It absolutely pains me to say it, but Eurovision 2023 is over.
For the past week, we’ve been totally immersed in the excitement after we landed in Liverpool: interviewing acts, meeting the superfans, getting backstage tours to see how it all works, and even spending time at the VIP area.
We also, of course, picked our favourites and pinned our dreams on them as we watched the two nights of the semi-finals.
On Saturday night, thanks to Baileys in partnership with Eurovision, we were able to watch the Grand Final in the room with thousands of some of the most dedicated fans of the competition, many of whom had flown from around the world to be there.
It’s my very first in-person Eurovision, so I didn’t quite know what to expect in the room – and it was absolutely manic.
Here’s just an idea of some of the chaos we saw on the night.
The absolute freak-out when Loreen was wheeled on stage
As we all know now, Loreen won Eurovision for the second time on Saturday with her track Tattoo, becoming only the second person in the world – and first woman – to win twice.
While Finland was hot on her heels as a favourite right up to the second the final votes came in, the absolute love in the room for Loreen can’t be understated. She was wheeled on to the stage in her platform while on screens at home an interval segment and Sweden postcard was playing.
But in the room, the screams and cheers started as soon as fans caught a glimpse of her coming on stage, and didn’t stop until well after the song was finished . We reckon it was a solid five minutes of absolutely massive cheering – the kind usually reserved for the end of a song.
And the complete bonkers reaction to MaeMuller
Mae Muller did not get a response from the jury of televotes she or her fans were hoping for on the night, with the UK finishing second from last place, just ahead of Germany.
But in the arena, as she was introduced on stage and after I Wrote A Song finished, you could easily have believed she was in the running to win it.
The crowd went absolutely wild for Mae, with the cheering going on long, long after the song was finished and hosts Hannah Waddingham and Graham Norton were trying to speak to viewers watching from home about how to vote.
Hannah first ha to cup her hand around her face and raise her voice to be heard over the cheers for Mae – and then had to politely tell the arena to quieten down.
Plenty of the audience were even singing the chorus to I Wrote A Song as last year’s winner Sam Ryder was introduced to the stage to perform his new track Mountain.
While the result was in the end disappointing, Mae has since responded graciously, congratulating everyone who took part and thanking fans for their support.
The very honest reactions as votes started coming in
Listen, watching the votes coming in from home is one of my favourite parts of the night: the elation, the heartbreak, neighbours voting for neighbours, the 12 points going to some random country nobody was expecting.
In the room, this was amplified by a million.
Everyone in the arena had their hearts set on one particular act winning, whether it was the country you’re from or between Sweden and Finland – and everyone made their feelings known as the announcers gave their results.
Italy did far better than many people expected, and when San Marino gave them their first 12 points many parts of the arena descended into boos and jeers.
Meanwhile, any time Sweden or Finland got 12 points it erupted into mania, with Kaarija fans chanting CHA, CHA, CHA.
There was also huge cheers when Ireland was on screen to give their vote – while Wild Youth failed to qualify this year, continuing Ireland’s disappointing track record for another year, it’s clear there is a lot of love for Ireland’s place in the contest.
As the televote results came in the pressure was raised even more – and being in the room with the acts as their learned their fate was absolutely nerve wracking.
Mae devastatingly receiving just nine points from the public saw gasps, groans and boos from the crowd who had less than an hour before given her the reaction of a lifetime.
Other shocks included Austra and France not getting nearly as many points as they had been expected to in the run-up to the competition, and Australia doing exceptionally well for the underdogs they were.
The rivalry between Sweden and Finland was apparent until the very last second
Loreen dominated the jury votes, but many believed Finland could take over with the televote.
Kaarija and his track Cha Cha Cha has completely captured the imagination of Eurovision fans, and the reaction to his performance in the arena can’t be understated.
It genuinely looked like Sweden could be in trouble as Finland crept up during the televotes, with much of the crowd chanting “Cha, cha, cha!” as the world waited to see what Loreen would be awarded.
But as Loreen was announced as the winner, there was no bad blood – the chants stopped and the crowd cheered for the Swedish star, and joined in for the final performance.
Because regardless of who you wanted between Sweden and Finland, we can all agree they were both absolute bops.
The crew doing absolutely everything to keep things running smoothly
The incredible work from behind-the-scenes staff has to be noted again, because watching it in person really puts it into perspective.
Things went off absolutely seamelessly, with viewers from home getting closeups of the stars’ performance thanks to a man running miles around the stage throughout the night holding a giant, heavy camera.
Crew dressed head-to-toe in black – literally, their black costumes zipping up over their face – were also on stage at some parts during performances to help with the acts while not being picked up by cameras.
At one stage, one runner had less than five seconds to run on stage with a microphone and plant it where it was needed as the act was walking down the catwalk-like b-stage, and run back off before being noticed by cameras.
He managed it – and received a round of applause from his fellow crew members as he walked back off stage.
Seeing the acts interact with the crowd below
Metro.co.uk is in Liverpool for Eurovision 2023 in partnership with Baileys.
Check out our top Eurovision coverage from Liverpool here:
When watching from home, you see the act perform and the stage goes dark before the postcard of the next country is played and that act goes on.
Watching from the arena, you see the moments before and after: Austria, kicking off the show, gave each other a tight hug beforehand, and after finishing gave high fives to those in the crowd as they left from side of stage.
Moldova’s flute player, while finished on stage halfway through the song, went to the crowd and continued playing.
This was my very first in-person Eurovision, but I’m determined it won’t be my last.
Every single thing about it was chaotic and beautiful from the get go, even the seamlessly organised parts about it being more like organised chaos.
With Loreen’s win, it’s looking like Eurovision 2024 will take place in Sweden – I’ll see you there for more mania.
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First appear at I was in the room for Eurovision 2023 – the chaos you don’t see on TV came as a shock