Last night was the Opening Ceremony and yours truly got to watch from the press area on the side of the red carpet. An absolutely amazing experience.
First off, I have not heard any of the acts before last night (except Israel and Ukraine). As each act entered the red carpet, they played a short segment from their song. It blew me away. Most were absolutely amazing. Yes, there were some stinkers, but what is Eurovision without some that make you cringe. But most were outstanding. This may be the best Eurovision ever.
So they open the gate to let the press horde in. And you had this mass of people pushing and elbowing to get through first to set up along the red carpet. The press in mass is a ravenous brutal beast. (Individually most reporters are very nice). I spent the first 5 minutes waving to the camera so my wife and daughters could see me on the webcast. That is my arm waving behind someone else’s head about 5 minutes in – I’m famous!
First in was Loreen. She is a total class act. Poised, classy, taking time to talk to people along the carpet (fans on their left, ravenous horde press on their right). Granted it’s easier to be relaxed when you’re not competing but she is impressive. Sweden should appoint her as ambassador to the U.S.
The acts were dropped off a couple of minutes apart and they all took the time to talk to people on both sides of the carpet. The main member of the act would work the crowd while the other members either waved from the middle or just slowly looked around. Most of them were clearly having the time of their life. Some were very professional, big smile working the line but very efficient & effective. Alyona Lanskaya was a pro at this, big smile, working the press, coming across as thrilled, but doing it all incredibly efficiently.
Most of the people dressed very nice. Elegant dresses, suits. Some in traditional attire (Bulgaria wins that one for the incredible masks two of them wore). And then there were a few dressed in grunge where they intended to say they’re their own person, but actually said that they couldn’t be bothered to dress for the occasion. But for outfits Krista Siegfrids took the cake wearing an elegant wedding dress (to match her song).
A lot of the people on both sides asked for autographs and a lot asked to have their picture taken with them. And everyone stopped to do both. Again, everyone was very gracious.
And every other person on the press side they had a camera in their face, microphone in front of them, being asked probably the exact same question the 20 before had asked them. And in each case taking the time to answer the questions and turning on the charm. Some very professional, but others clearly happy to talk to the viewers in that country.
Anouk was not there. Here entourage was and one of them told me that she twisted her ankle but her voice is 100%. I asked if they were going to wheel her out in a wheelchair to sing and the women indignantly told me no – that she will do her full act. I hope so. The Netherlands has had really bad entries the last several years (not U.K. level of terrible but still bad). This year they have a top 10 contender and it would suck to lose that due to a sprained ankle.
Robin Stjernberg got out of his car and immediately ran along the barrier on the far side slapping hands with the hosts yelling that he was going the wrong way. A total crowd pleaser as he gave time to the people that could not get in the close up press or fan area. Well done.
Dina Garipova was very understated and very classy. She completely lit up when Russia’s Channel One (next to me) interviewed her talking at length with them.
I love Bonnie Tyler. I listened to her when I was a kid. But her voice in the line – it’s gone from gravelly to hoarse. A very talented artist with a great body of work and she’s going to end it with this train wreck. And why oh why does the UK continue to inflict us with artists so far past their prime? It’s like the country has this desperate need to totally suck at this. But in doing so they bring ridicule upon a stellar artist. (Next year from the U.K. – Paul McCartney does Heavy Metal.)
And somehow I missed seeing Zlata Ognevich!!! I think she is an amazing artist (here’s another fantastic song she’s done) and that was the one artist I really wanted to see up close. And I missed her when she walked by – AARGH.
I’ve never been to a red carpet event before. This one was really fun seeing the artists take the time to talk with everyone. And really cool to be there right on the edge of the carpet. I also now understand why they have barriers holding the press back and security ever 10 feet.
After that they bussed us press over to the EuroClub, fed us and got us liquored up. I talked to a number of very nice people there. Australia has a significant press contingent there and they broadcast interviews, the shows, etc. It’s avidly followed there. I also met reporters from a number of European news media. All very very nice people
In several discussions I mentioned that Pastora Soler was my other favorite last year. And every single one said that she was robbed. That she absolutely should have been in 2nd place. A few said that Spain gets no respect in the voting (which most years is understandable). It was nice to hear I’m not the only one who thinks this was wrong.
A number of the artists showed up after a bit. I think they had their picture taken with literally thousands of fans, one after another. I’m guessing they enjoyed that attention as otherwise that would have been incredibly painful repeating ad-naseum.
Moran did the picture thing and then her group was up front dancing. She clearly was having a blast.
Eyþór Ingi Gunnlaugsson was there and I think he pays more attention to his hair than my eldest daughter does. And trust me, that’s a lot of attention.
The party was mostly very crowded, very loud, and playing disco versions of recent ESC songs. So a lot of fun but not a whole lot to write about.
And now they are preparing for the 1st semi-final. The practice is over. The fun parts are over. It’s now getting psyched up to deliver the most amazing performance of your life. And you have to nail it. Best of luck to all the artists and remember getting to this point is an amazing accomplishment – treasure that.
And to anyone wondering if you should watch – YES! Last year was arguably the best ESC ever. I think this year could well surpass it. Tuesday, Thursday, & Saturday will show why Eurovision remains by far the most amazing musical contest in the world.
Photo: Simon Storvik-Green (EBU)