Isaiah The Messiah

Apr 30, 2017 by

Isaiah The Messiah

Day 1 of rehearsals. For Eurovision traders a day as long awaited as the first day of Royal Ascot is among Flat racing aficionados.

The first half of semi 1 sees Sweden up first. We are all familiar with this and know Robin has got the green light to start the routine back stage. An unfair advantage? At least from slot 1 it will feel an appropriate way to start this semi.

It’s a virtual carbon copy of the MF performance and looking polished and semi-final night ready already. His dance troupe lend vocal support but in the parts where he is unassisted Robin’s vocal sounds uneven. To me, it comes across like the intro to a Hugo Boss Spring collection fashion show and a little too slick for its own good, to the point of being cold and clinical.

Georgia’s Tamara Gachechiladze is sporting a red cape she throws off early. Red and black visuals like the opening to a Bond film and expressive armography by Tamara. Dry ice also so it looks like she is singing standing on a cloud. Towards the end pyro bursts circle her and she also has a comet shower of white lights behind her. Alone on stage and vocally fine, with her backing singers hidden. If Sacha JB has had a hand in this, she has stuck rigidly to staging staples here.

Albania’s Lindita has swapped places with Isaiah during rehearsals. This is visually more interesting than Georgia. The close-up swirly camera is used in parts effectively, Lindita staring down the camera lens while belting this out. And you sense she is reining it in here. She freestyles in parts too.

A clockface or sundial type image on the stage floor, shown from above, and this clockface appears behind towards the end as part of the imagery along with sailing ships and the globe (‘World’), with 4 backing vocalists centrally located standing behind Lindita.

Isaiah the messiah is the theme here. A few messianic poses which would have Jarvis Cocker invading the stage and wafting his backside. Vocal fine aided by backing vocalists in parts. It looks and feels far too self-absorbed though with lots of images of Isaiah dancing around him throughout.

He is mounted on a circular disc he walks around at one point. A raised arm to his forehead. He is trying to come across as cool and introspective but it verges more towards him looking conceited and pretentious with the preponderance of Isaiah images used. A huge amount of pyros at song end after the big key change. Song essentially still plods along.

Blanche for Belgium is alone on the stage which seems a wise choice. She is using some armography which is an improvement on her static pre-Contest efforts. She emotes well further into the song looking almost tearful as the camera swirls around her and she sings, ‘Are we going to lose it all?’

She still needs to find the camera more, and be more relaxed in some of her arm movements but this is an improvement on the pre-Contest Blanche performances.

Montenegro’s Slavko has caused loud applause in the press centre but it’s applause for 3 minutes of the worst possible taste at Eurovision. He twirls his ponytail around like a lasso, prancing and posing throughout. Vocal not the best even with support. A high pitched ‘rocket to the stars’ is the cherry on a tasteless, OTT cabaret cake. This may have its fans but you wouldn’t find one sitting here.

Norma John from Finland brings a semblance of calm and class after Montenegro. Nice lighting on vocalist Leena’s face at song start. Same dress as the Finnish final. Lovely black and blue swirling colours surround them. Simple and effective. I visited Ely Cathedral recently and walked to the top to take in the view. This feels like a sonic cathedral of a song though some might find it too solemn and fail to appreciate the beauty.

Leena could do with opening her eyes more performing this and the colour scheme changes to red and black in the last minute which feels discordant and makes it look more like Hades up there. Message to Finnish delegation: stick with the black and blue throughout.

Drum roll… Dihaj for Azerbaijan… and this is completely out there and for that reason my personal favourite of the day. This is certainly ‘conceptual’ and could be part of a Tate Modern exhibition. Among highlights, a man wearing a horse’s head, which reminds me of Donnie Darko, stands on the top of the ladder and Dihaj scribbles manically on a blackboard. We are entering her strange mindscape here and this is like a Salvador Dali painting in audio-visual form.

It needs a lot of work with camera angles as they are inside a box at song start but we can see outside the box which kills the illusion before the box opens up and they emerge to the wider stage. It is a compelling 3 minutes.

If Belgium’s Loic left people baffled during 1st rehearsal a couple of years ago, including me, this stretches credulity much more. Dihaj’s hair is slicked back and silvery looking more like the official video – a much better look for her compared to the short bob she sported in Amsterdam.

Salvador’s sister Luisa, who wrote ‘Amar Pelos Dois’, enjoys her moment in the spotlight for Portugal. Backdrop very simple, like an enchanted forest. Similar close ups utilised like the Portuguese NF. She sings it well enough but this performance tells us that it is Salvador who sprinkles fairy dust over this song.

That’s it for day 1. Tim B will offer his thoughts on first rehearsals of the 9 countries in the second half of semi 1 tomorrow.


  1. Nice review :-). The horsehead from Azerbaijan also reminds me a lot of some Goldfrapp performances I’ve been. Yes, on first sight it looks a bit ridiculous, but it does fit the indie/electro feel of the Azeri entry.

    To early to talk in terms of highlights here, but it does seem that Finland could be the package that, together with Portugal, will emote best with jury’s and televoters alike?

  2. Montell

    Thanks for the overview of the rehearsals, Rob. Unrelated question. Is it difficult to come up with the fancy article names? 😀

    • Rob

      Thanks Montell. My other life is as a freelance journalist & at least part of that career has involved work as a sub-editor – which includes having to come up with headlines for articles.

      My first thought was he almost looks messianic up there – it then popped into my head. When Tim writes the reports it will be tougher as it is the end of the day & I’ll need to come up with something quite quickly but it’s always an enjoyable challenge 🙂

  3. Shaun

    Hi Rob

    Quick question about laying a bet. For example if Romania is 75-1 not to win Eurovision on betfair, it says for £10 I either win £750 or lose £740. It just seems like giveaway money as long as I put the £740 into my account, which I take it is the maximum I would lose if they were to win. Your clarification would be appreciated.

    • Rob

      Hi Shaun,

      The beauty of the Betfair exchange is, you can act as the bookmaker by laying. So, yes, if you lay Romania at 75, that equates to 74-1. You lay £10 (on the right side, the pink figure shown) and you have to cover the potential loss of £740 if Romania wins, so you will need a bank of £740 to cover this.

      If you managed to lay a number of countries below 75, you would reduce your Romania exposure. This is how Betfair traders build a book on the event. Hope that helps 🙂

      • Shaun

        Thanks for clarifying that Rob. If I bet on countries with even higher odds to lay which I think have no chance of winning, so going up above 75-1 etc(so building a book?) it just seems like give away money. At the end of the day, I have to put in any money into my account before I bet, so if in the unlikely event,they were to win, there would be no more money to pay? It just seems much easier than trying to find the winner.

        • Shaun

          As I haven’t laid much before, can I just confirm if Romania don’t win on the 75-1 I would get my £740 back plus £750 profit.

          • Rob

            Hi Shaun. The aim for the wise trader is Back at high odds, then Lay at low odds. If you do this across many nations you can end up with an all-green book – in profit on every outcome.

            We have 42 countries competing this year. 41 of them will lose which means 41 opportunities to successfully lay. The layer is really in a position of strength.

          • Rob

            If you layed £10 at 75, you need a bank of £740 to cover the potential loss. If it loses, you will collect back £750, so a £10 profit on that particular trade.

          • Shaun

            Thanks for clarifying that Rob. Traditional bookmakers probably best for my stakes then.

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