Final: 1st Dress rehearsal live coverage

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Hello from Liam Whelan and John Hodgkiss preparing for the first dress rehearsal of the Eurovision Song Contest final in Baku.

The first dress rehearsal for the final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2012 will begin at 17:30 local time, or 14:30 CET. To view the full schedule, click on the image below;

And we’ve started on time.

We see about thirty seconds of Flame Towers close up, fireworks and aerial views of the arena before going to the hall for traditional music for about a minute and now more modern dancing, male dancers in light up jackets. Some of the dancers are taken into the sky and when they come back down female dancers are on stage dancing again to more traditional music. Now drums. Now more dancing. I promise it looks better than I am describing it! 1735 and now we are hearing Running Scared. Very pink backdrop and more dancing in the sky. Ell and Nikki are on stage and sing… not the full version it seems. The song was interrupted and then our view here in the press centre was interrupted!

While we’re waiting please check us out on Facebook and add some comments for me to read!

Also while we are waiting we see a gorgeous slideshow of photographs. Some amazing shots have been taken this year by eurovision.tv so do have a look at them.

We’re back up and running. Russia got the loudest reaction from the press centre so far. I am sorry I missed the opening script and  United Kingdom postcard due to technical issues here. Everything else we have already seen.

Now Cyprus. Ivi is not dressed in her actual costume but the performance sounded and looked great.

City of Fine Cuisine is the postcard theme for France and there are lots of close ups of food.

Anggun and team seem to be dressed as they will be for the live shows.

Land of Carpets the postcard theme for Italy. Lots of close ups of carpets and the manufacture of.

More issues here. We can see but not hear and it is cutting in and out. I am really not sure I like Nina’s dress or headdress but she does sound wonderful.

It keeps on dropping in an out so accept my apologies for this. Great performance from Tooji who was not dressed in costume.

Garabagh and Muham the theme for Azeribaijan’s postcard. I like that this was chosen because of the Muham featured in the song. Sabina is in costume and sounds great.

Romania not dressed in costume.

Loreen is sounding great. We have another break after her, obviously to clean up the snow. A quick hello to Lys Assia and Turkey is introduced.

Did you see my Facebook update last night on my and Escdaily’s wall? I had seats behind the stage. A really fascinating experience! Ausben Jordan hides inside the box before joining Loreen!

Turkey in costume and sounding great.

The landlocked exclave of Nakhchivan is the theme for Spain’s postcard.

Pastora sounds great and the reaction here is huge.

Energy is the theme for the German postcard and Roman gets another big reaction.

Side by side, Malta and FYROM. We have waited so long to see you again in a contest final. Very exciting indeed. Great performances.

Ireland. Jedward look exactly the same as in national final. There were mentions of change of costume and the hair going back up. So far no changes.

Because of the difficulties experiences today I will post an update after the jury final, which I am attending.

We had lots of kisses and waves from performances as they waited to go on stage last night but Željko was by far most charming and he also greeted our small section behind the stage when he qualified. Today Željko  and team are not dressed as they were last night, just casual clothing. He is certainly not holding back on his vocals though.

More memories from last night as I see Gaitana waiting to take the stage. The screens are on wheels and the dancers were most energetic to those who could see them while they waited to join Gaitana. Perhaps the funnies was the guy second from left on screen. Gaitana and her dancers are also dressed in plain clothing this evening.

I really am enjoying the postcard music this year. Land of Friends, Moldova. Pasha  is enjoying every second of this. He and the dancers are also in plain clothes.

The presenters open the phone lines and we see a recap. No surprises there.

The same again. Spain is getting the biggest reaction in the press centre.

You are in for a treat with this interval act.

Eldar and Leyla are presenting the voting!

OK. Now I am off to dinner. I will post an update after the jury final. Keep the comments coming please everyone!

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Despite what I said earlier I am staying in the press centre as I want to see what the juries see.

The opening sequence I described already so I will comment on what I missed due to the technical issues.

A nice opening script thanking Germany… and despite there being only 42 countries Azerbaijan does get to say it is the biggest final since the introduction of the semi-finals! The ladies’ dresses are particular stunning. I love how they say in the welcome to Australia and New Zealand that the contest is closer to them than ever.

Land of art is the theme for United Kingdom. The last note was very poor.

Hungary nervous to start with, voice shaky. Made up for it during the performance.

Albania flawless but you know I am totally addicted to this.

Great performance from Lithuania.

Bosnia & Herzegovina great performance.

Russia comes across so, so well on screen and the crowd’s reaction is huge.

Iceland gives it a run for its money though. The song does nothing for me personally since it was translated but it does sound great from the arena and the applause is big.

Cyprus sure is a crowd pleaser and makes a nice contrast to Iceland.

Anggun flat at times but a great applause.

Italy has lost the headdress. The hair is much more Amy Winehouse. Not bad but the performance did not hit me. Nina creates a heart with her fingers at the end of the performance with a very bright smile.

Estonia hit me! And it is obvious he was pleased with a very good performance, beating his chest and smiling!

Norway so sleek and polished and vocals great.

A break before the host nation and a chat with United Kingdon. Engelbert is not in the green room so a member of delegation is interviewed instead.

I have fallen in love with this song during my time in Baku and it was a great performance. The crowd’s reaction was beautiful to witness.

Romania a nice contrast after Azerbaijan. Helena missed two words of one chorus. It did not come across so bad. Very big reaction in the hall.

Denmark has also given a strong performance. There’s nothing weak about this final! A very nice smile from Soluna to end the performance.

Sweden. The guy beside me thinks Loreen swallowed some snow. There was a slight gap in her vocals. But she recovered well.

A slight break and mention of Lys Assia and now Turkey.

The crowd go wild for a flawless performance.

Spain. Pastora gave it everything and the crowd love it.

Germany. Maybe a little bit of feedback from the microphone to start with but a great performance.

Malta brings so much energy. A fantastic performance.

FYROM. A complete contrast to Malta. Kaliopi is such a pro. Stunning and amazing voice and I am just so pleased she is in the final after missing out in 1996. The audience love her.

Ireland. Jedward’s hair is up! John kissed the camera before the postcard. The costumes are the same as earlier. By the way everyone exits stage to go to the green room now but Jedward are wheeled off on the waterfall prop, presumably as they would drip everywhere if not. They qualified for the final the other day in rehearsal and they were in the greenroom in matching robes!

Great performance from Serbia. No differences to earlier except now they are in costume of course.

Ukraine great vocals and dancing and again a great contrast to the previous song. What an amazing year we have.

Moldova. It is such a catchy performance. I can see why people say this is a dark horse.

The presenters are back, we are told the numbers, the lines open (No celebrity opening the phone lines by the way like happened from Kyiv onwards) and we get a recap.

More recap and lines closed.

This is my second time seeing the interval act and I still cannot wait to see it live in the arena.

Just like earlier the countries are being called alphabetically but the algorithm will be used like last year for the actual show.