Eurovision 2023 officially kicks off in Liverpool as Frankie Goes To Hollywood reunite for opening ceremony | Ents & Arts News

Frankie Goes To Hollywood has reunited 36 years after they split up, performing in front of a 30,000 strong crowd in Liverpool in a concert to mark the start of the Eurovision Song Contest.

The band, who formed in the city in 1980 and acrimoniously parted ways seven years later performed just one song.

Frankie Goes To Hollywood's singer Holly Johnson performing in 1985. Pic: AP
Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s singer Holly Johnson performing in 1985. Pic: AP

Despite being most famous for number 1 hits including Relax, Two Tribes and The Power of Love, they instead chose to perform Welcome to the Pleasuredome which made it to number 2 in the charts in 1985.

Holly Johnson, Brian Nash, Paul Rutherford, Mark O’Toole and Peter Gill have not performed together since an argument before their final gig at Wembley Arena in 1987 is reported to have led to a fight backstage.

Other Liverpool-linked bands to perform at The National Lottery’s Big Eurovision Welcome outside St George’s Hall included Atomic Kitten, The Lightning Seeds and funk band The Real Thing.

Former Eurovision winners Conchita Wurst, who represented Austria in 2014, and Ukraine’s Jamala, who competed in 2016, accompanied by the United Ukrainian Ballet, also performed.

Liverpool has been transformed with public artworks and installations for the international music competition, which the UK is hosting on behalf of Ukraine amid the Russian invasion.

The competition kicked off in earnest on Sunday, with the 37 competing acts walking a turquoise carpet ahead of the song contest next Saturday.

Electronic duo Tvorchi, made up of producer Andrii Hutsuliak and vocalist Jeffery Kenny, will compete for Ukraine with their rousing song Heart Of Steel.

Kaarija from Finland are second favourite to win
Kaarija from Finland are second favourite to win

Last year, Kalush Orchestra swept to victory on a wave of support from the voting public.

Mae Muller, 25, will compete for the UK with her dance track I Wrote A Song, featuring tongue-in-cheek lyrics about a cheating ex-boyfriend.

Last year British TikTok star Sam Rider took second place in the competition.

Wild Youth will represent Ireland with their song We Are One.

Loreen from Sweden, Kaarija from Finland and La Zarra from France are the competition favourites.

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Mae Muller met the King in April

The Eurovision Village, at the city’s Pier Head, opened on Friday with a performance from last year’s winners Kalush Orchestra.

On Saturday, Scissor Sisters’ singer Jake Shears performed there after a screening of the King’s coronation.

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A total of 37 countries are set to take part in Eurovision this year, with Ukraine automatically qualifying for the grand final as 2022 winners as well as the so-called “big five” – the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain – who each get a free pass because of their financial contributions to the event.

The first Eurovision semi-final will take place on Tuesday, followed by a second semi-final on Thursday, and the grand final on 13 May.