Copenhagen Blog: Day 3

Hass Yusuf, editor of Vision magazine reporting from Copenhagen. Photographs by David Ransted.

Day 3? Is that all. It feels as if we’ve been here three weeks! But we’re loving it.

Anyway before the first act of today, let’s briefly talk about a few Meet & Greets last night.

At the Norwegian one we discovered that Carl Espen has had a varied career – carpenter, doorman as well as performing music on the side. A true grafter! He’s also a big fishing fan.


At the Georgian one the performers say they tried to mesh jazz and folk into their song. It’s all about coming home to a green Earth. Well not if you land outside the B&W Hallerne and its industrial wasteland! Luckily the shuttle bus from our hotel avoids all the obstacles that the organisers have laid out for us. We’re British y’know – we always find a way.


At the Polish one they revealed the country was glad to back after a two-year break. They were delighted with the great stage and arena. Their song is all about ‘inner strength’ apparently. But what about the heaving bosoms they were asked. Is the song sexist. Donatan & Cleo insist not. It’s all jolly good fun – and it’s what Slavic girls do – work and toil! “It’s the way we live!” says Cleo.The traditional outfits of the backing dancers/singers is meant to remind the young not to forget their past. Well I like it all.


Okay – on stage now we’re off with the remaining countries for Semi-Final 2. Austria is first on. Conchita Wurst sings Rise Like A Phoenix. This is a favourite of mine as I love James Bond themes – and this could easily be a classic Bassey number. The stage starts off dark with a silhouetted figure among dry-ice mist. Slowly a face appears… a bearded lady. But with a great voice! Conchita is standing on a small platform dressed in a glittery number. This is a very stripped-back act – she just stands there and sings – perfectly! She has a spotlight from above focussed on her – but the graphic backdrop revealing the Phoenix is excellent. It really suits the mood of the song. If Europe can get past the beard, this really is an excellent ballad that deserves to do well. Hopefully she can rise proudly to the final.

And we go to classy act to a rather noisy one. Yes, it’s time for Lithuania. Vilija Mataciunaite sings/shouts Attention. The acts has Vilija wearing a black tutu fending off a hunky dancer. He won’t listen to her – and she’s not having it! Get on the floor with you! “On your knees!” I wouldn’t dare say no. But stop looking up her tutu you dirty swine! The acts ends with them both giving the finger. How charming. (It’s not.)

More noise now – but in a nice way from Finland. Softengine sing Something Better (and it certainly is). Softengine are comprised of five clean-cut young men. They just stand there and perform beautifully. Wonderful spotlight effects. If you like Britrock/Indy music – then this is for you. Not much more you can say really. I think it’s excellent, but these rock-style don’t always make it through to the final – but this certainly deserves to.

Bit of a break now. The press centre is slowly filling up with more accredited journalists. And we now have free tea and coffee – and loose nuts! Plus apples and pears. I like a juicy pear. Hopefully they’ve all been washed.

At the Austrian Meet & Greet, Conchita was on top form. She got a bit cheer when she came on to the stage. She says she’s overwhelmed by the whole Eurovision experience. Why waiting in between each rehearsal she finally realised that she “was here” – and had to stop herself from tearing up. The song is important for her because it signifies a new beginning after going through hardship. She says you only have one life so use it to make yourself happy. By the way she is a drag artist and not a transsexual.

Austria Austria 2

Next up are our nearest neighbours, Ireland. Can-Linn feat. Kasey Smith sing Heartbeat. My, it’s a busy stage. Kasey looks glamorous in a long golden frock. The rest of the group consist of two backing singers, a drummer/fiddler and two male dancers in kilts (I guess they must be Can-Linn). And the backdrop is very much Celtic – which looks great. Quite nice really and the song is pleasant enough – but there’s a lot going on. And Kasey just seems to wander off on a little stroll. She doesn’t look to happy either. The director isn’t sure what to show!

Missed the Lithuanian Meet & Greet, but here’s a nice picture instead.


At the Finnish Meet & Greet – there were too many sunglasses for my liking.


I guess they’re young and like to pose (only three of the band shown here). The band have just signed up with Sony Music, so they’re very delighted with that. Also happy with their Eurovision experience so far as well. They just want to change a few camera angles for the next set of rehearsals. The song tells a story of an old man who looks back on life and feels he has missed out – but on reflection the years with his now deceased wife makes him realise that he actually had it look. So, be satisfied with what you have! Well, I’m very satisfied being here.

Well – for most of the time. Sometimes you have to sit through stuff that might not be too your liking. Oh, here’s Belarus on stage. Teo sings Cheescake. Hmmm… rather eat it than listen to it think. But it is a fun song – though the act on stage isn’t that inspiring. Teo is joined by stage by four backing singers. The graphic background is more impressive. Not more to add really. Not sure if Teo’s personality comes across that much.

Next we have Macedonia. Tijana Dapcevic sings To The Sky. Not really sure to make of this. She’s comes across as a fun personality and I certainly like the song – but the act on stage isn’t really that memorable. It may get lost among the more effective competition. However it does have great graphic backdrop effects. Makes me remember my old spirogyra set… But if we remember that this is a song contest, then it deserves to go through to the final.

On stage now is another favourite of mine – Switzerland. Sebalter sings and whistles Hunter Of Stars. Sebalter and his group make full use of the stage having a bunch of drums set along the cat walk. Sebalter seems to look like the happiest person the planet. He certainly has a captivating personalty which really comes across this fun and bouncy song. He also plays the fiddle – but isn’t as annoying as a certain previous Eurovision winner. The bad news for Switzerland of course is that whenever I’ve really liked a Swiss song over the past few years, it’s always failed to get through to the final. I really hope this isn’t the case this time. Break my curse Sebalter, break my curse!

The next act on stage will definitely qualify for the final – Greece! Freaky Fortune feat. RiskyKidd sing Rise Up. The Greeks are well-known for some of their props in the past – and this year they brought along a trampoline to have a bounce around on. It looks like great fun. I’m not a great fan of rap, but it works really well here. There was a danger that Greece wouldn’t allowed to complete this year due its national broadcaster shutting down, but the EBU in their infinite wisdom bent the rules to allow them to enter. Well done them! As mentioned the Greeks have deployed an old trampoline from the Athens Olympics along with a trampoline acrobat. It’s a bit silly really – but it does go well with the song. After making good use of the catwalk, the two singers end up bouncing around on the trampoline. The finish on their backs all exhausted. That’ll teach them. (It’s just jealousy talking.)

Missed the Irish Meet & Greet, but here’s a pic of Kasey.


At the Belarus Meet & Greet, Teo was in good form. He’s a friendly and likeable chap. Apparently he wrote three songs that featured in the Belarus national final. He’ll be more than pleased to write songs for other countries as well. Someone of course asked him if he was eating cheesecake when he thought up the song. It actually has nothing to do with cheesecake (could do with a slice right now with a bit of strawberry sauce – the food here isn’t much to write about), but tells the story of a young man who hates the nickname his girlfriend has giving him – ‘cheesecake’. He’s lucky she didn’t choose Spotted Dick.


Moving on, Slovenia are next on stage. Tinkara Kovac sings Spet (Round And Round). It’s another pleasant entry from the country. The act is enough to make you giddy though – with a whirlwind effect on the stage below her. Tinkara looks elegant in blue and is joined on stage with three backing singers. And that’s about it really – she plays the flute at the beginning and end of the song. It’s always difficult to predict how well this sort of song will do. It’s good enough for the final – but will it stand out in the semi?

Romania are the last act on stage. They always get through the final and will do so again. Pauls & Ovi sing Miracle. The last time this duo entered the contest a few years ago they came third. This performance again features them both shouting at each other. The act starts with a hologram of Paula – but the real one is on stage with Ovi. The prop of this semi is a circular keyboard that Ovi seems fond of. He wears it like a necklace – perhaps it’ll be this year’s fashion trend in Romania. After all the shouting, the couple walk hand in hand along the catwalk. All very nice. The country will win the contest one of these years. This year? You never know.

Missed the Macedonian Meet & Greet, but here’s a nice pic of her.


At the Swiss Meet & Greet, Seabalter was excited and happy about his time at Eurovision. He’s an experienced performer so tries hard not to get too nervous. He’s quite fond of Ukraine’s Tick-Tock being a bit of a whistler himself. He states that he only has himself to blame if his performance isn’t up to scratch. He’s going to try and keep a high standard. He came across as very genuine and likeable.


At the Greek Meet & Greet, the two Greek chaps were put in contact with RiskyKidd (originally from the UK) by their record company. When they composed Rise Up – they didn’t do so for Eurovision – until the song got entered for the Greek national final. The audience sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to Nikolas and in return the chaps sang a melody of Eurovision hits. All very nice. The trampoline in the act is meant to be a metaphor to rise up for the challenge – be positive and creative. Rise above your problems and all that. Nothing to do with having a bit of fun on stage then.


They’re just giving Nikolas the birthday bumps here…

I only got to the Slovene Meet & Greet to see Tinkara give a quick lesson in the different ways of producing sounds from the flute. She also sang a quick lullaby – being a mother, she says it’s usually the first form of music a child hears.


And finally tonight the Romanian Meet & Greet. Paula and Ovi are both delighted to back on the Eurovision stage. They have a great working relationship – both are married, but obviously not to each other. They wanted a connection to their previous act at Eurovision – hence the piano keyboard. They want to iron out a few camera angles here and there, but they very happy with everything so far.


There are no rehearsals tomorrow – some sort of May Day holiday – but might be back with any comments or photos.







Copenhagen Blog: Day 2

Hass Yusuf, editor of vision magazine reporting from Copenhagen. Photographs taken by David Ransted.

Disclaimer: Apologies for any typos, bad grammar,  missing words, etc. These blogs are being written live as the action happens.

So today we have the first rehearsals for the last six songs for Semi-Final 1 and the first five for Semi-Final 2. And it’s all getting rather exciting. It seems we’ve been here for ages – but it’s only the second day!

First up today is Moldova. Which should’ve started 10 minutes ago. But in the meantime here are pics from yesterday’s Meet & Greet for Ukraine and Belgium.




Anyway, here are Moldova with Cristina Scarlat singing Wild Soul. Cristina is joined on stage by four dancers, and is pulling her hair a lot.  Damn hose split ends. Anyway, the act starts off with the four dancers doing strange things behind her. You really have to be fit to be a Eurovision dancer these days. Pans People would never have managed it. Cristina sings the song with much gusto – and the dancers give it a lot of energy. Moldova have a good record of getting through to the final, but to be honest this performance won’t stand out that much. However, Cristina’s presence will help them into the final.

While we wait for the next act – just a bit more info on Copenhagen. It is very much a green city with lots of developments on the outer edges. There are some lovely designed buildings – the hotel we’re staying at – the Bella Sky is a twin-tower designer with a walkway but at different angles. Looks amazing. And yes we’re extremely comfortable if you’re wondering. Our rooms are on the top floor and the views are amazing. I like Danish design. In fact my specs are Danish design, so I approve.

Anyway, the roads getting to the arena aren’t great – or rather there aren’t many! Those coming over for the live shows should allow plenty of time.

Enough chit-chat – here’s the next act – San Marino with the lovely Valentina Monetta singing Maybe. I like this song a lot – it has an old-fashioned feel to it. But it’s very difficult for this style of song to do well these days – which is a shame. This is Valentina’s third appearance in a row for her country so fingers crossed to get into the final.

On stage Valentina is standing on a glittery platform and behind her is a strange web-shaped drape. Not sure why they need these  curtains – especially with the fab background of the stage – but I guess it all adds to the ambience. Actually I’ve just been told by David that it represents a shell – the first line if the lyric being “Maybe there’s pearl in the shell’. Val looks very striking in her long golden locks and white outfit. A pearl indeed! She’s joined on stage by a pianist and a wind-machine. It’s a simple act – but hopefully one that will be remembered.

And here’s another beauty – Suzy representing Portugal with  Qeoro Ser Tua. It’s great to see Portugal back after a year’s absence. This is quite a lively performance. Suzy is joined on stage by four dancers, wind machine, two large drums, flags – and a bongo-drummer who keeps on stalking her! This is a bouncy number, which alas won’t win it for Portugal – but one day we’ll get to Lisbon! In the meantime we can just appreciate this hectic offering.

At the Moldovan Meet & Greet, Cristina says her song really is about family – the struggles of life and how to overcome problems. Search for your inner spirit to find solutions. She was asked that the song suggests two personalities – one strong, the other sensitive. Which was she? Obviously she said both. She had to be strong to support a family – and so forth. She’s well known in Moldova for being a succssful singer while still raising a family. It’s called multi-tasking in the UK and everyone seems to do it.


I just caught the tail-end of the San Marino Meet & Greet. Valentina really is one of the nicest people that you will ever meet at Eurovision. She was asked about her musical background and favourite styles. She says she loved all formed of music but specialised in jazz. Her favourite performers includes James Brown and Nina Simone. She sang a bit of a song that she wrote for her mother called Hotel – recounting the fact that a teenager she was brought up in an hotel.

San Marino


I missed the Purtugalmeet & Greet, but here’s a nice picture of Suzy by David.


The Netherlands are next on stage. The Common Linnets sing Calm After The Storm. The two singers Lise DeLange and Waylon face each other, but beneath them is a moving white line indicating a road. Then the camera pans out to reveal the other musicians and a fantastic graphic backdrop that really suits the mood of the song. The whole performance is very under-stated but extremely classy. The country finally managed to get out f the semis to the final last year – hopefully they can do it again – but a country-style song may struggle to go through. It would be a shame not to see this in the final.


One of my favourites in next – Montenegro. Sergej Cetkovic sings Moj Svijet. I like a tradition Balkan folk song, so I really approve of this. The acts begins with the camera slowly swooping down to reveal Sergej. He’s joined on stage by three other musicians and out of stage left in comes a female skater! Steeling the limelight she performs a short double toe-loop and other ice-skating moves. Those who miss watching that skating with the stars ITV show might be impressed. But it’s actually not a bad performance. Sergej is a great singer, so hopefully the dancing won’t distract too much. Another great graphic backdrop. But hold on – what’s this? They’ve changed the beginning of the act. we’re now starting off with skater with flowers and such appearing under her as she skates across the stage. All very nice. Many readers will of course remember that Russia won the contest with a ice-skater on stage. Will history repeat itself?


And next is my second favourite act of the contest – Hungary! Andras Kallay-Saunders sings Running. If the country are ever going to win the contest then it really should be with this. The acts starts with Kallay sitting on a chair then suddenly running down the catwalk. On stage we see a young female playing the piano – she turns out to be a dancer and the subject of the song. Joining her is a fierce looking male dancer – and together they expertly tell the story of the song – domestic violence. What a powerful performance! This really is a worthy winner for the contest! Perhaps not the usual topic that we have in Eurovision. But life isn’t all about love. UK readers can’t of course vote for the UK – so please feel free to send me to Budapest next year!


Malta are on stage now. They of course start off Semi-Final 2. Firelight sing Coming Home – a very impressive folk-pop song.Originally it was meant to signify immigrant workers, but then video was very much about the 100th anniversary of the start of the first World War. But the performance here on stage is back about immigrant workers. It really is a powerful song – quite emotional with it’s subject matter. The only downside is that with six performers already on stage there isn’t much movement. They just stand there and sing! Nothing wrong with that of course. It’s the song that counts and not the lighting or flashy dancers. Well done Malta!


My favourite song of the contest is on next – Israel. Mei Feingold sings Same Heart. One word to describe the first run-through – wow! Mei seems to be rehearsing in her show outfit and looks very dashing indeed. She’s joined on stage by two female dancers. They have a simple but effective routine – with them even lying on the stage floor. They seems to get up okay. Jealous, or what? They make great use of the stage and the catwalk. Actually, you realise how big the stage is from this performance.  Mei and her dancers look quite scary – so don’t mess with them. She also has something in Hebrew tattooed on her arm. I’m sure it reads ‘Vote for me – or else!’ Well, if I were you I would listen to her and vote to send me to Tel Aviv next year. The song is a worthy winner though. It has a great beat and just ticks all the boxes for me. I beat to the same heart as you Mei – I really do! 2′ 53″ of excellence!

I’m being spoilt today with many of my favourites on stage.

Next on stage we have another fan favourite, Norway. Carl Espen sings Silent Storm. A very impressive performance here. Carl is joined on stage by a pianist, four violinists and dry-ce mist. It’s all very subdued – but effective. A bit corny in its styling – but it suits the mood of the pleasant ballad. Carl may look mean and gritty, but he sings the song in a powerful, but soft way. Many think it’s a winner. I’m not so convinced – but it is a serious and worthy challenge from Norway.

At the Hungary Meet & Greet, Kallay came across a very likeable young man. He’s absolutely loving his Eurovision experience and would love to come back every year! His first impressions on stepping on to the stage was “OMG!” – the stage here at the B&W Hallerne is the biggest he’s ever been on. He’s very proud to be representing Hungary. He’s half American, half Hungarian. His father in the States is a well-known record producer – but he never asked for favours from him in regards to entering the music industry. Kallay wants to fall and succeed on his own. He’s very pleased to have fans – and likes to refer to them as more as friends. In the States his only sang R&B songs, but since moving to Europe he’s got into Blues, Rock’n’Roll, Soul, Country, etc. He knows his song has a serious theme, but hopes it something that people can still enjoy and dance to.

Georgia are next on stage. Mariko & The Shin sing Three Minutes To Earth. And here’s a Eurovision first. One of the drummers is standing on his drum while wearing a parachute! He better be careful not to fly off, otherwise it’ll take him more than three minutes to land back on Earth. As a gimmick it’s great fun – but hardly suits the mood of the song. As the song mentions a lonely star he might have been better off in a Buck Rogers outfit with jet-pact and such.Still, this is an unusual folk offering from Georgia – and all credit to them for trying something different, but let’s say that not every act can get through to the final.

Just popped my head around into the Israel Meet & Greet before the last act on stag. Mei seems to be very grounded. She’s really excited about being in Eurovision and didn’t know what to expect. She was pleased with her first rehearsal, but still wants to make some changes – camera angles and some dance movements. She was asked where she got her strong voice. She said it came deep within her soul. Actually she’s a very experienced theatrical performer, so that probably helped. As for her getting through to the final – she’s aiming for the top – as anyone in a contest must do, but as long as she gives it her all, she’ll be happy.


The last act of the day is from Poland – another favourite of mine. Donatan & Cleo singing My Slowianie – We Are Slavic. Donatan is no where to be seen, but Cleo is on stage with three sexy dancers and two rather big-bossomed washer-women. And people ask me why I love Eurovision. This is just a fun and cheeky song – but with a great beat – rap and ethic music meshed expertly together .

And that’s it for today. Be back tomorrow with the rest of Semi-Final 2 acts.

Copenhagen blog: Day 1

Hass Yusuf, editor of vision magazine reporting from Copenhagen. Photographs taken by David Ransted.

Disclaimer: Apologies for any typos, bad grammar,  missing words, etc. These blogs are being written live as the action happens.

So it begins! But what to begin with?

How about… what a dump! Well, just outside the B&W Hallerne in downtown Refshaleon – it’s a deathtrap in waiting! Barbed wire, rusty containers, dirt road, rubbish dump, potholes galore,  patchwork tarmac, paint-balling, triffids – you name it and we’ve got it!  And very awkward to get in. Took a short-cut through a hole in the fence this morning. We’re British you know – we always find a way.

But, hey – this is Eurovision. It all adds to the charm of the place.

The Press Centre is actually very nice – quite big. We’re just waiting for the first rehearsal of the day – Armenia, but so far nothing on the screens for us. The press can only these first rehearsals from the screens.

Today of course, first rehearsals for Semi-Final 1 begin.

While we wait for the connection to the arena, let me just say that Copenhagen so far seems to be a very nice place. Watch out for the cyclists – they certainly add to the green credentials of the city – but they try and run you down.

For a first day of rehersals there seems to be a lot of press. The good thing about Denmark is that it’s feasy to get to for most western European countries.

I see a flicker on the screen – yes, it’s Aram MP3 from Armenia singing Not Alone.

Aram MP3 (probably not his real name) is encircled in beams of light. The stage looks amazing. Are we on the planet Krypton? Spotlights galore. You’re getting your money’s worth here! Well – that was a fab start to the contest. Couldn’t tell how he sounded though – hardly any volume.

Spoke to soon – here he is again. He’s sounding good to me – and looking very angst..  This song is very highly rated and apparently was the bookies favourite for a while. Personally I can’t see it winning (famous last words) – but it’s certainly a great entry.


By stark contrast we next have Latvia, where  Aarzemnieki are attempting to Bake A Cake. Actually, they would have more stage presence if they were actually trying to bake a cake! (Remember the Russian grannies a few years ago?)  The song is very understated as is the performance. They need to spruce it somehow. But the lead singer does make full use of this impressive stage.  It’s a charming song and not all songs have to be big productions – but that does seem to help these days.


Estonia are now on stage with Tanja singing Amazing. She’s have a little boogie with a hunky male dancer. Her voice is holding despite being flung around all round the place. She’s climbing on top of him now. The stage act seems to show her breaking free of something. Well she can’t get away from that dancer. He’s got her by the ankles now. All very strange. Someone needs to call security!  Maybe it’s a strange Estonian love ritual . Fabulous light effects though.


So far so good.

Time for the first Meet & Greet with Armenia.

Aram MP3 says he’s got a lot of support in his home country and so is hoping for the best. As for going on first he sees it as a nice present and will be able to watch all his colleagues from the Green Room. I’m sure he wishes them well – well not all of them of course. Only ten countries can go through to the final from this semi-final.

On stage we now have the lovely Sanna Nielsen for Sweden singing Undo. This is highly regarded and is easy to see why. Sanna is in fine voice. she just stands centre stage and is circled in a cage of spotlights. In a way that’s all the song demands. There are no sudden moments. Sanna let’s the song’s emotions tell the story. Along with simple, but effective light effects, this is a perfect entry.


At the Latvian Meet & Greet, lead singer Joran Steinhauer said he was inspired to go to Latvia from Germany after watching the first Latvian Eurovision by Brainstorm singing My Star (one of my favourite Eurovision songs ever by the way). He wrote a song about the Latvian currency for YouTube that went viral. And that was that.

On stage we now have the Teletubbies.. sorry I mean the Icelandic entry. Pollaponk sing No Prejudice. And you can’t argue with that. They’re a colourful band with members wearing pink, blue, red and yellow suits – and the backing musicians are just as colourful.. All good fun. But for such a lively song, most of the performance is quite static. Unlike the Swedish song, this one needs to be a bit more lively to suit the fun mood of the song. It’s beards galore with Pollaponk. ZZ Tops fans will approve. Not many performers have won Eurovision with beards, but Eurovision in Iceland would be great, so good luck to them!


At the Estonian Meet & Greet, Tanja was asked – as an ethnic Russian – if there was any political backlash to her representing Estonia (obviously in relation to the Ukrainian crisis). She said she’s had a long career in Estonia so he widely known there, so hasn’t had any problems. She’s been a big Eurovision fan for 23 years now and is going to make the most of here two-week experience.

We have Albania on stage now,Hersi Matmuja sings Zemerimi Nje Nate. She’s standing on a raised platform – but has taken her platform shoes off. Well might as well get comfy. Barefoot singers generally do well in this contest. Here band are on stage as well – and the cameramen are obviously filming around them. Hersi can certainly sing, but the performance seems to be missing something. I take it back – just noticed dry-ice mist effects. That’s better. And you can’t fault Hersi for her passion!


Time for Russia. The Tolmachevy Twins sing Shine. This is a decent pop song with a good stage act. They’ve brought along their own prop – a nice shaped see-saw. The girls are dressed very casual – they couldn’t even be bothered to put their shoes on. And they’re both holding long glass rods. Very ominous! Ah… here’s some mist. I like to see mist on the Eurovision stage. Can’t get enough of it. The twins might be young, but they know how to sing. Thy won the Junior Eurovision in 2007, so they’re used to success. A very decent decent performance that should get them through to the final (politics aside).


Now for a country that always do well in the contest – Azerbaijan. Dilara Kazimova sings Start A Fire. Azerbaijan of course don’t do things the easy way – they often find a good gimmick. And this year they’ve employed the services of a trapeze artist. Very subtly though. This is really an impressive ballad and Dilara sings it perfectly. Add in a bit of mist and you have a hit. The act also has a fab gothic backdrop. All very impressive especially when you add in a great light show.

Well just look at Ukraine and their giant hamster wheel on stage! Maria Yaremchuk is trying to sing Tick-Tock while climbing over it. Steady on girl! Well she’s trying to get her hands on the hunky acrobat who’s performing within the wheel. He must be ultra-fit with the things he’s getting up to! I like it. The song is a decent pop offering – and the act goes nicely with the subject matter. Ukraine usually does well in the contest, so this should easily get them into the final – and with the country being in the public eye at the moment won’t be a bad thing. It could even win!

And here’s another potential winner – Belgium. Axel Hirsoux sings Mother. This is performed very much like in the Belgian national final which reduced many to tears including judge Ruslana (who won the contest for Ukraine in 2004). The staging is simple but effective – a subtle light effect with good camera work. And how nice to see a dancer who isn’t that young. Axel certainly has a rich and powerful voice. Powerful enough to guide into the final. Hopefully. Antwerp awaits…

I’ve missed a few Meet & Greets – there’s only so much you can do, but just come from the Ukrainian one, Mariya says this experience is the beginning of the best time of her life. Her father was a famous Ukrainian singer – who died when she was young, but still feels inspired by him. She was asked why only one dancer is appearing on stage with her. She explained it told the story better – two lovers that are kept apart. She came across as very genuine – a very different from the rock-chick that she displays on stage.

Belgium is the last Meet & Greet of the day. Axel is really enjoying his experience and says he’s representing all of his country. The song isn’t just for mothers, but for whole families and best friends.

And that’s it for the first day of rehearsals. It’s been a log day – started at 9.30am and it’s 8.00pm now. Tomorrow we’ll see the final six acts left from Semi-Final 1 and the first five acts from Semi-Final 2. So, have we seen a winner today? For various reasons there are three that could do it.

Back again tomorrow with more comment and David’s photos.

Will You Join Us?

Yes, it’s almost time for Hass Yusuf, Editor of Vision magazine, to pack his suitcase and travel to Wonderful, Wonderful Copenhagen where he will be providing daily reports direct from the Eurovision press centre at the heart of B&W Hallerne in the Danish capital.  With exclusive behind the scenes gossip and tips for the top, Hass will be bring you everything you need to know about what is happening at Eurovision 2014.  So come back on Monday 28th April 2014 and start enjoying the annual musical extravaganza that is the Eurovision Song Contest!

And good luck to Molly!