Today I’m guest on Andrew Gillman’s iconic pop-culture blog http://www.sparklyprettybriiiight.com with something completely different. Some of you may want to cover your eyes and ears, while others are advised to go over to Andrew’s blog and read the full article.
In recent years The Eurovision Song Contest has staged a series of parties at select cities throughout Europe to build up excitement and momentum ahead of the event itself and to extend the Eurovision season a little bit further than one stellar week in May. This year, parties were held in Moscow, Riga, Tel Aviv and Amsterdam and London, where is where this week’s enormously talented guest blogger saw a whole host of Eurovision artists old and new performing their memorable songs. Take it away VIP guestChristoph Fischer …
Thanks for having me on your blog. I’ve got big shoes to fill here, but I’ll try to make it as entertaining as possible.
It’s fantastic to see how Eurovision strives to become an ever more global and interactive event. Gone are the days of a small selected audience in a minor theatre hall. I have been to Eurovision once (in 2013) and began to realise how many side-events, parties and shows are being organised around it – many long before the contest even starts.
So this year I decided to join the pre-hype for Eurovision and attend one of the five huge parties that invite the 2016 participants to perform live on stage. Moscow, Riga, Tel Aviv and Amsterdam had already held their parties and this was the last one before the delegates head for the actual contest in Stockholm. It was a good excuse to go to the vibrant city that is London and it’s always such an odd feeling for me to find large groups of hard-core ESC fans, a rather specialised music market. Trust me, in rural Wales, where I live, the appreciation and enthusiasm for it is slim.
I splashed out for a VIP ticket, tempted by the exclusivity the name implied, and eager to get a shot at the promised “meet-and-greet photo opportunities” with the ‘stars’. Laziness was the other factor – I wanted to get a seat since the doors opened at 5 pm and closed at 2am… I’m old.
As a VIP I joined a very short queue for the early entrance option, got my gift bag and VIP pass before entering the venue. Nicki French, UK representative of 2000 (and a one-time dance and drinking partner of mine – there’s another long story) greeted everyone together with Joe and Jake – the UK act for this year. Professional photographers took pictures of all VIPs posing with those three. I have to hand it to those guys – they did a great job. The welcome was warm and fun and there was time to chat briefly and wish them well. A promising start. The Cafe De Paris has an oval shape with a VIP gallery overlooking the stage and the dance floor. I positioned myself advantageously on the balcony near the stage.
As the hall filled the DJ played an eclectic mix of classic and odd Eurovision hits: Winners, high-pointed second places and nil-pointers all got these hard core fans going. You could tell it was going to be a great night with so much enthusiasm and good will to have a good time around.
First up was Ireland – a song I hadn’t rated so highly but Nicky Byrne delivered a convincing performance that swayed me. He sang first because he had to head off to Heathrow to catch a flight but he stayed focused and calm throughout. He also came across as extremely likeable – patiently posing for selfies on his way in and keeping a humble attitude in the chats – a far cry from the big-headed pomp that sank Engelbert’s PR campaign. It was mentioned that Nick started his phenomenal Westlife career in the very Cafe De Paris in 1998, the perfect place to launch his solo career.
Kaliopi from Macedonia is a Eurovision veteran and she owned the stage. The audience loved her before she even grabbed the microphone. She’s got a phenomenal voice and a charismatic bubbly personality – it’s hard to dismiss her, despite the somewhat weak song in my opinion. Macedonia will do well in the semi’s at least.
Poli Genova from Bulgaria was another huge surprise for me. I remembered her in ESC 2011 – almost helpless, squeezed in a unlikely designer frock which was in sharp contrast to her leather rock attire and punk hair cut from the preview video. I hadn’t rated her new song in my many YouTube marathons of 2016 songs but after a few minutes of her on stage I was as much in love with her as the rest of the audience. Nobody could escape her upbeat personality – or the catchy chorus as sung by the entire audience. It has huge potential to make that all important instant impact.
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