The fifth rehearsal slot today was longer than the rest by ten minutes; it was in fact Iceland's first outing on the Hartwall stage, performing amidst a set of shorter, second-time slots. As such, the usual sound checks took place, which most other countries were able to do during the first two days of rehearsals. Eirikur, however, needed little rehearsal to put his song across perfectly in the hall, and gave some remarkable performances.
As Eirikur and his crew took the stage, the delegation played with several different motifs on the screens at the back of the stage. All of them played around rock and Celtic imagery. These settled on an interwoven Celtic chain symbol in blue and white, with burning whites in the centre stage lighting. He actually starts to sing against the starfield backdrop with simple white spots pointing downwards at the back of the stage, before the symbols burst into view. At one point, the Icelanders seemed drawn to this year's 'in' colour: red, before settling back on cool blues.
Eirikur, a seasoned rocker, has more than a little of the Bon Jovi about him on stage. His vocal is faultless and clean, and it is difficult to detect any difference between the live version in the hall and the studio version after a string of amazing performances. And the man has presence by the bucketload – he commands the stage like he owns the arena, ending the song with outstretched arms to a good warm round of applause. It is clear that the performance has won the respect of the crowd at least in the arena.
Eirikur is backed up by a professional rock band outfit who, like their frontman, cannot be faulted on professionalism; the drummer in particular is one to watch. Besides him, the singer enjoys the support of three guitarists and a bass player. One of the guitars takes centre stage for the instrumental break.
Sea of blue on screen
The singer appears lit in low light on camera to begin the performance, almost in silhouette before the lighting kicks in. Apart from them, expect to see lots of sweeping, zooming shots which weave in and out of the band, really making the most of that sea of Celtic blue on the stage, which looks fantastic on screen.
Already, Eirikur is looking as polished in his act as other entries which have now had two rehearsals, and he still has another slot on stage in tomorrow's schedule to perfect things that little bit more.
The first Icelandic press conference
The press conference kicked off with the question about the language, why English? Eirikur answered he had to sing in Icelandic in the national final and loves the Icelandic but for him it is more natural to sing in English because of his international career.
Next Eirikur was asked to explain the lyrics and what they mean to him. The song is about an artist who is not having the best of times in life. He says he was in the same situation himself few years ago and can relate to that. And yes, he is OK now.
Then Peter Fenner, who wrote the English lyrics, was asked how he got involved with the entry. He said he has been involved with many Icelandic artists, including Selma, in the past few years. He fell in love with the song already in the Icelandic final and they decided to work together. His inspiration was how the music can help you through the difficult times.
Eirikur is in the Eurovision song contest for the third time now but this is the first time he comes through a national selection. In 1986 and 1991 he was chosen by the TV so this time around it has been all different experience. He is very happy about his song this time, at the previous times he didn’t really have any control over them.
He also reveals that he and Hanne Krogh who won the Eurovision song contest in 1985 with Bobbysocks and sung with Eirikur in Just4Fun in 1991, are still very good friends. He keeps sending her Christmas cards but never gets one back! Hanna is also expected in Helsinki in coming days.
In the end he was asked who would he like to rock with of this year's competitors. He said Czech Republic first but then second thoughts it is very similar to the music he does anyways so something more challenging would be fun, like Poland, completely different from his style.
- Interview with Peter Fenner
- Interview with Eirkikur Haukson
- Gallery with pictures from the Icelandic rehearsal
- Gallery with pictures from the Icelandic press conference