London ESC 2014 Concert Review

Apr 14, 2014 by

London ESC 2014 Concert Review

A new venue for the London Eurovision Party in the form of the swanky if somewhat concert-goer unfriendly Cafe De Paris. Latvia got the night underway and it is always the toughest spot for an ESC act – 1st up performing to a cold and sober crowd. The coffin slot rule applied and Cake To Bake felt under-cooked and was eclipsed by the band’s acoustic versions of ‘Euphoria’, ‘Hard Rock Hallelujah’ and ‘Rockefeller Street’.

Valentina Monetta then made an appearance though from the back of the venue it was hard to make out her diminutive frame. Her live rendition of ‘Crisalide’ sounded good and left food for thought once more over whether ‘Maybe’ is maybe not as good.

Valentina departed without singing ‘Maybe’. This was a reminder of an Air gig attended many years ago and eagerly awaiting ‘All I Need’ only for the cheeky French japesters not to play it. This all made for a very underwhelming start to the concert.

Aram MP3 was afforded a far more generous welcome than had been the case in Amsterdam the previous week. There are no worries regarding Aram’s live vocal ability; the question that remains unanswered is just how well the epic nature of this song can be re-created on the stage in Copenhagen. Only rehearsals will tell us more.

It felt like Sebalter properly got the night started with a stirring cover of Avicii’s Wake Me Up followed by ‘Hunter Of Stars’. A buddy of mine hearing these songs for the first time said this was his favourite on the night so far.

Conchita came out to a hero’s welcome and did a medley of ‘That’s What I Am’ – which just missed out on ESC qualification in 2012, short-headed by Trackshittaz ‘Woki mit deim Popo’ – ‘Rise Like A Phoenix’ and an impromptu version of ‘My Heart Will Go On’. The London fans absolutely loved this section of the concert and Conchita can certainly do justice vocally to her ESC 2014 song.

After this, it looked like Stefanie Powers from Hart To Hart fame had made a special guest appearance. Hoping Max and Freeway might also appear – though, on reflection, it was asking a lot as that would have had to have been from beyond the grave – this turned out to be Linda Martin who poked fun at her Eurosong bust up which is still fun to watch. ‘You are an odious little man… you gobshite.’

Montenegro’s Sergej can certainly hold a note and ‘Moj svijet’ was performed well if somewhat lost on the crowd. Suzy from Portugal followed and this was a reminder of what a fantastic ballad ‘Quedate conmigo’ is as she powered out Pastora Soler’s song from 2012.

‘Quero ser tua’ is terrific fun after a couple of beers and Suzy sells it well. This song will be a real qualification conundrum in semi-final 1. Ukraine’s Mariya Yaremchuck, in a beautiful black dress, was next and ‘Tick Tock’ also went down well with the crowd. It’s undeniably catchy and it is going to be interesting to see how much it can be elevated by staging in Copenhagen.

Norway’s Carl Espen did a very good acoustic cover of Katy Perry’s ‘Roar’ followed by ‘Silent Storm’ a song which, much like Armenia and Montenegro, needs to be seen on stage in Copenhagen in full visual glory with accompanying instrumentation to get a better idea of its likely fate.

Ruth Lorenzo was another artist adored by the Cafe De Paris crowd. She sang ‘Nessun Dorma’ with the assistance of a loud backing track. This was loved by the fans as was ‘Dancing In The Rain’ and ‘Purple Rain’ remembered from her X Factor appearance.

It is a strange experience to stand and listen to/watch songs performed that do not impress you personally at all only for everyone around you to be going wild and clapping like demented seals. It seems to be the cabaret feel of certain Eurovision songs and diva-esque performances that is especially loved by the fanboys, and Ruth ticked all those boxes on the night. Granted hometown status despite representing Spain also ensured a very warm reception for Ruth in London.

Molly also received much fanfare singing ‘Children Of The Universe’. There seemed to be more live vocal here than was heard in Amsterdam. There is still something about the song that is rather discordant and it only hits its stride when the chorus kicks in.

At some point here Valentina turned up on stage again and performed ‘Maybe’ and it had more impact than in Amsterdam. Greece’s Freaky Fortune featuring RiskyKidd went down a storm performing ‘Rise Up’. Of course, it was late into the evening at this stage and the crowd was suitably plied with alcohol.

If only the alcohol was free. At £10 for two small glasses of lager, the bar staff should have been wearing robbers’ costumes. And this is where the report must sadly end. Polite suggestion to the organisers of the London Eurovision Party: there are many who attend the concert who live outside London and need to catch a train home on a Sunday evening, so it is not a great idea to have the last 2 acts coming on stage after 11.30pm.

The last train was caught just in time whereas Malta and Romania were missed. Overall, the question remains whether the likes of Conchita and Ruth are loved more within the fanboy bubble. The uptempo/clap-a-long tunes and diva-esque performances are inevitably the shining lights during these live concert experiences whereas the subtler ballads generally fall flatter.

It remains a perplexing year and while the price drifts, it would be unwise to be writing the obituaries just yet for Armenia based on Amsterdam and London. Next stop: Copenhagen, where rehearsals will get underway a fortnight today. It is perhaps going to be a more telling day 1 of rehearsals than ever before.

A good place to check out all of last night’s live performances is here.

14 Comments

  1. Rob

    An array of new ESC markets available on BF including many h2hs, Top Balkan, Top Big 5, Top East Europe, Top West Europe, Top Nordic & a winner w/o Armenia market.

  2. My thoughts from london.
    Right lets get the negatives out of the the way first, the drink prices were robbery 2 disaronno and cokes for 25 pound not being a tight ass here but im kind of glad in a way i didnt offer to buy a round :), secondly the venue was very difficult viewing for anyone who were not tall, i was ok in this aspect but for my gf or anyone on the shorter side it was a nightmare trying to catch glimpses of the acts through peoples heads and shoulders.

    So we kick off with latvia my first thoughts were very average vocal here and to be honest after hearing the rest probably the worst of the night vocally, its hard to see how jurys can give this any love being a kind of silly song anyway.

    Next was valentina who performed her previous 2 entrys before coming back later in the night and performing maybe, i said this last year and ill say it again valentina is actually a good live vocalist she delivered all her songs well,but whether that will help her in her semi this year we shall see.

    Armenia no booing this time for aram and i thought he looked slightly more relaxed and happier on stage then the videos from amsterdam, i had a real goosebump moment when the dubstep part kicked in on not allone this sounds fantastic live and the beat gives you shivers,

    Seabalter from switzerland came on and delivered with the same sort of charisma delivered in amsterdam, very likeable and id say they are performing it to its full potential.

    Conchita started on the balcony and and made her way down the stairs with a real diva swagger, performing 3 songs including rise like a phoenix and my heart will go on, good charisma from conchita and the eurofans in london were lapping this up,

    Montenegro’s sergej came out looking like a cross between a school teacher and russ abbot
    His delivery was fine but he is very much lacking in charisma and being very telegenic at all,

    Suzy from portugal sounds a lot better then i expected from her doing justice to quedate conmigo, before performing her own song which had most of the crowd dancing along she went down pretty well with the audience.

    Ukraine: i was really looking forward to this after loving the amsterdam performance, but this time maria was alone without the choreography which loses some of the impact, nothing wrong with her performance though and the girl has got pipes, maybe i was just expecting more of a show from her.

    Carl espen was pretty much carl espen, i always feel uncomfortable watching him as he sounds like he could crack at any time during the higher falsetto parts but doesnt,sounds much more comfortable when powering the song out more, he didnt make a massive impact on me live, but i still respect his chances.

    Ruth showcased her vocals at every oppurtunity first with nessen dorma and then dancing in the rain probably some of the strongest vocals of the night here, ruth is seriously putting her heart and soul into eurovision this year and is giving 110 per cent, great reception for her from the english crowd.

    Uk. Ive never been the biggest fan of this entry, but like armenia its one that sounds really good when hearing it live, she worked the crowd at every oppurtunity and obviously this got a fantastic reception from the home crowd.

    Malta gave a pretty good performance, good authentic feel from this. the female vocalist is very talented also, they give you the feel of a proper band.

    Last up romania who performed playing with fire, whilst spraying flames into the air and followed up with miracle, both songs had everybody up and dancing,but paula was struggling a bit with the high notes.

    All in all i had a good time, nice to meet up with the other guys from the betting community and we certainly got our moneys worth as far as the acts were concerned.

    • Rob

      Great write up, Geoff, & thanks for taking the time to post your thoughts. I especially liked ‘like a cross between a school teacher and Russ Abbot’ 🙂

  3. Haha 🙂 did you find yourself a nice spot in the end i didnt see you again afterwards?
    I feel a lot more clued up with certain acts after the show.

    • Rob

      Far from ideal, Geoff, and a bit hemmed in on the balcony but certainly a better view than initially when at the back at stage level.

      • Yeah i prefer the shadowlounge as a venue, much better viewing and i kind of liked the way we had the acts so close in with us.
        Cafe de paris the stage was pretty much floor level so it made it difficult viewing

  4. Gert

    “The uptempo/clap-a-long tunes and diva-esque performances are inevitably the shining lights during these live concert experiences whereas the subtler ballads generally fall flatter.”

    Indeed Rob. It is one of the reasons why I am a bit sceptical of using the reviews from these “fan concerts” as granted for my first ever bets in Eurovision :-).

    Eurovision is still, by far, a tv-show, with capitals “TV”. The televoters on the sofa and the juries in their national broadcaster’s studio’s don’t have that “diva bubble”.

    Moreover, looking at this year’s stage design, it is interesting to note that the fan audiences are being put on a rather big distance from the stage (which I prefer myself). Between the stage and the audience, DR decided to place the “green room sofas”. So, in essence, all countries are performing for their competitors (!!).

    I always try to see those (forbidden) rehearsal videos from the actual DR-camera’s. And if that’s not possible, then I try to envision how the actual camera shots might look like based on the movements of the cameramen and camera-cranes. That part is impossible to envision during those fan concerts.

    Actually, I even tend to believe that the artists start behaving differently becáuse of those overwhelmingly crazy fans.

    Therefore, I have a gut feeling that the ballads this year might actually look rather good on TV. We’ll see how it goes :-).

  5. Gert

    Here are the first detailed pictures of the “1988-esque” stage design:

    Picture when the LED-screens are being “hidden” by a huge wall of large bell-shaped spots:
    http://www.eurovoix.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/BkemXOnCQAAYxK_-578×280.jpg

    Picture when the wall of bell-shaped spots are retracted and where you can see the two large LED-walls, positioned in a huge corner. Here you can also see the “frontseat greenroom” better:
    http://esctodaygdd.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/2014-Stage-1.jpg

    The actual ground plan of the Copenhagen staging:
    http://escreporter.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Revised_plan_Eurovision_Island_updated.jpg

    • Boki

      I wonder how the camera work will look like. Will they try to avoid that “green room” space all the time during performance? It’s a little bit awkward to me.

      • Gert

        For me personally, the camerawork from Moscow 2009 was still the most exquisit one to date. The close-ups were truly wunderful. I recall the entries from Iceland and Estonia very well. The wunderful “zooming in” of Yohanna’s hand. Or the “fade away effect” from left to right for Estonia.

        These entries were truly helped by wunderful camera-work. I haven’t seen such exquisit directed camerawork ever since.

        For me personally, I prefer camerawork without the waving flags and “drunk heads” of fans. I think it’s very important to note that Eurovision is still a TV-show.

        Allthough I must say that in some occasions the audience can create some atmosphere as well. This was last year in Malmö. A rather unique use of the audience….especially with an entry like The Netherlands.

        Off course….it’s the broadcaster’s choice on what they want to stress out during their Eurovision show. Is it the incredible stage? Or will it be the artists?

    • Rob

      In 2011, it was noticeable how the really clever staging succeeded visually – thinking here of the likes of Jedward ‘Lipstick’, Moldova ‘So Lucky’. But in 2012, in Baku, the staging didn’t come through nearly as effectively on tv which made me think it had been a waste of time & energy writing about the minutaie of staging during rehearsals. I don’t think staging was as impactful last year in Malmo either.

  6. Tim B

    William Hill now have ‘To Qualify’ odds etc. I’d expect others to follow very soon now that the Easter break is over.

    • Rob

      Thanks Tim – let’s hope others do price up ESC markets sooner rather than later. I saw that WH had issued prices. They are no good to me but I’m not sure I can identify any value there anyway.

  7. Tim B

    Coral and Bet365 now have markets too.

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