Ukraine is one of the rehearsals I’ve been most looking forward to. The song has really grown on me from an initial sniffiness about it, and I have fancy they could stage this very impressively. After all this is the country that made a feature out of a woman pushing some sand around in a washing up basin and making a man run round a giant hamster wheel to generate enough energy to keep Mariya Yaremchuk’s microphone going until the end of the song. The temptations offered by staging a rendering of historical national grief and a pointed dig at your warring neighbours must be endless.
They’ve kept restraint – thankfully. Jamala is in black (for mourning, obvs.) and starts by walking towards the front of the stage which blossoms beneath her feat. The backing subtly enhances the song and looks really effective: pulsing red, almost like lightning forks on the beat with columns of light around the stage. The big note moment has a tree sprouting on the backdrop in Ukrainian colours – rebirth, regrowth, and healing anyone? Jamala looks stunning.
This won’t appeal to everyone. Plenty of people will be baffled by its sound, especially in western Europe, and the message will completely pass them by. But there’s plenty that will support this too, and Ukraine will quietly make their broader point against Russia without falling foul of the rules. Job’s a good ‘un.