Dolan gets enthusiastic response in Eurovision rehearsal

Ireland’s performance faces public vote in tonight’s first semi-final in Sweden

Ryan Dolan has his first rehearsal on stage in the Malmö Arena. Photograph:Thomas Hanses (EBU)

Ryan Dolan has his first rehearsal on stage in the Malmö Arena. Photograph:Thomas Hanses (EBU)


Karen Fricker in Malmö

Last night, Ryan Dolan crossed the first major hurdle in his run for Eurovision Song Contest glory in style. In a dress rehearsal for expert juries as well as a full house of live spectators in Malmö Arena, Dolan and his five-person backup group earned one of the most enthusiastic reactions of the evening for their high-energy, technically skilled performance of Only Love Survives.

A full 50 per cent of the outcome of the first semi-final will be decided by the juries responding to this rehearsal, alongside tonight’s performance which is voted on by the public.

Other songs that received a particularly positive reaction were Russia’s inspirational power ballad What If and Denmark’s anthemic Only Teardrops, which had something of a home crowd advantage, given that Malmö is half an hour away from Copenhagen.

Last night, Dolan sent thanks to friends and family back home: “The support has been amazing. I have lots of new fans around Ireland sending good luck. Hopefully I’ll do them proud.”

Dolan’s mentor Stuart O’Connor said the whole Irish team was looking forward to moving into performance mode after a week of rehearsals. “It’s a better vibe with a full audience.”

That being said, O’Connor underlined that the most important audience for Eurovision are the viewers at home.

“There are 10,000 people in the audience and most of them are not going to vote. We’ve been working on playing to the camera,” Mr O’Connor said.

This year’s RTÉ Eurosong programme, in which Dolan was selected to represent Ireland, was the first time he had ever appeared on television.

Since then, he says he’s been though a “massive lifestye change... things couldn’t have moved any faster in my career”.

On Friday, his first album, Frequency, is being released.

Denmark, Russia, and Ukraine are rated by the bookmakers’ aggregator site Oddschecker as the most likely qualifiers out of the first semifinal, while Slovenia, Belgium, and Cyprus are not expected to qualify. Most bookmakers and contest followers see Irish qualification as highly likely.