Semi-final one: 1st & 2nd Dress rehearsal live coverage (Updated)

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Welcome to’s ninth day of live coverage from Baku, just one day before the first Eurovision Song Contest semi-final of 2012! Check out as we bring you live rehearsal action, as fast as possible! We hope you’ll stay up to date with us during the upcoming week!

[UPDATED] Hello again from Baku, 01:59 local time. I just got out of the second rehearsal of the first semi-final. The show started on time unlike the first rehearsal. We also got to see the opening sequence, which is a short video featuring mainly the Flame Towers. Our hosts were dressed as they will be tomorrow. From what I can tell the script remains the same. San Marino was interviewed again in the green room but this time no mention of Ralph Siegel. Valentina did not understand the presenter and needed a translator. The postcards that were not included earlier were included this time. Land of abundance is the theme for the Montenegrin postcard. Open spaces and produce of Azerbaijan, mainly fruits are featured. Iceland’s theme is Land of poetry. Ice and ancient monuments and in contrast then views of Baku. Greece, I could not see the word after ‘Land of’ but Maiden Towers were shown and a folk theatre. The music for this postcard in particular was gorgeous. Latvia’s postcard features the theme of sport. This time we end with gorgeous night views of the arena and the country’s flag was displayed in lighting. The continuity issues have been fixed and there were no late starts for backing tracks. Any vocals I mentioned earlier as being weak or holding back were strong tonight. Russia and Romania got the biggest applause. And just for the record the ten qualifiers in order of announcement were Ireland, Iceland, Israel, Romania, Switzerland, Belgium, Cyprus, Greece, Albania and Austria, the latter remember coming from the infamous golden envelope. Good night from Baku!


Hello everybody! Liam Whelan with John Hodgkiss in the press centre. Thanks to the late start today we were able to get lunch elsewhere; finally some different food to what is served in the press centre. 17:50 local time. It is a beautiful 29°C here today. Every day now more and more people arrive at the press centre. It is really busy here – an amazing atmosphere. The first rehearsal of the first semi-final. This is really exciting! Thanks so much for joining us. Please add your comments below. We cannot wait to read your reactions.

18:22 and the show begins.

Montenegro open but we see a postcard for Albania!

01 | Montenegro – Rambo Amadeus – Euro Neuro
Rambo had issues with his guitar strap. I am not sure if this is on purpose. Great performance besides.
The Albanian postcard is shown again.

02 | Iceland – Gréta Salóme & Jónsi – Never Forget
Flawless performance.
Ah! There’s Anmary waving! We will see the performers before their postcards plat, just like last year.
The Albanian postcard again. Continuity fine.

03 | Greece – Eleftheria Eleftheriou – Aphrodisiac
Great performance until the end up Eleftheria almost fell when her dancers were putting her down.
The Albanian postcard is played again.

04 | Latvia – Anmary – Beautiful Song
Anmary is loved here.
Guess what? It’s the Albanian postcard again!

05 | Albania – Rona Nishliu – Suus
I think Rona is holding back on her vocals. After Albania we get a reminder of the numbers by one of the female presenters. I am sorry I do not know which one she is but I will after we meet them at press conference. A shot of the arena ends the postcard.
Now a video of the opening party is announced but we do not see it.
Quad bikes make the next postcard. I did not see if it actually Romania’s. Continuity fine again.

06 | Romania – Mandinga – Zaleilah
Great performance and a favourite here.
A toboggan ride way out in the mountains with lots of snow for Switzerland’s postcard. Again very tourist-like. Another shot of the arena ends this postcard.

07 | Switzerland – Sinplus – Unbreakable
One of my favourite songs of the contest but I found the vocals so flat and they are never like this. John meanwhile says they are sure to qualify!
Iris blows kisses.
Flame Towers and many other buildings feature in the Belgian postcard. Now newsroon, footage of Azeri selection show, Baku by night and a shot of the arena.

08 | Belgium – Iris – Would You?
Iris seemed a little nervous but performance still great.
Maiden’s Tower, Baku by day. Tea, boardgames… leisure is the theme… and of course we get to see the arena again!

09 | Finland – Pernilla Karlsson – När jag blundar
I think there was a wrong backing track played for Finland or maybe it was some noise while there was a (slight) delay.
Holy Land theme for Israel. Ancient places of worship. More modern now shown. And another shot of the arena.

10 | Israel – Izabo – Time
Great performance from Israel. I say “Great performance” a lot. I am sorry but not much has changed since rehearsals!
City of jazz is the theme now and as we looking at yet another view of the arena I must ask you have you checked ESCDaily out on Facebook yet?

11 | San Marino – Valentina Monetta – The Social Network Song
Valentina and team perform as well as in rehearsal.
Sport the theme for Cyprus. Man in lycra! Rowers. It is all very… Olympic. And a shot of the arena.

12 | Cyprus – Ivi Adamou – La La Love|
Cyprus sounds a little flat to me but had a huge, huge reaction here.
Culture is the theme now. Ballet and more traditional forms of dance. Shot of Baku at night. Finally again we see the arena… the arena ends every postcard! A different view each time but always a day shot. It is a shame really as we have seen some amazing views of it by night.

13 | Denmark – Soluna Samay – Should’ve Known Better
Great performance from Denmark.
I am sorry. I missed the Russian postcard as I am sorting a technical issue. I caught a glimpse of a castle before a view of the arena.

14 | Russia – Buranovskiye Babushki – Party for Everybody
Great performance for Russia. They really seem to have had fun.
Back to the female presenter and we are in the green room. Questions to San Marino, Ralph Siegel mentioned.
Tradition the theme for Hungary. Castle and music.

15 | Hungary – Compact Disco – Sound of Our Hearts
Traditional dance the theme for the Austrian postcard.

16 | Austria – Trackshittaz – Woki mit deim Popo
Land of friends the theme for Moldova. Scenes of parties.

17 | Moldova – Pasha Parfeny – Lăutar
They love Moldova in the press centre!
Ireland’s postcard is more dancing.

18 | Ireland – Jedward – Waterline
Go n-éirí an bóthar libh, Jedward! (That was me wishing the boys luck in Irish – my homeland!) Jedward are as confident and enegitic as ever. Vocals not too bad compared to what we have heard in rehearsals. The fountain is stunning and the boys standing under it at the end does get a reaction.

The lines are now open and we are told we cannot vote more than twenty times. We now see a recap of songs.

Now a tourist-style video again before some jokes by the presenters and another recap of voting.

The interval act is announced after voting is closed.

I am going for a coffee. Does anybody want anything?

OK so I did not see the interval act but it sure sounded amazing. The Big Five and Azerbaijan have just been announced and we are watching previews now.

They are opening the envelopes! I need to remind myself this is just a rehearsal.

Iceland! Ireland! Moldova! Montenegro! Russia! Cyprus! Hungary! Greece! Austria!

Did you count? Yes, that’s nine. Now I have heard rumours of this. The golden ticket is brought on stage. After some minutes of waiting we’re told it’s Latvia.

And the show is over. I hope you enjoyed. Please leave comments and if there is anything you would like to see more of let us know!