By Alex Green, PA Acting Deputy Entertainment Editor, in Liverpool
Ireland’s Wild Youth has failed to qualify for the Eurovision grand final.
The band’s frontman took to the stage at Eurovision in a sparkling gold jumpsuit as the band bid to help Ireland qualify for the grand final for the first time since 2018.
Conor O’Donohoe, who wore a green shamrock necklace, was surrounded by pyrotechnics as he delivered the song’s vocal climax.
Ireland has participated in Eurovision more than 50 times and has a record seven wins, but has failed to qualify for the final since Ryan O’Shaughnessy entered with his song Together in 2018.
Fifteen acts competed in the first of the contest’s two semi-finals, with only the top 10 progressing to the grand final on Saturday.
Wild Youth faced tough competition from a number of Nordic countries also competing on Tuesday, including previous winner Loreen representing Sweden, fan favourite Kaarija representing Finland and Norway’s Alessandra.
The countries to qualify from the first of the semi-final heats were Norway, Serbia, Portugal, Croatia, Switzerland, Israel, Moldova, Sweden, Czechia, and Finland.
The evening kicked off with a short video featuring local famous faces including Wirral-born TV baker Paul Hollywood, actor Ricky Tomlinson and the late Paul O’Grady.
There was also a surprise pre-recorded appearance from the King and Queen, who unveiled the staging last month.
The #Eurovision history rap we never knew we needed pic.twitter.com/mE0pY7Rcze
— Eurovision Song Contest (@Eurovision) May 9, 2023
Britain’s Got Talent judge Alesha Dixon and Ted Lasso actress Hannah Waddingham are hosting alongside Ukrainian singer Julia Sanina of the band The Hardkiss, and all three wore extravagant outfits featuring an array of leather, giant bows and rainbow colours.
Waddingham joked they were “honorary Liver Birds for the evening” while Sanina welcomed viewers with a message in her native Ukrainian.
She later thanked “beautiful Liverpool” for welcoming Ukraine and its people “with open arms”.
Spice Girl Melanie C also made a surprise appearance as the announcer, introducing the show and the hosts.
Dixon harked back to her time in girl group Mis-Teeq with a rap that paid tribute to the people of Ukraine and the trademark pink bucket hat of Kalush Orchestra frontman Oleh Psiuk.
She then led the crowd in a chant of “Liverpool, Liverpool.”
Queen of the Kings and Queen of the high notes 🇳🇴 #Eurovision2023 pic.twitter.com/9ihqle6ggb
— BBC Eurovision (@bbceurovision) May 9, 2023
There was also an appearance from The Fizz, whose members were part of 1981 winning act Bucks Fizz, and were seen queuing outside a red phone box in the venue.
The acts were cheered on inside the venue by fans from across the UK, Europe and further afield – while thousands more watched screens at the Eurovision Village at the city’s historic Pier Head.