TEL AVIV 2019 ■ Duncan’s first set of rehearsals

Not being present in the frantic press bubble has got its advantages. You are getting slightly less OGAE-esque convulsions if your win-or-die-expectations after the first set of rehearsals are not met. Remember the first rehearsals from Netta last year? Or the not-present Salvador? After having seen some first impressions, betting write-ups, a short clip here and there containing Duncan’s impressive vocals, I tend to think a bit different. ■ By: Gert Waterink

What I see, so far, is an excellent ‘act’ (disgusting word by the way), where more typical and traditional staging-tropes are perhaps less influential. ‘They’ wanted a Duncan gazing at you up close and personal. But that’s not Duncan. Duncan is a performer and singer-songwriter who, more than performers in other Eurovision editions, wants to convey the emotions with his composition. To me that works better on my emotional state; it works better if I can ‘observe’ his closed-eyed mood. And not if out of desperation he wants to drag you into the misery of ‘1944’. ‘Arcade’ is altogether a much different song.

The Netherlands 2019, Duncan Laurence with ‘Arcade’ (1st rehearsal) © EBU & Eurovision.tv

It’s more of a concert-entry, with which the audience-filled hall will be of uttermost importance. With such an entry longshots and wide shots could prove pivotal to reach that look and feel.

Duncan’s clothes? I find them beautiful. There was some criticism about Duncan’s fashion choice. But the 1980’s are back again within several pret-a-porter collections (who can remember Raf, Italy, Eurovision 1987?). And it suits Duncan’s twinky style. Having said that, staging clothing to me is very much a non-issue. Especially with entries like ‘Arcade’, ‘Soldi’ or ‘Too Late For Love’ (it’s different where the quality of your entry has to be compensated with all that fashion-blabla, and needs to hide the lack of song-quality thereof).

Italy 2011, Raphael Gualazzi with ‘Madness Of Love’ (1st with jury’s) © EBU & Eurovision.tv

And the piano? If one has been to bigger concerts or rock festivals, one would have known that portable piano’s are way more practical. But in a way it therefore suits this Dutch ‘concert registration’, to be performed on May 16th, perfectly. It looks a bit less ‘forced classical’ and more modern and contemporary. And let’s not forget, ‘Arcade’ is a contemporary entry.

Fashion in the 1980’s (Italy 1987, 3rd place) © EBU & Eurovision.tv

Will The Netherlands win the 64th Eurovision edition? Let me put it differently. Will The Netherlands win a medal, whatever colour that may be? Yes. And mostly thanks to the total package that is on display, and not because of a lacklustre staging product (By the way, it was mentioned to me that taging director Hans Pannecoucke was nót happy about what the Israeli producers came up with. To put it mildly! Apparently, anger from the Dutch delegation could be instrumental to some camera angle changes during the 2nd rehearsals).

Belgium 2017, Blanche with ‘City Lights’ (4th in televote) © EBU & Eurovision.tv

And let’s face it, every now and then a contender for the big prize in the run-up to the final also manages to score bloody well, victories included. Think of some entries from the past like Ireland 1990 (oowh yes, a piano), Ireland 1994 (piano!), Norway 2003 (sjee, another piano), but also go back to atmospheric entries like Norway 1995 (1st), Serbia-Montenegro 2004 (2nd), Italy 2011 (2nd, ughh, piano), Belgium (dead bird) 2017 (the one that still heavily convinced televoters) and off course Portugal 2017. The performers from all these entries didn’t pull at the camera like the outraged widow Trijntje did in 2015.

So, let’s breathe in, and breathe out. Yes, perhaps even Italy’s Mahmood falls in the above category. But please don’t act like you’re all on coke ‘dear distinguished members of the international press’. Something nice will happen for The Netherlands. And again, like always, I’m going to witness that on my IKEA-sofa. Because Eurovision is also a lot of fun. PS: dear audience, bring your LED-candles!

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