Sunday 23 October 2016

When it comes to Eurovision, RTE are still partying like it’s 1996

Published 06/05/2016 | 07:18

Nicky Byrne on stage
Nicky Byrne on stage
Nicky Byrne discussing his performance with the Swedish production team
Nicky Byrne on stage in Stockholm

IRISH Eurovision fans waited with bated breath for Nicky Byrne’s first Eurovision rehearsal in Stockholm this week of his song ‘Sunlight’.

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The former Westlife star is Ireland’s most high profile entrant to the competition since Jedward in 2011, and this brings a heap load of expectation that he can deliver a good result.

This is why many Eurovision fans are left scratching their heads at Nicky’s underwhelming stage show.

Let's give praise where it's due: Nicky is a great performer, he has a good song and his attitude towards the competition has been fantastic.

Nicky Byrne discussing his performance with the Swedish production team
Nicky Byrne discussing his performance with the Swedish production team

He's not making the mistake of some seasoned performers who have gone before him of assuming he will be guaranteed a place in the final on name alone, he knows he will have to battle for it - and he has the tri-coloured boxing gloves on.

Ireland’s run of results since the turn of the century has been nothing short of disastrous – we went from golden child to runt of the litter.

In Manchester United terms, our Alex Ferguson days are well behind us.

This year could go down in infamy on our Eurovision record in more ways than one.

If Nicky Byrne fails to qualify next Thursday it would mark Ireland’s worst run of results in the competition since we joined in 1965, as our third consecutive year not qualifying for the final.

2016 is also the first time in over 20 years that our well-established Eurovision winning record could be ended - by Sweden.

They have bolstered their Eurovision record with two wins in the last four years alone. So Nicky, no pressure - just our all-time record and all those once timeless Fr Ted Eurovision references on the line.


Hopes were high when RTE unveiled Byrne as the representative – the Dubliner said he was forgoing his fee to reinvest the money into the stage show.

Having seen Nicky’s rehearsal, one wonders if his appearance fee would buy you a one way DART ticket to Bray.

The song is very modern and would fit seamlessly on many radio station's playlists - however the staging, once again, is where our issue lies.

Instead of an innovative visual performance taking advantage of the 1,828 moving lights and 900 square metres of LED panels on the stage, we’re confronted with a display any pub in the country could produce.

It’s Nicky and a miming band. That’s it.

Look, we’re not looking for Finnish rock monsters Lordi here. We’re not expecting Nicky to set himself on fire while gyrating against a woman on stilts. But the lack of creativity is shocking – and frankly inexcusable for RTE at this stage.

RTE have said the performance is “without any gimmicks” – which is convoluted PR-speak for a lazy, hopelessly outdated 90s stage show.

When it comes to Eurovision, RTE are still partying like it’s 1999. Or 1996 to be more exact, the year of our last victory.

Let’s look at the positives though.

Nicky is a seasoned professional – and knows how to turn it on during the big occasions, so judging him on his rehearsals might not be an accurate measure of what he’ll be able to do on the night.

RTE also still have time to change up the staging – the second rehearsals are still to come, and is when things need to be really set in stone from a production point of view.

But based on what we’ve seen so far, we could be asking ourselves ‘What’s another year?’ come results time next Thursday night.

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