My my, how time flies! Seems like only a month ago we were in Amsterdam for the 2011 edition of Eurovision In Concert and suddenly there’s the 2012 edition. And as if the guest list from the previous editions weren’t impressive enough the Dutch team that organises the event had managed to round up 23 countries this time: quite the achievement! Here’s a first impression of the day and a quick review on the performances at night…
This is the third time I got the opportunity to go and interview the artists during the day for www.eurosong.be & Belgian digital television channel Ment TV – I was there two years ago in Zaandam and last year in Volendam and the set-up is getting better every year. The afternoon especially provided enough time and space for interviews with different artists, of which you’ll get to see and hear more in the next couple of days… Thanks anyway to René Romkes and his team, it’s a lovely opportunity for all parties involved.
A lot of artists equals making choices so naturally we didn’t get to talk to all of the countries present. I’ll do a quick run-through of all the performances at the event itself at night, together with some thoughts on the artist involved based on our experiences throughout the day. The interviews are being edited as we speak and will appear online in the following days.
The venue itself was genius, even though the sound was far from ideal up on the balcony – especially with a couple of screaming Jedward fans taunting the human capacity to scream (my ears are still recovering…). Couldn’t hear Cornald Maas & Ruth Jacott at all so I haven’t got anything sensible to say about them except: yay, Vrede! On to the 2012 artists then:
- Moldova: He’ll be in Belgium next week so I didn’t need to talk to him. He seemed very laidback throughout the day and it shone through in his performance which was very relaxed and outgoing. If he avoids the overly busy choreo from the national final and keeps it simple I can see this qualify.
- France: Wasn’t available during the day (at least not that we knew of – which is a shame because I had her on my shortlist of people to talk to). I don’t know whether her vocals were completely live, still can’t judge this properly I feel. She’s clearly an experienced lady though, grabbing the mic full of confidence while pulling the crowd into that bit of chaos that is her song.
- Portugal: I carefully ignored this one during the day I have to admit, I think her song is rubbish and didn’t feel like confessing that (I wear my heart on my sleeve you know). Filipa seems a competent enough performer though and was very at ease… but that song! Urgh!
- Azerbaijan: She’ll be in Belgium this week as well so we decided not to try and talk to her as there were so many others there. We talked to a couple of guys from her team (and the Head Of Delegation) and they seemed well organised and very friendly. For what it’s worth. I still smell the Safura effect all over this and if they keep the styling and she can keep belting I see this as a possible contender actually.
- Malta: Was busy all day giving interviews and he wasn’t that high on our priority list so nothing much to report. Same remark for his performance: pretty standard and a pretty standard song. He did the feet thing. I’m not all that impressed I have to say.
- Greece: She’ll be in Belgium next weekend so no interview here either. She’s a cute girl (which obviously was wasted on the reporters and crowd in Amsterdam) and she jiggles those hips and that hair as if she’s got spasms all over. Bouncy atmosphere but not entirely live so how can I judge this?
- Romania: In Belgium as well next weekend so no interview. The performance started off well with the drumming but lacked a bit of spice afterwards. No live vocals and the hand choreography is a bit ‘meih‘ – this has the potential to go big or fall flat on its Popo.
- FYR Macedonia: Though I had to call it Macedonia when we started the interview – silly un-political me… Complained about her English but got stuck in monologues if you didn’t interrupt her. Lovely woman really, oozing experience and a doll to talk to. Her experience shone through in her performance and The Shriek is even more impressive live than I’d hoped. Go Macedonia!
- Latvia: As the song is tongue-in-cheek and the video as well I tried to spice up my questions a bit – she wasn’t very receptive as she hadn’t slept in 36 hours. It showed in her performance which was a bit lacklustre. I suppose we can’t judge this by what it was in Amsterdam.
- Albania: I wasn’t a fan of the song at all (as you perhaps have read in my (p)review) so I didn’t feel the urge to talk to her but opportunity knocked and we grabbed it – and I don’t regret it for a second. What a lovely woman to talk to! She’s very self conscious about her ànd the song, talked a lot about how singing is conveying emotions and being ‘in that place’ and I have to say our little conversation has put a new light on the song for me. I can now see it for what it really is: a little gem really. So I take back what I said (better cherish this moment): this could very well do better than I suspected. And she can pull it off live.
- Finland: My favourite song this year but it’s by a fairly new artist so I knew an interview would not go super smooth – and it didn’t. Perhaps it was too early in the morning for her. Her performance was comparable to the national final but I loved her bright green outfit which contrasted well with her red hair (down, inner Tim Gunn, down!). I am getting fearful about her qualifying chances though… Afraid Albania might kick this one out.
- Bulgaria: The Nightingale didn’t speak one word of English (except for the obvious ‘nice to meet you’ and ‘thank you bye bye’) which explains her very poor “I love you so match” in her song. She came across lovely though. Same story on stage actually and I still think the power of her vocal abilities will convince more people than the fans might expect.
- Spain: Not available during the day (for most of us, though I know a couple of lucky bastards who got to talk to her) and her performance was comparable to what we saw in the NF. She’s a belter alright and even though it got the crowd along I still think it’s a dull piece of cheese.
- Ireland: The Jedwards really were the stars of the day, tagging along a bodyguard and a troop of fans screaming at every possibility they got. No chance for a decent interview of course but I got a glimpse of their ADD style when they had an improvised press conference moment. Their energy is their big plus, their song is still very weak to me. Performance was a copy-paste of the NF, nothing new to report here.
- Lithuania: This one passes me by completely. Didn’t recognize him during the day, didn’t stand out at night. Next.
- Austria: In my top 5 of countries I wanted to talk to and I managed in the nick of time. Great guys, no nonsense and a good sense of humour and what is happening in music right now. And that Asian looking guy with the mohawk is HOT. He can woki his Popo at me anytime. Great performance, will have no trouble to reach top ten in the final.
- Netherlands: One of the first ones I talked to and it was a cosy conversation, she’s very down to earth and a lovely girl basically. Nothing new to report on the performance, still cute as a button.
- Hungary: Seemed to feel a bit out of place during the day, which I expect they were as they got this whole “we’re a real band” attitude going on. It works for them but I fear it doesn’t work in Eurovision. I’m hopelessly in love with the song but I fear this just will not translate at all.
- Slovenia: Another one I wasn’t too keen on before but I’m starting to get the attraction and this might turn out to be my favourite Balkan Ballad this year. Eva Boto is young but was a fun girl to talk to, she impressed me with the respect she showed for the composer of her song. A nice surprise.
- Belgium: We waited until the afternoon to talk to Iris because we wanted to ask her how she was coping with the international attention but she was unavailable in the afternoon so no interview – sad face. I felt her onstage performance was a big improvement to what we saw in our NF, good interaction with the crowd which makes me more confident when it comes to her nerves. Just a bit more practice on those high notes and we might be in with a shot I feel.
- Switzerland: They’ll be visiting Belgium as well so no need for an interview. On stage they were their young selves, very dynamic and bouncy. I’m not convinced by the repetition of it all and I see this pulling an Andorra 2007 to be honest.
- Turkey: Can Bonomo is a weird little guy but a treat to talk to. Very cool and open, a nice surprise. I still think he’s coming across like a bit of a freak when he does his twitchy thing on stage though. And still can’t see it doing very well.
- San Marino: Doesn’t speak an awful lot of English but had a sympathetic manager to help her out, bless. Seems to really like her own song, bless. And that performance had ‘middle school open talent showcase’ written all over it. Loved the glittery heels though.
A fun day in Amsterdam basically but whether it’s a good barometer for Baku remains to be seen. Pleasantly surprised by Albania & Slovenia (and partly Turkey), a bit disappointed by Latvia & Finland (and partly Hungary). Stay tuned for some interviews! You can enjoy the recap of EIC below in the meantime: