It’s Saturday night and I’m half-watching “ABBA – The Movie” on SBS TV. It’s not the first time I’ve seen it, and it’s not the first time it’s been on television. It’s the first time, however, it’s been shown on SBS and I can’t decide if their decision to show it relates to the current Eurovision season or the imminent release of “Mamma Mia” the movie. There were three ads in the last commercial break alone.
I watched the Eurovision semi-final tonight and thought some of the songs were okay. I was devastated that Ireland’s entry, Dustin The Turkey failed to make it through, as I thought it was genuinely funny. I loved the line in the song about how they were sorry for Riverdance. I also think it would be great to think there’s room in Eurovision for a bit of self-parody. Obviously not, as the song was booed. I’m a bit of a fan of Charlotte Perrelli from Sweden (of course), though she looks really weird these days. Too much plastic surgery or botox if you ask me.
Aside from Charlotte, my favourite tonight was the entry from Croata. It’s got everything. It opens with a well-dressed old bloke dressed entirely in white. He’s ranting about something. From there, a middle-aged bloke wearing black takes over, singing a cabaret-style tune to a piano accordian accompaniment. After a while the old bloke begins wandering around the stage. A little bit “Azheimers” if you know what I mean. Then, in a scene that reminded me of that bloke who plays beer bottles outside Paddy’s Market on the weekend, a woman emerges playing bottles filled with red liquid. Bizarre. You just know Croatia doesn’t want to win for the second successive year!
I had another Eurovision moment today at a matinee performance at the Theatre Royal by the Soweto Gospel Choir. In keeping with the themes of peace and universality in their show, the final song (before the obligatory encores) was “World In Union”. As the first strains of the song emerged I whispered, “This is very Eurovision, isn’t it?” in Andrew’s ear. I really love this song, based around the Gustav Holst’s Planet Suite, and in particular “I Vow To Thee My Country”. Unfortunately, however, I can’t mentally separate the song from the Rugby Union World Cup.
The premise for the show was “spiritual songs”, with the word “spiritual” interpreted in its broadest sense. They sang everything from reggae to pop (including a hip-hop dance) centred around the traditional gospel. About the only song that didn’t work for me was their version “Amazing Grace”. What should be a simple, heartfelt lyric took on an “American diva” quality with some overblown vocal gymnastics. To anyone attempting this song, just remember it’s about the “amazing grace” not the “amazing me”. That said, the rest of the audience LOVED it.
Aside from these minor criticisms, it was a really great show. Like, really great. I’d highly recommend it to anyone who has the chance to see the show. And afterwards, the performers held buckets collecting money to help people living with AIDS in Africa.
The only other thing I’ve done in the last 24 hours is have dinner and drinks with a mate of mine, who shall remain nameless at the moment. That’s only because it was a particularly trashy night, and she and I have our reputations to maintain. It all stated off with drink at the Clock, followed by dinner at Bills. And then of course, she said to me “Feel like a nightcap?”.
That’s where it all went wrong. A few more wines and a few more beers and we somehow found ourselves upstairs at “The Gaslight” chatting to teenage lesbians and being shown how to play an Italian card game by two young men. The best thing about getting older is that you know when it’s time to call it quits, and thank goodness we did.