Semi-final two: 1st Dress rehearsal live coverage

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Hello from a very tired Liam Whelan with a not so tired John Hodgkiss in Baku.

The first dress rehearsal for the second semi-final of Eurovision Song Contest 2012 is about to begin. I just got out of the EBU press conference. I will tell you about that later so do stay tuned. Then we are off to the OGAE UK party and then I need my bed. One hour sleep last night after an amazing first semi-final and afterparty.

1800 local time and we’ve started on the dot! The opening sequence is the same as last night. Did you enjoy the show by the way? Do post me some comments. I like to read them.

The presenters are not in costume and welcoming in the usual way.

Serbia’s postcard. Land of Horsemen. Horses, horse riding in the desert. And again we see a shot of the arena by day but I assume on Thursday you will see it by night with Serbian flag.

01 Serbia / Željko Joksimović /Nije Ljubav Stvar

Great performance. Huge reception here. Looks and sounds great.

City of Culture the theme for Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Monuments and musicians in national costume. I am not commenting every time on the day view of the arena as we know now this will be replaced.

02 Former Yugoslav Republic Macedonia / Kaliopi / Crno I Belo

Flawless performance.

I missed the text of this postcard as John has been pulled away to take part in a Eurovision Song Contest quiz! I am jealous! But the theme is modern architecture of Baku.

03 The Netherlands / Joan Franka / You And Me

Joan sounded a little flat or hoarse. Maybe she is just holding back.

More architecture but this time all old. Oh and as you saw last night the next performer is shown before the postcard each time.

04 Malta / Kurt Calleja / This Is The Night

Kurt seemed to hold back until the end.

Azerbaijan Land of Green the next postcard theme. Open spaces, nature and animals. A gazelle!

05 Belarus / Litesound / We Are The Heroes

Oh no. A false start for Belarus. One line in and it looks like the backing track faded out. And we’re off again seconds later. Oh no the backing track did not even make it past a few bars that time. Third time lucky and it sounded lovely.

Recap of numbers now from both female presenters.

Now a video of the presenters giving roses to everyone working back stage in ninety seconds.

Portugal. New City is the theme. More amazing architecture and I see one of the Eurovision black cabs that are bringing us everywhere!

06 Portugal / Filipa Sousa / Vida Minha

A great performance except for the last night was a bit shaky. This has received the biggest reaction so far. There’s a lot of food in this postcard. I missed the title but it is obvious. Azerbaijani tomatoes are too delicious for words by the way. John is back. He didn’t win the quiz. Shame on him.

07 Ukraine / Gaitana / Be My Guest

The website crashed again due to too many visitors so I have lost my next few postcard notes. Ukraine sounded great and it seems as though the light up man is missing!

08 Bulgaria / Sofi Marinova / Love Unlimited

Off tune to start with but made up for it.

09 Slovenia / Eva Boto / Verjamem

Flawless until the last note a bit shaky.

10 Croatia / Nina Badrić / Nebo

Great vocals from Croatia. Movement is the theme. Buildings filmed at interesting angles before we see the underground, walking, motorways…

11 Sweden / Loreen / Euphoria

Loreen is still wearing the tassles that Swedish public complained about. Dancing and vocals great. Before and after the reaction from the crowd is huge.

Land Power. Wrestling and other sports displaying strength.

12 Georgia / Anri Jokhadze / I’m A Joker

Slight delay in backing track. Great performance. Now, the next postcard should have been for Georgia perhaps as there is a lot of tea and I remember receiving Georgian tea last year! OK a slight delay now; we were looking at the arena for quite some time and then a delay with the backing track.

13 Turkey / Can Bonomo / Love Me Back

Great perfprmance, big reaction.

City of Light now. Baku by night. Great shots of buildings and aerial views.

14 Estonia / Ott Lepland / Kuula


Now a random shot of the greenroom. And we’re waiting. Tanel Padar interviewed in the greenroom. Now Can Bonomo.

Baku City of Culture for Slovakia.

15 Slovakia / Max Jason Mai / Don’t Close Your Eyes

Great performance. I am doing it again, sorry. But if there’s nothing to report then I just say “Great performance”!

Lots of dancing and night views in Norway’s postcard.

16 Norway / Tooji /Stay

Sleek as ever.

This postcard is stunning, stained glass and patterened fabrics and amazing lighting.

17 Bosnia & Herzegovina / Maya Sar / Korake Ti Znam

Very lovely performance.

City of Drive!

18 Lithuania / Donny Montell / Love Is Blind

No surprised from Lithuania and a great performance.

A recap of the numbers and voting opens. Now an overview of performances. Now a reminder of the DVD and CD followed by the ‘super postcard’.

“Blah blah blah blah” to quote our presenters and another reminder of songs.

10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1… Europe stop voting now!

Past winners mixed with Azeri instruments. They make a great sound together. This is special.

OK so what can I tell you about the EBU press conference? Jon Ola Sand opened. May 14, 16 and 18 are the preliminary dates for next year’s contest, preliminary because this needs to be confirmed with the host broadcaster. However it does not conflict with any major sporting events and gives the contest the best chance of viewing figures. No major difficulties last night. Romania had some problems with in-ear sound and efforts will be made to make sure this does not happen to an artist again. There was a diverse result between the jury and televote. The jury votes were received early Tuesday morning. Eight qualifiers the jury and televote agreed on, then one act qualified with thanks to strong support from the juries and one with thanks to televote. As we previously reported Albania did not air the semi-final live due to the accident.

I need to leave for the OGAE UK party so I will hold onto my notes from the press conference and write more later tonight or tomorrow.