Düsseldorf 2011: Semi-final Two 2nd Rehearsal

Good evening, and welcome back to the Esprit Arena for the second dress rehearsal of semi-final two! This rehearsal is significant, as the votes from the European juries will depend on tonight’s performances. As always, you can catch us on our live stream direct from the press centre for up-to-the-minute commentary!

Anke – dressed in a floor-length red gathered evening gown – is joined by Stefan and Judith, (who is dressed in a figure-hugging mustard-coloured gown, with a beaded bodice). In case anyone is in any doubt, the voting procedure is explained once again.

After a short burst of somewhat feeble-looking pyrotechnics (!), the first act to appear on-stage is Dino Merlin, representing Bosnia and Herzegovina. A definite toe-tapper, this will be a great opener to tomorrow’s semi-final. Another confident, assured performance from Dino and team which will only get stronger with the presence of an audience in the arena.

Austria’s Nadine Beiler is perched atop a huge Swarovski-encrusted jewel for the performance of her song. For the first time, (and as a lot of us had been suggesting for a while!), both Nadine and her backing vocalists are bathed in rollling smoke which only adds to the dramatic nature of the whole presentation. Starting off any performance acapella, as Nadine does, would be a daunting prospect for any singer – let alone one who is performing for such a huge audience, but Nadine carries it off impressively.

The 3Js, singing for The Netherlands, perform a ‘solid’, if a little unspectacular, rendition of their song this evening. The vocals have been stronger today and it does feel like they have finally settled in to the arena now. There is definitely some support for the Dutch entry from within the press centre – but then again, there do seem to be quite a few members of the Dutch media gathered in here!

We now move on to Belgium. While this type of thing might not be particularly well-suited to Eurovision, the vocals of Witloof Bay are, and have always been, consistently impressive. This song seems to have difficulty ‘finding its feet’ in the line-up.

The performance from Slovakia‘s TWiiNS is ‘pretty’. The girls are vocally competent and are very confident in interacting with the cameras, teasing the voters into giving them their votes! Use of a wind machine earlier in the performance would definitely give this performance more of an ‘edge’. There is quite a lot of repetition, lyrically, in this song, something which might have a negative impact when the votes come in.

Mika Newton, representing Ukraine, is somewhat upstaged by the sand art of Kseniia Simonova going on behind her. However, the vocals tonight are certainly competent and there are lots of close-up shots of Mika so we’re never too distracted. Kseniia has to work very fast to fit in all the images in just three minutes – apparently she practices for four hours every day as she is not used to working within such a restricted timescale, (and has to have a special theraputic massage afterwards!)

The Moldovan representatives provide an animated, upbeat and colourful performance. This song will no doubt stand out as a result, especially as it comes after some quite ‘dark’ presentations. While a lot of voters at home might not appreciate anything of what the song is about (!), they will certainly enjoy its quirky, energetic nature!

To answer the ‘big question’ surrounding the performance of Sweden’s Eric Saade – yes, the glass did smash this evening, (though yet again, it wasn’t exactly on cue!) The sound levels sounded a little unbalanced, with the backing track being a little too loud to enable us to hear Eric’s vocals clearly. Eric does look more relaxed and comfortable on-stage and any health problems he might have been suffering last week have been overcome.

The entry from Cyprus seems to have ‘grown’ on people this year, and tonight’s rehearsal received a generous round of applause here in the press centre. The staging for this song is very effective, with the ‘synchronised leaning’ working well on-screen.

Bulgaria’s Poli pulls off a great performance this evening. A few, minor, artistic changes have been made since this afternoon’s rehearsal; earlier on today, Poli wore a black leather jacket which she discarded, and wasn’t wearing the ‘attachment’ to her dress, which she tears off; this evening, however, it’s ‘business as usual’, and the performance has returned to what we are familiar with. Vocally, Poli is, and always has been, very strong – and tonight is no exception. This is another entry that has gone up in people’s estimation.

F.Y.R. Macedonia’s Vlatko certainly enjoys his performance this evening! This presentation is definitely strengthened by his ‘Michelin Man’ dancers, who provide a pleasant visual distraction. Reaction here in the press centre is a little muted, and the general feeling is that this song will struggle to proceed tomorrow evening.

On to Dana International, for Israel. Vocally, Dana is stronger than she has been in some of the previous rehearsals, though as with Eric Saade, it sounds like her backing track is a little too loud for her. We are on tenterhooks to see if she will be able to negotiate the steps down from the stage onto the catwalk, especially in the towering high heels! She seems to love it all, though, and blows a kiss to the camera at the end of her performance!

Slovenia’s Maja is another of the strong female vocalists from this semi-final. Her performance this evening is impressive, though a couple of lyrics are ‘dropped’ at one point. There have been a few comments regarding the choice of outfit for the Slovene singer, but it all looks very polished and she seems very pleased with the performance.

Hotel FM, from Romania, certainly know how to put on a good show, and the catchy rhythm of this song will definitely get the audience in the arena clapping along tomorrow night. They make use of the whole stage and the bright, bouncy nature of it all will definitely help when it comes round to the voting!

Getter Jaani has performed better renditions of ‘Rockefeller Street’ than she does tonight. There are a few moments when she seems to ‘shout’ rather than sing, and the whole thing is quite ‘breathy’. The Estonian entrant is perfectly capable of putting in some excellent performances – as she did this afternoon – so we can only assume this was a ‘one off’ – though, unfortunately for her, it is this performance that is being watched by the juries.

Anastasiya’s ‘I Love Belarus’, for – unsurprisingly – Belarus, has become this year’s ‘cult classic’. It does have a lot of fans here in the press centre! Another sincere performance tonight, and although Anastasiya is looking a little tired tonight, she belts out the song with a lot of enthusiasm!

Musiqq, for Latvia, seem to be able to create an effective intimacy with the camera which makes their performance very appealing. There are lots of smiles and grins, and it’s definitely a musically attractive entry. Tonight’s performance is strong and encouraging.

The boys of A Friend in London perform competently tonight, though it is certainlty not as strong as it has been in previous rehearsals. The Danish entrants, like quite a few of this year’s acts, seem to feel obliged to make use of the catwalk, which makes a return to the main stage look a little clumsy as the performers race to get back in time!

Finally, tonight, we have the performance from Ireland’s Jedward. It sounded as though the backing vocals have been ‘upped’ a little – the boys’ vocals are not as distinct this evening. Nomatter, really, where these two are concerned – their energy, ‘look’ and sheer presence are infectious, and this act makes a great closing number to semi-final 2.

Now that we’ve seen all the nineteen performances, we get a recap of all the songs, along with the voting numbers.