Sunday 18 February 2018

'I hit an awful ropey note that seemed to stay with me for the next few days!' - Nicky Byrne addresses issues in early Eurovision rehearsals

Nicky Byrne speaks at Eurovision press conference
Nicky Byrne speaks at Eurovision press conference
Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

Nicky Byrne has spoken about honing his performance in the early rehearsals for Eurovision in Stockholm this week.

Speaking at a press conference on Saturday night, the Irish representative said he was a "lot happier" with how his most recent rehearsal had gone.

"The first three [early rehearsals] last week were about getting a feel for the stage and it's funny because on the second rehearsal I hit an awful ropey note that seemed to stay with me for the next few days!" he said.

"But that's what rehearsals are for.  You're professional enough to take the good with the bad and see where you go wrong and we're got a great team of people who are flying the flag and we'll give our absolute best to get in the final and if our best isn't good enough we'll look again next year.

"But we really loved it today and I think we're getting everything right now."

The former Westlife star also revealed that the band lost their drummer, Paul Kenny, who did not travel with them to Stockholm because his father had sadly passed away last week.

He introduced Swedish drummer Johan Sundvall (25) as his replacement for the big performance.

"Paul's dad sadly passed away on Thursday so he didn't travel with us on Tuesday which is obviously a bit of a blow but our thoughts are with him family now and Paul," said Nicky.

Asked about how he felt watching his most recent rehearsal in the viewing room, Nicky said there was still a little room for improvement.

"I think it was good," he said, "I think we still, the head of the delegation here, Michael, and management and stuff, we're our own worst critics and we all know we can all get better and all get better and make it the best we can.

"It's a live performance so anything can happen.  Right now we're in good shape.  We still have the dress run to do and the big night on Thursday."

Nicky also defended RTE for their internal selection process this year.

"I think RTE are constantly under pressure from the Irish public to come up with new ways to try and compete in Eurovision," he said.

"And I think this year it was an internal selection so you're kind of damned if you do and damned if you don't.  They made an internal selection this year and some people are going to be frustrated with that and rightly so.

"They can look at it again next year.  But I think we can't judge that until next week, until the end of the weekend see if we qualify and do well."

Nicky's debut solo album Sunlight has just been released and he said it is a "mixture of Robbie Williams meets Olly Murs with some deep, meaningful songs in there."

He said he "delved into my personal life" but also assumed a person like an actor for other songs.

He has had the full backing of his former Westlife bandmates, he said, with Mark Feehily and Shane Filan reaching out to him following an email he sent them on Saturday jokingly asking if they had "any tips on singing and nailing a vocal in front of 200 million people".

Shane called him immediately and they spoke for an hour.

Nicky Byrne strikes back at Eurovision doubters with acoustic performance of 'Sunlight' 

"Shane is probably one of the best live singers I've witnessed and stood on a stage with for 14 years and he talked me through a lot of his tips," revealed Nicky.

"I would say he camed me down if I'm honest and sometimes, even though I have the experience, sometimes you can let the occasion get to you I guess.

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

"After the phonecall with Shane finished I got an email from Mark and the email was this long list of things to make sure to do - x, y, z."

He added, "Something one of them said to me which was great was, 'You don't have to qualify.  Just do yourself proud.'"

Nicky Byrne: 'The best make-up artist we had was Shane Filan, even at contouring. He had us all looking like Brad Pitt!' 

The Eurovision begins on Tuesday on RTÉ2 at 8pm, and Nicky performs in the second semi-final on Thursday, May 12, at 8pm. The final airs on RTÉ One on Saturday, May 14, at 8pm

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