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Eurovision – Rehearsals Day 1 – 1st Semi-Final 1st half

2nd May 2017
Posted by Aston Avery

So here we are, back again for this year’s Eurovision in the beautiful city of Kiev.

Getting there

I’ve got to be honest, the day doesn’t get off a good start. We decide to set off early for the airport, and lucky we do! We are only a few places from the front of the queue to drop our bags (having already checked in online), and it still takes us 55 minutes to actually do so – mainly down to the fact that the airline has one member of staff working, and bless him I think it must be his first day.

About 30 minutes in and the now very long queue is becoming frustrated. He’s finally joined by two other members of staff and we start to move. Through security and we think our troubles are over as we head to our favourite part of the airport, our little sanctuary: the VIP lounge. Not this time it seems as we get turned away at the door being told the lounge is full and will be staying that way all morning.

All is not lost, a new Wetherspoon has opened at the other end of departures, so at least we can still get a decent price breakfast. Wait… this isn’t just normal Wetherspoon, this is airport Wetherspoon: £10 for a sandwich and £14 for a burger? No thank you! I will go and wait at the bar forever and a day to be served an overpriced beverage instead.

We’re finally on the plane and on our way – what more could go wrong? These things come in threes right? I am sure we have clocked up more than that today already. I know, let’s order a beer to help the time pass, surely that can’t go wrong? I speak too soon! After asking for a couple of beers, then pointing to the picture of what I want, THEN arguing that I do not want champagne or cola, the kind lady finally understands that I want the item that I have now been pointing to for what seems like forever. She hands me over just one beer and then walks off without saying anything. After waiting for another five minutes I then ask the next stewardess about the missing drinks. She gets them out of the trolley, slams them down, and asks for the payment.

At last, the transaction is complete, we can now enjoy our ice cold beers… wishful thinking! It seems this plane does not have a fridge or even any ice. By this point we cannot be bothered to send them back so we sit back and enjoy as best we can.

Welcome to Ukraine

We are here, we have arrived in Kiev on time and now just have to find our way to the hotel and drop off our bags before heading out to rehearsals. Now as someone that travels quite a bit, I have read up before arriving about the taxi situation, and take heed the advice not to take an unlicensed  taxi. As we walk out of arrivals we are met by what can only be described as a wall of men, all asking if we would like a taxi. After repeating the word no about a thousand times, we finally get to a spot in the airport where we can be left alone for a second to work out our options. As we see it, and with the time that we have, a taxi is the best option, but who from? A quick look on Uber shows we can get a taxi for about £7. The licensed taxi office gives us a quote for £8. Just to make sure, we ask one of the men that has now been following us for the past 10 minutes and he wants to charge £30, telling us all the Uber drivers are drunk behind the wheel! We tell him he’s lost out on our custom and so we are down to two choices between Uber and taxi office. We decide to go with the taxi office given that we can show them the address face-to-face and be sure we go to the right place.

Off we head in the taxi and all at last is good. They have had the address and we will be there soon and be able to get on with our day. The taxi driver pulls up at the side of the road and prompts us that we have arrived but that the price was now £10. “It’s fine” we think, still a good price given the distance we have travelled. The driver gets our bags out of the boot for us and points us towards an alley before pulling away. Now I am sure the place I have booked was next to a park, but I could be wrong. We make our way down the alley to be greeted by a group of buildings that look like they are about to fall down. We quickly turn and made our way back onto the busy main street. Upon sourcing WiFi, Google Maps reveals we have been dropped off on the other side of town and miles away from where we need to be. At this point we put it down to the fact that today is going to be one of those days, and do what we should have done in the first place and order a car on Uber, which takes us to our hotel without a problem.

At last, salvation! The hotel that we have booked is even better than we expected and the staff are really friendly. Sadly after our little adventure we are short of time, so we drop the bags and head back off in a taxi to International Exhibition Centre. It’s day one of rehearsals so let’s see what today’s line-up has in store for us.

08:00 BST – Sweden

Robin is dressed as if he is ready for a day at the office, and the staging does not do much to change that. Apart from the smooth dancing on the treadmills and a not so impressive light show in the background, the staging has really let this wonderful song down. Let’s hope they make some changes before the live shows.

08:40 BST – Georgia

Tamara takes to the stage wearing a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. Fingers crossed she has something a little more impressive in her wardrobe for later in the week. Again it’s not great staging but a better showing then Sweden before them. I am starting to think this is not the fault of the acts but the actual technical equipment they have to hand here compared to Stockholm last year.

09:20 BST – Australia

At last, some attempt at least of a country actually making an effort. We finally have something going on in the background. OK it is only a video of Isaiah playing behind him, but they have made an attempt to liven things up. It is a shame the same can’t be said for Isaiah himself, he seems somewhat uneasy on stage and a little grounded. Maybe it is down to the fact they have dressed him to look like Neo from the Matrix – not a look that suits the young lad.

10:00 BST – Albania

Lindita takes to the stage looking a bit like Miley Cyrus – a shame that her vocals are not up to the same standard as the girl sounds like she is in pain. On the plus side, it has been the best staging of the afternoon so far, and I have to admit I spent more time paying attention to that rather the listening to the song itself.

11:40 BST – Belgium

One of my favourite songs this year is City Lights being sung by Blanche from Coronation Street… sorry, wrong Blanche, but you will have to forgive me for mixing the two of them up given that the singer from Belgium is stuck to the spot swaying her hips like a granny at a birthday party. It seems to be a theme this year, that and starting the song giving the camera a death stare. Maybe we need to hand out the Red Bull before the real shows begin?

12:20 BST – Montenegro

It is time to crack out the rainbow flags as Slavko takes to the stage to perform the campest thing since Carry On Camping. Having stolen a Doctor Who set for his music video (apparently it is a quarry next to where he lives) and seen him perform at this year’s London party, he has got into swinging his pony tail like a helicopter propeller far too much, so it now really affects his vocals. Maybe someone will sneak up behind him and chop it off so he can get back to what he is supposed to be doing. Even if they don’t, I can imagine the crowd still liking this one (although perhaps not the less liberal natives).

13:00 BST – Finland

I am not sure what to say about this one as it is one of my toilet break songs (or as we in the family: “wee wee” songs). I was hoping this one would grow on me by now but sadly not, and once again a very stilted performance has done nothing to change my mind. I suppose the one positive I can give you from this performance is that her dress was nice and reminded me of Cadnice’s dress from The Hunger Games.

14:00 BST – Azerbaijan

So in 2016 we had a naked man singing with a wolf. Not to be beaten, we have the highlight of the day when Dihaj is joined on stage by a man up a ladder dressed as a horse in a suit dancing along to the track (I promise you I’m not making it up). It’s totally mad and I do not have a clue what it has to do with the song, but I like it anyway. I am just keeping my fingers crossed that they change the ladder for something a little more in-keeping in the live shows.

14:40 BST – Portugal

Here we have the final rehearsal of the day, and it has to be said, they have left the best until last… not! This one is by far my biggest wee wee song in the whole competition… in that I would like to piss all over it! I have tried to like it but I just cannot bring myself to. I know that a lot of people feel this song could win this year so maybe I am missing something, but we will have to wait and see. I am pleased to see that Salvador has at least had a shave for the competition… then I realize that it is his sister Luisa as Salvador is unwell.

Well that’s day one over and done with. We are heading back to the hotel for some much needed sleep and will be back tomorrow with another live round-up of the day’s action at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest.