Reports from Kiev May 13-22 2005

In true Eurovison style these reports are in reverse order, so you my want to start at the bottom!

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Just to make it clear ALL pictures on this page are Copyright 2005 by Geoff Harrison & The Not to be used elsewhere without permission.

10:17 AM

Well what can I say!
Greece is the word!
Wasn't it a great show, and Elena Paparizou easily won with "My Number One" for Greece last night. Second place was Chiara with "Angel" for Malta,  and third was Romania's Luminita Anghel & Sistem with "Let Me Try".
The UK's Javine came 22nd with "Touch my fire", and indeed all the "big four" (UK, Spain, Germany, France) were the bottom four placings. As "the big four" they still won't have to be in the semi-final next year, but Sweden will have this for the first time after "Las Vegas" came 19th.
We also heard the results of the semi-final, which was won by Romania.
Anyway, Its time for me to fly back to London, so there will be no more updates until Monday, but I have some great final night pictures.
So until then, make a note in your diary for May 20th 2006 in Athens!

10:17 AM

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Apologies for not updating much. The problem is that I am the only one of my friends with a P1 press pass, and I can't leave them anywhere to do this much.
Anyway the place is buzzing. The live show is 90 minutes away.
I've been down the catacombs where there are dead monks today, and to the lively independence square. Also interviewed Vanilla Ninja and talked to Laura & The Lovers producer.
All that to appear later.
The rehearsals have done well, and security will be mad as the president will be on stage at the end.
The only problems are that Javine has a bad throat, one of the latvian boys has a bad throat, and one of the Bosnian girls has a cold. Hopefully they will all do their best though.
My money is on Moldova (don't like it, but it seems popular!), Norway & Switzerland, but not much money as I think the show is wide open. I'd love Hungary's dance number to win, but can't now beieve it will.
Let's hope the best song wins.
Watch it at 8pm UK time.

6:27 PM

Friday, May 20, 2005

Hi, well my predictions were 60% right. I was really surprised Belarus didn't make it. There were so many fans of Angelica Agurbash around chanting her name outside and inside, and they were totally silent when she wasn't through. For those who missed it, here are the 10 through to the final on Saturday with the 14 already selected:
Hungary, Romania, Norway, Moldova, Israel, Denmark, Macedonia, Croatia, Switzerland, Latvia.
And here's the full running order for Saturday:
1. Hungary
2. UK
3. Malta
4. Romania
5. Norway
6. Turkey
7. Moldova
8. Albania
9. Cyprus
10. Spain
11. Israel
12. Serbia & Montenegro
13. Denmark
14. Sweden
15. FYR Macedonia
16. Ukraine
17. Germany
18. Croatia
19. Greece
20. Russia
21. Bosnia & Herzegovina
22. Switzerland
23. Latvia
24. France

After the semi-final there was a brief onstage photo session and a after show press conference in an old cinema. No great insights, but most were very relieved to get through. Shiri Marmon for Israel is one of three ballads remaining, and seemed visibly shaken at being in the final, whilst Switzerland's Vanilla Ninja were happy to be through. Macedonia's Martin Vucic seemed very confident, but the funniest moments were from Norway's Wigwam. Their lead singing Glam spoke of their life of milk and sex and Rock and Roll. The surprise success was Moldova which i think will do very well.
Stage folk will have fun with Norway following Romania - lots of kit on stage for both of those, so a real problem quick changing.
Norway is now my tip to win with Moldova, Switzerland, Hungary, & Greece making up the 5 - not necessarily in that order!
Anyway, first dress rehearsal of the Saturday show in 40 minutes so let me fly!

12:20 PM

Thursday, May 19, 2005

So sorry I haven't updated since Monday. I have done some radio, and quite a few parties and there just isn't enough time!
What can I say now?
Tuesday - Second day of final rehearsals was excellent.
Albania's Ledina Celo told me that when she was the host of Albanian 2004 selection it was the first time she had done that, and she knew it wasn't for her - she preferred just to sing. In the Albanian party on Wednesday she did plenty of that including "Its raining men" which i think she sang in that 2004 Albanian final as party of the Interval act. Her father is a tenor singer. Asked about crazy fans she said one wanted to bump his car into hers. The song is about leaving home to be independent, which she did 10 years ago.
(picture below at Wednesday's Albanian party)

It was clear that Turkey's Gulseren expresses herself through percussion. She had a hard childhood in Paris, but singing helped her.
Greece's Helena was asked to sing a song in Swedish as she is a Swedish-born Greek, and she sang a little of Benny Andersson's "Alska Mej".

A few of us stayed late for the Bosnia rehearsal which was fab. In the press conference afterwards they brought on a cake for Eurovision's 50th birthday. The writer, Andrej Babic, who is from Croatia, is a self-confessed fan, and had a song which came second in the sloeven final, and also wrote the 2003 Croatian song for Riga. A very lively conference.

(picture below - Femminem for Bosnia-Hercegovina at the Tuesday UK-France-Spain party)

Then onto the Euroclub where Ruslana's concert was finishing, and onto parties. The UK, France, Spian, Monaco one was really good with virtually every one of this year's acts going on the stage to perform an unplugged version of their song. Perhaps the most memorable was Marian van der Wal for andorra who included "Tulips from Amsterdam" in her collection, but was a little upstaged by backing singer Anable Conde who gave a power performance of "Vuelve Conmigo", her 1995 song for Spain. She was backed on the keyboard by Andrej Babic.

(picture below Anabel Conde at the party)

Alex Panayi, backing Greece's Helena, also gave a performance of his 1995 song for Cyprus, "Sti Fotia". It was a great party with many false endings!
Wednesday saw the  first rehearsals of the semi-finals, and everything went pretty smooth.
Earlier I'd taken a stroll down to Freedom Square where videos of the songs play on a giant screen and orange Eurovision 2005 T-Shirts are 2.5 pounds. For 4 pounds there's the double Eurovision CD, but with Cyrillic text. I also got the album of Ani Lorak, who'd come second to Greenjolly in the Ukrainian final.
The semi-final show's opening is very weak with 4 different "maybe we should do it like this" with Chiors or something. Just seems poor to try all the ideas they had, and not fix on one. They then say its on with the songs. Attendance for both Wednesday rehearsal was poor, particularly the late one - perhaps 20% full.
Presenters Masha & Pasha are OK, but Pasha's strange American accent somehow jarred a little.
I noticed  Norway had an orange scarf  on the microphone stand on the first one, but it was silver by the second rehearsal last night - probably too political. Plenty of hair from Portugal on Luciana.  The audience loved Moldova when the old lady comes out to bang her drum, and Poland's lively gypsy tune went well too.  Switzerland's Vanilla Ninja  had smoke & sparks from their costumes and  guitars, and sounds very strong.
Distractions abound in a few. I love the Romanian song, but through all the clanging and marching by Sistem, I'm not sure anyone will notice the song. Croatia has the drummer doing a handstand, and there are stilts again like last year - but fortunately only in the voting interval.
Andorra now sports topless guys and a belting performance by backing singer Anabel Conde, but I still think it will fail to qualify.

(pictured below - Shiru Marmon for Israel in the dress rehearsal Wednesday - let's hope she makes the final)

Most agree the same fate will befall Lithuania's Laura & the Lovers. Laura struts around in her short white dress, but whilst I like it very much, it does seem rather bland.
Look out for the black ribbon on the dress of Monaco's Lise Darly in memory of the late Prince Rainier. Lise gives it a great performance, but iis rather too old fashioned. Hungary looks like the video, but the vast stage & hall diminish it despite fine dancing & singing. We will see.
Iceland's Selma is in red for "If I had your love", but I fear this just seems rather flat.
(picture Below - Selma in Wednesday's rehearsal)

Not sure how Macedonia will fair. He doesn't move well, but has a nice drum banging bit. His dancers work very hard, but they have very short dresses, and you can see their knickers throughout the song, and one has a her backside on view at the end. Bit brave I think.
Seems like all the winning acts will come on stage for the end with the envelopes.
My forecast for the 10 to get through to Saturday is:
Switzerland, Belarus, Poland, Moldova, Croatia, Norway, Israel, Netherlands, Hungary, & Ireland.
There was also the Macedonian party which was somewhat odd in that Martin Vucic (singer) didn't arrive for many hours - I'd gone - and the Meditteranean party which, when i got there, had Ukraine's Greenjolly singing their song with Malta's Chiara. upstarirs the Albanian party was still in full swing, and Ledina was singing "Its Raining Men". There was also a Russian party which I missed, but it featured Phillip Kirkorov singing "Die For You" in Russian, and three songs by Varvara, who came second in the Russian final. Kirkorov also turned up at the Mediteranean party, and had been the previous day at the second Belarus party (for Angelica's birthday) with his wife Alla Pugacheva (who, it is said, looked ill) on a riverboat. I missed that one.
Tonight live semi-final on BBC-3 in the UK at 8pm - and there are still more parties - Serbia & Montenegro tonight - they're not in the semi.
Can't say when the next update.

12:33 PM

Monday, May 16, 2005

Its going fine. France is rehearsing right now.
The weather is fine, and quite warm.
I'm on a day trip this afternoon, and a longer trip Friday.
Belarus had a very busy and very expensive party lasy night. Many freebies.
Folksy music and some very ethnic stuff from their "Megastar"
She hopes to buy the show I think. has visited 26 countries to promote Love Me
Philip Kirkorov was at her party and Alla Pugacheva comes to day.
Maybe her will Love Her Tonight.
Uk girl Javine bounced questions about her sex life and about the sexual nature of the song and was quite uncomplimenary about Katie Price.
The BBC also confirmed it won't show the 50th anniversary show.
Turkey's Gulseren has music in her blood.
Mostly raised in Paris (from 7) making her lonely at first turned her to music.
She likens percussion to heartbeats. She sang a spanish folk song beautifully.
very talented, but it is a rather ethnic piece. i fear it will do poorly.
Albania's Ledina Celo is not married despite her song "Tomorrow I go" being about impnding marraige. they wanted a different theme.
I think it works quite well. Still has the dancers with the mock violins.
In contrast Malta's Chaira is very static on stage, but her commanding performance of her own song "Angel" guarantees many points.
Official reception tonight.
The stage is fab - getting more so each day as they ad things, but the rest of the hall (smallish) is very Soviet - hard
wooden seats and uneven wooden steps.
Bit shabby, but they are tarting up the outside.

11:56 AM

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Late last night we saw on the monitors briefly the scoreboard. In case you have not seen it here it is in all its glory. Many will want to see what this year's style is.

What a busy day. The Slovene party turned out to be Sunday night so we had a few beers and went to bed. Sunday saw the second half of the semi-finalists rehearse again, and the highlights was the much fancied Hungary.

But before them was Romainia's song (see above) "Let me try" sung by Luminita Anghel & Sistem. Sistem were unhappy the programme mentioned nothing of them, but they were big in Romania, though, I was told later, not as big as Luminita.  The fire effects are out for safety reasons (but we will see them at their party tonight) but there's still plenty of action on stage with huge drums, flashing lights and sparks fly as grinders are used against the drums. Luminita says its hard to sing up against this noise, but she still manages to belt it out. I think it sounds great. They had to put everything on a carpet to avoid scratching the glass stage floor, but that won't be used on the night so the stage change to Hungary will be quicker.

Hungary's (above) performance was perfect, and singer Sylvia was in fine voice. She explained the group's name Nox was chosen as an easy title to work anywhere. Their song title translates as "Spin, World". They specialise in this kind of folk music, and the dancers were said to have learned to dance before they walked.
We also had Andorra's (below) performance of La Mirada Interior sung by Marian Van de  Wal. 

A somewhat camp performance by the male dancers ended in a kiss between them, the two times I watched, but the backing singers are solid including Spains' 1995 singer Anabel Conde, who got plenty of autograph hunters. Most still tip Andorra to score poorly, but mother-of-two Marian is concentrating on getting to the final.
Martin Vucic for Macedonia with "Make My Day" was very confident. His father wrote the song, and is, apparently, very rich. The song is good, the girl dancers are great, but Martin himself seems rather stiff.
Another weak performance comes from Omar Nabar who sings "Stop" for Slovenia. Just him and his girl backing singer on stage - she on a pedestal which drops at the end so he can join her. Just seemed loud to me, and little more.
The Bulgarian song remains not to my taste - the lead singer is very static, and shuts his eyes most of the time - a sure vote loser.
The Isreali delagation invited journalists to nearby Babi-Yar where tens of thousands of local Jews were murdered by the Nazis in World War 2, but I chose to stay with the lighter stuff, and we had a lighter moment when the 4 backer dancers of Ireland tried Irish dancing on the desks in the press centre, and broke it.
One of the girls is even younger than Joseph Mc Caul who is 17. Donna, his sister is 20. We heard that the writer of "Love?", Karl Broderick is a Eurovision fan, and liked all the big ones, like Diva, and Making your mind up. the song still has the Irish dancing section which does provoke some mirth in the hall.
Well, Slovene, Romanian, and Belarus parties tonight, and we've now heard Russia's Alla Pugacheva (1997 entrant) will join  Philip Kirkorov (Russia 1995) in coming to Kiev tomorrow for Angelica Agurbash's  birthday on  Tuesday. Quite what  this year's  Russian  representative, Natalia Podolskaya, makes of this we will see tomorrow when the rehearsals of the finalists begin.

5:15 PM

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Norway are on stage right now, and look pretty good." In My Dreams" by Wig Wam remains a strong contender. No pyrotechnics to sharpen the start but good.
Just before that we had the Estonian rehearsal of "Let's Get Loud" by Suntribe. The 5 girls stand behind mock turtables at the start scratching discs until they come forward and sing - loudly. Somehow without the quirky video of the previews its nothing.
Earlier in the day the Austrian rehearsal was very competent. those who saw the video may be interested to know the old clips in the video come from a film called "Vienna April 1st 2000", from 1950. There was some excellent impromptu singing, and Global Kryner's Slovenian-inspired music was due to be in a concert in the the centre of Kiev today, which is Europe day. Many street celebrations here for that - the place is in party mood.

By the time we got there though, Global Kryner had gone, but we were delayed by catching Angelica Agurbash's Belarus rehearsal & press conference. Miss Belarus in 1988, Miss USSR in 1990, and Mrs Russia in 2002 (for  the best mother), Angelica's team are really splashing out. The CD is really common, and i have a nice badge too supporting Angelica. There will be a party tomorrow, and on her birthday on the 17th, which she shares with Israel's Shiri Marmon. The Belarus song also sports two on-stage costume changes. She starts in gold which is ripped off by the dancers, and later has the dress under that removed like a cloak to show a slinky glittery number which, some say, makes her look like a drag queen. I love the song though, and it comes over very well. Russia 1995 contender Phillip Kirkorov is behind the song as producer and many hoped to see him today, but he wasn't here.
Israel's singer is very pretty, and the dress in lovely, but it doesn't seem enough, which is also true of Monaco's Lise Darly. We have also heard from Laura & the Lovers from Lithuania (via Sweden for the song itself by Swedes Bobby Ljungren & Billy Butt). Laura speaks good English and was very much in control of the press conference. She is in a short white dress, and wanders on stage from left to right, and right to left somewhat. It looks better on the monitors though than that sounds.
Portugal's 2B were very entertaining in the press conference, standing on the table and singing. Luciana's English isn't so good, but she makes up for that with her exhuberance.

They have a dancer from Southport, England in the shape of Suzanne Leigh (pictured above), who has lived in Porugal for many years. I like the Portuguese song, and it comes over OK with plenty of dance moves, and some funny hand movements.
Latvia's duo are using sign language to say "The War is not over", and it works well.
There's talk of a Slovene party tonight so time to go for now!

6:04 PM

OK, I'm here, its a lovely sunny day, and I have just figured out how to get pictures from my camera onto these Linux machines.
Only seen the Polish & Danish rehearsals so far late last night, but I can say the stage looks fantastic! The rest of the hall looks a little shabby, but at least its compact and should have a good astmosphere.
Our Hotel, in nearby, and whilst it isn't as luxurious as the price, its OK, and has a commanding view of the Sports Palace.
On the way to the hotel, we had a long detour around the hotels, so we saw plenty of the sights - the wide Dnipr river, and the golden domes of the Monastery, as well as Freedom Square, the focal point of the recent orange revolution.
Getting a pizza after 10pm proved a trial, but we managed it, and had time to slip into the Euroclub, where Norway's Wig Wam were having a beer.
Anyway, Austria are about to rehearse, so up the the stage for me.

8:57 AM