Fri, May 12th, 2023 at 12:00 PM – 16:45 PM BST
So this is the first time that the techies, and us, get to see the grand final in all its glory, or is that gory.
Mr Nick is watching this in Liverpool Adjacent and waiting to walk you through the event.
Sam Ryder is to open the interval, but I tuned out to save stuff for tomorrow evening.
Mr Phil is due to take control of the OnEurope live blog this evening.
The four presenters have no autocue or script and dick about a fair bit, having a damn good laugh, and it's super fun to watch.
Time for a recap. Not much changed from the semifinals, and yeah it feels an age since Austria opened the show. La Zarra goes from the flag and pyro curtain (not the best cut), Blanca looks lovely, Marco is at his peak shouting best, TVORCHI a snatch of the chorus, Lords of the Lost give us full chorus, Mae uses a cut from first chorus.
Everyone relies on their big notes that mask the fact there were songs built around those moments.
Finland looks lost in the lineup somehow, I'm not sure how or why. It's obviously still winning.
I love and hate this bit on a Friday afternoon in Eurovisionia, when you realise that you've been considering all of the angles for the last two months and you somehow missed the actual angle that we've ended up with.
The two big favourites Sweden and Finland are really going to have to fight for air from their startnummers, but they have fight in them. Norway's right in the mix again, Lithuania could be the out of nowhere powerful ballad winner, Israel suddenly looks the contender that everyone always told me it was, Slovenia could be a compromise candidate that suits every audience. And I've not even scratched the surface with the likes of Australia, the Czechs and Germany.
Somebody's going to come out of the pack tomorrow. And by god, just like every year whoever it is, they're REALLY going to have earned their microphone.
I'll leave it there for now, because the sun's still shining over Manchester and I want some of that! Thanks for being with me for my bit of the afternoon, and indeed of the week!
So, Mae, follow that lot. The producers have done you absolutely no favours at all.
Getting a Je Me Casse vibe from the staging. Or I suppose, Je Me Cuss in this instance. Let's say the main thing that hurt Je Me Casse was its running order and this doesn't have that problem. Mae giving it some welly. I think she has a sufficiency of welly.
Literally no result would surprise me here. Can't call it at all.
Oh, please don't be shit, please don't be shit, please don't be shit.
That was me as the postcard rolled, and she posed for selfies in and around London, even when it (inevitably) rained.
There was a short bit of filler with Hannah, which might or might not be in the show as they prepare for this closing number. I bet Alesha put her spangly foot down and refused to do it again.
So here we go ...
Mae was a tad on the sharp side from the out, talking a little rather than singing, hoping she might evoke that Kate Nash style everyone pretended to like a few years back. It's such a shame that this is easily some of the best stagings for the UK (since last year) for what is essentially a very average song and a weak performance. The rap was decent, and she knew every move.
I can't understand why there wasn't more use made of pre-recorded backing vocals - everyone else has!
I'm prepared to say this was Mae holding back because it doesn't matter right now, and tonight is more critical and tomorrow equally important.
Talking of confused winner detectors, let's get in there with the year's Eurovision Entry.
I would think that this does so damned badly with juries that a televote score in the mid to high 250s doesn't help it. It's enough to come sixth or seventh though. The words "Croatia, you have scored..." will appear quite early in the sequence, and be followed by a large number.
I get that this comes from a good place, and it's all kinds of entertaining, but I wouldn't say I like it.
I'm also struggling to get just who might vote for it - apart from every nation Russia has pissed off in the last year or two - oh, right, so that's everyone then.
If Voyager made me draw a Sam Ryder comparison, Joker Out make me draw one with Maneskin. It's designed to invite you - yes, YOU, the one person who's actually watching the show - up on stage to play along with the band and just have a damned good time while you're doing it. It's a really accessible three minutes, and it's really confusing all of my winner detectors.
I stand by my guns that 'Carpe Diem' is by far the best song in the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest. And were this a show judged purely on the song, it would be racing away with Slovenia's first victory.
Joker Out show Wild Youth how to look like they want to be here. They're completely into doing their song and doing it well and showcasing their talents.
If this is what shagadelic rock and roll sounds like, I'd happily listen to a whole album.
They've got an odd place in the running order between the hype of Israel and the anarchy of Croatia so they might get a bit lost when it comes to the reprise reel.
For me, though, this is as good as it got in 2023.
Blooming heck but this is a stacked part of the draw. All killer, no Max Miller.
I just still don't like the dance break. It seems utterly artificial, it's in the song because she wanted to do a dance break. It doesn't fit. It's there now.
Right, so I get how this is clearly someone who knows her schtick, and her schtick appears to be breaking the American market.
There's nothing wrong with Noa's performance, but the song is a true crock of shite. Pardon my English. And when I say the song, I mean the compilation of ideas that passes for one three-minute promo reel.
If your big selling point is a dance break in a song contest, you're not here for anything like the right reasons.
Now this is someone I thought would be digging into her Easyjet snack bag on an early flight home by now. BUT, I have to admit she has a superb voice and knows how to use the stage. All that said, this afternoon she wasn't so flawless - maybe holding back - and who can blame her, this is a tough one to get right and the jury vote tonight matters A LOT.
I still don't get how the lyrics mesh with the upbeat staging. They're so gloomy and miserable.
The Lion King chant saves it from being a wail fest, and it could be this year's 'Proud', but for me, it's still a bloody racket.
Monika pulling back on a few notes, and I approve because she's got to be absolutely ON IT tonight. Did I mention my theory about who's winning the juries earlier? This. This really might very well be.
Lithuania have a good number of places around Europe, Australia and the Federated States of Micronesia that might contribute a chunk of televotes, too. It couldn't, could it?
I kind of prefer Lord of the Lost when they're not in full costume. Can't blame them, it's a lot to carry around when they don't need to.
That's not doing any worse than Blind Channel a couple of years ago and might be doing better. A very welcome good result is coming to Table Germany tomorrow night.
I'm not sure Chris Hams is in full costume this afternoon. If so, red baggy pants over leopard-skin leggings isn't a great look. He's also sounding far less rough, like he's had a gargle with honey - I do hope he hasn't worn himself out. If anything it makes the song less jarring.
It's a very old-school Euro-schlager-banger hiding behind n industrial rock curtain.
It's not one to worry the voters, I sense.
It feels like a long time since we last saw Alessandra, and indeed it was seven months and nine days ago at the start of Semi 1.
Now then. That was a draw to qualify from. This is a draw to potentially win the contest from. Mr Phil will be delighted to read that last sentence. Absolutely SHINES here in the running order. This started as a contender, then got forgotten about. It's now a contender again.
Apart from the UK, this is THE most Eurovision of all Eurovision songs for me at this time of the evening.
Coming later in the running order (and beating the nerves of the semifinal) finds Alessandra in much better voice.
People will see and hear this, nod and say, 'My, that's very Eurovision,' and wait for whatever comes next. (Germany, oo-er)
Shame, as she does a decent job of a somewhat dated song and (more importantly) looks to be enjoying her time on the stage.
Epiphany time. I've been liking this song on Spotify for the last few months, but I'm find the staging really unenjoyable and unattractive. It's obviously blue and yellow because what else was it going to be, but in this context I don't find it easy on the eye at all.
I think I'm right in saying that Ukraine's two worst results so far came the years after they won?
This remains a polished performance of a polished song that has more of a US feel to me than anything authentically Ukrainian. As always, the staging is top-notch.
I don't subscribe to voters being short on sympathy by this point. It's still going to get a few helpful points, but this is no better or worse than the average Ukrainian entry and they almost always score the top half of the board no matter what the world is doing to itself.
This isn't the draw position of 19 that Treneletul got last year, but only because it couldn't be. Is it possibly just a tiny bit Shum (which had draw position 19, which this can't be)? That's not a bad thing to be.
There's definitely some Eurovision Grammar in play here. Logically based on that it's going top 10.
Poor lass, she keeps having to do bits to cover set-up, and they're getting repetitive now. I know they'll likely not feature on Saturday, but thought I'd mention them to give you some local colour.
A change of energy for Pasha and his folk-core number. (That might not be a thing, let's say it is).
The performance he gives is confident and composed. It's one of those songs that knows its audience and hits every beat and button to please them.
I am not that audience.
After the break, Armenia provide the launch pad onto the traditional Ramp of Bonkers that forms the final quarter of the show. I still think it's more of an art project than an entry, but I suppose it's a pretty good art project. I mean, you should see some of my art projects.
I have no idea what the perceived wisdom is these days about whether it hurts or boosts your chances when coming to the stage after a break. It felt like a long break, so I'd easily fit in a piss and a sandwich, and I might even wash my hands.
Brunette looks great and sounds just like she did last night. Great use of the camera, and this remains one of my fan-boy crushes.
The stage set-up is excellent, and I quietly love the teeny tiny dance break she's added. It adds something to the nervy upbeat part and links so well into that last chorus and the part in Georgian.
I would love this to be in the final shake-up, but maybe it's in the bit of the show that gets easily forgotten.
Now, Belgium haven't been helped here. Still a change in energy, but this time they're a lowering of the energy level. They could have done without that.
The bit where they ram in some stuff with Graham Norton and use it as an excuse to plug the DVD/CD/Vinyl/Shitty tote bag.
Just ten countries to go ...
Look now. I get that everyone can be who they want to be these days, but Gustaph needs help with his eyeliner, and it's just not working for me. Less would be more, monsieur/meneer.
I saw all the 'Boy George wants his hat back' jibes on Twitter, and to be fair, he most likely wants his song back too. This is the mid-90s dragged from the back of the closet, dusted down and staged (brilliantly) for 2023.
Mr Fanning was unimpressed, calling it the kind of thing that would have been slated by the jury on 'Pose'.
It's a party song, shoved in a weird part of the running order, and I see it doing far better than Hooverphonic, but this is no Blanche.
Seeing this in starting gate 15 puzzles me. I thought it was the winner last night and by some distance, but if it was then 15 seems harsh. Mind you, I suppose you can't give anybody a peach of a draw twice.
It's the entry this year that most gives me the vibe that Sam Ryder did last year. It starts off as a lot and just gets more and more so. Make of that what you will.
I'm still so pleased this song made the cut, given how little televote love the Aussies tend to get. As a show closer, it was great. Sitting in the middle of the show, I'm not so sure.
As a song, it's still very tight and there are some interesting use of chord changes, the performance is solid - though the geetar/keytar solos are just a bit on the wrong side of naff.
I thought the performance this afternoon was held back, and for some reason, it worked better. Less full throat and ever-so-slightly teasing in the vocal department only added charm.
A mid to lower table finish, I suppose, given the amount of rawk bands on offer this year.
If the BBC Department Of Last-Minute Script Changes is reading, Alesha needs three or four fill-in scripts. Pretty sure she just delivered exactly the same one as earlier. Something about Sao Tome e Principe or Nauru would go down well.
I get a vibe that Vesna feel like they've already won their contest, I thought they seemed very relaxed on stage and all the better for it.
We got a short break this afternoon here, but it shouldn't be a part of the evening show. Just a bit of extra work shifting the Finnish pallets. I know a lad who'll pick them up for a tenner, and they'll be outside the Arena loading bay on Sunday morning.
Right back to the song at hand. They look so good on stage and have truly gelled as a group. The staging works so well, and the song I didn't think could translate from video to stage did just that. If anything, their performance this afternoon was even more together than at the semifinal.
Could this be the surprise song that gives Czechia/The Czech Republic their best result in a while or even ever?
A welcome change of pace, and as top of the bill as it could have been given how the random draw fell out. In a nearly empty arena it doesn't catch the same way it will with the energy of a full one. It's clearly a contender, it's got to hold people's minds for another month and 13 days before the televote opens though. It will do.
I'm going to come out.
My name is Mo Fanning, and I don't like 'Cha Cha Cha'.
I've tried to. I have. I figured repeated playing would wear me down. The bit where he wiggles his tongue makes me want to part company with my lunch. The fact he's almost entirely on tape, and it's just a limp old-fashioned piece of dated schlager after the halfway point.
I could go on. Just like this feels to.
It's a likely winner.
Oh mia granny, there's a ghost in my pianny. I didn't think this was going to be still here, and it's caught the exact same trap of being the bottom layer of a drab sandwich here. I mean, it's fine, there's nothing actually wrong with it, but I'm just unmoved.
TRUST THE SONG. Stop dicking about with effects. There's way too much distraction going on here and strolling about the stage, and it distracts from the relaxing experience this should be. By the time she gets to the end, I'm worn out for her.
As sad piano ballads go, this is a prime example of the good stuff, but its place in the running order and the ridiculously messy staging had done for it. Oh, and Finland is next, so that's not a help.
Bloody good voice, though.
Uncompromisingly Italian. I do prefer it when Italy compromises a little bit. As per Albania, I'm really having to take it on trust that this is good. I'm pretty unmoved by it - maybe this year is Italy's turn to have the Big 5 Shocker? Nah, that'll come ninth.
Marco does a fair bit of gay-baiting with his slick leathers and big powerful motorbike in his promo video. I'm not complaining, and it's cheered up an egg mayonnaise sandwich lunch.
This afternoon's vest isn't the sparkly silver affair we saw before; it's more wet-look sparkly leather and works much better.
He's in great voice, and it's a VERY Italian song. I am sure it's heading for the top ten on Saturday night, purely because it's a perfect example of what it claims to be, performed well.
But those lads on the trampoline, were they part of a buy one get two free deal? They don't get much camera time, so I suspect this to be the case.
Got interrupted and was doing more listening than watching for this. I'm sticking to my fence on this one - I don't understand the Albanian music tradition and feel woefully ill-equipped to assess whether I'm listening to a good example or a bad example of it.
I had to skip a few songs to give my opinion on a garden fence that I'm still not sure I want, but it's too late now someone's spent the morning hacking concrete and pouring cement.
This song has grown on me, and I don't feel it's Eurovision without a big ethnic wail before a single note is played. This would have been my choice to open the show.
The Partridge Family, they're not, and it's strange to note how they've all inherited their Dad's nose - you watch tomorrow and tell me I'm not right.
It's just very Alabina at Eurovision. A mid to low table result. The kind of thing people who have never really watched Eurovision will be expecting to see, so ...
I believe that the single sentence that I've written the most times at OnEurope is "Sweden is exactly what you were expecting it to be". There's a reason for that. There's generally very little scope to actually break out from the choreographed moves and choreographed emotions and be a real person. Not that it's hurt them in the past, not that it's going to hurt them in the future. I think I trust the bookies more than I trust me.
A commercial break before Sweden was utterly, utterly inevitable for stage set-up reasons. So a couple of minutes of chat about Junior fits as well here as anywhere.
She shouts EAEAEAEA while she's waiting for the postcard to start. Keep your powder dry, don't fire your only bullet before you're even on stage. If France's unique selling point was France, Spain's is definitely Spain and on reflection it probably is more Spanish than Portugal.
I'm going to get complaints about that last sentence. It gave me a headache and I only wrote it.
Artistic vision delivered. Europe might hear nothing more than three minutes of ee-aah-ee-aah though.
I get how daring to suggest this is likely to be the one propping up the whole scoreboard will earn me death threats, but I'm also doing my 'am I bothered?' face as I type that.
If you love electro-flamenco, you'll adore this.
Shouldn't have looked at the songwriting credits. I'm going to be calling it "Instead I bought a song about how you did me wrong" now. I think it's the nearest we have this year to an Arcade, Andrew's not a bad picture to have on screen for three minutes. I have a theory about what the juries are unexpectedly going to love which I'll share later on, but it crosses my mind that they MIGHT unexpectedly love this.
It was only last night that I realised just how drab the song can sound live without the pretty pictures of the video. The staging is odd, too; waterfalls start out distracting, then flash on and off randomly and look like someone forgot to turn them off, and then a bunch of fire.
Mr Fanning remarked mid-song that he needed fresh air, not because of Andrew's dusky good looks, but because he was getting one of his heads.
It's not a vintage year for Cyprus.
As I said earlier in the week, France's unique selling point here is France. I think I'd have to put this in the box with things like J'ai cherché and Requiem from recent years, it's going to do better than alright but it's not quite achieved the zhoosh it needs to challenge for the top honours. La Zarra absolutely fine though - it looks like another artistic vision has been realised.
VT to come - All Killer No Filler, we even had a visit from Charles and Camilla.
It's her first go on stage in the running order, and it's quite a change of pace after Luke Black. I found it quite dark initially, but if you insist on sitting atop a five-metre pole, that's your lookout.
When she gets going, she's excellent at catching the camera and emoting full force down its lens.
Much as I love this, it does drag a bit in the middle, and I can't help but feel she might have started better on the stage and had the pole rise slowly so she reached the rafters for the big note that is a show-stopping moment with the LED Tricoleur and a pyro curtain.
Stage changeover not achieved within postcard time, so Alesha had to do a quick piece to camera to fill in. As the first piece of Art Eurovision in the order, it definitely brings something new to the table for that lonely viewer at home to think about. It was my quiet favourite when I arrived in town, it's not quite lived up to that benchmark but it's still a very good follow-up to In Corpore Sano.
We got some Alesha after the postcard suggesting this might be a techy thing rather than a break.
I think Luke Black has one of the few songs that didn't warrant a place in the final. I get that I'm wrong because enough people thought he did, so suck it up, Fanning.
It doesn't alter the fact he does very little in the way of singing. Most of the song is on tape, and he sort of talks over it in a nervous wobble of a voice, and to me, this is not in the spirit of a song contest like Eurovision - but the rules are the rules, so again, suck it up, Fanning.
I adored Konstrakta, and I wouldn't say I like this. Sorry if you think otherwise. I decided I might as well be true to myself—your turn to suck it up.
Didn't really notice Poland here. It's the third bright song out of four, no better or worse than before, and overshadowed by the earlier two. I don't see how anyone watches and hears it and even thinks "best so far", and it's still four months and 17 days before the voting lines open.
This starts just a bit busy, then goes over-the-top bonkers. It's like when a kid asks if they can make up your nan while she's having a post-Sunday lunch nap in the other room, and you leave them to it, only to gasp in shock when you see they've emptied the contents of a regional pharmacy onto her sleeping face.
The song is a proper ear-worm, and the vocal is as weak as ever, and you can see Blanka counting her way through the steps and checking around to ensure the microphone is where it's meant to be.
It'll drag in enough votes not to shame anyone, but I still feel it's taken away a spot from a better song.
Another logical choice, reminding the viewer at home that it's not JUST the Eurovision Crazy Party Contest.
Remo's still here so clearly he has some televote appeal, and professional juries MIGHT weigh in with some extra assistance here. Being the meat in the middle of a party sandwich does help him to stand out. Seems like a difficult song to become anybody's THAT ONE, in this field. Enjoy the experience, kid. Happy you're here.
To my eyes, this still feels to be just a bit too busy for such a sombre song, especially given there's the actual vocal talent to carry the thing. It's still a strong ballad and earned its place in the grand final, but I fear it's one that might get lost when it comes to totting up the votes. Especially since Poland is next with every visual effect known to man.
I had this pegged to open the show, and the draw of doom seems harsh reward. It might hint that it was a borderline qualifier, but I may be overthinking that. It strikes me that it may be a while before we see the stage bedecked in anything other than black and white and red. Pretty sure there's some green to come later on.
Perfectly strong performance, but it felt like the right song at the wrong moment.
Mimicat has been given that slot where everybody insists it means you've been screwed over by the production team - either because you've been too much of a pushover or a right old cow. I doubt it's either, and in fact it does her a real favour after the electronica of Austria, her cabaret style number works so well. She's in superb voice again and knows how to work a camera. This is going to pull in all the sunny bits of Europe vote-wise, and there's no denying Mimicat has a fine set of pipes on her! She puts certain 'favourites' to shame.
It seems a bit weird for a contender to be sent out first, but actually I think this is the best they could possibly do for them - there are so many contenders in the first half, being close to the big two would have been no help whatsoever, and getting the show started with a crowd-pleaser suits everybody. Not, in fact, killed by going first.
I still love this song and it's a fabulous opening number for the show, getting us right into the 'party' and announcing we are very much in Eurovision mode. Teya and Salena are in good voice again, it looks fabulous -mperhaps just a bit too much white at the mid point, but it's a contender without doubt for the tense bit in the voting where people wonder if their dreams will b=come true or dashed in front of millions.
...that by the time we get to Saturday night, it won't be 41 minutes in by the time we meet the hosts. Graham Norton's going to be at real risk of being the Dan of the Duskeys in this hosting team. He's straight in with a joke about being old, which I can absolutely relate to. You can tell by my old jokes.
Luxembourg's return is heralded with a five second mention of Luxembourg. It's fine, they'll get more attention next year when they bring back Anne-Marie David or indeed Marion Welter.
Finally! Austria awaits!
I've had a right old morning of it in real work world. BUT the four presenters are on stage and BREAKING NEWS that Luxembourg are coming back next year!!
Technical preparations are being prepared, technically. Lots of swooshes into the list of voting numbers, which to be fair couldn't exist 12 hours ago (unless they had a placeholder board with the Pitcairn Islands and St Kitts and Nevis. Both of those can vote tomorrow night as there's now a Rest of the World vote, though I suspect that the Pitcairn Islands and St Kitts and Nevis won't be getting a specific mention. If you happen to be reading this in the BBC Department Of Last-Minute Alterations however, tell the Pitcairn Islands and St Kitts and Nevis that I sent you!).
It's all very quiet, and not a glimpse of our lovely hosts so far.
I got very excited just now when I saw an "AUSTRIA WINNER EUROVISION SONG CONTEST 2023" graphical sting, but then they showed one for Netherlands.
And now we get another RUN at the flag parade, artists apparently having been told that they need to get a bit of a shift on.
Well, this is all very techno and banging, as I believe younger old people say. Ah! It's Go_A doing Shum. That makes more sense. And Sweet Dreams (not the ones with the leggings) (are made of this). And 1944. And Theme From S Express, and Show Me Your Love, and Song 2, and Lasha Tumbai to finish.
I've never been absolutely persuaded that the flag parade adds much to the show, but it offers a few minutes to further hammer home the UK/Ukraine collaborative hosting and offers a slot for some guest artists that wouldn't really fit anywhere else. Gets the audience nicely warmed up. I'll take it.
I was on mute so I didn't catch Te Deum or the start of the opening film - a collaborative performance of Stefania filmed (as far as I can work out) partly in Ukraine, partly in the UK, and finally on the stage on a pair of giant colourful hands, followed by a new song.
The same statement of intent from the producers we saw on Tuesday, I'd say - this is Ukraine's contest, Liverpool's just the venue.
Here's my vantage point for the afternoon. I hope this doesn't count as "filming the screen", I don't think it does. At least watching it on an iPad on a coat rack gives me a better excuse than usual for not spotting things. I think there's a comments section below or something, I'm not the techie around here - is it the predicted coronation for Sweden or Finland, or is someone else starting to get your attention?
Let us know, so I can suddenly remember at 3am that I was supposed to be checking in on the comments. I've played this game before and I know me too well.
While I was writing my little opening monologue, my phone went crazy with two, maybe even three notifications. After 30 years away (30? Can't be. It was literally last week), Luxembourg are finally returning to Eurovision to rejoin the Tiny 5. Work out between yourselves who the other 4 are.
Still, next year will be apparently definitely their grand return to the contest, and they're welcome to it! Finally, after all these years, Malta will know who to give their 12 points to again.
So, due to rail strikes in the UK today and tomorrow, I find myself stranded "a perfectly doable commute" from Liverpool for the rest of the week.
The sun is positively streaming through the vista of my 12th floor window, and about half an hour ago I was thinking to myself "I must actually get out and see something of the local area now that the WHOLE FECKING ATLANTIC ISN'T ABOUT TO LAND ON MY HEAD LIKE IT DID YESTERDAY TEATIME". And breathe.
So imagine my deep joy when the message exchange shown below, or above, or over to one side or possibly attached to a different article altogether, ensued. Yeah, thanks for that, Mr Phil. Close the curtains mother, it's time for another of OnEurope's famous satellite press centres in the wrong city!
I'll be here from noon UK, guiding you through, or above, or under, or a little off to one side of everything that happens in the arena, unless the online press centre lets me down, in which case I'll just grumble. See you soon!