Eurovision madness has gripped Liverpool. In recent days, the big city in the northwest of England, the self-proclaimed capital of British pop, has completely turned yellow and blue. Street furniture, windows of pubs and department stores… everything has been repainted. Not in the colors of Sweden – even if Loreen, the Swedish candidate, is the big favorite of the 67e edition of the song contest – but to those, of course, of Ukraine.
In 2022, this is the poignant song Stefania, from the Ukrainian rap group Kalush Orchestra, who finished first in the competition, just ahead of Briton Sam Ryder. Ukraine should have, according to the rules of Eurovision, organized the next edition of this huge television competition (37 countries in the running, record audiences of 161 million spectators in 2022). But the country was obviously unable to comply, because of the Russian invasion.
The United Kingdom has offered to host the 2023 edition in its place, a first in the competition’s history. And after a national selection, it was Liverpool, the city of the Beatles and Frankie Goes to Hollywood, who inherited this responsibility, in October 2022.
“In 2022, the Ukrainian team was good and had the sympathy of the public, but it was the British Sam Ryder who had the best song. That’s why I appreciate the Brits hosting the competition this year.” points out Patrick, a Dutch Eurovision fan, yellow fake fur clogs on his feet, huge Batavian orange plastic headdress on his head. He and his friend Ian, dressed identically, have attended all the competitions since 2011 and are betting not on the victory of the Ukrainian group Tvorchi but on the consecration of Finland (with the singer Käärijä) or France (with La Zarra).
The Eurovision Village is a huge fanzone laid out along the Mersey (the river that crosses Liverpool just before flowing into the Irish Sea), opposite the Cunard and the Royal Liver Building, Liverpool’s best-known historic buildings , vestiges of its power during the industrial revolution. It offers daily free concerts. On Wednesday, May 10, the TuralTuranX twins, from Azerbaijan, will perform there. Eliminated the day before during the first semi-final, they honorably follow Beatles hits.
The “good balance” between celebration and tragic reality
The audience waits to buy £15 Eurovision bags (about 17 euros), sips £4 beers and pecks chips in the rain. We speak a bit of all languages without taking ourselves seriously, in a very glittery and disco atmosphere. Many heads are wearing the pink bob sported by Oleh Psiouk, the leader of the group Kalush Orchestra. The M&S Bank Arena, where the gigantic Eurovision stage was installed, is located a little to the south, still on the old port. This is where the lucky holders of a ticket for the final, Saturday May 13, will converge.
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