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LIVE: Eurovision 2023: Semi-Final Two first dress rehearsal

We'll be reacting LIVE to the first dress rehearsal of semi-final two of Eurovision 2023!

ESCXTRA.com are live for day three of dress rehearsals ahead of the Eurovision Song Contest 2023, taking place in Liverpool’s M&S Bank Arena this week!

On Monday, the 2023 press centre opened its doors once again, and accredited members of the media will see a full run-through of semi-final two from start to finish.

We will be conducting the press poll immediately after the rehearsals, so stay tuned for those results later on in the afternoon.

From 1pm GMT onwards, we will be updating this page with our first reactions to the FULL performances of the following entries:

  1. Denmark: Reiley – Breaking My Heart
  2. Armenia: Brunette – Future Lover
  3. Romania: Theodor Andrei – D.G.T (Off and On)
  4. Estonia: Alika – Bridges
  5. Belgium: Gustaph – Because of You
  6. Cyprus: Andrew Lambrou – Break a Broken Heart
  7. Iceland: Diljá – Power
  8. Greece: Victor Vernicos – What They Say
  9. Poland: Blanka – Solo
  10. Slovenia: Joker Out – Carpe Diem
  11. Georgia: Iru – Echo
  12. San Marino: Piqued Jacks – Like An Animal
  13. Austria: TEYA & SALENA – Who The Hell Is Edgar?
  14. Albania: Albina & Familja Kelmendi – Duje
  15. Lithuania: Monika Linkytė – Stay
  16. Australia: Voyager – Promise

In addition, the following automatic qualifiers will be rehearsing:

  • Spain: Blanca Paloma – EaEa
  • Ukraine: Tvorchi – Heart of Steel
  • United Kingdom: Mae Muller – I Wrote a Song

Refresh the page to see updates on the dress rehearsal below!

13:15 – We are READY!

Lisa and Costa are currently in the press centre with our eyes glued to the screens, waiting for the dress rehearsal to start. The rehearsal should be kicking off at around 13:30 UK time.

If you want to see more about the press centre, check out our TikTok here.

13:30 – The rehearsal has begun!

Very on time, the iconic Eurovision theme came blaring into the press centre at exactly 13:30. Unfortunately, this was immediately followed by a screen that says ‘VT to come’, which is something we have become very used to seeing watching the dress rehearsals.

My assumption is that this will be a recap of the first semi-final, which is probably being edited as we speak.

13:36 – Song 1: Reiley – Breaking My Heart (Denmark)

Reiley’s postcard takes place outside The Copenhagen Opera House.

The performance opens with Reiley framed in a heart shaped filter, which is very cute. We don’t have a reveal of the full prop he is standing in until the first chorus, when the scenery rotates to a different ‘room’.

This is a REHEARSAL, but I hope that he is just holding back vocally ahead of tomorrow, which would be valid. The most notable thing about the performance is that we don’t get a single wide shot until the last chorus. Prior to that, the camera is almost exclusively fixed on Reiley from his torso up.

13:40 – Song 2: Brunette – Future Lover (Armenia)

Brunette’s postcard is from Yerevan’s Botanical Gardens. The establishing shot of the performance feature’s Brunette lying on her sloped prop (which is positioned on the satellite stage). She is completely covered in swirling pink and white projections, as the camera zooms into her. There is a water-like ripple effect that is very impactful and looks like she is completely submerged in water.

During the first chorus, the projections begin to streak with white, before cutting entirely to white for the rap verse. She stands up and delivers the rap verse as the lights flash behind her and the colours cut between bright white and complete darkness.

THEN, she hops off the prop and delivers a SURPRISE DANCE BREAK as the lights flash (it’s almost as if she’s a silhouette). Then, for the last chorus, the pink returns and she stands on the prop and delivers the Armenian section.

Overall, I came away with goosebumps. Maybe the best use of the LED effects so far.

13:44 – Song 3: Theodor Andrei – D.G.T (Off and On) (Romania)

Based on the images and the rehearsal clips, you’ve seen pretty much everything there is to see from this performance. No surprise dance break from Theodor, unfortunately.

The main moments of note are the camera cutting to Theodor’s face on the LED, which sings along to his live vocal, and him starting the song playing guitar on a stool with the new acoustic intro.

13:50 – Song 4: ALIKA – Bridges (Estonia)

The performance is basically an elevation of her Eesti Laul staging. Alika begins the performance on her piano, before taking to the centre of the stage for the majority of the song.

The camerawork is surprisingly dynamic, even maybe a bit too fast at points. It regularly cuts to the piano playing itself. There is even some ~meaningful movement~ during the second chorus.

There is use of both LEDs to feature water splashing, and then a gold rig behind her. I also want to take a moment to appreciate her flawless outfit, no notes.

13:54 – Song 5: Gustaph – Because of You (Belgium)

Belgium’s postcard features the Atomium, and Gustaph in a fabulous metallic gold jumpsuit (and a hat, of course).

Again, this an elevated version of what we saw at Eurosong. Gustaph begins on a giant scaffolding before walking down the steps and joining his backing singers. The LEDs remain the same as his Eurosong performance too.

Towards the end, he is joined by a dancer, who vogues around him on the satellite stage as he nails the big notes. This is easily the most energetic and fun performance of the show so far.

14:02 – Song 6: Andrew Lambrou – Break A Broken Heart (Cyprus)

Andrew’s postcard features him goofing around in a basketball court by Limassol’s seafront. His performance begins flooded in dark blue lighting, and remains very dark until the last chorus.

For the first chorus, there is a water effect that floods from the ceiling on the LED and falls directly over Andrew.

He starts on the main stage, before walking to the satellite stage for the climax of the song, when the stage lights and LEDs go from water to fire, with fire shooting up around him. Notably, there is a break before and after Cyprus, but we will find out tomorrow if this is deliberate or just for the rehearsal.

14:07 – Song 7: Diljá – Power (Iceland)

The performance is visually very similar to the Söngvakeppnin staging (derogatory). She begins lying down on the main stage, as neon ‘roots’ reach around her from the LED screen to the floor. She then cartwheels from the floor onto her feet before the first chorus.

And that’s basically it for staging. She gets some smoke, but otherwise throws herself around the stage and gives a flawless vocal.

14:07 – Song 8: Victor Vernicos – What They Say (Greece)

Victor’s postcard features Temple of Poseidon. The lighting for this performance is black and beige, which is an interesting choice.

Victor’s charm and raw charisma translates on camera, as does his enthusiasm. He begins the performance lying down surrounded by LED projections of himself. He then stands up and jumps through the first chorus as smoke enters the stage floor.

Vocally he gains confidence towards the end (it’s only a rehearsal, remember). The main thing I would like them to change is the use of ‘ΣΑΥ’ on the LED behind him, which actually translates to ‘Sav’.

14:11 – Song 9: Blanka – Solo (Poland)

Blanka’s postcard takes place outside Warsaw University’s Faculty of Physics, where she leads a DJ set – easily one of my favourites so far.

Well this is an absolute fever dream of a performance. The start of the performance features Blanka and her dancers, shot through a steady-cam with a fish eye lens on the camera, which distorts the shot. The LEDs feature neon tropical motives, which occasional cartoon flames.

Each ‘act’ of the performance is separated by a pink ‘cloud’ of smoke which puffs over the camera shot. The second act features an LED Blanka singing the second chorus, before turning to the real Blanka.

And then we get the moment we’ve all been waiting for, the already-iconic dance break. She is left by her dancers on the satellite stage and then goes absolutely ham. Yes, there is indeed an orange filter on the dance break, which is distortive and almost stop-motion, and makes it look sped up…and almost not human.

She is then joined by her backing dancers for the climax, where they continue the dance break before the LEDs fade back to pink and pyro bursts from the stage. This is camp.

14:15 – Song 10: Joker Out – Carpe Diem (Slovenia)

This is a perfect progression from their EMA reveal performance. They are dressed almost the same, with Bojan’s shiny pink trousers making a comeback.

The performance begins on the main stage, with the camera cutting between each member, but mostly focusing on Bojan looking direct to camera and serving. For the first chorus, a ‘curtain’ falls from the LED and reveals ‘Joker Out’ in red text on the screen.

Later in the performance, the band take to the satellite stage, which adds dynamism to the performance. Overall, this is very compelling, and will be electric once there is a full audience in the arena.

14:19 – Song 11: Iru – Echo (Georgia)

This performance is certainly one of the more elegant of the semi. Iru has beautiful styling, wearing a flowing white bodysuit, with a two-part cape that is seemingly fixed to the back of the stage. She spends the whole performance standing on a podium.

There is an interesting use of the LEDs, which are half open half closed, featuring iridescent animations, with the light rig peaking behind Iru.

The performance really gets going once the ‘chimichunga’ section of the song kicks in, and the camera work is very slick indeed. Even thought it was only a rehearsal, she was excellent vocally, albeit holding back.

14:24 – Song 12: Piqued Jacks – Like An Animal (San Marino)

After a break, which features a spoken word VT about Eurovision from actor Luke Evans, we have San Marino. Like Romania, this is another case of ‘once you’ve seen the rehearsal pictures, you’ve seen the full performance’.

Piqued Jacks kick off a bizarre string of performances that feature almost entirely black and red lighting.

14:28 – Song 13: TEYA & SALENA – Who The Hell Is Edgar? (Austria)

One of the heavy hitters for the day, expectations were high for Austria, and they mostly delivered. To my surprise, Teya and Salena are joined by four backing dancers, meaning the backing vocals are entirely pre recorded. As expected, the colours are exclusively red, black and white.

Personally, I would have liked to have had two live backing vocalists to support the pre-chorus, but the ending was very strong vocally regardless.

I love this staging because it has a narrative. The first chorus features a well-framed shot of Teya, Salena, their dancers and LED dancers doing their choreography. Gradually, the camera work pans out as more and more dances are featured on the LED screen.

The bridge is exactly what it needs to be to get the crowd going, as they march to the satellite stage. The final shot is the duo with a shot of the duplicated dancers on the LED forming Edgar Allan Poe’s face.

14:32 – Song 14: Albina & Familja Kelmendi – Duje (Albania)

Our third consecutive red and black extravaganza is, unsurprisingly, from thee land of red and black – Albania. Their postcard features a very wholesome lakeside picnic.

The staging is very Sacha Jean-Baptiste 101, i.e. people wearing black standing in a line with good lighting. The camerawork was surprisingly…not all there, but Albina was on point as per usual. I particularly love her styling, which is an adorned black bodysuit which evokes Illyrian royalty.

There is a generous use of fire to break up the black LEDs, and some subtle choreography from the whole Kelmendi clan. Overall, this is a great upgrade from their Festivali i Këngës performance.

14:36 – Song 15: Monika Linkytė – Stay (Lithuania)

This has the absolutely perfect running order to give Monika the best chance of shining. It screams ‘penultimate song’ in many ways – warm, accessible and inviting.

The entire performance is swimming in purple, gold and orange hues, which is a welcome break from all the red and black of the second half. Monika performs the first half alone, in yet another new orange mini dress – this time with sleeves.

From the second chorus onwards, we get Monika’s four backing vocalists, who elevate the performance even further. Overall, this is a delight, and Monika delivers one of the best vocals of the day.

14:40 – Song 16: Voyager – Promise (Australia)

Having had one of the biggest ‘wow’ reactions from the reveal of their staging, Voyager mostly deliver on this promise. The best part is the establishing shot of frontman Danny in his prop car, which creates a cinematic moment, reminiscent of the iconic 00s British hit “In For The Kill” by La Roux.

Despite the disappointing lack of pyro, which I think was an oversight, the staging is very cool. Like with Go_A’s “SHUM” staging from Rotterdam 2021, they manage to actually create the effect of the car driving on stage.

Overall, this is an epic way to close a strong half, and is definitely a contender for top 3 of the semi-final.

15:00 – Interval performances

The first interval performance after the recap is “Music Unites Generations”, which features Mariya Yaremchuk (Eurovision 2014), Zlata Dziunka (Junior Eurovision 2022) and rapper OTOY. OTOY’s part is particularly cool, featuring a crowd of dancers wearing yellow and blue suits.

The second act is “Be Who You Wanna Be” a performance from three ‘dragified’ versions of Hannah, Alesha and Julia, performing a medley of pop songs, including featuring “Free Yourself” by Jessie Ware and “We Got Love” by Jessica Mauboy (Eurovision 2018, Australia). It’s very very fun. Hannah and the queens were still workshopping some more ideas for the script this afternoon; this is why I love watching dress rehearsals.

We then get the conclusion of the ‘Q or NQ’ segment with Filomena and Mans. I won’t spoil who wins.

15:30 – Automatic qualifier one: Blanca Paloma – EaEa (Spain)

Our first ‘bonus’ performance was from Spain’s Blanca Paloma, who delivers yet another breathtaking performance. It’s had to quantify the impact of this staging, because it is pretty much identical to what she did in Benidorm, almost frame-for-frame.

A new element(?) is that a blinding light is shone on Blanca’s hand before she shoots the bow and arrow. Don’t count this out for a strong jury score at least.

15:38 – Automatic qualifier two: Tvorchi – Heart of Steel (Ukraine)

Our second ‘bonus’ performance is from reigning champions Ukraine. Considering Tvorchi’s Vidbir performance took place in a subway station, it was still a very slick package in December. What they’ve done is elevate the same concept.

The four-part box prop is larger, the animations on the LED are more vivid and the choreography is more dynamic. The best part is when Jimoh and his dancers head to the satellite stage as fire shoots from the side of the stage. Overall, this is still a contender for top 5, especially in its running order position.

15:46 – Automatic qualifier three: Mae Muller – I Wrote a Song (United Kingdom)

Mae’s staging takes quite a while to set up due to the size of her scaffolding. She is wearing black while her four dancers are wearing pink sheer tops. She is supported by a live backing singer, similar to Efendi and Elena Tsagrinou’s blending from Rotterdam 2021.

The establishing shot is VERY cool, featuring Mae’s silhouette before panning out to Mae’s head in lavender pop art on the LED. The performance is one of the most colourful, featuring pastel blue, pink, yellow and lilac. There are very fun LED animations behind her, which synchronise with the choreography.

She begins on the scaffolding before walking down the steps during the second verse, and marching down the runway with her dancer behind her. The last chorus is padded out with burst of pyro, which makes it a great end to the show. Competitively, I’m still thinking this is aiming for mid table.

16:05 – Quick fire interview with the acts

After yesterday’s fun side segment, we return today with Tvorchi, Blanca Paloma and Mae Muller sharing their first memories of Eurovision and their special talents.

16:15 – Results reveal

The Eurovision gods saw sense and we are now back to the original format of revealing the qualifiers. Of course the acts are now busy backstage and we have fun stand-ins being excited on behalf of the acts during this dress rehearsal.

The fake qualifiers are:

  • San Marino
  • Albania
  • Iceland
  • Greece
  • Georgia
  • Estonia
  • Austria
  • Denmark
  • Poland

The suspense builds for the remaining seven acts waiting…

AUSTRALIA is called as the 10th fake qualifier as the hosts give a final recap and close out the show.

    Be sure to stay updated by following @ESCXTRA on Twitter@escxtra on Instagram@escxtra on TikTok and liking our Facebook page for the latest updates! Also, be sure to follow us on Spotify for the latest music from your favourite Eurovision acts, as well as YouTube to see interviews from the Eurovision Song Contest 2023!

    Costa Christou

    Ever since I saw Helena Paparizou's triumph at Eurovision in 2005 (at the tender age of 6), I have been crazy about Eurovision. From the regional native language bops and shrieky female-led balladry to the sophisticated avant garde pop songs and chart-friendly EDM, I love everything about this cultural phenomenon. I'm currently working as a Delivery Manager in a software development team.

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