by Benny Royston 297 views

The first full dress rehearsal of the Eurovision Song Contest Final took place this afternoon at the Palatz Sportu. A brief, personal review follows; you are welcome to comment on this article of course!

With the final line up of this year's Eurovision Song Contest final now known, the first full dress rehearsal begins. The open sequence begins with a computer graphics build up to the Awakenings logo. The camera then shows opening shots from inside the Sports Palace, zooming into the stage where dancers carry out an aerobics excerise with shining green balls.

A brief burst of the music of from Wild dances is heard before Ruslana takes to the stage to sing her new English lanuage song On fire. She appears in a silver outfit with 8 women and 4 men dancing on stage with her.

Our two lacklustre hosts then introduce the show, and remind the audience to memorise the song number of their favourite song.Then it's onto the first song…

1. Hungary
The first qualifier from the Semi Final to be announced, Hungary open the Eurovision Song Contest Final. With no obvious changes from the performance last night, the outfits remain the same. Nox supply this year�s Gaelic folk entry to Eurovision. With a catchy undertone of the classical ilk, I wondered if they would bring out Vanessa May for the final. They�ve still not found any words to replace na na na na na na in the middle of the chorus! It's another strong performance for Hungary!

2. United Kingdom
Javine appears in a yellow mini-skirt dress accompanied by backing singers in red bikini outfits, all have gold trims to them. The men have black shirts with fire a la bad-guy car in the film Grease, with Red trousers. The performance is good, strong choreography, but the sound seems a little off, the backing singers are too loud and there is a serious echo problem. Javine is sporting a £1million yellow diamond ring, no sign of diamond studded knickers though. Is she holding something back for tomorrow night?

3. Malta
Chiara�s back for another bite of Eurovision, and she�s back with a stronger ballad than before. Her success in reaching third place back in 1998 was in no small part down to the simplicity of the song and the performance. The tactics are similar again for the song Angel this time. There are no candles on stage this tie, but there is a big dress in a red-wine colour. It�s more sparkly this time and the pearl necklace is a nice detail. With the shock exit of Netherlands in last night�s semi final, there is one less ballad to compete with. Chiara�s voice sounds a little quiet and the first line of the song was hard to hear. There�s some nice facial expression here, and Chiara seems more confident than in 1998. Will this song stay in the memory for another 2 hours though?

4. Romania
One for Europe�s night-scene, Romania came up trumps with a dance floor mega-beat and Let me try qualified from last nights semifinal. It is a very good try indeed, and the setting of a construction site is a querky difference that definitely helped Romania through. This is a solid performance, and confidence after last night�s success is clear to see. Again though, no noticeable differences from the semifinal performance.

5. Norway
The start of the song was held up by the excessive time taken to clear the Romanian props from the stage. This seemed to effect Glam, lead singer of Wig Wam, and he seemed to lose his key early on. Quickly recovering, he put in a professional performance, which has no real changes to report from last night�s performance. Norway won the contest in 1985 and 1995, now they have made it to the final, there must be confidence that this is their third victory year.

6. Turkey
Wearing a pink frilly dress, with green over her sleves and chest, Gulseren is accompanied by backing singers/drum beaters wear traditional Turkish outfits in white with red and gold trimmings. This is looking better on stage than it sounds on the CD. The final pose at the end of the song does leave her looking a little like a turkey though!

7. Moldova
Moldova obviously overspent their budget on the Eurovision, and the lead singer has sold the shirt off his back to pay for the extra 48 hours in Kyiv. He appears this time with just his Native American modesty-preserver. I�m surprised Nana Moldova doesn�t have a heart attack! At least something has changed since last night! Not sure if that�s a body that will improve the voting haul, but Moldova are looking strong on stage.

8. Albania
Lear Albania came from nowhere (literally � it was their first entry and no-one gave them a second glance) to secure a top 10 finish in the Final. Beginner�s Luck? Maybe, but they might just repeat it this year with a catchy little number. Ledina wears a white dress with red under-layers and diamond studded shoulder straps and the backing singers/violinists/man-with-a-cake-tin are dressed in matching colours. Vocals are good, but a couple of notes were noticeably missed.

9. Cyprus
Dressed in a white body-hugging t-shirt and black trousers, the backing singers are in gold mini-dresses that almost come down as low as their hips! Elina wears a White shiny dress with sleeves that turn her into an eagle. The performance is strong, and the camera works the full height mirrors. Constantinos is making his third appearance at Eurovision, and it shows!

10. Spain
Son de sol are wearing traditional Spanish attire, with flamenco dresses in orange, yellow and blue with under-layers in one of the other dress colours. The chubby guy that shouts a bit is all in black. Yes, it sounds like The Ketchup Song without the chorus, but it is well performed, there�s some traditional movement about this and Spain should be OK with this.

11. Israel
Shiri was obviously overjoyed at qualifiying for the final, and this is a good draw for a ballad to follow some faster songs. With Netherlands gone, Malta is Shiri�s only rival as top ballad and this comes much later than that. The performance is again strong, although she missed a couple of notes. People had been starting to question the phrase nobody�s perfect until then. This is a great performance of a great song, by a great artist with a great future and it deserves to be here in the final.

12. Serbia and Montenegro
Serbia and Montenegro (S&M) became very popular last year, reaching second place, in fact every participating country voted for S&M. This year there is a similar theme, powerful tones, definitive rhythm, banging drums, plenty of moaning, and expect a big climax. S&M has a formula for success, they give a good live performance and capture the imagination. I expect this to be there or thereabouts this time out, don�t be surprised if S&M rules Eurovision 2005. And I still don�t know why the singers representing S&M don�t want to be named! They perform in smart/casual outfits, merging black white and beige t-shirts. The one in the black jacket has not yet unplugged his finger from an electricity socket and is still vibrating round the stage like a cross between Elvis and and a tumble drier. The vocals are strong and this could be a surprise winner.

Commercial break
during which time a copious plug for the official 50th anniversary Eurovision Song Contest book.

13. Denmark
Jakob�s back and having looked shocked to qualify from the semifinal, the performance today is really strong, and I�ve heard a lot of people wandering round the press centre here at the Palatz Sportu singing this under his breath. It�s a bouncy loveable performance and none of the sparkle was gone from last night.

14. Sweden
Disco-funk meets swing, and a strong performance for the camera goes nicely with it. Unfortunately, Martin�a vocal performance was not as strong as it can be, and at times he seemed to be shouting his way through the song. This may be to preserve his voice for tomorrow. He surprised a few people to come from nowhere to beat the titanic queens of Melodifestival (no, not them!!! I meant Shirley Clamp and Nanne Gronvall), and having made it to Kiev, he might well surprise a few more! The black leather kit with a white t-shirt, he looks a bit like the guy from the diet-coke advert, and he comes on stage at about 11:30 Kyiv time!!! The backing dancers are in white cat suits and the show itself is fantastic. It�s a dark horse!

15. FYR Macedonia
The shock qualifier from last night�s semi final got a poor draw here. A solo man with blonde backing singers� He�s not as good looking as the singer before him, he has one less dancer, and it appears also one less choreographer. Unbelievably, he has not managed to go out and buy something different to wear either. The vocal performance is very good, and the song does end with a girl doing the splits!

16. UkraineThe two backing singers in handcuffs makes a serious point here. The sound is immediately better than the CD, the musical arrangement has improved.. Roman does a great job with this. It�s about as far away from a Eurovision song as you can get, but this will (I think) get votes. Of course, the hand cuff chains are broken and the dancers perform some busting moves man!!!

17. Germany
Gracia�s performance is her best yet. This sounds better on screen today, dressed in all black which arm-length gloves, books and a diamond necklace, and looking incredibly similar to Ruslana at last year�s Eurovision Song Contest, this is a modern song and well performed. It�s a tough one to perform live but it works well.

18. Croatia
Back on stage after semifinal victory yesterday, nothing has changed. The costumes are the same. It�s hard to comment on the vocals because I am surrounded by Montenegran journalists that fancy themselves as backing singers. I think I can predict 12 points to Croatia from at least one country based on this audibly displeasing burst of noise (and that�s a reference to the journalists � not the performer).

19. Greece
Well, the dress is finally revealed! It�s glitzy, gold with shiny stripes of sequins vertically dropping down. It moves beautifully and complement�s Helena�s moves beautifully throughout the performance. This got the biggest applause in the hall so far, and Helena looks good on stage and on camera. The routine is tight and there's a couple of nice moves that stand out – the dancers lying on stage to create a figure '1' for starters!

20. Russia If ever a song could win this Contest with one opening line, this could be it! �Hello sweet America, when did our dream disappear� is emotive as anything I�ve heard. This is an anti-war song and could well have an effect here. Natalia Wears a black outfit with mirrored squares around the top a la Gina G�s 1996 dress, and metal chains around her waste. The vocal performance is very strong and mature and this sounds surprisingly good on stage.

21. Bosnia and Herzegovina
Unfortunately, the stage management crew wasn�t ready, and there was a slight delay in the start of the song which seemed to put the girls off a little. Dressed in peach, two wear identical outfits, one has a different skirt section. Femminem look good and it would be fair to judge the vocal performance on this, and they recovered brilliantly with this disco/Motown song.

22. Switzerland
A great draw after being the 9th semifinal qualifier announced, Switzerland are still performing well. No change in outfits again, bit the vocals are the same, which is good. The white and red combination this year is some of the costumes returns with red lighting behind Vanilla Ninja�s white outfits.

23. Latvia
Another slight delay before the final qualifier from the semifinal. Finally another costume change to write about!!! Kazha has added a scarf � in the colours of the Latvia flag. What is a shame to report is that Walter has lost his voice. It is hoped that he will be back to full strength for tomorrow night but it is noticeable. will be bringing you more news on this story shortly.

24. France
Ortal joins fellow solo artists Javine and Helena with the undoubted colour of the year� gold/yellow. The dress is complemented by a scarf wrapped around her wrist and matching shoes. The backing singers are dressed in all-black, the girls have a yellow piece of material on their skirts to match Ortal�s colour. It was not her best vocal performance of the rehearsals, but the song came across well to the audience.

The Interval
In the playback of the songs, Chiara of Malta, Gracia of Germany, Natalia of Russia and Femminem of Bosnia & Herzegovina all sound weak and they are likely to be changed to the second rehearsal playback should be changed. Turkey�s playback includes just one line of the chorus, and then the drum-beating. The Spanish clip uses the chorus and has a brilliant overhead shot of the dresses. Ukraine�s opens on a shot of everyone on stage with their hands in the air, a powerful visual image. It takes a total of 6 minutes to carry out the playback, leaving only 4 minutes to vote after the final song is shown.

The film of the construction of the Eurovision Song Contest stage, building work on the venue and preparations for the contest that was shown at the semifinal is then shown again.

With one minute left to vote, the camera shows to what will be a live camera link to Independence Square, but which in fact shows the feet of a sofa. On the night, we will be treated to see 300,000 screaming fans.

After the voting lines are closed, the full interval act begins. A Ballet performance by a solo man dressed in white to simple classical music mixed with some breathtaking gymnastic manoeuvres. This gives way to more drum beating, with a team of 7, acting as a bridge to Ruslana who appears in red this time to perform one more song.

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