The second of today's debut countries to rehearse, Montenegro's Stephen Faddy took to the stage with his rocking crew today, performing Ajde kroci for the first time on the Hartwall stage.
Montenegro's stage setting is one of the most striking yet, with a denim-style, rust-coloured backdrop on top of which black embossed Montenegrin sword symbols sit. The whole effect is very gothic, and something like a huge tattoo on the stage, giving the presentation an edgy, dark rock flavour. The setting changes colour through the performance, alternating between reds and blues with thumbprint motifs cropping up at points as a set of white spots flash along with the music behind the artists.
Stephen, dressed for today's rehearsal casually in a blue T-shirt and jeans, is joined by a traditional rock outfit line-up comprising a bass player, guitarist, drummer and two female vocalists. The guitarist
really works the riffs during the song, kicking the whole performance off and remaining a key player on stage with Stephen, while the rest of the group mosh along around him. Vocally, he is in full form, sounding self-assured throughout; this was evident particularly an acappella soundcheck all the vocalists performed to set the levels.
There is not a great deal of movement during the performance, and what little does take place is mostly on the spot. During the instrumental bridge, the drummer takes the focus as he is circled by the camera, providing a little animation amidst the fairly static set. Stephen himself looks engaged, if a little intense while he sings, but is clearly happy with how things are going if his triumphant cries of 'yes' after a couple of the run-throughs are anything to go by. All in all, Montenegro presents a clean, standard rock performance which stands out for its dark stage elements and uncomplicated, strong vocals.
Stephen explained how the last five years have been dominated by music in his life – music "with my body and soul", and he hopes that the Eurovision Song Contest will be a "big event" in his life.
After earlier reports of Stephen's Scottish roots, the topic was bound to crop up at the press conference.The delegation responded by inviting all people – especially Scottish nationals – to the official Montenegrin event tomorrow. Stephen's father, a member of the delegation, pointed out the kilt he was wearing and said he was more than ready to talk about the clan to anyone interested at the party.
Daring to be different
The song's writer, Slaven Knezovic, explained the song as an attempt to combine a number of elements – his inspiration being Montenegro chiefly, but including notions and emotions from all lands, in as wide an appeal as possible. Stephen explained that there are clear differences between the different music scenes of Europe, even on the level of neighbouring countries. Compared to Montenegro's neighbours' entries this year, the song is rocky, a little edgy, and not a typical Balkan song, a fact which the team are happy with; what better way to present Montenegro to Europe than to be different?
Sting, Whitesnake, Bon Jovi are all the 'real' Stephen Faddy, and these influences will all find their way onto his album as well as characterising the style of his entry.
Stephen is very glad to be the first representative of an independent Montenegro at the Eurovision Song Contest, but admits that it is nerve-wracking; "but it's a positive fear – more excitement than fear at being the first!" He proved this by singing part of Ajde Kroci acappella to the crowd together with the rest of the delegation.
At his next press conference, Stephen promised to give the press his opinion of the local Finnish girls, not having had quite enough time to form it yet!