Eurovision 2023: Stars of this year’s song contest perform at final pre-party

There’s less than a month to go now until the Eurovision Song Contest is held in Liverpool.

“We don’t want this to end,” Austria’s Teya and Salena tell me.

For the final time before the competition begins the artists have performed on stage as the final pre-party took place last night in London.

Over the past few weeks, gigs have been taking place across Europe in Spain, Poland, Israel, the Netherlands and in the UK.

“I feel like every interview we do we’re just fangirling about how cool Eurovision is. Whenever people ask us who our favourites are we’re at 15 fingers, this year is so strong and we’re so grateful to be surrounded by so many amazing artists.”

Their song Who The Hell Is Edgar? is a satirical take on the music industry, but if their enthusiasm for the song contest is anything to go by they’ve come full circle.

Image caption,

Sweden’s Loreen is competing for the second time – after winning the contest in 2012

“I love this community,” Loreen, one of this year’s favourites with her song Tattoo, explains.

“I hope people feel how much I love them and how much I care,” the Swedish star adds.

On the Eurovision stage, 37 countries will be represented as the UK hosts one of the world’s biggest shows for the first time in 25 years.

The contest has changed a lot since 1998, and parts of it are even unrecognisable from what it was like 11 years ago.

“There were no pre-parties then,” Loreen laughs. “It’s really exciting now to travel around and meet people and they all already know the song and that’s crazy.”

Songs that get the crowd going at the pre-parties aren’t necessarily ones that will do well in the competition, where 160 million viewers watching will also have their say voting at home.

But what they do give is an idea of who can sing live, who might need some dance lessons, and who can command a stage.

There’s no doubt Slovenia’s Joker Out are pros at what they do, and amongst the many bands in this year’s competition they have continued to grow their fanbase since I last saw them in Barcelona three weeks ago.

Image caption,

Joker Out are Slovenia’s biggest-selling band and are hoping Eurovision will bring them success elsewhere

“It’s a crazy experience – in Slovenia we have arena concerts and here we’d have a very hard time filling up a pub,” the band tell me laughing.

They’re modest though, they easily got one of the biggest cheers both outside the venue meeting fans and on stage too.

“We really need a rest,” they say, and they’re right. Eurovision stars like Italy’s Måneskin, who were up for a Grammy for best new artist earlier this year, have proven the contest can make a band global.

Intense rehearsals will now begin for each act in their country before they all travel to Liverpool’s M&S arena in the next couple of weeks.

“We really need to get to Liverpool quickly because he’s billing us by the hour,” Australia’s Voyager joke.

They’re talking about their vocalist Daniel Estrin who’s a lawyer by day and rock star by night.

Image caption,

Voyager have been trying for years to represent Australia at Eurovision and this year they finally have their chance

Like Loreen, over the past four years I’ve seen the pre-party season grow to a point where they’ve, in some regards, become unrecognisable.

They are now full-scale productions run completely independently by volunteers. They’re put on by people who love the contest and want fans across the continent to have as much access to the competition as possible.

By the time Eurovision week comes, the artists can be exhausted from rehearsals and are feeling the pressure to do well.

The pre-party season allows the artists to have fun, and also get the chance to enjoy the music of their competitors.

If you didn’t already know, Eurovision isn’t just one Saturday night in May – it’s a year-long event to many and there’s no need for an invitation.

Everyone’s always welcome, and the next party is in Liverpool.

See you there.

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