Reports from Athens 2006

These are the reports as I placed them on my 2006 blog from the press centre.
They run in reverse chronological order so the newest is here at the top, and the first reports about my arrival in Athens are at the bottom

Sunday, May 21, 2006


Well Finland has its first win with Lordi!

What a show! They were way ahead with 292 points, Russia 2nd with 248, and Bosnia in 3rd place with 229 points. UK was 19th with 25 points, and Malta was last with only 1 point.

The winner's press conference is still going on, but for now I close with this stage shot - copyright  All Rights Reserved © G Harrison 2006

So next year - Helsinki!


12:08 AM


Saturday, May 20, 2006


I'm a bit distracted at the moment because I lost an old but personally valuable camera last night on the official shuttle bus, and the help I'm getting is practically nil. The buses have been the disaster of the whole Eurovision with infrequent and irregular timings, so to lose anything on this shambles is doubly bad, since the drivers have no procedures, speak little English, and the tour company office keeps cutting me off when I ring them! Most else works fine, but few of us will forget the buses which are a must as the venue is a long way from any hotels or the party venue - The Euroclub - great looking, but itself pretty poor as you can't buy drinks - they give you tokens to exchange - except tokens are hard to find. Crazy!

The show itself is so very professional, however, and you're in for a great night tonight. A spectacular opening which has figures dropping from the roof and others on a orange ball travellling across tthe stadium.

Our presenters then appear from left & right on wires!

Sakis & Maria look great, but Maria does seem to be having problems remembering what she is doing. Sakis seems more of a natural. We'll see how they are tonight.

Anyway let's cut to the main track - who's gonna win -  its really tough. I like the Russian performance, Bosnia goes down well, Greece is a terrific performance (picture of Anna Vissi below), and everybody seems to like Romania. Along with Finland, those are the real contenders. Possibly Sweden also, but I think its not so special. I put a small bet on Lithuania, as it shouldn't be in the final so anything is possible.

I met Lordi on Friday evening and am totally bowled over by them. Mr Lordi designs all the outfits & makeup, and they were staying in it all day yesterday & today. They are not satanists - the songs are all about the devil as a loser. Mr Lordi was asked if he was concerned people always asked about their makeup rather than their songs, but he said that was OK - it was their calling card. The other members are given names by Mr Lordi, and some have been replaced over the years. When that happens a new name & creature design is created. Its all in the name of entertainment!

Back to the show, here's one of the favourites, Romania, from yesterday's rehearsal - goes down great!

Bosnia's Leilja from Hari Mata Hari is not one of my favourites - simple presentation, but it surely will do very well

Watch out for Helena Paparizou opening the show with "My Number One", and she also sings her new song "Mambo" after the reprise of clips. Thatr's after the voting starts which is started by Nana Mouskouri.

Just remember to tune in! Last rehearsal is on right now, loos fine. I'm off for dinner. Hope to post something after the show but can't promise - there will be the post show party to go to.



1:12 PM


Friday, May 19, 2006


Well wednesday's boat trip to the islands of Aegina, Poros, & Hydra passed quickly. Denmark's Sidsel (below), Romania's Mihai, and Moldova's Natalija were amongst those aboard.

Then it was back for the 2nd Dress Rehearsal of the semi-final which went fine, but no point in talking about it as the final has now been shown!

Except to say that Iceland's Sylvia Night was booed every time. They did change things a little for the live show - Ireland wasn't mentioned as the 1000 th song, perhaps because it biased things.

Anyway we all know which 10 songs made it through to the final, Armenia, Finland, Ukraine, Sweden, Russia, Ireland, Lithuania, Macedonia, Bosnia, & Turkey. Lithuania is the real surprise, but anyway here's some pictures to show the excitement after the Semi-Final: Elena from Macedonia very happy


Armenia's Andre joins with Sweden's Carola:

Ukraine's Tina Karol is very excited to be through:

But there are shock loser's and here is Belgium's Kate Ryan being comforted by the Belgian team:

First dress rehearsal of the final is in just 1 hour!


10:54 AM


Tuesday, May 16, 2006


Apologies - a crazy day. Anna Vissi's press conference is on now and i must attend. Then Daz's party. Just wanted to say no updates much of Wednesday as i am going on a delegate's cruise, and then to the 2nd Dress rehearsal. Will be on BBC Leicester at around 11.10 on Thursday, and other BBC Local Radio that afternoon.

Beyond that, this year's most under dressed goes to Natalia from Moldova who goes through several cahnges including a bikini.

Anna calls!


6:12 PM



Back here - Switzerland on stage now so back later! They were pretty good - well polished as you'd expect. Tinka from Bosnia is in a green dress, the Swiss singer (sorry forgot her name) is in black. Predictable Germanic style march around the stage but it works well enough on the monitors.

Perhaps I should mention what they seem to be using for cameras. they have two crane cameras, plus 4 on a stand at the back of the hall. They also have a steadicam, and several normal-looking cameras right at the fromt of the stage. the stage is quite high by recent standars so a good view for those of us in the hall. They also have a camer on wires that dips down over the audience, and lastly one on a track, but unusually this one is manned, and pushed by a man. The German director seems very relaxed.

Last night's official opening was televised live on Greek TV and included lots of fun performances of this year's songs by their commentators for this year. Viewers probably got a better view than we got - very crowded and difficult to find anyone in the dark, but many perfomers were there - I saw Carola, Treble, Andre, Dima, Sverine, and more of them were invited on stage at the end. We also had a concert by Sakis Rouvas, and a little appearance by Anna Vissi - oh and Helena Paparizou opened the show with "My Number One". Svante Stockselius official declared the contest open - pretty wierd by now! Anyway, it ended with fireworks, but wasn't6 one of the best parties, but we still have more press parties tonight from UK, Russia, France etc.


9:55 AM  

Monday, May 15, 2006


OK, here's a snap from Daz Sampson's rehearsal for the UK song Teenage Life. It's stiill going on. The girls sound great. They're aged from 17-24.

Gotta go!


5:35 PM



Apologies for the delay in another update - its really hard to find a break and not use it for a drink or a sandwich instead of updating the page!

A few minutes before the UK's Daz Sampson comes on to rehearse, but I've seen his tiny schoolgirls - they really are tiny!

You're wondering who impressed me on Sunday? - Tina Karol for Ukraine. Such exhuberance, and such a great performance. Maybe it won't win, but she's great. Ireland's Brian Kennedy is rated by some, but if you have to get on your knee in a a song you really are begging for votes. Nothing special, but not as unimpressive as Sylvia Night from Iceland with "Congratulations". So over-hyped. Plenty of stuff on stage - she slides down a child's slide, gets showered in silver streamers and strutts around with a goose step, hand held high - you get the idea. The press conference took the form of a Regal prescence with announces from high highness. Unlike the first conference nobody was thrown out for looking her in the eye, but it was cut short when she decided she'd had enough. I get the joke, but don't find it funny. Most people don't get the joke. Beyond the joke, its nothing. I doubt it will make the final.

Syvia did make a good joke about Finland - she'd seen them without make up and they were "F***ing ugly"! Well there's plenty of fireworks and fire on stage for Finland's Lordi , but not much motion - the cameras are rushing around to give that. It all seems so mock rock. Hard to know how it will go.

Carola (below) was surprisingly friendly in her press conference - I found her very difficult at the Melodifestival. The performance is pretty much the same as the Melodifestival but without the walk on the bridge, and that weakens it a lot. Following her was Sandra - very perky - pretty much unchanged with the turquoise dresses.

The evening's parties were Macedonia which I didn't attend, but was highly rated, and Belarus & Ukraine-Poland at the Euroclub - a converted gas factory. Terrific venue, if almost impossible to get to with the official transport - the buses supposed to transport us are totally irregular, so I managed to miss much of the party, but still saw Poland's Ich Troje - the lead Michal getting rather drunk-, and Polina from Belarus. Tina Karol from Ukraine was around too.

Sandra on stage:

Monday morning I took a sightseeing tour and found Ireland's Brian Kennedy, Netherland's Treble, and Croatia's Severina (below) were on the tour too. Severina was doing plenty of photo posing up on the Acropolis.

Today's rehearsals were the start of the finalists(The semi-finalists finished yesterday) that of  Germany was OK - pretty much as in German final. Malta has some fireworks, but doesn't really need it. Norway - everyone in white looks good.

There's the official reception tonight at the Zappeion Hall - open air I think with Sakis Rouvas singing. Should be good.

Next report, probably Tuesday.


4:55 PM


Sunday, May 14, 2006


I was asked last night which competitor had impressed me most during the day, and I have to say it was Poland's "Follow your heart" sung by Ich Troje. Their lead explained their simple message last time (in 2003) was "No borders", and not it was "Follow Your Heart" His pregant girlfiend Anja is the other lead and part of the appeal of the song is seeing the joy their share on stage. Their daughter is due in July. The costumes are great too with masks and glittery dresses. This may do quite well - they came 3rd, I think, in 2003.

Late on we also had Macedonia's Elena Ristecka. She explained she would be wearing hot pants on the night rather than the simple black dress. Having seen Polina Smolova for Belarus in hot pants, I'm not sure if that's wise, but I do like Elena's song "Nininanja". I remember seeing her in the 2004 Golden Stag festival in Romania with an R&B number, and wasn't surprised to hear that this song was originally very R&B, but the arrangement had been changed to make it less so, composer Darko Dimitrov said. One of Elenna's backing singers is Aleksandra Pileva who missed out representing Macedonia in last year's show despite much higher televotes in the national contest. She seemed to have got over it, perhpas because her CD massively outsold Martin Vucic's. Somebody asked why Macedonia's songs were so ethnic. Elena didn't think it was, but the composer agreed, and our press conference moderator said, quite rightly, everyone things balkan music ethnic when its just our music. For me, Nininanja is slightly ethnic, and is all the better for having a taste of its homeland,

Dima Belan, the Russian singer came into the press centre as it closed and watched his own video on a PC there. Its a good song.

No parties Saturday night, so an early night to prepare for the onslaught ahead.

Busy day ahead on Sunday, part 2 of the Semi-Finalists rehearsing, and far too party evening parties to chose from. Oh, well, its a dirty job.


8:50 AM


Saturday, May 13, 2006


Hi, here I am again - another Eurovision!. Just seen a day of rehearsals and press conferences. Huge press centre, and everything is going fine.

The Stage is bright and has two round screens on either side as an unusual feature.

Bulgaria's Marianna Popova (above) was the first rehearsal I saw. Very powerful - she's in gold dress which has streamers which the dancers pull out, like Sertab had two years ago. Slovenia's Anjez Dezan has very pretty energetic dancers.

There's plenty of other stars visting. Phillip Kirkorov (Russia 1995) is here:

Belgium's Kate Ryan (below) has always wanted to represent Belgium in Eurovision and wanted to do this 2 years ago, but had no time. Her dance routine is cahnged from the Belgian final, and incorporates neon microphone stands. Not quite as effective as before, in my opinion, and reminiscent of Sweden's Martin Stenmarck last year. However she's retained the knee shake, apparently because it was so popular a feature before.

Fireworks towards the end of the performance help Kate along.

Monaco's song, Coco Dance, does feature grass skirts, but seemed to have a lot of problems on the recent rehearsal, but looked OK. She's lifted several times.

The show is on!

4:19 PM

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