Oslo Blog

The Semifinal 1 After Party

The After Party was at the Euroclub, and I only managed to arrive at 02:00 after attending the Press Conference at Telenor Arena and taking care of Blog duty..

The place was crowded and moving about was not easy, so I simply chose a safe corner from which to see what folks were up to. As the old English saying goes, ”Good things come to those who wait”, so from my corner at least I saw passing by Maria Haukaas Storeng (Norway 2008),  Vukašin Brajić (Bosnia-Herzegovina) and  Marcin Mroziński (Poland).

Before I left I heard the DJ play ”Bye Bye Baby” and ”Eläköön Elämä”, so Finland too was present at the party!

Fans had a great time, no matter whether their countries qualified tonight or not, and I guess that is what really counts.

Photos & gossips coming up later today, so check in again!

Oslo Blog

Getting to the Telenor Arena..

Surpises never cease in Oslo. The Oslo ESC provides a shuttle bus which does the round among the three official hotels and then on to the Telenor Arena at intervals of 20 minutes. The latest surpise is the fact that with hundreds of accredited media and fans trying to get to the Arena for Semifinal 1, only ONE shuttle bus was provided which was of course full before it reached the third official hotel so it did not even bother to stop; no information was provided about the situation which saw me running across town in my party shoes trying to catch the public buses to be on time for the show.

Fans coming to the live shows at the Arena are required to arrive before 20:15 local time, after which the gates will be closed. Gates are open from 18:30.

My advice is to take the public bus 31E from the bus stop next to the National Theatre (Nationaltheatret) and the journey takes around 20 minutes. You can buy tickets from the driver but the price is cheaper if you buy the tickets in advance from the Trafikanten office outside the Central Railway Station (Oslo S).

The public bus stop is quite far from the Arena, and the walk takes some time, so bring an umbrella just in case it rains and remember to be on time.

At the Arena be prepared for another surpise: the public toilets.. (but I will let those who are still on their way here to find that out for themselves).

Oslo Blog

The Press Conference

The Press Conference for the 10 qualifiers from Semifinal 1 was held directly after the Event. Only two questions were allowed for each qualifier, one in the native language (presumably from the qualifier’s national media) and one in any language. Following the question & answer session each qualifier would choose one black ball (logo of the Oslo ESC) from a bowl which contains the qualifier’s place in the Final line-up on 29 May. More info from the official Eurovision Song Contest website: http://www.eurovision.tv/page/news?id=17143&_t=Tonight%27s+winners+draw+their+position+in+the+Final

As with a few other arrangements at the Oslo ESC, the Press Conference was somewhat clumsy with too few microphones (I saw just one microphone being passed around the hall) and no simultaneous interpretation of questions & answers in languages other than English (unlike at the Moscow ESC). The Master of Ceremonies (juontaja) could also do well to remember the correct names of the qualifiers. There are two more Press Conferences coming up: after Semifinal 2 and after the Final, so perhaps there will be some improvement.

Oslo Blog

Lord Have Mercy..

Surprises tonight at the end of Semifinal 1. The biggest surprise (”shock” is actually the word) is that Finland did not qualify, and disappointment among the Arena crowd (Finns and non-Finns alike) was big: I understand the emotions of those Finns who walked out of the Arena after the results were announced.

As suspected the jury vote, which is usually different to televote results, influenced the qualification of some unlikely candidates (Portugal comes to mind..). Personally, 6 of my favourites did qualify to the Final (yes, Russia was one of them, ha-ha to you too..), and my sympathies for Latvia, Poland and Slovakia.

In any case, the decision has been made, so congratulations to the 10 qualifiers and good luck!

Remember to tune in to the Final on 29 May at 22:00.

Oslo Blog

Wir Geben ’ne Party!

 

Monday night was the night of the Parties:

 

21:00 Ukraine-Germany in Euroclub

21:30 Turkey in Opera Bar

22:30 Israel in Nasjonal Jazz Scene Bar.

 

Remember that as in Belgrade and Moscow, OGAE ID cardholders are entitled to come to the Euroclub and to any party that is held there.

 

It was windy & rainy, but that didn’t stop the party goers. Ukraine-Germany generously offered free drinks at the bar, with performances by Alyosha and Lena. Azerbaijan’s Safura made a brief appearance on stage to say greetings before leaving for some place (probably to the Turkish party..). The on-cue stage performances in between playback music & general socialising gave this party a very central European touch. By 22:15 many of the guests started to leave for the next party.

 

I managed to drop by at the Turkish party around 22:30 to see members of maNga manning the DJ stand and mingling with the crowd. Food was on offer and I spotted some members of the Azerbaijan team (so I was right about Safura earlier..), but with the guest numbers starting to dwindle I guessed I’d better hightail it to the next party.

 

There was an awesomely long queue outside the Israeli party and the rain got heavier, but queue the fans did and eventually practically everyone made it inside. Perhaps in typical Israeli fashion a big screen behind the stage showed clips of past Israeli ESC winners while the host and assorted members of the Israeli delegation and fan club were on-stage boogieing away and exhorting the party-goers to do the same. Food in small trays were simply passed hand-to-hand among the crowd, while Harel Skaat, Michael Von der Heide (Switzerland) and Marcin Mroziński (Poland) took to the stage. Also seen was Josh Dubovie (United Kingdom).

 

Tonight the Euroclub will host the Semifinal 1 After Party: Oslo is buzzing that Finland will have a reason to celebrate soon!

Oslo Blog

Open Dress Rehearsal

The First Open Dress Rehearsal of Semifinal 1 began at 15:00 local time in the Telenor Arena. There was great excitement at seeing the final version of each country’s entry being performed for the first time on stage.

This was also the opportunity to see how the Event will look like on live television, and so far it promises to be a good show. Even the simple stage looks good on screen, with the occasional use of pyrotechnics/fireworks in some of the songs.

Kuunkuiskaajat gave an excellent show which was both charming and energetic, receiving a very good welcome from the audience in the Arena. This is certainly something to look forward to tomorrow.

One of the interesting aspects of attending the ESC live is to see the entry change on stage, when one country would leave with their on-stage props and the next country would enter with their own props. In previous years television audiences were not able to see this process, but this year part of the entry change will be shown live.

Another change involves the televoting: this year television viewers can vote by telephone or sms already at the start of the contest, instead of waiting until all songs have been performed like in previous years.

More news from the official Eurovision Song Contest website: http://www.eurovision.tv/page/news?id=16853&_t=Live+Report%3A+First+Semi-Final+Dress+Rehearsal+1

So go and listen to the songs again, choose your favourites and vote tomorrow 25 May beginning from 22:00!

Oslo Blog

Marcin Mroziński hosted the Poland Party on 22.5, and it was open to everyone. Attending also were 3+2 (Belarus), Vukašin Brajić (Bosnia-Herzegovina), Niamh Kavanagh (Ireland), Thea Garrett (Malta) and Kristina Pelakova (Slovakia).

Marcin of course performed Poland´s entry ”Legenda”, and invited Niamh to perform Ireland´s entry. Only one member of 3+2 (Artsem Mikhalenka) attended at the start, and if I understood Belarusian correctly he performed a cappella the Belarusian national anthem. Kristina was preparing to sing the Slovak entry when the music failed to play, so she simply went on and sang a cappella and can the girl sing! Thea Garrett performed ”That´s All I ask of You” with Marcin, and this was when we discovered that the guy is an actor for the stage performance of ”Phantom of the Opera” in Poland.

There was a discussion between Niamh and Marcin about whose country produces the best apples. Explaining that the apple represents sin, after each performance Marcin got the other singers to take a bite out of a Polish apple (yes, he confirmed that the apple was Polish and not Irish..), but interestingly he did not ask Artsem (the only other male singer) to do so as well..

Niamh was true to the Irish stereotype: she was friendly, chatty and generally great fun! She was also always eating..apples, strawberries, etc.

Oslo Blog

Where´s the Party At?

One of the exciting moments in any host city is to find out when & where the different contestants will hold their Country Party to promote their song entry. These parties usually come in four categories: invitation only, for accredited media and fans only, for accredited media and fans as well as for OGAE ID cardholders, and finally for everyone.

Of course, you can try to crash these parties and there´s always a 50/50 chance of success (or you may be turned away with everyone watching..eeww!).

The venues can be many: at the Euroclub, at the Eurocafe or in other locations.

A few Country Parties have been held since I arrived on Friday:

– 21.5 at 20:00 Russia in Euroclub (invitation only)

– 22.5 at 20:00 Georgia in Oslo Opera House (invitation only)

– 22.5 at 20:00 Poland in M3 pub (everyone)

– 22.5 Greece-Cyprus in Eurocafe (everyone)

What the Country Host offers also vary, from simply providing a venue and you buy your own drinks (Greece), or finger food & show but you buy your own drinks (Poland), or fully-catered (including drinks) plus show (Georgia).

But the main idea is to have fun, see who else is there and hear as much gossip as possible, so if you´re coming to Oslo keep a look out for the next parties: I heard that on Monday there will be the Israel Party and the Ukraine-Germany Party!

Oslo Blog

The Stage

Oslo is going for something very simple compared to the high-tech stage design and visual effects of Helsinki, Belgrade and Moscow.

The main effects accompanying each performance are light displays behind and on-stage as well as props such as string beads or curtains which are lowered from above. Variation is added by stage props brought by each performer from their home countries to the stage.

Being a much smaller host city in a much smaller country in quiet Scandinavia, simplicity also shows in other parts of the organisation of ESC 2010. Journalist are encouraged to bring their own laptops as there are few computers provided in the Media Centre. Missing also is the tight and advanced security controls of Moscow: in Oslo at the entrances to the Media Centre and Telenor Arena a few chatty security staff use hand held scanners to authenticate the security passes of each visitor. The process could cause a queue during rush periods but one of the interesting things about Oslo in general is that folks do seem to have time to spare, which can also be a nice thing.

Oslo Blog

For those who didn’t know, Norway is member of the European Economic Area (Euroopan Talousalue) but not of the European Union, which means that when flying to Oslo from Helsinki you can buy cigs and booze duty free (yay..!), but then Norway keeps her customs checkpoints and limits how much in cigs & booze you can bring (boo..!), so when the duty free stuff is gone like it or not Finnish Eurovision fans will just have to pay Norwegian prices if we want to party every night in the next 8 days..let’s hope the Euro value continues to rise.

The Eurovision mood is in the air here and already at Oslo Gardemoen airport the host city’s Eurovision logo greets you on arrival (photo above).

So now it begins. Tomorrow there will be a chance to see the stage during rehearsals beginning with Azerbaijan at 11:00, so check in again tomorrow afternoon for more.

Welcome to the Eurovision Song Contest 2010!