And we’re off! Eurovision 2015 begins today, with rehearsals of the first 8 songs in semifinal one.

Follow everything with us live at escXtra.com/live or escXtra.com/live/mobile

For the first rehearsals, we can’t let you hear the songs live (nobody can), but we will be telling you everything you need to know, and try to recreate on our live stream what we can see on stage! Stay tuned.


Alec Parkin
May 11, 20156:16 pm

For Macedonia, Daniel is wearing a stylised interpretation of a tuxedo, with the black jacket replaced by a cream kneelength coat. The backdrop features large and imposing stone columns and arches. Overhead camera shots suprimpose leaves in autumnal colours onto the floor, with leaves ‘falling’ behind during the performance. There is a somewhat stilted dance routine that takes place, with Daniel being joined by three male backing dancer-vocalists, all of whom wear white shirts and shades). Opinion here in the Press Centre seems split as to whether this approach to presentation enhances or detracts from the song.


Alec Parkin
May 11, 20155:46 pm

The Estonians seem to be taking a long time sorting-out whatever teething problems they feel they are experiencing; we’ve only had two run-throughs so far. There also seems to be some experimenting with backdrops; a typical, if stylised, cityscape has appeared for the third rehearsal. 


Alec Parkin
May 11, 20155:19 pm

Back up North, and to Estonia This is another distinctly monochromatic performance, with Elina wearing a black sleeveless top and trousers, and Stig in a black suit with white shirt and tie. The performance begins with Stig strumming his guitar, casting a long shadow into a narrow block of bright white light, which is subsequently crossed by another shadow of Elina. The shadows cover both the backdrop and the stage floor. The staging isn’t intimate, which emphasises the ‘void’ that exists between the two in the lyrics of the song. 


Alec Parkin
May 11, 20154:31 pm

We move South now, and to the rehearsal from Greece. for the second time today, we have quite a substantial amount of cleavage on show – Maria’s diamanté-encrusted silver and black gown is almost as revealing as Trijntje Oosterhuis’ outfit! There’s also a large slit up the thigh. It must take quite a bit of confidence to carry it off, but Maria copes admirably. Nothing particularly spectacular in terms of visuals or staging, with the camera focusing on close-ups of Maria. She is joined on-stage by a pianist at a white grand piano. Lighting for this performance is mainly variations of blue and indigo.


Alec Parkin
May 11, 20153:50 pm

After our lunch break, we’re back to the fun and games with the first rehearsal from Finland. The staging is very industrial/urban, with what appears to be brick walls flanking either side of the backdrop. Large speakers bring the boys from PKN closer to the forward area of the stage. The camerawork is quite jolted but entirely appropriate for this kind of song


Alec Parkin
May 11, 20152:30 pm

Trijnte has the word, ‘love’ written in some kind of neon, glow-in-the-dark pink paint, on each of her fingers. Yet another ‘interesting’ touch!


Simon Wells
May 11, 20152:26 pm

For the second rehearsal, Trijntje is experimenting with a more densely-woven veil, which works better than the ‘fishnet stocking’ one she wore initially. This is all very static from a visual perspective; while it’s not exactly the kind of song that encourages dance routines or gimmicks, Trijntje is now firmly rooted to the spot and doesn’t appear to be enjoying the performance as she has done in previous appearances; she’s certainly not relaxed on-stage.


Simon Wells
May 11, 20152:18 pm

For the second rehearsal, Trijntje is experimenting with a more densely-woven veil, which works better than the ‘fishnet stocking’ one she wore initially. This is all very static from a visual perspective; while it’s not exactly the kind of song that encourages dance routines or gimmicks, Trijntje is now firmly rooted to the spot and doesn’t appear to be enjoying the performance as she has done in previous appearances; she’s certainly not relaxed on-stage.


Peter Dunwoody
May 11, 20152:11 pm

Good points about The Netherlands. Trijntje is on point vocally. End of the list. Like their song last year, they’ve gone for one long camera shot throughout the whole song. It doesn’t suit it. And it goes WAY closer to Trijntje than we needed to go. The dress…very revealing – I am intimately familiar with parts of Trijntje I never thought I would be familiar with. She starts off in a sort of a lace veil, which she loses halfway through. People at home will be talking about the outfit throughout the performance and not listening to the song. Right now it’s a goner.


Simon Wells
May 11, 20152:11 pm

Trijntje’s performance for The Netherlands is really quite bizarre in every way. The lady herself is wearing a somewhat immodestly revealing black dress with cut-out work on the front, ‘complemented’ by a sparkly veil. Her backing vocalists are wearing a combination of baggy slogan outfits. I expect it all comes across as so peculiar as it really isn’t what anyone was expecting for this song. Trijntje’s performance is vocally very sold however.


Peter Dunwoody
May 11, 20151:53 pm

Loic is wearing a plain black t-shirt, black trousers and boots, VERY casual. Not sure I like it – hopefully he just is in his casual clothes today. The bright white staging is very striking but the silly choreography is off-putting. Loic sounds great as usual of course. Torn on this one’s chances.


Simon Wells
May 11, 20151:35 pm

Next up is Belgium. Everyone on-stage seems quite casually dressed, whereas the previous rehearsals have contained some element of stage outfit. Everything is monotone black and white, with Loic himself wearing a long black jacket and trousers and his backing vocalists in white T-shirts and combats. It’s all a bit disjointed and lacks fluidity. Loic seems to be experimenting vocally, so it sounds quite different from the recording.


Simon Wells
May 11, 20151:33 pm

Belgium: At the end of Belgium’s runthough Loic realises he’s in the wrong place and after the song ends, scuttles to the right place saying “Sorry! I forgot” to ripples of applause and chuckles in the press centre. This song was my favourite for the year, I’m not unimpressed, but I’m not thinking “winner!” He is a really good singer though.


Simon Wells
May 11, 20151:14 pm

In the instrumental bit they move from being spread apart to standing in a tight circle and look to the ceiling while a fast rotating pattern spins on the floor. The vocals are more coherent than in the recorded version if you ask me.


Simon Wells
May 11, 20151:11 pm

The stage features various ethnic – presumably Armenian – patterns. The trees, which form part of the background, also appear on the floor. The individual performers seem a little disconnected from eachother, despite the intended ‘group’ concept; everyone seems to ‘do their own bit’ without really interacting with the others. Visually it’s pretty impressive, with a lot of overhead camerawork.


Simon Wells
May 11, 201512:54 pm

The Armenians are in their 1915-style outfits, with a lot of purple in the staging. They have wispy black and white trees in the animated background.


Peter Dunwoody
May 11, 201512:49 pm

The reason the rolling blog isn’t rolling particularly quickly is that unlike most years, we’re not getting a constant stream of rehearsals. We’re only being shown the final runthrough for each artist, so we should be seeing Armenia for the first time in 15 minutes or so.


Simon Wells
May 11, 201512:37 pm

MOLDOVA: https://twitter.com/escXtra/status/597711255135215616/photo/1


Peter Dunwoody
May 11, 201512:36 pm

Wow…there’s leather, there are slutty policewomen in hotpants, there’s lots of Eduard Romanyuta flesh on show – WHAT A START.
A lot of dancing takes place on a piece of scaffolding on the stage, with trapdoors, ladders, lots and lots of choreography. One thing I will say is that given everything that is going on, Eduard’s vocals are more than adequate, but everything else is laughable. That being said, they MUST know that! It’s just too ridiculous for them not to.


Peter Dunwoody
May 11, 201512:26 pm

It seems that Eduard has already had a couple of runthroughs – we’re just not seeing anything in here.


Peter Dunwoody
May 11, 201512:22 pm

Oh my goodness! Eduard Romanyuta has just parachuted onto the stage from the roof of the arena!
Only joking…we’ve STILL not started yet…


Simon Wells
May 11, 201512:21 pm


Simon Wells
May 11, 201512:20 pm

So we are clearly running very late! Nothing’s happened yet from the arena. But we’re poised…

Chief Editor: A non-schlager Europhile who's been doing this ESC writing malarkey since 2008, usually championing Eurovision's alternative or quirky offerings. My role at Xtra isn't too dissimilar from my previous life as a school teacher, but they're a well behaved class. Also responsible for dropping bum notes on a piano.

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