Eurovision in Concert, Club Air Amsterdam, April 9th 2011

Amsterdam, Amsterdam, de stad waar alles kan. This was de eerste keer that we’ve been to the Eurovision in Concert show (het is een wonder, I know) and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I’ve been to Amsterdam before, and as a town ‘t is Ok. We had a very nice hotel close to the club so was able to combine seeing the show with some relaxing sightseeing. But you’re not interested in that. You want to know what the performers were like!

PresentersWell we started off with Esther Hart giving us Two More Nights, as the first time her microphone wasn’t working properly so in good Eurovision tradition she got to do a reprise. She had two co-hosts, whose names I’m afraid I don’t know but they all kept the thing bouncing along at a good pace.

I can’t recall the order in which the songs were performed but these were the acts I thought performed particularly well – either as good as you would expect or better. I don’t mean to say these are necessarily my favourites or the best hopes for the Eurovision final, but the performances were ace:

United Kingdom

I didn’t see Turkey perform, as I was talking to Glen Vella in the Green Room (more of which later) but my spies tell me they were excellent. I also missed the first half of Latvia, which was a shame as I really like that song, so I don’t feel as though I can comment on how well they performed.

The good news is that I don’t think anyone performed badly. There were a couple of instances where I was surprised that the performer didn’t have as much charisma or stage presence as I was expecting, but it would be churlish of me to name names.

It was clear that many people were there just to see Blue, including plenty of non-Eurovisioners. Unsurprisingly they were the last act on. They performed so well that I thought they must be miming. Having seen a few YouTubes of the event, I think they probably were. They definitely have great presence though, and the enthusiasm for the song was palpable. I think it has a really good chance of doing well.

Antony CostaThe Blue guys were only around very briefly after the show, but long enough for Mrs Chrisparkle to get her photograph taken with Simon and Antony. In fact Antony was so taken with Mrs Chrisparkle’s Eurovision Icons Blue T-Shirt that he insisted on the photo being taken, which was quite amusing! Being at the centre of attention like that doesn’t make her feel particularly comfortable. “I’m going to take such stick for this later” she confided to Antony. “I know exactly what you mean!” was his rather self-effacing response.

SenitThis wasn’t our only brush with stardom. In order to get a good view of Blue’s performance, we stood on benches at the side back, which was close to the Green Room. When Blue got going there was a rush of activity and a rustling of a green dress and we were joined on our perch by a very enthusiastic Senit from San Marino who was desperate to see them perform! She was cheering and whooping as much as any fan would.

Glen VellaAnd then of course there was my meeting with Glen Vella from Malta. I was proudly sporting a Eurovision Icons T-Shirt with the Malta image so my friend JP, who is able to do these things, snuck us into the Green Room to show Glen. He was bowled over to see it, and his dancers were amazed too. They all took loads of photos, and even after we had left, Glen called us back in to the Green Room for more photos as the photographer from the Times of Malta had arrived. So I am actually on a photo attached to the official press release for Glen’s performance!

You too could be a proud owner of a Eurovision Icon T-Shirt, either bearing the image of Blue for UK or Jedward for Ireland, and exclusively signed too, as one of each is being auctioned for charity on Ebay at this very moment. Here are the links:



So all in all it was a very jolly affair. Yes one could criticise that the sound quality wasn’t as good as one would have hoped, it was pretty crowded, and you had to pay for your drinks with silly pre-paid card things which inevitably meant you paid for more than you had, but I think everyone had a good time.

Eurovision 2011 – The Grand Final

So we’ve cogitated and pondered at length over the songs in the two semi finals but we still need to consider the Big Five. range of odds as at 5th April.

France – Sognu – Amaury Vassili

FranceSong Sung Corse, every contest needs one. I’m not a popera fan but this is something else. Whether you think of it as an aria or a hymn, its haunting tune stays with you and if ever a song warranted the return of the orchestra, this is the one. The introduction is so Bolero that all it lacks is Torvill and Dean. Not sure we’ve seen him do a live performance of it yet, let’s hope it doesn’t unRavel (geddit?) He is (was) the world’s youngest proper tenor, apparently. Think it’s going to do really well. 9-2 to 11-2

Italy – Madness of Love – Raphael Gualazzi

ItalyWell an official Hoorah from me at the welcome return of la Bella Italia to the Eurovision fold. Of course, they already have their world renowned San Remo festival, and they chose the winner of the Newcomers’ Category to go to Düsseldorf. “Follia d’Amore”, in its original state, is taken from his second album. It’s ok. It’s quite nice. It doesn’t shake any trees. It’s a cheeky jazz-lite, the kind of stuff I don’t really like. You might though. 28-1 to 50-1

United Kingdom – I Can – Blue

United Kingdom Let’s start by saying it’s a great improvement on recent years – the strongest UK song for possibly a decade. I have my fingers crossed for the performance but I am concerned about Lee’s vocals. He really has to nail them. I love the “G-G-G-Get back up again, Woh!” motif. They’ve done a lot more homework than many previous UK entries and are promoting themselves round the continent, although it was a shame they couldn’t sing the song in the early days of their travels. I trust they will keep their kit on when they’re on stage. Modestly optimistic. 5-1 to 9-1

Germany – Taken by a Stranger – Lena

Germany So was it wise for Lena to defend her title? This is a good song but it’s introverted and private. It doesn’t have the same immediate impact as Satellite, needing several plays to grow on you, and I think it will struggle to make the top ten. The lyrics are somewhere between weird and oblique and you can’t identify with them. No doubt she’ll give a stylish performance though. 8-1 to 12-1

Spain – Que me quiten lo bailao – Lucia Perez

SpainThis is a jolly party song, but a bit on the slight side. Probably more woh’s than it needs. Nobody can take away the good times Lucia’s had and why would you want to. She’s probably a hoot in the Plaza Major at midnight. I just think it’s going to come across a bit lightweight on the night. 50-1 to 200-1

So that’s all the songs run through. I’m perfectly happy with the standard this year, there are some pretty good ones there and lurking behind in National Finals land.

And who do I think will join them from the Semis? OK my stabs at premonition are as follows:

In alphabetical order:

Semi Final One – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Croatia, Hungary, Iceland, Norway, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Turkey.

Semi Final Two – Bosnia, Denmark, Estonia, Ireland, Israel, FYR Macedonia, Romania, Slovenia, Sweden, Ukraine.

Next step in the Eurovision pre-season is the Eurovision in Concert show being held in Amsterdam on Saturday 9th April. More Eurovision blogging after that event.