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Live From Lisbon: Semi-Final Two – Dress Rehearsal One

The Grand Final of the 63rd Eurovision Song Contest will take place on May 12th at the Altice Arena of Lisbon, Portugal. Forty-three artists will take to the stage over three nights to perform their contributions for the contest, fighting to become the winner of the Eurovision Song Contest 2018. During the course of this week the fourty-three artists will be cut to just twenty-six in the Grand Final. This afternoon sees the first dress rehearsal for Semi-Final Two.

⭕ LIVE COVERAGE | Live blog has ended.

15:00 CET – Our live blog begins! Dress rehearsals have kicked off for the second semi-final.

15:01 CET – It looks like they’re playing the same VT from yesterday’s semi-final to open the show.

15:03 CET – The hosts are stumbling a bit with the script and their synchronization, but they’re just getting warmed up, hopefully.

15:05 CET – Norway starts the show. Alexander Rybak’s doing some charcoal drawings in Lisbon for his postcard. He’s working his facial expressions well, but he disconnects from the camera a bit too much, looking down or to the side when he should be focused on the audience. Vocals are on point, though. The graphics work well. Alexander definitely looks most in his element when he’s finally got the violin in hand.

15:09 CET – Romania is next. The Humans are at Arouca Geopark for their postcard. The performance features all the band with face paint over their eyes and masks on the back of their heads. Mannequins all over the stage wear the same masks. Cristina’s vocals are superb, but the stage definitely looks much too crowded. It’s all just a bit strange.

15:13 CET – Serbia now. Balkanika’s having a wine tasting in Lisbon for their postcard. There’s a really strong ethnic vibe to this performance. From the get-go, we get the three women chanting, the drums, and the flute. Without a strong point to focus on, though, the visuals aren’t tight enough to be effective. However, the vocals are great.

15:18 CET – Time for San Marino. Jess and Jeni B take a sled ride down a steep street; they look like they’re having a lot of fun in their postcard. Jessika’s vocals seem a bit subdued today, but I’m not sure if that’s because of the sound mixing. The robot carries a sign that says “Size Doesn’t Matter” on one side and “Sometimes” on the other. Jenifer takes to the front stage bridge thing for the rap.

15:22 CET – Denmark is up next. Rasmussen visits a church and looks at some old geographic documents in his postcard. As for the stage, the visual of the sails looks cool in the wide shots, especially with the watery-looking lighting effects. All the vikings’ eyeliners are on point, but their movements are a bit stiff, and Rasmussen’s facial expressions aren’t as fierce as they could be.

15:26 CET – Russia is next. For her postcard, Julia and her husband go on a lovely date at the aquarium. The performance has Julia sat atop a fake mountain with projector effects. Julia’s vocals are a bit shaky, especially during the refrain, and I’m not sure that the backing singers are helping much as the harmonies aren’t solid. The backing dancers are interesting, doing an interpretative dance on the front stage.

15:30 CET – Time to go to the green room for the first break. Fake Alexander Rybak gets to answer a few trivia questions. Filomena strokes Fake Rasmussen’s beard.

15:32 CET – Moldova is next, with DoReDoS having a wander in a park and in a mansion for their postcard. This is such an exciting performance. They’re all so cute and animated. They’re absolutely selling it with their facial expressions. It’s such a great concept, these windows. However, the sound mixing could be improved, as the female vocals are a bit overpowering. Still, this is so much fun.

15:36 CET – The Netherlands now. Waylon makes some pasteis de nata in his postcard. There’s a few technical difficulties, so we go to Filomena in the audience where she talks to some fans. The performance eventually starts. Waylon and his band of dancers are onstage on some lit platforms. Waylon’s vocals are solid, but he has a constant squint on his face while singing that’s slightly distracting. The dancers are also a bit all over the place.

15:42 CET – We’re back to the green room in what seems like another emergency break where Filomena talks to some stand-ins.

15:43 CET – Australia is up next. Jessica helps make a traditional stringed instrument in her postcard. The stage has these diagonal multi-color lights emanating from the center. Jessica’s vocals are a bit weak in the lower registers in the verse, but she warms up quickly and gets into it by the first chorus. The camera cuts aren’t great and could be a bit jarring.

15:47 CET – Georgia now with Ethno-Jazz Band Iriao. They participate in a traditional dragon dance in Chinatown for their postcard. The singers’ vocals are so good, with the best harmonies of the entire show, but something seems off with the backing track (though that could just be something going on with the audio in the press center, which keeps cutting out). They’re also connecting well with the camera, especially the one in the middle, who looks like he’s full of emotion. A shower of golden sparks falls at the end.

15:51 CET – Poland is up next. Gromee and Lukas Meijer paint a surfboard for their postcard. It looks like the feed here in the press center has stopped, however.

15:52 CET – The feed is back, but we’ve missed the first half of the song. The stage seems like your standard EDM fare, with the DJ stand in purple neon lights. Lukas’ vocals aren’t very consistent. Gromee seems to be enjoying himself, even getting to do a little dance in his DJ booth. The feed has frozen again.

15:55 CET – The feed returns with Malta’s performance. We’ve missed Christabelle’s postcard. Ok, there’s definitely major errors right now with the feed here in the press center. Audio is stuttering, video keeps freezing and turning off. Can’t really judge a performance this way, but Christabelle’s styling looks strong.

15:59 CET – Another break to the green room now. Filomena interviews Fake Julia from Russia, then talks a few photos with stand-ins for Poland. (The feed is degrading disastrously in quality.) Filomena’s sharing some pasteis de nata with a stand-in for Australia.

16:01 CET – Hungary now. AWS is making some chocolate from scratch in their postcard. The feed seems to have mostly stabilized, thank goodness. The band has a lot of energy onstage, as fits the song. Vocals are solid, and they make very good use of the entire stage. This will look great with the live audience. Lots of fire, lots of flashing lights. They’re also testing out the guitarist’s stage dive. Lots of cheers from the press for this performance.

16:05 CET – Latvia is next. Laura gets in a wetsuit and on a surfboard at the beach for her postcard. The performance has great color coordination; everything is a deep red, from the lights to the dress to the lipstick. The sound from the feed isn’t coming through perfectly, so I can’t judge vocals for this one right now.

16:09 CET – Sweden is up next. Benjamin learns how to make a traditional Portuguese cheese in his postcard. There seem to be even more technical difficulties, not just here in the press room with the live feed, but in the arena, too, as Filomena seems to have been called in for yet another impromptu green room visit.

16:12 CET – I’m not sure we even got Sweden’s performance here in the press room.

16:15 CET – Montenegro now, after a really long green room thing with Filomena and some stand-ins. Vanja’s vocals are perfect, and the vocal mixing with the backing singers was modulated well. But that suit isn’t doing him a lot of favors.

16:18 CET – Slovenia is up next, with Lea Sirk taking a walk on the beach in her postcard. She’s giving a solid performance, with sharp choreography and styling. Her vocals are good, but maybe a bit overpowered by the backing track. The music and lights stop halfway through, but that’s not a glitch: it’s part of the performance. Not sure how effective that will be, but we’ll see how it looks with a crowd full of people. She switches to Portuguese for the last couple of lines.

16:23 CET – It’s Ukraine now with Mélovin. The performance starts with him laying in a hybrid piano-coffin thing, from which he rises mechanically. Vocals are solid all throughout, and Mélovin and his backing singers play off the drama very well. Lots of fire at the end, even right next to Mélovin on the stairs leading up to his piano-coffin. Very striking.

16:27 CET – Back to the green room with Filomena. This all seems like a load of improvised stuff. Perhaps this is all good preparation in case something does go wrong on the night of the semi-final, anyway. Filomena says Sweden is finally up next.

16:28 CET – Back to Sweden’s cheesy postcard, and we’ve finally got the performance started. The lighting is really well-executed. The vocals are a bit muted, but the dance is really slick, with just the right amount of cheesiness. The entire look is pretty stunning.

16:35 CET – Time for a recap. Lots of claps from the back of the press room during Slovenia. Not much reaction for everyone else, though but, to be fair, the press center is a bit less crowded today.

16:41 CET – Some more oceanic references with Daniela Ruah after the recap, including sailor boys and a half-naked man. This introduces the ESClopedia video segment.

16:45 CET – The hosts get a costume change for a little performance taking us through some iconic Eurovision entries.

16:47 CET – Time for another recap. A few notes on the performances we didn’t see very well in the press center: Malta and Latvia’s vocals are pretty solid. Poland’s, not that much. Slovenia’s somehow chosen the end of the mid-song pause to highlight in the recap.

16:52 CET – Back to the fans in the audience to take some selfies with Filomena, then to the other hosts for the closing countdown. They’re back to their original outfits. Right after the countdown, we’re getting some outtakes from the postcards! This is so much fun.

16:58 CET – Our next segment is another edition of Planet Eurovision with the parody David Attenborough.

17:01 CET – The next video segment is a look through the history of Portugal at the Eurovision Song Contest.

17:04 CET – Sílvia Alberto is in the “audience” right now talking to some fans, some of whom are invisible. Then we’re going to the green room again with Filomena talking to tonight’s pre-qualified performers: France, Italy, and Germany.

17:07 CET – Émilie from Madame Monsieur is going to sing a bit of their French version of “Amar Pelos Dois”

17:08 CET – Daniela is now interviewing Michael Schulte about his family. Then he performs a bit of “Fly on the Wings of Love” on the ukelele.

17:09 CET – Back to Filomena interviewing Ermal and Fabrizio asking about the meaning of the Italian song. They all sing a bit of “Nel blu dipinto di blu.”

17:11 CET – France is performing now; the press room gives them a bit of applause. Their postcard sees Madame Monsieur take the funicular and participate in a street performance. The performance hasn’t changed, perhaps except for the fog being a lot more subdued from the previous rehearsal. There’s good eye contact, lots of good shots with the crowd. Vocals are also solid. There are cheers from the press at the end.

17:14 CET – Germany is next, with Michael flying off a hill on a paraglider for his postcard. Michael’s vocals have only improved through the rehearsals, but there was a bit of a hitch earlier where he missed the cue for the chorus and had to adjust his in-ear monitors. A good performance, eliciting some applause from the press center at the end.

17:19 CET – Italy is the last performer for this rehearsal. The postcard has Ermal and Fabrizio learn a few juggling tricks. The contrast between Ermal’s more preppy outfit and Fabrizio’s rockstar look is pretty interesting. Vocals are good, but Ermal missed a cue and didn’t sing an entire line.

17:24 CET – Time to go to Jon Ola Sand to confirm the fake qualifiers! We’re actually getting these onscreen this time. They are: Ukraine, Hungary, Moldova, Denmark, Norway, Poland, Slovenia, Sweden, San Marino, Georgia. Not like these are actual results, but these are always fun.

17:30 CET – And the show’s over! That’s it for our live blog this afternoon. Catch us later for live updates from tonight’s jury show!

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