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11th May, 2023

Celebrating Eurovision: The Beatles Story at the Dress Rehearsals

Still in the buzz of Tuesday’s Eurovision First Semi-Final, and in anticipation of tonight’s Second Semi-Final, The Beatles Story was granted access to yesterday’s dress rehearsals at M&S Bank Arena on Liverpool’s Waterfront.

The arena, which is a short scenic walk from The Beatles Story, has been expertly fitted for Eurovision. Spotlights and lighting in the respective country flag colours dance around each of the performers, and the heat of pyrotechnics reflects the heating up of the competition as the remaining acts are due to compete for a spot in the Grand Final in tonight’s televised showdown.  

In a change to usual Eurovision rules, the Semi-Final acts now have to impress a much wider audience. Possibly due to Eurovision’s world-wide appeal, voting has now been opened up to viewers all around the globe. If you’re watching from a non-participating country like those in the Americas or Asia, for example, you now have the opportunity to have your say! This year’s Eurovision, as described by one of the presenters, truly is a “party without borders.”

This year’s host line-up sees Brits Hannah Waddingham and Alesha Dixon united by music with ‘Ukrainian Girl’ Julia Sanina. The trio entered yesterday’s rehearsals to the applause of the press and the excitement of pyrotechnics.

It wouldn’t be right to host Eurovision in Liverpool without at least a couple Beatles references thrown in, and we got one straight away in the introduction. The three hosts reminded viewers that the UK and Ukraine have “Come Together” to host the world’s largest music competition. United by music.

The friendship between the UK and Ukraine was nicely summed up when Hannah and Alesha reminded Ukrainian Julia Sanina how to pronounce ‘queue’ when rehearsing the show’s introduction.

Julia Sanina is the front woman of the Ukrainian alternative rock band The Hardkiss, who in Spring 2022 joined a charity supergroup to cover The Beatles’ ‘Come Together’ in aid of Ukraine.

Amongst the line-up of rehearsing acts was Belgium’s entry Gustaph with his song ‘Because of You.’ The track’s message of love and acceptance was very popular with the press in attendance. Here at The Beatles Story, we were delighted to welcome Gustaph to our award-winning exhibition in March. During his visit, he talked to members of our team about the caring and friendly nature of the Liverpudlians he had encountered on his visit to the city.

Belgium's Gustaph (EBU/Chloe Hashemi)

We were pleased, too, to welcome Blanka’s Eurovision delegation to our exhibition this month. Blanka, Poland’s entry, rehearsed her song ‘Solo’ in yesterday’s press show. The song, as the title suggests, is all about going solo – that sounds familiar! Coincidentally, today is the 53rd anniversary of the release of The Beatles’ final US single ‘The Long and Winding Road,’ which came after the band’s split announcement and just before their subsequent solo careers.

Blanka’s act felt modern but nostalgic, with retro 80s theming. The 1980s seem to be in at the moment, as Australia’s entry Voyager opted for a retro vibe too, going as far as singing in a 1985 Toyota MR2 car.

Poland's Blanka (EBU/Louise Bennett)

Although the Ukraine and UK entries TVORCHI and Mae Muller qualify for the Grand Final automatically, they were still granted rehearsal time in yesterday’s Second Semi-Final rehearsal session.  

Ukraine’s costume and stage designs were cleverly reminiscent of the blue and yellow of Ukraine’s flag, colours that are currently being celebrated on almost every street in Liverpool. Their song ‘Heart of Steel’ captured the resilience of Ukraine’s people during the ongoing war.

Andrii Hutsuliak, a TVORCHI member, began writing ‘Heart of Steel’ during the start of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Watching footage of the Ukrainian army defending the Azovstal Iron and Steel Works, inspired Andrii to write a song that captured the resolute spirit of refusing to surrender the region. The song, according to the duo, also acts as a warning against the threat of nuclear war.

“We looked into the past of this contest. [The Eurovision Song Contest] was created after the Second World War to unite Europe. Today, while some are playing with nuclear threats, our people with steel hearts are protecting all of Europe. Time to unite against evil, for the sake of peace," – Andrii Hutsuliak

Ukraine's TVORCHI (EBU/Chloe Hashemi)

The Beatles Story is proud to be supporting Liverpool-based charity Casus Pax, who deliver vital equipment to the people of Ukraine, throughout the Eurovision period.

Representing the host country, the United Kingdom, this year is London’s Mae Muller. Her original entry track ‘I Wrote A Song’ was performed yesterday against striking modern but retro visuals that were reminiscent of the 1960s and the pop art movement. One segment, made up of black polka-dots on white, even reminded us Beatles fans of Yellow Submarine’s Sea of Holes!

UK's Mae Muller (EBU/Sarah Louise Bennett)

One of the show’s cut-aways revealed four scouse youngsters, billed by the presenters as ‘The Fab Four,’ being given exclusive backstage access. The four kids gave cute reactions and excitable enthusiasm at the sheer size of the arena stage, and at their experience behind the scenes.

Following more rehearsals that are underway today will be tonight’s live televised Second Semi-Final, during which the world will vote for who they want in the Grand Final on Saturday. This follows Tuesday’s First Semi-Final where Croatia, Moldova, Switzerland, Finland, Czechia, Israel, Portugal, Sweden, Serbia, and Norway qualified to join Ukraine and the Big Five in the Grand Final.

The Big Five - France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the UK – automatically qualify for the final, as they make the biggest financial contributions to the European Broadcasting Union.

While the official Eurovision Song Contest celebrates some of the best musicians Europe has to offer, The Beatles Story and The Jacaranda Club have ‘Come Together’ to celebrate some of the best artists in Liverpool today. The free live music sets have been delighting audiences for almost two weeks now, and more amazing acts are coming up each day until May 14th.

Mason Griffiths

Mason is the Content and PR Manager at The Beatles Story.

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