The second rehearsal of the Eurovision Song Contest 2007 final has begun with a fiery video and live performance by Lordi, and the qualified countries are ready to take their place one by one on the stage.
"Good evening Europe!" cries Jaana to a very full house, and Mikko follows up in French. Not long after this, the singing begins, and Bosnia and Herzegovina kick off the evening with Marija Sestic's Rijeka bez imena.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Marija looks as beautiful as a music box ballerina as she performs sensuously on stage, which looks stunning in frozen aqua blues. Stars fall behind her in a scene reminiscent of Bosnia and Herzegovina's triumphant third-placed Lejla of the Athens contest last year. Electric blue smoke fills the stage for the build, then burning reds colour the background. The camera spins nicely into Marija and the tambura player for the emotional finish.
There is certainly lots going on around the stage with this one, which makes an impact on the screen, pulsating with reds for the choruses. The boys perform well in vocals and dance moves, with a big flaming finish to huge cheers from the crowd.
And now to the first semifinalist qualifier of the night. Finally, Koldun is looking a bit more relaxed in his performance, as if he is letting himself enjoy it. Vocally held back, as we all expect him to before the big night, but that last note – and he doesn't go all the way this time either – sounds strained.
The Irish flag floats softly along the catwalk to the members of Dervish, who light up astheir Spring daisy opens. Cathy looks fresh faced and charming in her white folksy dress. We only wish she might smile a little! She does give us a little flash of a smile before the instrumental break, though, which continues as she beats the bodhran. An enthusiastic whoop finishes the song nicely on Cathy's part, and she looks happy as she thanks the audience.
The songs are zipping along with efficient changeovers, and we're already at song number five now. There is a predictably huge cheer and clap for the home entry by Hanna. She is a striking woman on screen, as intense as ever, and treats us to a fantastic performance of her easy rock song. Blue everywhere on stage, until it all explodes into fiery reds and yellows for a massive finish. Sadly, the camera wobbles wildly and disastrouslyfor the final pryo shot – a good job this isn't live yet!
Another fine performance fromthe beautifulKarolina, and audience seems appreciative. The team never wavers in presentation, and this looks strong on TV.
Alenka looks like she is loving every minute of Cvet z juga, and once more, gets the biggest hand so far. Thank you Europe, thank you she says gracefully to the audience.
The crowd warm to this one straight away, giving the song a hand as the hall comes on screen, and then again as Magdi walks onto the stage with her suitcase. She sings her soul out on stage, and the crowd love it.
Much better than the first rehearsal already – the stage is ready as the lights go up. Julija gives a nice, subdued performance, looking relaxed in the low lighting.
Sarbel's routine is one of the classic pieces of Eurovision choreography of the contest, and the song really sells itself well on that. It's a lot of fun to watch on screen, and the man himself gets into it with the girls. The mix could probably do with some tweaking, with Sarbel's vocal sounding slightly too high above the backing singers, giving a slightly raw feel to the balance. Otherwise, a good, strong performance.
A slightly hairy moment in Sopho's vocal in the first chorus, but this is the first time and hopefully the last that there are any problems. Indeed, the rest of the song goes briliantly as usual, and Sopho is a vision on screen.
And who said there wouldn't be a drama queen in the final? Ola is superbly camp on stage, but moreover, very natural – it's a very relaxed performance on his part, and he has a pile of fun singing The Worrying Kind. Very warm cheers in the crowd, with lots of Swedish flags being waved!
Next, a short break, and who is this? It's Silvia Night! Or maybe not, but the 'presenter' plucked from the audience would pass well for her little sister as she presents the live open air crowds in the middle of Helsinki for what, for many, will be the ad break.
And we're halfway through! The evening is whizzing by.
This really is hilarious on the screen, with manic pretty-in-pink madness all over the stage for three whole minutes. Ivan is looking chic with a bit of make-up and sharp in the Gaultier suit, and he performs strongly with his tongue firmly in cheek from beginning to end.He kisses the microphone after the performance, to very loud applause from the audience.
Roberto comes onto the stage, and yes, the rosesare still white – looks like it will stay white for the final, now! But wait… Halfway through the song, on he comes again, and his rose is red! This picks him out nicely from the other lads as the full-blooded Italian leading his Latvian friends in three minutes of operatic charm. A big hand in the hall, but it still sounds like it belongs at the end of the contest with that big finish – the draw could have been perfect later on.
Not the girls' strongest vocal yet, but a passable performance of a song which is slowly creeping up as a favourite. The band seem a little tired, which is something all participants need to be wary of in the whirlwind of Eurovision week; with some rest tonight they should return to full power for the live show.
A bit of Vegas comes to the screen, as Roger performs as effortlessly as ever, full of charm and confidence on stage.Prolonged cheering in the hall!
Marija appears withoutthe dark-rimmedglasses, and looks better without them – her expressive eyes shine on camera. The backing vocalists look positively Farah Fawcett-like behind her, all curls and hairspray, but the effect is a memorable and striking one, which should help with the televote. Marija receives huge cheers at more than one point in the song, especially at the big build. This is all in preparation for the finish, when the crowd go absolutely crazy.
Danzing Lasha Tumbai is a strange phenomenon – whenever it comes on, people start to tap, dance, and act crazy. And it's no different in the hall or press centre, where people clap along, whoop, cheer, perform the actions along with Verka, and generally go a bit bonkers. It's completely infectious – Verkatitis has hit Eurovision and it's catching. There are so many little, side-splittingly hilarious touches she puts in the performance, she almost defies the most impervious of viewers not to laugh just a little bit at her three minutes of tomfoolery. This woman is dangerous and Europe is going to love her!
Scooch are a really likeable lot on stage, and Natalie has an excellent live vocal. Caroline is as cheeky as ever, and this is British humour at its cheesiest Carry On best.Tricks not to miss include the bottle of Bucks Fizz which David holds up – very appropriate! Every country should have reason to smile as the trolleys are turned round. Russ thanks the audience with an impressive Kiitos in Finnish!
The Romanian performance is lacking a little something on stage, and theband'smovements are coming across as a little random at times. They do have that likeability factor, but it sometimes feels like they are just a group of mates who have got up on stage to have a jam together. This works at times, and at others seems to lack a little power. However, that fast build is really foot-tapping and will get the group remembered, especially with the pyros. Thankfully, all the planets seem in place now!
The applause sounds like the audience are looking forward to this one. Elitsa does not disappoint with a clear and entrancing, almost hypnoticperformance. She looks more and more confident every time she tosses those drumsticks over her shoulder! With a hah and a hoo from Elitsa, the pair end the song enthusiastically.
Helsinki are you ready? Kenan is, and his performance is more relaxed now he is safe of his final place. As such, it's all looking a lot stronger on stage. He is full of beans himself, shaking it down with the girls behind him. He gains one of the strongest cheers of the second half.
The problems are sorted, and Hayko's middle screen lights up nicely for the second dress rehearsal. His performance is by far one of the strongest of the night, but can the big ballad stand up between two very dynamic songs? Hayko certainly tries his best to make it so, with one of the most emotive stagings of the contest.
What a finish. Despite some camera wobble, Natalia rocks out the 2007 contest, giving home hope Hanna a run for her money. One of the most powerful female pop vocals of the night, she sets the stage on fire. A great big hand in the hall for her, and all the other twenty-four entries.
Finland's 1985 representative, Sonja Lumme is invited onto the stage to kick the voting off. She says that the length of ladies' dresses has become much shorter in the contest of late, but the principle of the contest stays the same: meeting people from all over Europe. Earlier, at the first rehearsal, Finland's 1982 artist Kojo had done the same.
In an unusual twist, after each recap, a short live clip of the artists waving to camera from the green room is shown. A nice last-minute way to appeal for votes!
The finalists have one last dress rehearsal tomorrow afternoon before the big showdown – in just over twenty-four hours, Eurovision will have its winner.