Final Technical Rehearsal, view from the arena.

I’ve always said that I hate it when journalists just speculate on breaking news stories and amplify rumours when they have no actual information to work on, and yet… isn’t it moreish?

We don’t know much about what happened with the Netherlands. They were certainly setting up to bring Joost’s staging items on, then didn’t, fired up the emergency prerecord “We will have to wait a little to continue the show” VT and then pivoted to Israel. I may have asked a brief question of my neighbour at that point, and that question may have included the words “Joost”, “Where’s” and a choice expletive. It’s basically diplomatic fog here, lips are very very tight. While I’d like to say “All will become clear”, I suspect that it won’t.

There was a show in there somewhere as well, although not easy to concentrate on. Bjorn Skifs was a slightly unexpected opener, but it’s 50 years since HIS big moment too so why not?

Sweden seems slightly pedestrian as an opener, Ukraine as powerful as ever will certainly test the theory that a strong song can’t get a good result from slot 2. Germany, Luxembourg and Israel surrounded the gap with nothing unexpected – I mean, at this stage, we don’t generally expect the unexpected. Lithuania/Spain/Estonia is a good way of adding some energy back to the lineup, then Bambie – even holding back at times – really stands out. Dons is a strong contrast – I think he’s happy to be here, but we’ll wait and see what upside potential that now has with juries in the mix.

Greece and the UK are a strong way to end Act 1, Olly in particular looks like he’s building up performance momentum at the right time, and then we get some “entertainment” from Lynda Woodruff. 

Norway and Italy get things off to a sharp start after the intermission, and then there’s a sharp series of energy changes with Serbia, Finland, Portugal and Armenia back to back. They all pop, but Europe might get mild whiplash.

Cyprus provides a gentle palate refresh before we move into the final stretch – Switzerland, Croatia and France are all given perfect context to shine, with Slovenia and Georgia maybe slightly relegated to the role of “being context”. Kaleen for Austria feels more like the first interval than the final entry; as the UK found to its cost a year ago, performing last isn’t what it was in the days of Nicole and Corinne Hermes.

A nice bait and switch intro to the intervals hints at being ABBA but it’s actually Alcazar, then the ABBA tribute is really just a rendition of Waterloo. Loreen does something with Tattoo (I think – I was between there and here for that bit), and at least some of the reprise runthroughs were in reverse order.

Fake voting resulted in a big win for Greece over Slovenia and Cyprus, so it was no great surprise to see the stand-in artists perform a reprise of Doomsday Blue in front of a huge digital banner saying that COUNTRY was the winner. It’ll be tighter than that tomorrow, I can virtually guarantee it.

So, I thought that all went surprisingly well really(!).

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