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Ireland’s Wild Youth light up Eurovision stage in gold as they bid for final

Wild Youth’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.

The Dublin outfit performed their song We Are One as the stage at the M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool was lit up gold and Irish fans in the crowd waved the national flag.

Conor O’Donohoe, who wore a green shamrock necklace, was surrounded by pyrotechnics as he delivered the song’s vocal climax.

Eurovision 2023
Conor O’Donohoe of Wild Youth (Peter Byrne/PA)

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 are competing in the first of the contest’s two semi-finals, with only the top 10 progressing to the grand final on Saturday.

Wild Youth face 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 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.

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.”

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.

The night will also see Rita Ora, known for the number one hits I Will Never Let You Down, How We Do and Hot Right Now, perform a medley of her songs and her new single Praising You.

Ukrainian vocalist Alyosha, who came 10th in Eurovision 2010 with the song Sweet People, will perform alongside former X Factor contestant Rebecca Ferguson, who is from Liverpool.