Vienna Blog Day 14!

Words by Hass Yusuf, Photos by David Ransted.

It’s the early hours of Sunday May 24th – and we have a winner!

Mans Zelmerlow of Sweden! Well that was a shock wasn’t it? It was a predictable winner ever since Heroes won the Swedish national final.

And it was no surprise that Russia and Italy made up the rest of the top three. Personally I would’ve preferred another country to have won – Sweden just hosted a few years ago – but this really was a worthy winner. And Stockholm is a fab place.

I felt very sorry for the hosts scoring nil points – they really put on a great show, and Vienna was amazing.

Alas, we came right down the bottom again – at least we had a few points. Electro Velvet did us proud, and the song still remains one of my favourites, but deep down we all knew it was never a Eurovision song. But thank you Bianca and Alex for doing your best. Maybe one of these years the BBC will actually welcome some advice from the fan clubs. We seem to know what clicks!

But we did have one UK win this weekend. Congrats to OGAE UK Secretary & Treasurer Simon Bennett on becoming the new President of OGAE International.

And let’s thank out-going OGAE UK President, Paul Marks-Jones, and out-going Ticket co-ordinator, David Ransted. But both will be still be around.

A full report on this year’s show will appear in the next issue of Vision – out in July.

So, from David and myself, it’s good-night Vienna.

Mans wins it for Sweden

Mans wins it for Sweden

Vienna Blog Day 13

Words by Hass Yusuf, photos by David Ransted.

Well, here we are – grand final night. So, who is your favourite? To remind you, here are images from the first Dress Rehearsal. In order of appearance.

Maraaya of Slovenia

Maraaya of Slovenia

Lisa Angell of france

Lisa Angell of France

Nadav from Israel

Nadav from Israel

Stig and Elina fron Estonia

Stig and Elina fron Estonia

Electro Velvet from the UK

Electro Velvet from the UK

Geneaology from Armenia

Geneaology from Armenia

Monika and Vaidas from Lithuania

Monika and Vaidas from Lithuania

Bojana from Serbia

Bojana from Serbia

Morland and Debrah from Norway

Morland and Debrah from Norway

Mans from Sweden

Mans from Sweden

John from Cyprus

John from Cyprus

Guy from Australia

Guy from Australia

Loic from Belgium

Loic from Belgium

Makemakes from Austria

Makemakes from Austria

Maria Elena from Greece

Maria Elena from Greece

Knez from Montenegro

Knez from Montenegro

Ann Sophie from Germany

Ann Sophie from Germany

Monika from Poland

Monika from Poland

Aminata from Latvia

Aminata from Latvia

Voltaj from Romania

Voltaj from Romania

Edurne of Spain

Edurne of Spain

Boggie of Hungary

Boggie of Hungary

Nina of Georgia

Nina of Georgia

Elnur of Azerbaijan

Elnur of Azerbaijan

Polina of Russia

Polina of Russia

Elhaida from Albania

Elhaida from Albania

Il Volo of Italy

Il Volo of Italy

And a few extra images from the show.

From the opening act

From the interval act

From the Interval act, Conchita

From the Interval act, Conchita

It's the presenters

It’s the presenters

It's the current winner of Junior Eurovision!

It’s the current winner of Junior Eurovision!

And that’s it for now.

Back tomorrow morning with the winner!!

Vienna Blog Day 12

Words by Hass Yusuf, photos by David Ransted.

This blog is updated constantly throughout the day, so tune in for all the latest news as it happens.

Disclaimer: This blog is being written as things happen so please ignore any mistakes and go with the flow.

So, another great show last night. Got eight out of ten correct guesses.

Here are pics from the Dress Rehearsals by David.

LITHUANIA. Happy days for Monika and Vaidas.

LITHUANIA. Happy days for Monika and Vaidas.

MONTENEGRO. Everything is perfect for Knez.

MONTENEGRO. Everything is perfect for Knez.

NORWAY. Morland and Scarlett come out of the dark.

NORWAY. Morland and Scarlett come out of the dark.

ISRAEL. It's that golden boy, Nadav.

ISRAEL. It’s that golden boy, Nadav.

LATVIA. Aminata injects some more love.

LATVIA. Aminata injects some more love.

AZERBAIJAN. Elnur howls with success.

AZERBAIJAN. Elnur howls with success.

SWEDEN. Mans reaches out for victory.

SWEDEN. Mans reaches out for victory.

CYPRUS. Well done to John.

CYPRUS. Well done to John.

SLOVENIA. On their way to the final.

SLOVENIA. On their way to the final.

POLAND. Monika sings for victory.

POLAND. Monika sings for victory.

And let’s not forget the seven who didn’t make it.

CZECH REPUBLIC. Bad luck to Marta and Vaclav.

CZECH REPUBLIC. Bad luck to Marta and Vaclav.

ICELAND. No more singing for Maria.

ICELAND. No singing in the final for Maria.

MALTA. Warrior woman Amber loses out.

MALTA. Warrior woman Amber loses out.

PORTUGAL. Leonor misses out.

PORTUGAL. Leonor misses out.

SAN MARINO. Michele and Anita go home early.

SAN MARINO. Michele and Anita go home early.

SWITZERLAND. Melanie did her best.

SWITZERLAND. Melanie did her best.

IRELAND. A real shame for Molly.

IRELAND. A real shame for Molly.

Here’s the running order for the grand final:

1. Slovenia
2. France (never mind)
3. Israel
4. Estonia
5. United Kingdom (hmmmmm…)
6. Armenia
7. Lithuania
8. Serbia
9. Norway
10. Sweden
11. Cyprus
12. Australia
13. Belgium
14. Austria
15. Greece
16. Montenegro
17. Germany
18. Poland
19. Latvia
20. Romania
21. Spain
22. Hungary
23. Georgia
24. Azerbaijan
25. Russia
26. Albania
27. Italy

Last night we had the OGAE UK gathering at the Eurofan Cafe. ITV were there, along with my new pal, Susan, the British Ambassador to Austria. Photos to follow in due, probably in Vision. I’m having a technical disaster – my mouse isn’t working, so having to use the scroll-pad on the laptop. Too awkward!

Anyway, this morning I appeared on the Victoria Derbyshire show on BBC News. Haven’t done that much media whoring this year, so that was nice.

David is now in the arena waiting to photo all the acts for Vision, while I’m going to blog live in the press centre as the first Dress Rehearsal for the grand final gets going.

But in the meantime, due to popular demand, here I am with posters of the other UK winners. You saw me with Sandie Shaw some time ago.

That's Lulu I'm pointing to. She tied with three other countries. I know, what cheek!

That’s Lulu I’m pointing to. She tied with three other countries. I know, what cheek!

Yes, it's the Brotherhood of Man!

Yes, it’s the Brotherhood of Man!

It's thumbs up for Bucks Fizz!

It’s thumbs up for Bucks Fizz!

Ahh... the lovely Katrina. Can you believe we haven't won the contest since 1997? What a strange and cruel universe this is.

Ahh… the lovely Katrina. Can you believe we haven’t won the contest since 1997? What a strange and cruel universe this is.

There’s a lot of talk in the press centre about he running order. Do the EBU hate France – why would they give then dreaded Number Two position again after they did the same a few years ago? The UK might be in trouble at number five. But you know, we really shouldn’t listen to these ‘experts’. The producers had to put the songs in order after each act picked out either to perform in the first half or second second half. It’s a shame the UK aren’t in the second half – everyone thinks the winner ail always come in the second half. But Sweden are going to win at  tenth position, so none of this is relevant really. I think only Russia, Australia, or Italy, and maybe Azerbaijan, can beat Sweden. But what do I know? Personally I wouldn’t mind a shock result! But if the UK can’t win it then I want Italy to win.

And here we go! The first Dress Rehearsal for the grand final.

We start off with a classical orchestra. How very civilised. Next we have scenes of all that is Austria. What an impressive country this is. Such a rich history.

A classical violinist. Conchita rises from a platform. Here are the three presenters apparently singing. Up goes  Conchita into the air. Hang on girl! Here come a choir of kids. A bit hip-hopping. The three presenters are back. Never mind.

Everything has stopped. Luckily this is a rehearsal. The parade of stars is about to restart. Everyone was out of cue. Anyway, here come all the 27 acts walking from the Green Room – at the back of the arena – on to the stage.  You can’t beat a parade of flags can you? As long as the Union flag is in the mix!

Okay – they need to tighten the opening up for tomorrow night. But this is the first dress rehearsal. Two more goes before the live show.

Nice video about Building Bridges – the theme for this year.

Slovenia have the honour of starting off Eurovision 2015! This is one of my favourites.
Maraaya are perhaps a strange choice to start things off – but it’s a great sound. They really set the benchmark. Earphones. Air violin. Wind machine. Piano. Who needs more?

France are next. A fab sound and a fab singer. Go Lisa! A simple but powerful ballad. Very anthemic. The drummers look sensational. The best French performance since 1997.

Time for Israel with their chunky golden boy, Nadav. Love the energy of this act – and the Middle East dance sound. But, naughty boy – he’s rehearsing in his casuals. Nadav is only 16 – but with tattoos. Hope his mother gave him a slap. But claps from us for his performance.

Confusion time now. Estonia should be next, but there’s a delay. There’s a technical problem, so the presenters are ad-libbing, badly, while the technicals sort out the wonky camera.

But here we go with my second favourites song of the contest. C’mon Estonia! Stig and Elina tell their story perfectly. It’s all evil glares and rejection. But they nailed it.

The UK are next. Fingers crossed for Electro Velvet. What a fun performance that was. A real contrast to the previous act. Everyone performed brilliantly. Great dancing and energy.

Now it’s Armenia’s turn. A powerful performance from Genealogy, but a bit of a downer. But the song is impressive – as are their outfits. They have a great graphic backdrop.

Time for a fun act again – Lithuania. Monika and Vaidas look so happy together. A bright and bouncy performance. But not a very serious song – but it works well.

And here’s Serbia, with this year’s club/gay anthem. Bojana certainly gives it her all. I like the act with the flags and outfits. Off come the robes and mayhem ensures. OTT, but what the hell – this is Eurovision.

Now for something completely different, Noway, Morland and Debra tell a story of past mistakes. But it’s no mistake that this well regarded. A simple stage act, but very powerful. Their voices are well suited, and they have good chemistry between them.

It’s break time with the presenters.

Sweden are next. It’s there’s to lose. Mans is certainly an engaging performer – and what a great act. The animated projections are cleverly done. How can this not win? Anything that captures the imagination of the viewing public will win the contest – just look a recent previous winners. And good teeth help.

So far, so good. What a great show this is turning out to be.

Time for Cyprus. And it’s my pal, John. It all starts off in black and white and a simple spotlight. Lovingly under-stated. And slowly colour emerges. John’s got a great soulful tone in his voice that suits this gentle ballad perfectly. It’s about time Cyprus won the contest.

Wanna-be Europeans, Australia are next. Guy Sebastian knows his stuff. It’s a soulful and funky act. Very up-lifting.  Good enough to win? Could do it. It’s got a great catchy tune that will get everyone tapping their toes.

It’s young Loic from Belgium next. A interesting modern sound here. It adds nice diversity to the show. And good use of white light. And a great act as well, making good use of the tune. Excellent.

A big cheer next for the host nation, Austria. The Makemakes perform well with their take on the 1960s sound. It’s Top Of The Pops circa 1968. Oopps, the piano is on fire. It must be hot on stage! Where are the sprinklers? I gues that’s a god gimmick…

Time for a break with Conchita and a presenter.

Greece are next with maria Elena. This song was probably the least likely to succeed from their national final, but it’s a great performance. Certainly a powerful ballad. And I like good use of the wind machine. This is definitely the year of the cleavage. Not that I’m complaining.

Another favourite for me now – Montenegro. Knez performs this Balkan sound with much gusto. And his harem of dancers all add to the atmosphere. We’ve heard this tune before, but I don’t care. It still sounds powerful – and nice to have a song not in English.

Germany next. Ann Sophie does her best to look sully – and succeeds. And the song is quite funky. Not my favourite by any means, but a good performance nevertheless. And good for this final.

Time for Poland – many were surprised that this got through to the final. I wasn’t. It’s a different sort of ballad tht’s adds diversity to the show. Monika has a very soulful quality. And the bright and breezy act works well in the context of things. She probably offers a lot of hope to people who have been disabled.

Latvia are next with their unique sound from Aminata. She’s very striking dressed in red and a fabulous backdrop. Apparently rumours say that she scored very highly with the juries. And why not? It’s a nice change for them. I find it a bit shout, but what do I know. For a small figure she has powerful lungs.

Another one of my favourites now, Romania. Voltaj sing a very emotive song about leaving youngster behind when their parents go abroad to find work. It’s a simple act with the stage full of suitcases. This is the song that pulls at the heart-strings more than any other song in the contest. Superb.

Spain are next with the sexy Edurne. A nice act here with a costume change and hunky bare-chestered dancer for those that like that sort of thing. But Edurne offers a lot of thigh (and cleavage) so all things are equal. It’s a bit shouty, but I love it. it sounds very Spanish, which is always good I think. Fab.

Time for a gentle sound from Hungary. Boggie delivers this tune beautifully. A simple song and act – it doesn’t need anything else. Just sit and listen. It also offers a good message. A lovely ballad. Well done again to Hungary.

Now for a complete contrast from Georgia. Nina is a warrior woman. It’s all leather thigh-length boots and shorts. Who could ask for more? Fashion statements are important for Eurovision y’know. If I were up against her, i would willingly submit. I find this quite shouty, but the visuals are great. I would like the country to win the contest soon – Eurovision needs to go East again.

My favourite song is on next – Azerbaijan. Elnir has the best male voice in the contest. This song has a great haunting element to it. The dancers may distract, but it’s got a great backdrop. The Azeris always put on a great show. We deserve to go back to Baku on the strength of this performance. Excellent.

Now for the best female vocalist in the contest – Polina from Russia. It;s got a great draw and will be up there at the top. It’s a great anthemic sound. It’s a simple act including a band – it all adds up to the perfect Eurovision act. And the sing has a great message as well. Maybe a bit insincere when you consider what’s going on in the country and Ukraine, but putting politics aside, the Russians always deliver. Sochi, anyone?

Time for Albania. This was a surprise entrant from the semis, but I knew it would get through. Elhaida is a great singer and gives it her all. She really commands the stage. And her outfit. A soulful and powerful performance here. It would be good to see this small Balkan state do well with the scoring.

And now the grand finale with Il Volo from Italy. Three great singers that sing in unison with each others. It’s two tenors and a baritone. A simple act with a great stage act. And a superb pop opera sound. This and Russia could challenge Sweden for the top slot. It’s no secret that I want this to win (besides the UK of course). Go Italy!!

And there you have it. I think it’s a great show. it probably suffers from not containing the acts from Denmark and Moldova (though they were never going to win). I really hope it’s not a walk-over by Sweden though. It would be nice to have a tight finish. And let’s hope that the UK do well as well. Alex and Bianca really deserve our support. And I genuinely like their song. It’s well within my top ten of the contest.

Anyway, time for the interval act now. Lots of drums and trumpets to start things off. But you can see it for yourselves on Saturday night.

And that’s it today!

Vienna Blog Day 11

Words by Hass Yusuf, photos by David Ransted.

So it’s Semi-Final Two day today. We’re nearly there.

Also today, it’s the OGAE UK gathering at the Eurofan Cafe.

Pics from that later tonight/early morning, along with the pics of the ten successful finalists from tonight’s show and the seven that didn’t make it.

It’s another press centre free day – time for some more sight-seeing – trying to make the most of this fab city while we can.

Come back later or in the morning for David’s pics.

Vienna Blog Day 10

Vienna Blog. Words by Hass Yusuf, photos by David Ransted.

This blog is updated constantly throughout the day, so tune in for all the latest news as it happens.

Disclaimer: This blog is being written as things happen so please ignore any mistakes and go with the flow.

What a great show it was last night. For photos from Semi-Final One and the British Ambassador’s reception, just scroll down to last night’s blog.

Today we have the second rehearsals and press conferences for the Big Five, Austria and Australia. And in the afternoon, it’s the first Dress Rehearsal for Semi-Final Two.

In the evening a few of us are off to a classical concert. It’s about time we did something cultural in this city! so, it’s another busy day.

just waiting for Italy to arrive on stage. And here they are. Il Volo are excellent. Three great voices in perfect unison. Add in an impressive backdrop of classic Roman statues, and you have the perfect act. This really should win the contest. There are no gimmicks or extra special effects – they just stand there, move around a bit, and just sing a superb song! And they’re styled in fab Italian suits. Vote for Italy I say!

The host nation, Austria, are next on. The Makemakes are a good band, but it’s doubtful that we’ll be back in Vienna next year. They certainly make the most of their three minutes though. A nice throw back to the 1960s. The three-member band perform with confidence. Their graphic backdrop has been stripped back. Just a few colour changes. At the Austrian press conference it was revealed that the Makemakes have a beer named after them. Apparently there’s always been a connection between beer and rock and roll. The message of their song is friendship – but not just between friends – it includes societies. Everyone should work with each other, not against each other.

Went down to the arena to see Electro Velvet perform – it’s still one of my favourite songs – and this rehearsal they really pulled it out of the hat. At their press conference I asked hem how the buzz was around their song. They said they were very hopeful, and that they were having a great time and doing their best. A question was asked on the BBC select our entry. The Head of Delegation said that nothing is ever rules out on how we choose our performers. But in the meantime, I’m getting a more positive vibe from Bianca and Alex.

Another big positive vibe is coming from the French quarter. Lisa Angell is absolutely fantastic. After her second run through, she thanked everyone (and apologised for her bad English) for all the support she has had in Austria. It was a bit emotional I can tell you! At her press conference she said the message of her song was that it was always women that had to pick up the pieces when personal disasters happen. Basically it’s a song about peace and hope. Lisa then treated us to a melody of former French entries.

Right, I’ve now covered press conferences for all 40 acts. Highlights will appear in the next of Vision. Next today, it’s the first Dress Rehearsal for Semi-Final Two.

And I’ve just watch it in the arena with fellow journalists and thousands of school kids! They cheered for everything, but Mans from Sweden got a few more screams from the little girlies.

Anyway, it’s another great show. It’s going to harder to predict who’ll go through from this semi-final to the grand final on Saturday. I’m thinking: Lithuania, Norway, Azerbaijan, Sweden, Iceland, Cyprus and Slovenia as dead certs. And the other three: I’m going to go on a limb and choose Portugal, Latvia and Poland. I quite like Israel and the Czech Republic, so wouldn’t mind seeing them through at the expense of others.

Anyway, to end today’s blog – here are pics from the second rehearsals for the Big  Five, host and Down Under.

AUSTRIA

AUSTRIA

AUSTRALIA

AUSTRALIA

FRANCE

FRANCE

GERMANY

GERMANY

ITALY

ITALY

SPAIN

SPAIN

UNITED KINGDOM

UNITED KINGDOM

Vienna Blog Day 9 Part 2

Words by Hass Yusuf.Photos by David Ransted.

So, just got back from the Semi-Final One show. I thought it was a great event.

Everyone from our little group who wrote down their predictions all got 8 out of ten correct! Really gutted for Denmark and Moldova – they would’ve made the final more special. But there are always a few surprises. Albania were never expected to qualify, so well done them!

So, let’s look at the ten winners that will go through to the final on Saturday night via David’s pics.

ALBANIA: Elhaida sang her heart out and it payed off!

ALBANIA: Elhaida sang her heart out and it payed off! Well done her!

ARMENIA: No surprise that Genealogy got through.

ARMENIA: No surprise that Genealogy got through.

RUSSIA. Polina just gave you goose-bumps.

RUSSIA. Polina just gave you goose-bumps. What a star!

ROMANIA. Pulled at the heart-strings – and it worked. A well-deserved winner.

ROMANIA. Pulled at the heart-strings – and it worked. A well-deserved winner from Voltaj.

HUNGARY. So glad this went through. A gentle song with a powerful message from Boggie.

HUNGARY. So glad this went through. A gentle song with a powerful message from Boggie.

GREECE. Maria Elena deserved her place in the final after a superb performance.

GREECE. Maria Elena deserved her place in the final after a superb performance.

ESTONIA. All is right in the world now that Stig and Elina are through to the final. Such a brilliant song.

ESTONIA. All is right in the world now that Stig and Elina are through to the final. Such a brilliant song.

GEORGIA. Victory for  Nina the warrior woman! Good to see Georgia back in the final.

GEORGIA. Victory for Nina the warrior woman! Good to see Georgia back in the final.

SERBIA. I though this might have been a surprise non-qualifier, but delighted for the lovely Bojana.

SERBIA. I though this might have been a surprise non-qualifier, but delighted for the lovely Bojana.

BELGIUM. Well done to Loic on his modern sound. It deserves its place in the final.

BELGIUM. Well done to Loic on his modern sound. It deserves its place in the final.

And now let.s look at the six who, alas, never made it through.

BELARUS. All the best to Uzari& Maimuna. I like it.

BELARUS. All the best to Uzari& Maimuna. I like it.

DENMARK. Gutted for Anti Social Media. Denmark gave us a great show last year, and they had a superb entry this year! Eurovision can be cruel.

DENMARK. Gutted for Anti Social Media. Denmark gave us a great show last year, and they had a superb entry this year! Eurovision can be cruel.

FINLAND. All the best to PKN. I guess punk was one step too far.

FINLAND. All the best to PKN. I guess punk was one step too far.

MACEDONIA. Daniel is such a talent. Hopefully he'll be back.

MACEDONIA. Daniel is such a talent. Hopefully he’ll be back.

MOLDOVA. The final will be much duller without Eduard. This act had everything in it. It's what Eurovision is all about!

MOLDOVA. The final will be much duller without Eduard. This act had everything in it. It’s what Eurovision is all about!

And now a few more images from the show.

You just can't get away from Conchita!

You just can’t get away from Conchita!

The three presenters. Let's be honest – they don't work that well together.

The three presenters. Let’s be honest – they don’t work that well together.

How nice to see the orchestra back – id only briefly!

How nice to see the orchestra back – if only briefly!

And here are a few images from the reception at the British Ambassador’s residence.

Hass Yusuf (looking miserable for some reason), Ambassador Susan le Jeune d'Allegeershecque and David Ransted

Hass Yusuf (looking miserable for some reason), Ambassador Susan le Jeune d’Allegeershecque and David Ransted

Hass and OGAE UK member, Sylvia Rook, make themselves at home at the Ambassador's residence. Doesn't Sylvia look regal...

Hass and OGAE UK member, Sylvia Rook, make themselves at home at the Ambassador’s residence. Doesn’t Sylvia look regal…

Vienna Blog Day 9

Vienna Blog. Words by Hass Yusuf, photos by David Ransted.

Today has been a press centre free day! Just enjoying the sites of Vienna. Trying to make the most of the free time we have. Vienna is a great place. It has a very relaxed attitude and everything seems quite calm. There will be of course a detailed account of this visit in the next edition of Vision magazine.

So this is a very short update.

Last night, every British fan and members of the press were invited to a reception at the Residence of the British Ambassador to Austria, Susan le Jeune d’Allegeershecque. And a grand affair it was! Electro Velvet were there as well performing their entry, Still In Love With You. Alex and Bianca were both very approachable. Good luck to them. The song is one of my favourites, so fingers crossed that it does well to us.

And after the reception, a number of us went for a posh pub meal. While we’re all here for Eurovision, it’s also a opportunity to catch up with old friends such as Sylvia Rook and Fiona Guest to name a few. And you’re always bumping other OGAE UK members in the road or on their underground system. All very civilised!

But tonight it’s Semi-Final One night! Was hoping to include David’s photos from the Dress Rehearsal last night, but the internet connection is very, very slow to upload images.

But maybe later tonight with the results!

Enjoy the show.

Vienna Blog Day 8

Vienna Blog. Words by Hass Yusuf, photos by David Ransted.

This blog is updated constantly throughout the day, so tune in for all the latest news as it happens.

Disclaimer: This blog is being written as things happen so please ignore any mistakes and go with the flow.

Just in case you missed yesterday’s blog, here my interview I did with John Karayiannis from Cyprus. Filmed by Robin Scott. Click here: http://youtu.be/THt0ExuVZXs

Click here for the interview. http://youtu.be/THt0ExuVZXs

And here’s my annual video blog touring the press centre, filmed by Robin Scott. Just click here: http://youtu.be/VtZs0K1H8lU

Here we go again!

Right, enough of me – let just quickly go back to the MEET & GREETS from yesterday.

At the Italian Meet & Greet, Il Volo said it was great to be back in the centre of Europe after their tour around the whole. They were very pleased with their first rehearsal, but want to change a few things for the second rehearsals. They still get butterflies before going on stage. They’re often compared to the Three Tenors, two of Il Volo are tenors and the other a baritone. But none of them are ready to be classical opera singers yet.

I completely missed the Austrian Meet & Greet as I was watching Electro Velvet. But I’m sure the Makemakes were fab and good fun.

At the Spanish Meet & Greet, Edurne sad she was most impressed by the stage – and she’s been performing on the stage form aged 9. Her message is to be brave in life – fight for your feelings to be free. No one is perfect.

At the German Meet & Greet, Ann Sophie could feel the passion that the vibe from stage gave out. She says to believe in destiny. It was a dream come true to be at Eurovision, especially as she wasn’t even meant to be here (as the inner from the German national final decided he wanted to go to Eurovision after all).

At the United Kingdom Meet & Greet, Alex and Bianca from Electro Velvet said it was worth all the hard work they had to do to arrive here. At this year is a party year (60th) for Eurovision, they wanted a fun party song. And they reminded us that there’s no set genre to a Eurovision win these days.

At the Australian Meet & Greet, Guy said he was over-whelmed by the stage – and he’s been on plenty in his career. He said the whole organization was a ‘well-oiled machine”. There were back-up people for back-up people in case anything went wrong. He felt the act was too big during the first rehearsals, so they plan to tone it down for the second rehearsals.

And I appear to have missed the French Meet & Greet as well. Well, it can happy, as loads of stuff is happening at the same time.

Time for some of David’s pics from the Meet & Greets.

Can you feel the big love from Il Volo of Italy?

Can you feel the big love from Il Volo of Italy?

Lisa from France is all smiles.

Lisa from France is all smiles.

It's The Makemakes of Austria getting all that tangled up!

It’s The Makemakes of Austria getting all that tangled up!

Ann Sophie of Germany has a rather long ear-ring.

Ann Sophie of Germany has a rather long ear-ring.

It's all smiles and tattoos from Guy of Australia.

It’s all smiles and tattoos from Guy of Australia.

Feel the love says Edurne of Spain.

Feel the love says Edurne of Spain.

It's a positive message from Electro Velvet of the United KIngdom.

It’s a positive message from Electro Velvet of the United KIngdom.

Just come from the first Dress Rehearsal! What a great show you’re all in for tomorrow night.

Tonight, we’re off to a special reception at the British Ambassador’s Residence.

But first, predictions from the gang here at the press centre.

Going through:

Hass Yusuf: Moldova, Armenia, Belgium, Greece, Estonia, Hungary, Russia, Denmark, Romania, Georgia.

David Ransted: Moldova, Armenia, Belgium, Greece, Estonia, Serbia, Russia, Denmark, Romania, Georgia

Robin Scott: Moldova, Armenia, Belgium, Greece, Estonia, Serbia, Russia, Denmark, Romania, Georgia

David Elder: Moldova, Armenia, Belgium, Greece, Estonia, Serbia, Russia, Denmark, Romania, Georgia

Danny Lynch: Armenia, Belgium,  Finland, Greece, Estonia, Hungary, Russia, Denmark, Romania, Georgia

Elaine Dove: Armenia, Greece, Estonia, Serbia, Hungary, Belarus, Russia, Denmark, Romania, Georgia

Andrew Main: Moldova, Armenia, Greece, Estonia, Serbia, Hungary, Russia, Denmark, Romania, Georgia

Hmm.. quite similar! I would really like to see Netherlands and Albania in. And Finland my get through as well – though the juries may mark them down. Personally I think it’s more exciting when predictions are all wrong. It’s boring getting everything right.

Back tomorrow for David’s pics from the first Dress Rehearsal from Semi-Final One. And then it’s the live show itself.

Vienna Blog Day 7

Vienna Blog. Words by Hass Yusuf, photos by David Ransted.

This blog is updated constantly throughout the day, so tune in for all the latest news as it happens.

Disclaimer: This blog is being written as things happen so please ignore any mistakes and go with the flow.

Yahoo! We’ve be here a week now! This time next week we’ll know where were heading to next year. Hope it’s Italy. Or the UK of course.

But before we start on today’s activities, here’s an interview I did with John Karayiannis from Cyprus. Filmed by Robin Scott.

Click here: http://youtu.be/THt0ExuVZXs

Click here for the interview. http://youtu.be/THt0ExuVZXs

And here’s my annual video blog touring the press centre, filmed by Robin Scott.

Just click here: http://youtu.be/VtZs0K1H8lU

Here we go again!

Here we go again!

But we talk about today’s stuff, let’s check out David’s pics from yesterday.

It's their time for Monika and Vaidas from Lithuania.

It’s their time for Monika and Vaidas from Lithuania.

Molly from Ireland is playing with numbers – out in the woods it looks.

Molly from Ireland is playing with numbers – out in the woods it looks.

Michela and Anita from Malta look happy together don't they? They're still young.

Michele and Anita from San Marino look happy together don’t they? They’re still young.

It's Knez from Montenegro saying goodbye. But hopefully not from the contest yet.

It’s Knez from Montenegro saying goodbye. But hopefully not from the contest yet.

It's that warrior from Malta, Amber!

It’s that warrior from Malta, Amber!

From Norway we have Morland, and lurking behind him is that red-haired beauty, Debrah.

From Norway we have Morland, and lurking behind him is that red-haired beauty, Debrah.

Leonor from Portugal looks fab in leather (PVC).

Leonor from Portugal looks fab in leather (PVC).

Marta and Vaclav from the Czech Republic hope love never dies.

Marta and Vaclav from the Czech Republic hope love never dies.

It's that golden boy from Israel, Nadav. Well, his mum probably thinks so.

It’s that golden boy from Israel, Nadav. Well, his mum probably thinks so.

Aminata from Latvia has a love injection.

Aminata from Latvia has a love injection.

It's the wolf man, Elnur, from Azerbaijan.

It’s the wolf man, Elnur, from Azerbaijan.

Maria from Iceland heats it up.

Maria from Iceland heats it up.

It's than man, Mans, from Sweden with a few of his friends.

It’s than man, Mans, from Sweden with a few of his friends.

Melanie from Switzerland tries to shine.

Melanie from Switzerland tries to shine.

It's John from Cyprus, regretting something he didn't do.

It’s John from Cyprus, regretting something he didn’t do.

Half of  Maraaya from Slovenia is here for us.

Half of Maraaya from Slovenia is here for us.

Love is the name for Monika from Poland.

Love is the name for Monika from Poland.

Let’s get back to today.

And here we go with ITALY!
Il Volo are now on stage singing Grande Amore. There’s a lot of love here. THe three chaps are decked out in fab dark suits, white pleated shirts and red shoes. A classy visual look for a classy pop opera song. And excellent backdrop visuals as well – harkening back to the days of Roman classical styling. The trio all have fabulous voices – and this is probably the nearest that Italy have come to winning the contest since 1990 (though they nearly did a few years in Dusseldorf). Come on Italy! (And UK.)

And here’s another trio – but this time from the host nation, AUSTRIA.
The Makemakers sing I Am Yours. It’s a pleasant quite relaxed song – it could be from the late 1960s. It’s all hair and beards. It’s a nice understated performance which starts off with the band in silhouette slowly emerging into the light. There’s a fire in the piano by the way. And now it’s completely in flames. An unusual effect as gimmicks go. Eurovision at its best. Let’s set the stage on fire.

And now it’s time for SPAIN.
And it was worth the wait. Edurne sings Amanecer. The acts starts off with the lovely Edurne dressed in a long red robe, looking like Little Red Riding hood, sitting on top of a bare-chested hooded male dancer. The red robe has a very long wedding train, which the dancer pull off! Off comes the red robe to reveal an outfit in gold! The dancer looses his hoodie as well and bare-chester he thrusts Edurne into the air and then spins her around. He then abandons her, nicking her red robe and running off the stage. Hope she’s got a spare, he’s probably keeping that one. I loved this. Despite the strange act, I love this powerful ballad.

Time for GERMANY now.
Ann Sophie sings Black Smoke. She’s looking all sultry in her black onesie with the revealing back, and golden belt. She’s joined on stage by four backing vocalists. She appears to have lost one of her earrings. This is a soulful funky sound, which I don’t really like, but it’s a very good performance – very modern, so should do well.

It’s crunch-time now with the UNITED KIGDOM.
It’s certainly different. The song, Still In Love With You, has been remixed for Electro Velvet. The BBC have brought along their own stairs again. Everyone seems to be dressed with florescent stripes which create nice effects. As does the back-pack that Bianca is wearing! She and Alex are in good voice and the dancers give it their all. It certainly is a bright and lively performance that everyone will remember – hopefully for the right reasons. This was good first rehearsal, which will no doubt be improved on by the second rehearsals. But well done to Bianca, Alex and the crew.

FRANCE are on next.
What a marvelous Lisa Angell is. She sings N’oubliez Pas with much gusto. She has a lovely backdrop with a message of peace (doves) emerging from destruction. She’s joined on stage by four drummers – or is that 40? A lovely effect by the French. It certainly has the ‘wow’ factor. The song is a pure French ballad but sounds great. Who cares if it’s old-fashioned.

And now it’s time for the last act of the contest, special guests, AUSTRALIA.
Guy Sebastian sings Tonight Again – which made me tap my feet throughout the whole performance. This modern, lively and catchy song is a soulful funky number that should score well. Guy is joined by four dancers who all perform well. Guy is however making a bit of a fashion statement with loose white leggings. But the trilby works well.

And that’s it for today. It’s the grand opening of the Euroclub tonight.

Tomorrow, I’ll write up the Meet & Greets from today along with David’s pic.