Naomi Clarke, PA Entertainment Reporter
Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra has delivered an energetic performance of its song Stefania in the first semi-final for the Eurovision Song Contest 2022.
They are among the 17 countries taking to the stage from Turin, Italy on Tuesday evening, with 10 acts to be voted through to the Grand Final on Saturday.
The Ukrainian act is the favourite to win currently, with bookmaker William Hill placing them at 8/13 odds, as the country continues to resist Russian forces.
🇺🇦 Whose nanna was in charge of knitting the hat? Because I need it #Eurovision pic.twitter.com/Fjla78zVDc
— BBC Eurovision🇬🇧 | 👩🚀#teamSPACEMAN (@bbceurovision) May 10, 2022
The group was dressed in elaborate outfits including two members in long multicoloured fringed ensembles and others in traditional patterns.
Their performance, which combined rap and Ukrainian folklore, went down well with the audience as cheered the group on and many Ukrainian flags were waved.
Radio 1 DJ Scott Mills, who is commentating for the BBC Three coverage of the semi-final, explained: “Because of the current situation, the band weren’t able to meet to rehearse until about six weeks ago.”
He added: “Frontman Oleg joked that he doesn’t think the lack of rehearsal time will affect their performance because they’re very attractive men.”
At the end of the performance the group thanked everyone for supporting Ukraine.
The competition’s producers previously announced that Russia will no longer participate in this year’s contest following Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
The semi-final opened with a dramatic performance featuring a multitude of dancers in sparkly and metallic dresses.
Albania kicked off the night with a powerful performance by their representative Ronela Hajati with her song Sekret.
Latvia was up next with their offering by Citi Zeni who sang their track Eat Your Salad, which has gone viral for its tongue-and-cheek lyrics, while dressed in monochrome red, green and white suits.
Lithuania’s Monika Liu dazzled in a sparkly floor-length gown while giving a sultry performance of her song Sentimentai.
While Marius Bear from Switzerland delivered a raw rendition of his track Boys Do Cry backdropped by simple lighting and Slovenia’s LPS gave a jazzy performance of their song Disko.
The semi-final is being broadcast on BBC Three, with commentary from TV star Rylan Clark and Radio 1 presenter Mills.
UK viewers cannot vote in Tuesday’s show.