On 30 April in the lobby of a budget hotel in Liverpool, for a good few hours I watched a group of young people in leathers sitting out on the smoking tables, talking earnestly, checking phones. The next day they were still there, waiting for something – but this time one of them, who has restricted growth, was carrying a wooden flute. Could this be a Eurovision band? It was Moldova’s entry: five girls and boys assembled round one of the country’s most famous singers, Pasha Parfeni – with a top knot and wearing a blue Hawaiian shirt – who also represented his country in 2012. Why are they already here, waiting around, a full week before the opening ceremony? They had their first rehearsal on 13 April, they tell me, as they work on adapting the visuals from their music video for the Liverpool Arena. “Soarele şi Luna” is a song “about yin and yang: life and death, day and night, men and women”, they explain. Each band member will wear one horn, and they will form the shape of the moon on the stage.
The flautist, Sergiu Bors, is a traditional folk musician and actor back home: their entry, a rousing, indigenous track with Lord of the Rings aesthetics, is one of those Eurovision songs you hear less often these days, as globalised song structures flatten the festival’s eclectic sound.