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Sunday, 01 May 2011 08:59

ESC 2011: Day 1 Rehearsals - LIVE

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Good Morning and welcome to our first live coverage from this years' Eurovision Song Contest which is taking place in Dusseldorf, Germany. Our team tells us that things are buzzing within the city with the event taking place there in the next couple of days that is. A huge press centre and a huge arena, things are looking very professional at the moment seeing that Germany wish to improve on their first hosting back in the Eurovision Song Contest held in Munich in 1984 following the win of Nicole with the song 'Ein Bischen Frieden'.

Anyways, the show has already started in terms of rehearsals this morning as we have our collaborator Keith Mills as well as myself in place to bring you the live reports from each of the ten rehearsals as Juergen Boernig and the rest of his team are taking care of press conferences and pictures so stay tuned because these two weeks are surely going to be an interesting couple of days for all Eurovision Song Contest lovers. Also joining in on the fun now is our very own International Relations Officer, Garrett Mulhall. As you saw in the schedule, the first ten countries in the first semi-final are to take to the stage today whilst Malta is set to take to the same stage tomorrow morning with Glen Vella kicking off proceedings with the song 'One Life'. Please check out our photo gallery with the latest updates from the rehearsals being uploaded on here or on the homepage of our site.


Considering the huge arena, the stage is comparatively small but what is really impressive is the background behind the stage as the LED screens used manage to create a 3D sort of effect which will surely impress during some songs. This mornings' first rehearsal comes from Poland and one has to say that the act looks already very slick. The main singer who is dressed in black leather this morning is joined by three female backing dancers who do their best despite a first rehearsal, and two backing vocals, a man and a woman. The orange and dark lighting is like seen within the official preview video but the vocals are spot on from Magdalena and it seems that the only thing she is still shaky about is the choreography and she almost fell at one point in those extremely high heels.

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Well and off we go with one of this years' favourites. Stella Mwangi seems to have changed the choreography of the song for the Eurovision Song Contest performance on the 10th May. She is joined on stage by three backing vocals and also two dancers, all of which do some sort of dance moves at some points. It seems that they have developed a new dance called the 'Haba Haba'. The vocals are not bad this morning but I cannot help saying that she needs much more work in that department to manage to impress. The stage is bathed in a flurry of lights although it seems that those predominant are blue and orange. With regards to clothing, she has decided to keep her Melodi Grand Prix dress for this morning. Despite the vocals, one cannot help sing along to this song especially early in the morning.

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The first Balkan feel of this years' festival comes from Albania. Aurela, the singer with the extremely vibrant red hair is joined on stage by three backing vocals, a drummer and a bassist. The stage which is bathed in red and black is depicting wings in the background whilst the lightning is sending spotlights all of the place and this is looking really slick in the hall. The vocals from the singer are spot on most of the time and it seems like she is seriously enjoying herself out there. Amazing job from the people at NDR who have managed to come up with this design this year. A competent first rehearsal and I must say that is has stood out thus far.

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An extremely energetic performance from Emmy who is joined on stage by four male dancers and a female backing vocal. The backdrop looks absolutely amazing with stars jumping up and down making being the cause of a very interesting effect actually. The vocals are not bad considering that this is only the second time in which she is performing this song live. The choreography is already spot on and I must say that this might be the best improvement of a song that I have seen thus far today in comparison to former performances. Very competent and at the moment, a definite qualifier.

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The lighting for this song is extraordinarily impressive actually as it looks very much like a concert rig in the middle of the ocean of some sort. The band looks a little bit static at times but they are doing their best to move about. In the meantime, there is a dancer in a ball sort of shaped structure on stage and she seems to be trying to get out of there whilst doing acrobatics.The vocal performance has no fault and this is surely going to be one to look out for despite being somewhat underwhelming for most people when chosen.

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You know this song is not being mentioned by many people as a contender and I cannot see why this is so? Nina is electric on the stage. This song is a throw back to the Motown era of the 1960's. Nina certainly knows how to sell a song and she does this in bucket loads. Serbia have embraced the 1960's with the subtle dance moves by Nina and her 3 backing singers. You can't help but think that you are looking and listening to a The Supremes.

The staging is wonderfully psychedelic with bright round coloured shapes on screen. But the charm of this song is amazing. Nina works the camera like a true professional with every inch of her persona. She brings the song to yet another level and I am certain that the viewing audience will warm to her charms. As for her voice - DOUZE POINTS. In all her rehearsals she did not miss a single note and the reaction by the audience was amazing. There are some great close ups of Nina and her singers as well as some well staged sweeping shots of the stage. This is one to look out for.

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Alexei is extremely charismatic and provides a faultless performance vocally. The set is black and grows with the song. Vertical white lights provide the staging. And not content with that Alexei and his 3 male dancers have coats that have matching lights on them that beat in sync with the music. Now did we see that before last year with Safura? And not content with flashing jackets they also have the shoes that glow too. Not content with that there is a platform that Alexei jumps up and down on throughout the song. One might say that this is "Blinging" to say the least. A stark contrast to the Russian performance from last year.

One cannot deny that this is a very well polished Russian Performance. The dance moves were very tight and slick and the vocals were spot on. However the new slower start to the song is the talking point of the arena. Why oh Why? Why would you spend 30 seconds of a 3 minute song singing something that bares no resemblance to the main track. Furthermore the song has a great build to it but then finishes abruptly. Why? There really is no need for the slow intro. Better to spend the time on getting to the chorus and finishing the song off more appropriately. However this song will qualify with ease and Alexei will charm the young female vote.

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If you were to turn the sound off this Swiss Performance you could be mistaken for thinking that you were looking at Portugal from 2009. The staging is colourful and almost cartoon like with sun rises and bright clouds floating across the screen. Anna was wearing a short red shimmering dress. I really think that if they are going with the sweet innocent staging then maybe a lighter coloured floating dress would be more in keeping. When it came to the third time of singing the song, giant bubbles were introduced into the performance. Now when I say huge I MEAN HUGE! However you really could not notice them on the stage except for the pubbles they left on the floor after they burst. Maybe a health hazard for the next performers on stage - or is that the plan from the Swiss. My suggestion would be to lose the bubbles.

As for the singing - Anna was sweet and charming. Her vocals were good. She did however seem to be a little stage struck and looked a little uncomfortable. However that is why we have rehearsals. They are there for the artist to sort out their teething problems and get comfortable with the stage. At the moment there is still some work to do for Switzerland. Qualification would be borderline with their performance

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Yes - a Marissa Tomei look alike sings for Georgia this year. Georgia are looking so strong for qualification after their performance this afternoon. They did have some problems with their first performance today and this resulted in a time delay before they returned on stage. However when they did it was electric. They are all dressed in very dramatic Black Leather costumes with accents of vivid colours. The backdrop for the performance is a mixture of large Gothic Church Windows and Ruins. The lighting is dark and very moody but it is really in fitting with the song. Eldrine grew in confidence with each performance and she look a lot more comfortable on camera. She has a raw quality to her voice and she really began to sell the song to the camera. Her group are equally dramatic. They are dimly lit but when they have a close up they are certainly present on the screen. This song will certainly go big in the huge Esprit Arena and will be a crowd pleaser. This song certainly looks like a strong contender for qualifying.

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Well Paradise is on top of the world looking down on us at Eurovision. This song looks stunning on screen. It is a black screen with an AMAZING blue revolving image of the earth from outer space. It is the same image throughout the song but it is striking visually. And with Paradise standing solo on the stage it is a real contrast to the rock anthem from Georgia before it. However it is a shame that the song is not as stunning as the visual presentation. It is a simple song and it is Paradise and his guitar. However the song starts off at one pace and fails to build or have any light or shade.

His vocals are good but the song is not challenging. Yes the song has a message that is "We all need to be aware of the environment" but the song is presented very literally with the lyrics. I do hope that Paradise does change his outfit for the show as his shirt was rather distracting and was cause for concern with those around me in the arena - it could be a contender for the Barbara Dex Award! Personally I think this is a song with some charm but I fear it may get lost in the Semi Final.

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Last modified on Sunday, 01 May 2011 17:39