First up is the EBBA’s (The European Border Breakers Awards), the European music awards for emerging artists. It’s quite a treat to get an invite to this show. Televised and hosted by Jools Holland, it’s set up like a version of his ‘Later with’ programme. I bag myself a space in the front row of the crowd to catch single song live performances from this year’s award winners. It’s likely that I’ll never get to see these acts so close-up again so I make the most of it.
Regular readers of Sonic Breakfast will know that I’ve got a guilty pleasure for all things Eurovision. Indeed, I went to Kyiv last year (following on from trips to Stockholm and Vienna) to watch the show with a fine bunch of sturdy travel companions. Maybe the years of Eurovision being sniffed about in terms of artistic quality are passing for three acts are recognised in the EBBA’s tonight. Blanche from Belgium had a timid and awkward star quality about her in the Ukraine and that’s evident again tonight when she sends goosebumps through the crowd with her string-assisted version of City Lights.
Salvador Sobral (the Eurovision winner from Portugal and the reason why we’re all heading to Lisbon in May) can’t make the EBBA’s as he’s recovering from heart surgery but his manager reads out a ‘heartfelt’ speech from the chap.
The EBBA night belongs to the Bulgarian Eurovision entry, Kristian Kostov. Looking dapper in grey with bleached blonde hair, he dispatches a stunning laidback version of ‘Beautiful Mess’ before duetting with Youngr (the EBBA winner from the UK) whilst Jools Holland backs both of them on a grand piano. Kristian is announced as the winner of the EBBA People’s Choice Award at the end of the evening showing his emerging popularity across Europe.
Elsewhere on EBBA night, I get to see what all the fuss is about Sigrid as her and her band play ‘Don’t Kill My Vibe’ just metres away from me. Her sultry intelligence comes to the fore as she effortlessly pops around the stage. Alice Merton opens the show with her hit, ‘No Roots’, and it’s easy to see why she’s rated by many. Mette from Off Bloom (Denmark) wins my award for performance of the night though cavorting like a tiger on the prowl completely aware of her very real sexual prowess.
The EBBA’s end and I head back on the bus to the city centre venues of Groningen. The night is still young.
(To read about the acts I rated, click on page 3)