Tonight at 21:00 CEST/20:00 UK/Portugal, contestants from 18 countries will compete for ten spots in the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest Grand Final.  You can watch the show live on TV (BBC4 in the UK) or follow the stream on Eurovision.tv. If technology permits, I'll be here to live blog and you are welcome to tell me how I haven't a clue what I'm on about in the comments box below.

Phil Colclough May 9, 20176:47 pm

Well I’m in the place now. The concourse seems heaving. This is good. 🙂

Phil Colclough May 9, 20177:37 pm

Right. I’ve found my seat after an adventure. Mr Hacksaw hasn’t.

Phil Colclough May 9, 20177:38 pm

Actually up in the rafters!!! This is a good view.

Phil Colclough May 9, 20177:46 pm

Pre contest warnings about safety and the stuff.

Phil Colclough May 9, 20177:51 pm

Presenters warming the crowd up as per every Eurovision ever!!!

Mo Fanning May 9, 20177:56 pm

And I will be following the BBC stream – so much hilarity from there whenever things get a bit too Eurovision

Phil Colclough May 9, 20177:58 pm

Three minutes. And Hilarious? BBC???

Mo Fanning May 9, 20177:58 pm
Here’s something to retweet, if you’re that way inclined
Mo Fanning May 9, 20178:00 pm

Mel pre warning viewers there will be a horse head and making the obligatory chicken Kiev joke

Phil Colclough May 9, 20178:02 pm

Crowd are very loud up here in the rafters. Augmented by some very annoyingly loud kids.

Mo Fanning May 9, 20178:03 pm

Monatik doing something typically Ukrainian and Eurovision. Neither statement being true. Still it’s useful drink mixing time.

Mo Fanning May 9, 20178:04 pm

Pop Sox are still fashionable in Kiev, it seems

Mo Fanning May 9, 20178:05 pm

The theme for tonight is Celebrate Diversity – I’ll not be the first to point out the presenters are three white men, but you didn’t come here for me to bang on like a back copy of the Socialist Worker, so on with the show.

Mo Fanning May 9, 20178:05 pm

Amazing count two

Phil Colclough May 9, 20178:06 pm

They say watched Eurovision. I say “reached” 204 million.

Mo Fanning May 9, 20178:07 pm

Jesus this is wooden.

The presenters are already annoying the very heck out of me. What is it with the word ‘amazing’ these days. How would they react if they ever encountered something truly unexpected or great. They have no spare word for it. Totes amazing? It’s like people in shops who say “see you later”, when I’ll probably never see them again in my life. Sometimes I despair.

Mo Fanning May 9, 20178:08 pm
There’s a long and drawn-out ramble that comes over a bit like that bit at the end of a payday loan company advert, except tonight they’re not proposing to lend us money at an extortionate rate of interest, rather they’re here to warn us that our local telephone companies are waiting to fleece us in exchange for our votes.

No texting in the UK, flashing images, strobes and horse heads

It feels to be going on a bit.

Phil Colclough May 9, 20178:08 pm

I feel your desperation from here. Talking of wooden. Heeeeeeeers Robin.

Mo Fanning May 9, 20178:09 pm

Long shot of the hall – woah it’s empty

Mo Fanning May 9, 20178:09 pm

Hoorah, and we’re off. This musical spike is going to get old fast.

Phil Colclough May 9, 20178:09 pm

The back bit is empty. The hall near the front is full.

Phil Colclough May 9, 20178:10 pm

Sixth backing singer is off stage for Robin.

Mo Fanning May 9, 20178:10 pm

Robin’s here and looking like a spray-tanned shop dummy (as ever) and performing the one song that makes my skin crawl this year. I detested this when I first heard it all those months ago and nothing’s changed. Shame, because I almost always love the Swedish song. It’s obviously going through and will do well on Saturday, but it still makes my flesh creep.

Mo Fanning May 9, 20178:12 pm

Huge potential for a prat fall, maybe Saturday – as it is we have had a blank screen.

He looks to be concerntrating so hard on the machine, he’s forgotten about the song
Phil Colclough May 9, 20178:12 pm

God almighty this is rubbish but will be televise fodde because it’s Sweden innit.

Mo Fanning May 9, 20178:14 pm

Georgia – If you got a computer to write a Bond song, this is what it might come out with. Tako has a fair go at a keening contralto of emotional pain.

Mo Fanning May 9, 20178:16 pm

The song seems to be getting away from her by the end

Mo Fanning May 9, 20178:18 pm

Australia

The big face thing is incredibly distracting and having him on a lazy Susan isn’t helping me enjoy this. It’s incredibly dull.

Mo Fanning May 9, 20178:19 pm

Did nobody remember to pack their socks this year?

Mo Fanning May 9, 20178:20 pm

There were some duff notes there – it really should sink without trace

Mo Fanning May 9, 20178:24 pm

Albania

Lindita looks like she escaped from My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding and she’s being a touch random with the notes. I don’t feel we’ll hear this one twice.
it sounded like one big long shriek.
Mo Fanning May 9, 20178:27 pm

Belgium

The backing track is way too low. Blanche looks like she’s been warned that the second she gets off stage, she’s going to be made to swallow a cup of wasps.

I loved this when I first heard it, and it still feels like the most commercially relevant song in the line-up, but tiny voice isn’t working in big hall. Looking less like it’s going through. I think I’d investigate her album though. If she gets to do one after this.

Mo Fanning May 9, 20178:30 pm
Montenegro

This is one of those clip show songs, the sort of number used by detractors to laugh at Eurovision. He’s having a good old time, but it’s rubbish really.
Phil Colclough May 9, 20178:32 pm

Fucking thing logging me out. I hope that it’s ridiculous as it looks. Has Mo been entertaining? 🙂

Phil Colclough May 9, 20178:32 pm

Belgium are doomed btw.

Phil Colclough May 9, 20178:34 pm

More green room nonsense. Bet the UK aren’t seeing this though.

Mo Fanning May 9, 20178:34 pm

BBC showing a comedy focus group with Lucie Jones and ex Eurovision singers – including Nikki French (yay)

Phil Colclough May 9, 20178:36 pm

So this song is basically Blackbird shut the fuck up and piss off for three minutes. It’s still excellently haunting tho.

Phil Colclough May 9, 20178:38 pm

Great reaction in the hall for the piano solo. This should be very high when the voting gets round to being released.

Mo Fanning May 9, 20178:39 pm

Finland – Wonderfully staged, a theme that fits with the song for once. But ultimately this ‘Blackbird’ feels to be chirping on for much more than three minutes. It stands out so far tonight on the grounds she can hold a tune.

Mo Fanning May 9, 20178:42 pm

Azerbaijan – as mad a bag of frogs as I have ever seen. I dare say it’s all symbolic of something, but to me it looks like some bloke in a suit up a step ladder with a horse’s head and a an aging art school drop out scrawling bollocks on a board. Shite of the lowest order.

Mo Fanning May 9, 20178:46 pm

Portugal – I ought to detest this, but the very first time I saw him perform, he held my attention for three minutes and his voice is like honey. Nothing has changed and even though I don’t think the televoters or juries will adore this in quite the way everyone else does, I want it to get through really badly. Being bluntly honest, I can’t see me ever needing to hear it again after this week.

Mo Fanning May 9, 20178:48 pm

Hosts reading out Tweets – painful

Phil Colclough May 9, 20178:48 pm

Portugal. About 6.5 seconds in I started crying and didn’t stop. This is winning the semi final for me. It had better had have come across on the tv. You’ll be hearing this again Mo.

Mo Fanning May 9, 20178:51 pm

Greece – It’s like Demy bought a time machine back to some trashy national final at the turn of the decade. When the staging director throws naked flesh at us, you know it’s to distract from what’s really going on. Someone here is seriously off key. Not that I’d want to say any of this to her face; she’s got hands like shovels.

Does this work in the hall? On telly it looks frankly ridiculous.

Phil Colclough May 9, 20178:52 pm

The Greeks like it. It’s just meh after Portugal.

Phil Colclough May 9, 20178:53 pm

And it’s been off key all week but no one believes me.

Mo Fanning May 9, 20178:54 pm

Poland – Ever so slightly pretentious, but boy does this big bruiser of a lady attack her song. I think we’re obliged to vote or face the consequences. Nasty frock, like she’s drying out a recent yeast infection.

Phil Colclough May 9, 20178:56 pm

Kasia has just pissed all over Demys Chips. Again. That was loud and brash and decent. Unlike Greece.

Mo Fanning May 9, 20179:00 pm

Moldova – This is like the opposite of fun to me. If a bunch of Loaded readers tried to write a Eurovision song, this tripe is what they’d turn out. Mr Fanning admitted he doesn’t understand it.

Their signature leg move suggests a urinal-based accident.
God I was glad when it ended.
Phil Colclough May 9, 20179:02 pm

Iceland should be through with this now. After a dodgy start to the fortnight Svala has polished it up enough to get the camera angles and everything right. This has done enough but I think it might now have more to give.

Mo Fanning May 9, 20179:03 pm

Iceland – I’ll be honest she looks a bit too old for this sort of thing, like your drunken aunty Pat having a fancy dress go at Madonna/GaGa.

Phil Colclough May 9, 20179:04 pm

More green room business now.

Phil Colclough May 9, 20179:08 pm

Czechia is just a million shades of boring. Gold shoulder pads are very communist. Get a better song and you might score.

Mo Fanning May 9, 20179:09 pm

Czech Republic – I just cannot see how anyone thinks this would do well at Eurovision. She’s a lovely singer, but the hall isn’t doing her a single favour. It’s an absolute dog of a song. Utterly forgettable. She’s come dressed as a Quality Street toffee.

Mo Fanning May 9, 20179:14 pm

Cyprus – Like Greece, this is dated tripe. The choreography is a bit too nineties boy band and the backdrop reminds me of Russia last year. G:Son has written better, but if it comes down to Demy or Hovig, this boy has the edge. I thought it felt a bit flat performance wise.

Mo Fanning May 9, 20179:15 pm

That said some nice telly effects

Phil Colclough May 9, 20179:15 pm

Cyprus has improved massively and is back in with a shout of qualifying. I still don’t like it but I can appreciate it.

Phil Colclough May 9, 20179:18 pm

Three left and Artsvik has just performed the socks off this song. No playing the wrong backing track now. The camera effects are slick and she ain’t half giving this song some face. Exactly what it needs.

Mo Fanning May 9, 20179:19 pm

Armenia – This just isn’t my bag – it’s a load of tuneless wailing that you know someone thinks you should like, but I can’t get behind it. Everyone says it will qualify and who am I to argue? It will. Love the 80s camera effect, and she’s got Slavko’s spare hair extensions.

Mo Fanning May 9, 20179:22 pm

Slovenia – I can’t make my mind up if Omar is cute, or if he looks like he’s walked out of a police line-up. Very odd hand movements not helping.

I can’t pretend this is anything but a dated little ballad and no amount of his belting it out is helping. It’s like something Ireland used to enter – and come to think of it they still do. I read that he’s done numerous versions of this song, so why pick the 1996 mix?

Mo Fanning May 9, 20179:25 pm

Latvia – Last song up and as good an excuse as any to jump ship. I’m off to make a cup of tea.

Really dreadful piece of noise. And she looks very cross.

Phil Colclough May 9, 20179:27 pm

Latvia. That’s a better song when I thought there was a dick in the background!!!

Mo Fanning May 9, 20179:28 pm

Well I have to say, that was a disappointing semi final. It lacked life. But ten songs need to qualify, and I shall ask Mr Fanning for his thoughts at this point. He’s a non fan and has spent the last 90 minutes looking bemused.

Mo Fanning May 9, 20179:35 pm

Mr Fanning chose as follows (though he struggled)

Georgia, Albania, Belgium, Finland, Poland, Portugal, Iceland, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Latvia

He’s now muttering darkly about how ‘that piece of shite won’.

Mo Fanning May 9, 20179:46 pm

Right, so ten of these things have to get a second bite of the cherry, so here’s my best guess …

Sweden, Georgia, Belgium, Finland, Azerbaijan, Portugal, Poland, Iceland, Cyprus, Armenia

Mo Fanning May 9, 20179:48 pm

Oh good, Verka. How does anyone think this is still funny?

Mo Fanning May 9, 20179:54 pm

And something jolly from Jamala – it makes 1944 sound like Agadoo

Mo Fanning May 9, 201710:09 pm

Moldova, Azerbaijan, Greece, Sweden, Portugal, Poland, Armenia, Australia, Cyprus, Belgium

Mo Fanning May 9, 201710:11 pm

So I picked seven, Mr Fanning is convinced he just doesn’t get this even more after picking three!

Mo Fanning May 9, 201710:12 pm

Thanks for being here tonight. Mr Phil will hopefully be with you for the second rehearsal tomorrow night.

  • ShaiD.

    Australia – He tried to get a big note and failed. He recovered but it was noticeable

  • ShaiD.

    Belgium – As much as I could hear, she nailed the vocals almost 100%. There was moment she was having a tiny smile.I think she got some good vibes from the crowd who was very sportive.

  • ShaiD.

    Montenegro – Was singing off key from start to end.On top of that he was breathless most of the time(but that’s Malta in semi 2)

  • ShaiD.

    Azerbaijan – the WTF moment of this semi

  • ShaiD.

    Portugal – A class of his own

  • ShaiD.

    Greece – She was off key in a certain moment, when the backing singers forgot to sing

  • ShaiD.

    Poland – She was hoarse vocally but still pulled off the high notes.

  • ShaiD.

    Armenia – I still don’t understand why this is so loved.Just to show u that I don’t understand the contest 100%

  • ShaiD.

    Slovenia – He is off key by the chorus and that has happened 3 times in a row

  • ShaiD.

    Latvia – she is also off key. to some part of the songs. It’s messy and aggressive and definitely not tv friendly

  • ShaiD.

    Sweden(i forgot them) – He was not so sharp vocally. Very un- Swedish who usually get the vocals always spot on

  • ShaiD.

    The reprise for Belgium is awful. In the reprise clip she is totally out of tune. Very bad choice

  • Stan

    Having seen all the songs I would predict Portugal, Armenia and Finland are shoe-ins. I also think Azerbaijan, Greece, Poland, Moldova and Cyprus are likely.
    I’d really like the last two qualifiers to be Slovenia (which was the surprise of the night for me) and Iceland but I suspect it will be Australia and creepy as hell Sweden.

  • Maclaren

    So gutted for Finland. It is not your usual jolly song but the lady can sing and render emotion. And what a joke to have Greece in the final instead

  • Jayuu

    Really poor semi-final in my opinion. Devastated for Finland. Seriously WTF?
    And sorry I just don’t get the Portugal and Italy hype. I find both songs extremely irritating. No doubt they’ll come first and second in the final.