All smiles as Jedward make a splash
THE locals in Baku have been getting lessons in smiling, but having Jedward around surely means those lessons are no longer needed.
The hyperactive 20-year-olds continued their charm offensive in Azerbaijan yesterday, visiting a local market, feeding their new rabbits, hanging out with the local Eurovision entrant -- and doing some work later on by performing the finished version of their song.
The twins are due on stage last in tonight's first Eurovision semi-final at Baku's Crystal Hall.
Yesterday they performed 'Waterline' for a live feed for juries across Europe, while the public vote is this evening.
Their performance was certainly memorable -- with the pair getting soaked by the water fountains that are a major part of their elaborate stage act.
Notably absent were their gravity-defying quiffs, but the outlandish costumes are still in vogue -- with Jedward yesterday wearing silver costumes that resemble knights' armour.
Asked if they could win through from the semi-finals, and even triumph in the grand finals, Jedward had a worrying prediction for cash-strapped RTE.
"RTE, get ready to stage Eurovision 2013, because we are going to win," Edward said.
Gaining in the popularity stakes, though, is Russia's singing Buranovskiye Babushki (Buranovo Grannies), an eight-strong group of women with an average age of 75. Their music blends modern pop with traditional choral music.
Earlier in the day, Jedward visited a market in Baku. It was at another, different market last week that they bought their pet rabbits, Baku Euro and Vision.
They now keep the animals in their suite at the five-star Hyatt Hotel, and yesterday included them in a photo shoot with Azerbaijan entry, singer Sabina Babayeva -- raising plenty of laughs among the locals.
According to the BBC, this is one area that Azerbaijan has been concentrating on as it comes to terms with an influx of thousands of flamboyant Eurovision fans.
Local customs mean that smiling in the former Soviet republic is regarded as inappropriate.
And 'smiling training' has been given to restaurant workers and officials in recent months in an effort to make the foreigners feel more at ease.
But organisers have bigger concerns ahead of tonight's first semi-final.
Building workers were still laying paving outside Eurovision venue Crystal Hall yesterday.
The venue will be completed at the very last minute -- but the show will certainly go on.
Artists from some 20 countries, including the highly rated Russian grannies, compete in tonight's first semi-final, with 10 spots at stake.
A further 10 go through from Thursday's second semi-final to Saturday's Grand Final, in which viewers and professional juries will each have a 50pc stake in the outcome.
Jedward, who wore Louis Copeland suits in the 30C heat yesterday, are expected to qualify from their semi-final. And they didn't appear to be feeling any pressure yesterday.
Last year, President Mary McAleese sent a good luck message to Jedward when they competed at Eurovision in Dusseldorf.
The twins are expecting another message, but they seemed unaware of the inauguration of her successor, Michael D Higgins.
"Mary's not President anymore? She's in Rome? Is she chillin'?" they asked.
Mrs McAleese is currently studying in Rome.