The opening ceremony of the 2012 London games received universally as not only a successful spectacle but also superbly highlighted some of the best British music of the past 60 years.
Danny Boyle’s brilliantly organised event contained live performances from the likes of Frank Turner, Two Door Cinema Club, Arctic Monkeys and ex-Beatle Sir Paul McCartney. Frank Turner was the first of the live acts to perform over the four hour event, opening with ‘I Still Believe’ on top of a very fitting green mound, representative of the British Countryside. Two Door then followed with a song specifically written for the ceremony ‘Caliban’s Dream’.
Sir Paul, arguably the greatest musician to be produced by Great Britain and listed in the Guinness World Records as the most successful composer and recording artist of all time , closed the event -with a wonderful rendition of ‘Hey Jude’. The ex-Beatle, at the age of 70, showcased his magical live performances, as everyone in the audience joined him creating a truly touching moment and a fitting close to the beginning of the world wide event.
However, in spite of Sir Pauls valiant effort the highlight of the live performances for me remained undoubtedly the Arctic Monkeys. The Sheffield four piece, opened with their debut single ‘I Bet you look good on the Dance floor’, which way back in 2005 saw them catapulted to superstardom, left to fill the void left behind by the gradual dilapidation of Brit Pop and the self destruction of Oasis. This was then followed by a brilliant rendition of Lennon and McCartney’s classic ‘Come Together’ whilst illuminated winged cyclists made their way around the area. A brave song to attempt by any band and the successful performance of such an iconic number highlighted the maturity and brilliance of a band that have continually grown stronger throughout their relatively brief existence.
But the live performances were not the only inspired musical choices from Boyle. Many of the great British indie/rock guitar bands and acts were incorporated throughout the duration of the ceremony. This included the Who, the Jam, the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, Queen, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Muse, New Order and many more. Particularly noticeable was the nod to the punk era of the 1970s, with giant punk dancers complete with leather jackets and Mohawks performing, whilst tracks by the Sex Pistols and the Clash played presenting a musical era which had untold influence on a global scale.
In a ceremony designed to represent the brilliance of a nation, Boyle certainly cannot be accused of underselling the wealth of amazing musical talent that the Great British isles have consistently produced over generations and with the Arctic Monkeys performance, that trend looks to continue for some time now.
By Joe Longhurst