Sunday saw yet another hugely successful London Eurovision Party with several of this year’s acts, and other special guests, performing to a packed crowd in the Shadow Lounge, showcasing their Eurovision entries and other songs in an intimate setting. As has become traditional I popped down to Access All Areas and shunt on-stage equipment for the artistes. Well, how else am I going to get my hands on that Greek drummer’s bongos?
As well as escorting some of the artists between the venue and the press room round the corner in homosexualist hostelry The Yard (where they were treated to some lovely images of bare arses lining the staircase – heaven only knows what some of those young ladies made of it all, although it probably gave the Greek boys a taste of what was to come...) I also managed to catch the sound check during the afternoon where John Allison from the UK 1961 seemed to go through the entirety of his repertoire before snapping his g-string. Everyone else was in fine form as they practised and got used to the venue.
Opening the show the ever-lovely Nicki French treated us to her own version of the song our Bonnie took to the top of the hit-parade, Total Eclipse of the Heart. I’ll be waiting in Malmö for some wise-cracking DJ to slip it on instead of Bonnie’s own backing track. Nicki introduced Mr Allison who regaled us of his extensive (and hitherto un-supposed) career highlights before cracking on with his tune. Then it was onto this year’s line up with Austria’s Natalia Kelly. She knew her crowd and opened with Ne Partez Pas Sans Moi before singing Molitva in the original language as a special treat. I’m not keen on her entry but I warmed to her personally very much. Cezar from Romania showed off his impressive vocals and laid an early claim to be this year’s Ott Lepland in some particularly snug denims. Lovely Gianluca from Malta brought his infectious smile and humour to the stage and generally charmed everybody. Closing the first half was a lively performance by Finland’s Krista who had brought three backing dancers to fill out her Team Ding Dong and who spent all day in a wedding frock. She’s keen!
I was all a flutter during the interval as it was time for my big starring role. I had to get that drum kit into position for Koza Mostra. Would I get that high-hat in just the right place to create the perfect tinkle? Thankfully I did, and then waited backstage with several burly bearded men all pent up before their performance. I wonder how they were feeling at the time? The Greek boys burst onto the stage in a riot of Balkan ska and brought the house down. I stayed close by the lovely drummer, just in case in case he was suddenly all come over and needing of succour. Then it was time to whip that drum kit away as the boys retired from the stage to enjoy the free alcohol (something I’m pleased to report I was able to also enjoy as a thank-you from the organisers). Cheers boys, stalk – oops, sorry – SEE you in Malmö!
I was just steadying myself and having a cooling waft down the cleavage with the Thessaloniki Gazette backstage, meaning I missed the apparently giddy delights of 2007’s Sarbel mincing into the crowd with his Yassou Maria, and I also managed to miss the nice Latvian boys, resplendent in pink and blue suits with winkle-pickers as I escorted the Greek boys back round to the main entrance to ensure they gained unimpeded access having mislaid their artist passes. I got back in time for Denmark’s Emilie to deliver a cracking acoustic version of her song which is a big favourite this year. Special guest Nikki Jamal from Azerbaijan, North London, took to the stage next with a solo version of Running Scared along with two other new tracks from her forthcoming album. Just before the other Nicki rounded off the show by playing that song again the reinvented Valentina Monetta treated us to both the English and Italian versions of her Sammarinese song, though not to Facebook, much to the disappointment of the crowd. She still went down a storm though, and channelled Sandie Shaw performing in bare feet.
All of this year’s acts were presented by one of the fab Ben Morris’s Minipop Icons of themselves, and the night also acted as a plug for the forthcoming Make A Difference Trust's annual charity West End Eurovision night in May. Despite the schedule slipping a bit and the acts finishing at almost midnight it was a truly great night, and I’m pleased to have been a part of helping it to run on the day. Now, what to wear for my second date with that Greek drummer...?
You can see video performances of the artists here on escXtra.com.