first effort: Robin Bengtsson had no vocal issues at all; and the shot from the rear during the bridge has been reinstated. There was also a small, positive change from Melodifestivalen – at the start of the second verse, Robin now has a brighter, different-coloured spotlight to his backing team.

Georgia’s ‘Keep The Faith’ is a standard Eurovision ballad, and staged as such. Dry ice opening? Check. Garment discarded and microphone thrown to floor after first chorus? Check. Pointing meaningfully at camera? Check. Fire-jet pyros? Check. Tamara was in good voice today, all in red to match the backdrop.

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Eurovision 2017: May 3 rehearsals

It was guilty pleasures morning in the Eurovision press centre. San Marino offered a stage with stripes and shapes in rainbow colours. Jimmie and Valentina were both in black for ‘Spirit of the Night’; he removed his jacket near the finale, though Valentina didn’t do the same with the handbag she was wearing. There was nothing wrong with the vocals or chemistry here.

Croatia’s Jacques Houdek was also in black, in front of a utopian landscape that included sunflowers and rainbows towards the end. He had two men on strings join him for the middle eight. There were also three backing singers who grouped around in a friendly manner at the end. Jacques turned from one side to the other depending on which of the two voices he was singing, and he had no problem pulling the “duet” off.

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Eurovision 2017: May 2 rehearsals

Serbia’s Tijana was being kind to her voice in this morning’s first rehearsal. There was nothing particularly original about the staging for ‘In Too Deep’, a dark-blue watery concept with bubbles. Tijana in white, was finally joined by a male dancer for the middle eight, and he ran backwards around a whirlpool effect on the LED floor, before scampering off stage to suddenly return at the final moment.

Austria’s Nathan – also in white – was much more charming, all smiles for initial close-ups while sat on a sparkly crescent moon. He jumped off it, continued to look happy, before returning to the moon for the middle eight, when his backing singers showed up. A cloud backdrop turned from stormy pink to twilight blue.

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Eurovision 2017: May 1 rehearsals

Like Sweden yesterday, today’s first rehearsal from Greece had some early-morning vocals. The rainy dark-blue backdrop was nicely dramatic, and Demy looked amazing in beige as she walked onto a platform which lifted her for the first chorus. She was then joined by two topless male swan dancers. For the middle eight a screen projected a waterfall between her and the audience, before she walked in front of it for the climax. The camera angles needed a similar amount of polish as the vocals, but that’s what rehearsals are for.

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Eurovision 2017: April 30 rehearsals

Initial technical problems in the press centre meant only one run-through with audio for today’s very first rehearsal. We knew what we’d be getting from Sweden anyway: a largely facsimile performance from Melodifestivalen for Robin Bengtsson’s ‘I Can’t Go On’.

Robin and his posse still start backstage, once again styling out the fact they’ve forgotten their gym kit. The backdrop reminds me of 80s sci-fi film ‘Tron’, with a turquoise and purple landscape. Directors have yet to establish the shot from the rear during the middle eight, and the vocals were ever-so-slightly more exposed without the MF playback. But ultimately, this was as expected.

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Eurovision 2017: Latest on upcoming rehearsals

Eurovision rehearsals begin this Sunday in Kiev – the full timetable is here. I’ll be tweeting from the press centre throughout, and providing an end-of-day summary on Sofabet as usual.

As before, there will only be short, official video clips of first rehearsals on Eurovision.tv. For second rehearsals onwards, many other sites, among the best of them esckaz.com and wiwibloggs, will be allowed into the arena to film the performances in full.

Over the last few days, delegations have seen the results of preliminary stage rehearsals. The general feeling is that preparations are less forward than at the same point in recent years. This suggests that first rehearsals will be more rough than ready, especially the high-concept ones, so we may need to be even more cautious about jumping to conclusions.

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BGT 2017 Discussion Thread

The first two episodes of this year’s Britain’s Got Talent have already aired. It’s the usual mix of dance troupes, dog acts and singers trying to transform their lives. Do let us know your thoughts on who the likely contenders are below.