Nicky drums up a storm at the Eurovision
Wexfordman onstage in the semi final tonight
HE'S toured with Riverdance and backed Kelly Clarkson but Wexford's Nicky Bailey will play to his biggest audience yet in Malmo tonight (Tuesday).
The well-known local percussionist is appearing alongside Irish hopeful Ryan Dolan in the first semi-final of this year's Eurovision Song Contest.
Dolan's 'Only Love Survives' is expected to be among the ten songs to qualify from semi final 1 for Saturday's final. The Irish appear 13th out of the 16 acts.
Nicky, Ryan and the rest of the Irish contingent have had a hectic schedule of press conferences, meet and greets, rehearsals and promotional appearances since arriving in Sweden's third biggest city on Monday of last week for the 58th annual contest.
They have also had the opportunity to meet many of the other contestants, including Denmark's Emmelie de Forest, the bookies' favourite to lift the crown.
Among those lending support on the ground is Linda Martin who has special memories of Malmo as she won Eurovision there with 'Why Me?' in 1992, the only other time the contest has been staged in the city.
On Sunday night the Irish team were in party mode as they took to the red carpet for the official opening of Eurovision 2013 and headed off clubbing afterwards. But it was down to serious business last night (Monday) for the final dress rehearsal which determines the jury vote.
The huge Malmo Arena stage is a world away from the Late Late Show set of the Eurosong national song contest and the Irish have upped their game considerably, with the stage bathed in dramatic blue and red light, and Nicky Bailey performing on a raised platform in front of three giant drums.
An estimated 125 million viewers are expected to tune in to this year's Eurovision.
Ireland's song was written by Strabane singer Dolan and Wez Devine. Dolan was 'mentored' by Stuart O'Connor (the man behind the Jedward pantos) for Ireland's Eurosong final and it was O'Connor's decision to bring the vast experience of Wexford drummer Bailey to the team.
The founder and leader of Extreme Rhythm is widely regarded as one of Ireland's top percussionists. He has toured as drummer with Riverdance and last year guested for Kelly Clarkson with his Extreme Rhythm team during her appearance of hit single 'Mr Know It All' on X Factor.