Who impressed the most in Eurovision In Concert 2019?
11 years ago, a handful of Dutch Eurovision fans decided to start Eurovision In Concert, an event that takes place roughly one month before the actual contest where the participants from all over Europe can promote their songs. Last year, for the tenth anniversary, the organization moved the concert to the bigger venue AFAS Live in Amsterdam, where it took place this year as well. 28 delegations, including Dutch bookmakers favourite Duncan Laurence, performed in front of ecstatic Eurovision fans. But who impressed us and who needs some work on their performance before May?
The show starts with a handful of former Dutch Eurovision representatives, including Sieneke (2010) and Marlayne (1999), who also hosts the night together with Dutch Eurovision guru Cornald Maas. Before the 2019 hopefuls take the stage, Eurovision 1998 winner Dana International from Israel lip synchs her way through her winning song ‘Diva’ in a skin tight body suit. Needless to say the crowd is buzzing and they keep that up until the very end of the show, which meant that every single contestant was met with applause and cheers which must have been a warm welcome for them.
Of course the uptempo party tunes get a bit of extra love on evenings like this where the crowd wants to dance. This made the Spanish Miki’s ‘La Venda’ into one of the highlights of the evening where the crowd sang and danced along with passion. The same goes for the bookmakers’ number 2, Luca Hänni from Switzerland, who performed his contemporary banger ‘She Got Me’ and had the whole crowd ‘dirty dancing’. Only 16 years old Zena from Belarus did take advantage of the fact that bops with a similar sound from Malta and Cyprus were not performed to night, so you could say that the crowd seemed to like her ‘Like It’ a little bit extra.
Like every year, numerous countries brought the drama with big ballads and vocal acrobatics. The stunning Nevena Bozovic from Serbia gave a vocally pitch perfect performance of her Balkan ballad ‘Kruna’, while Kobi Marimi from host country Israel showed he completely owns his track ‘Home’. The British hopeful Michael Rice provided one of the vocally strongest performances of the night and the Eurovision fans seem to get behind his ‘Bigger Than Us’ in hopes he will break the UK’s curse in the contest. Georgia sends Oto Nemsadze with the rock and folk tune ‘Keep On Going’ which does not necessarily cater to the taste of your average Eurovision fan, but there is no denying his voice is one of the strongest in this year’s competition.
For some of the internally selected competitors, their performance in AFAS Live was the first time they got to sing their Eurovision songs in front of a bigger crowd. Armenia’s Srbuk past the first test with her powerful tune ‘Walking Out’. The big notes at the end could use some fine tuning, but in general she proved she can handle the song. The same goes for Katerine Duska from Greece, who was said to struggle with illness the day of the concert. She sang her ‘Better Love’, showing off her characteristic soulful vocals which have been compared to Amy Winehouse before. Her lower vocal register in the verses lacked power and control at times, but the high notes in the chorus were all on point. The Polish ladies from Tulia gave an excellent performance of their folky tune ‘Fire Of Love’ which might grow out to be a dark horse in the competition in Tel Aviv. The 18 years old Eliot from Belgium gave a vocally stronger performance of ‘Wake Up’ than we heard on radio earlier this week, but the singer did look a bit lost on the big stage. This is fixable though with a strong staging on the actual Eurovision stage.
Nordic countries Norway, Finland and Denmark all gave performances that were very well received by the Eurovision fans, but we have to keep in mind that, especially Norway, sends a typical Eurovision tune that might not find as much following from the ‘general public’. The same of course goes for Serhat who represents San Marino for the second time with a campy disco tune. The fans live for it, but it might fall flat on the big stage in Tel Aviv. The controversial performance from Hatari from Iceland is one of the hardest to judge in this year’s competition. Vocally, the sung chorus did not sound as strong in AFAS live and it remains to be seen if judges will get on board with the whole act.
The organization of Eurovision In Concert saved the best for the very last. At the end of the evening AFAS Live almost exploded when the hosts announced the Dutch bookies favourite Duncan Laurence. He sang a vocally flawless version of his ‘Arcade’ which caused goosebumps all over the crowd, consisting of heaps of international fans as well. Laurence confirmed his status as the one to beat and the support he gets from Dutch as well as fans from all over Europe is overwhelming to witness.
The organization of Eurovision In Concert showed that they deserve the bigger venue with a smooth, fast paced show with 28 contestants and an appareance from German Eurovision winner Nicole as well. I for one cannot wait for next year, whether it will be just Eurovision in Concert in Amsterdam or maybe the whole contest…