Eurovision in Concert: What did we learn?

I’m on an endless series of trains across the continent to get to London Eurovision Party, and I’ve got a bunch of shitty cell phone camera images to share so please forgive any formatting as I peck this out on a phone interface. But there’s been a lot of chatter about last night’s concert and I wanted to weigh in with some actual thoughts aside from this:

Gustaph and me being hat twins

First of all, we tend to forget the “pre” in “preparty.” These parties are fun, but they aren’t Eurovision. Properly engineered vocals, staging, effects – none of these are present. So they tend to not give us many hints about actual placement on the Eurovision Saturday.*

And that also means that any perceived vocal wobbles are not reliable data points. (That’s my polite way of saying that the Netherlands should stop worrying and remember that this duet is better than Solo Waylon.)

But what pre-parties are helpful for is in gauging the live audience response to acts. Yes, the people at these parties are Eurofans and generally in the bubble. However, opinions can change once you see the acts live.

So based on that, what did we (and by we I mean me) learn from Eurovision In Concert?

1. Loreen is still the queen.

When I was dissecting the show with The Person I Live With (who is Eurovision-adjacent), they noted that Loreen was “next level” and just seemed to be a cut above everyone else. And it’s true. Tattoo has clichéd lyrics. The staging seems to be the brainchild of someone who really liked Denis Villeneuve’s Dune. And yet Loreen elevates it all with her performance. When the “violins playing and the angels crying” lyrics kicked in last night, I got goosebumps at how good she sounded. This woman could make up a song based on the bowl of alphabet soup she had for lunch and it would still get 12 points from several countries.

2. This is the year of the Fortysomething Daddy

Chris Harms from Lord of the Lost with lots and lots of confetti

What acts got big reactions last night? VETERAN DADDIES. Turns out people who have been performing for years professionally are very good at it! The explosion of delight for Gustaph isn’t just because the concert was held in a Belgium-adjacent venue. It’s because the man is legitimately adored by everyone – the “nice boy” grandma crowd, the OGAE veterans, the teen girl Joker Out fans – everyone was happy to see him on stage. Voyager got a similar reaction, but I can’t tell you any more about it because I was too busy screaming “ah-oh-ah-oh-ah-oh-ah-oh-oh-ah” at the top of my lungs. And Lord of the Lost had a bunch of people who don’t like metal lustily singing along to the chorus. (Side note: I apologize to the tiny teen girl next to me because I growled all the screamo parts of this song very loudly.)

3. All Bands are not the same.

The lead singer of Piqued Jacks

We should already know this, but for some reason, people see guitars and think “Maneskin” or “Lordi” and make assumptions based on that. While every band was warmly welcomed last night, there are some bands that seem to be hitting with certain demographics more fiercely than others. Joker Out caused a frenzy among a certain section of the audience that had memorized the Slovenian lyrics. Sudden Lights and Piqued Jacks did not do anything groundbreaking to change opinions. And while I was worried about Wild Youth not enjoying the Eurovision experience, they have let loose and embraced the party, to the point where Conor was outside the venue singing Cha Cha Cha at random people. (It’s me. I am random people.)

4. Europe wants to PARTY.

KAARIJAA with his hand raised

Yes, I know, I was at a pre-party and the clue is in the name. But aside from Blanca Paloma’s rapturous reception for EA EA (which she opened with a fabulous guitar/cello moment that I wish she would replicate at Eurovision), the bangers had it. I’ve been to EiC before and when a ballad has it, we know – EVERYONE will sing along and have a moment. People were happy to hear Alika and Monika and Remo Forrer, and they performed beautifully. Alika remains one of my favourite vocalists of the contest. But there’s a reason Teya and Salena and Kaarijaa were near the end – people went absolutely bonkers pogoing to POE POE POE and CHA CHA CHA. I don’t envy the producers who have to decide the running order after some all-televote semifinals, because it’s going to be hard to balance the ballads with all these crowd-pleasinf bangers. (This is, of course, my dream scenario.)

5. Theodor Andrei cannot keep his shirt on.

Is it an homage to Mario? Does he love Kriss Kross but had to rush out on stage in the middle of turning these around? Is he trying to do a sexy Money Heist? Whatever the answer, I am pretty sure we will be getting a costume reveal in Liverpool.

*And even then we should be wary of the buzz. Remember how there were so many rumours about Blanche not doing well in rehearsals? Then she smashed it and came in 4th and I hope that she is doing well today.

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