Be afraid, be very afraid…Loreen takes to the stage

Momentum is gathering and expectations for Loreen‘s second rehearsal are massive here in Baku. Swedish press are buzzing and you can really feel the euphoria – quite literally. Loreen set the bar high with her first rehearsal on Wednesday. Will the PR juggernaut that is Euphoria  push the level of quality even higher?

The press area was jam packed with both eager fans and the curious members of press there to cover this year’s Swedish phenomenon. What had begun as a day on schedule was heavily delayed by the challenging stage number. The wait was worth is however, as Euphoria is visually stunning.

Loreen took to the stage in her trademark flowing black trouser suit, with a lime green and black overcoat covered in long black tassels that seem to shimmer in the spotlight. Her backing dancer is also entirely in black, as are the 4 backing singers discreetly placed at the side of the stage 3 women and one man also in black suits with the women wearing black bowler hats.

The stage is completely bare, free of gimmicks. A black platform stands centre stage with Loreen atop. The single beam of light that illuminates the enigmatic singer serves to great effect, heralding the burst of almost lightning like light frenzy that is to follow. The lighting gives way to both piercing sapphire spotlights against the black backdrop interspersed with pinks and purples.

Loreen took her time before the first run through to warm up her voice giving us a few sharp bursts of song as well as going through the highly elaborate dance routine. The seemingly endless perparation time merely exacerbated what already is a tight schedule, leading to perhaps a 45 minutes delay.

The first run through was plagued with problems, both technically and vocally. Loreens vocal performance seemed somewhat jaded with her cearly holding back, the lyrics barely audible in parts with the backing vocals more than evident to everyone present. There were also problems with the snow effect that comes into play before the final chorus : at one point they could not get the snow to stop, leading to pleas from the crew "Please, no more snow!" much to the bemusement of both press and fans alike.

The staging of Euphoria is extremely minimal with very little fuss and clutter, and it is herein its beauty lies. From the initial sombre colours, Loreen’s silhouette outlined against the mostly black backdrop provides hauntingly beautiful images. The point where she falls to her knees and the snow begins to fall both from high above and on the background screen is quite simply stunning and to be honest, a stroke of genius. The dancer on stage accompanying Loreen is an integral part of the act, but here and there, his sharp moves serve merely as distraction.

The second run through served well to iron out many of the issues from the first run through, although generally the number was still somewhat lacking compared to her first rehearsal here in Baku. The final run through however seemed spot on both vocal and visually – standing there you could literally feel the force and sheer power of her soaring vocals. The other technical issues seemed to have been eradicated so all in all a solid rehearsal.

Mixed reactions from those present. Colleagues in the press room claim that the number didn’t come across well on screen at all and needed a lot more work. Some left the rehearsal saying that the number had become a car crash of a song, whereas others were confidently stating that we’re off to Sweden next year. It’s hard to be objective when describing the Swedish entry this year. Sweden have not been so close to victory for such a long time and the pressure that poor Loreen must be under has to be indescribable.

In my view

Today was a mixed bag of rehearsals from Loreen where we have heard better performances from her previously, but her final run through gave me my first goosebump moment here in Baku. Achingly beautiful with a cracking contemporary tune and highly stylised performance I can understand the hype surrounding her song. I certainly wouldn’t mind going to Sweden next year and Loreen would indeed be a worthy winner that could possibly attract the contest many many more fans which is never a bad thing. Many write off Euphoria as a mere fan favourite and according to these nay sayers it will never win simply because of it’s fan status. I hope she proves everyone wrong and the problems witnessed today should be merely a temporary glitch that can be resolved in time for Thursday’s semi. Well done Loreen, for taking us u-u-u-u-u-up!

The opinion expressed in "In my view" are those of the author and are not necessarily the one of
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