Eurovision's 26 finalists hope to earn coveted ‘douze points' from jury final

The UK's Michael Rice delivered a rousing rendition of Bigger Than Us during the non-televised event.

The 26 finalists of the Eurovision Song Contest have performed for the international juries in the hope of securing the coveted “douze points”.

Sweden’s John Lundvik, the Netherlands’ Duncan Laurence and Australia’s Kate Miller-Heidke gave their best technical performances during the non-televised event.

The UK’s Michael Rice, 21, also took to the stage at the Expo Tel Aviv where he performed against a backdrop of a starry night sky.

Rice is hoping the impress the judges whose votes count for 50% of the overall score for each country. However, he will not find out the result until Saturday night’s televised show.

Rice was joined on stage by an outfit of backing vocalists who assisted him as he broke into the song’s gospel-influenced chorus.

“Thank you everyone,” he said to the crowd after.

“I’m living the dream. Thank you so much. I love you.”

He performed 16th, after Norway and before Iceland, whose techno-punk outfit Hatari are a favourite to win.

The UK, as one of the “big five” countries, along with France, Germany, Italy and Spain, was assured a place in the grand final.

This meant Rice did not perform in either of the two live semi-finals earlier in the week, and that his performance tonight was his first to a full audience.

The UK’s five-strong jury panel consists of Kylie Minogue’s musical director Pete Watson, radio DJ Adele Roberts, vocal coach Jai Ramage and singer AJ Bentley.

Each country gives two sets of 1 to 8, 10 and 12 points.

Murder On The Dancefloor singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor was meant to chair the group but stepped down earlier this week citing “unforeseen circumstances”. She was replaced by musical theatre actor George Ure.

The night also featured performances from former Eurovision contestants.

Earlier Israeli pop singer Dana International, who won the contest in 1998 when it was held in Birmingham, sang Omer Adam’s song Tel Aviv as the 26 entries were introduced.

Later four former Eurovision contestants also took to the stage to perform a medley of songs with a twist. They sang one another’s tracks in turn.

Austria’s Conchita Wurst, who won in 2014 with Rise Like A Phoenix, sung Mans Zelmerlow’s Heroes, which won the Swede the 2015 event.

Zelmerlow then performed Fuego, which earned Greece’s Eleni Foureira second place behind Netta’s Toy in 2018.

Foureira then took on Verka Serduchka’s Dancing Lasha Tumbai, which won the eccentric Ukrainian character actor the contest in 2007.

Finally, Serduchka sung Netta’s Toy, which won Israel the right to host the event during last year’s contest in Lisbon, Portugal.

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