Out Of The West End, Into The Fire!
Blog | Broadcasting | In The Studio
One week ago, Linda, Gareth and I flew across four timezones to attend the Grand Final of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, hosted in the amazing city of Baku in Azerbaijan. From the ancient Old Town, where you’ll find the mysterious Maiden’s Tower, to stunning new buildings that include designs by Zaha Hadid and Norman Foster, Baku has been around for 2,500 years which gives it a wonderful blend of old and new. The fire-themed identity that we created for this year’s Eurovision was even more prominent on the streets of Baku this time than we I visited a few weeks ago; emblazoned across billboards, buses, bags, taxis and road signs. Practically everything you could think of! Despite many loyal Eurovision fans not being able to make the 2,500-mile trip to Baku, enthusiastic Azeri’s waved flags for the competing countries, clearly thrilled to have the world’s biggest music entertainment show come to their city. I was surprised whilst walking along Baku’s bay-side boulevard when I was stopped by Euovision’s host broadcaster Ictimai Television for a quick ‘man-on-the-street’ interview about my impressions of Baku and Eurovision. I had nothing but praise for both!
The Crystal Hall is arguably the most significant architectural feature in Baku this year, having been purpose-built to capture the energy and attention of the 125+ million people tuning in to watch the Grand Final from around the world. It’s an incredible achievement that such an amazing venue has been built from scratch within the space of a year. Outside the arena we caught up with Jorg Grabosch, the show’s executive producer, Adrian Stumpf, the show’s producer and Barbara Simon, the show’s executive creative director – all from Brainpool. All were in good form and looking forward to the show. Inside the Crystal Hall itself: WOW! Designer Florian Wieder surpassed his incredible designs for Eurovision 2011 in D√ºsseldorf. Seeing it with my own eyes I knew I was looking at the best music stage set anywhere in the world right now. Every feature of the Hall was impressive; from the huge angular screens suspended above the stage, I found the connecting walkway through the audience to the performers green-room at the back of the arena. Eldar Gasimov, who, with Nigar Camal, won the contest last year for Azerbaijan with the song Running Scared, was a very enthusiastic host alongside the beautiful Leila Alieva and Nargiz Berk-Petersen. Highlights of the Grand Final for me were the Buranovo Grannies who gave a great performance for Russia with Party For Everybody, Ivi Adamou singing some classic Europop with La La Love for Cyprus, and Donny Montell singing blindfolded for Lithuania, who evidently thought he was a stunt double for Tom Cruise at one point. Engelbert Humperdinck represented the UK admirably, performing Love Will Set You Free, but, as you‚Äôre well aware by now, Loreen stormed the voting with 372 points for Sweden singing Euphoria What a great show! Well done to Sweden and Loreen! I’m already looking forward to Stockholm next year!
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