Ok I want to get this straight - Jean-Luc and I don't watch the Eurovision Song Contest EVER! But last night we were both tired and wanted to watch some mind numbing TV that didn't involve contests trying to out do each other with sob stories rather than talent or a reality show or soap opera. Eurovision was on and we had a bottle of wine open - perfect we thought, we'll watch this for a bit and then go to bed when we've had a good laugh.
As we hadn't been following all the TV coverage, in fact it was only luck that we even saw it on the schedule; we didn't know who was hosting it, which countries were in it or even what the UK entry was (or if we had one); we sat down anticipating some comic attempts at Pan-European songwriting, bad phrasing, appalling musical choices, some very dodgy costumes and bizarre staging. And we got all those. My favourite distraction was the man in the hamster wheel; while, unsurprisingly, Jean-Luc favoured the butter churning Polish girls.
However, and here's the big however, nothing prepared for the bolt of lightening that went through me and the audience when Austria's entry, Conchita Wurst stepped on stage and started singing. Wow! She was magnificent. Comparisons can be invidious but she reminded me of a cross between Shirley Bassey in her Goldfinger days and Adele. I name those two ladies because they have both sung Bond theme tunes and Conchita's song 'Rise Like a Phoenix' was everything a good Bond song should be. It was powerful, anthemic and was delivered with subtle phrasing and a powerhouse voice and presence with which the artist; unlike many other acts; commanded the stage. A fabulous gold dress and flaming phoenix light show background supported the act rather than distracted from it. Conchita Wurst was the star of the show and she damned well deserved her victory.
The second surprise of the night was from the Netherlands; with the Common Linnets performing an intimate, blue grass number called 'Calm After the Storm'; this was a total step change from most of the other acts but it was wonderful. Rich lyrics, great vocals and wonderfully understated performance from two great musicians who wouldn't have looked out of place on 'Later with...Jools Holland'. It was the sort of song that has you thinking 'do they have any albums out?'. Looking forward to hearing more of these two.
And the UK entry - well I think the less said about that the better....