The other night, like one billion others, I embraced the wonder of the Olympic Spirit by slothfully cementing my buttocks to a couch and watching TV. Fuelled by pizza, ground corn and a selection of beers from around the world, cynicism was swept away and replaced by teary eyed pride and the sound of a nation in unison crying out “FUCKING CHRIST IT’S JAMES BOND AND THE QUEEN PARACHUTING OUT OF A FUCKING HELICOPTER!!!!!” The opening ceremony was funny, touching, self-deprecating – and contained more indie anthems than a Friday night at Koko curated by Jarvis Cocker. Here are some of our musical highlights and more.
Arctic Monkeys, Frank Turner, Fuck Buttons, Happy Mondays! House parties hosted by Danny Boyle must be a riot. From the great soundtracks that accompany his films and the leaked playlist beforehand we knew that musically Danny wouldn’t drop the ball, but seeing it all come together with the visuals and narrative chosen was simply astonishing. And Alex Turner and co. making ‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor’ sound as fresh today as it was seven years ago is a minor miracle. Plus, Alex Trimble from Two Door Cinema Club performing onstage at the very climax of the ceremony – he sang ‘Caliban’s Dream’, a song written especially for the occasion by Underworld – who ever would have predicted that?
Danny Boyle’s Knighthood Is A Lock
We may as well henceforth refer to the director of Trainspotting and Slumdog Millionaire as Sir Danny Boyle because as far as services to your country go, Boyle crushed it. Taking the best of us and presenting it to the world in a way that didn’t feel for a second pompous or exclusionary, the tone of the evening was perfect, even when it was utterly, utterly bonkers. With a background in both theatre and film it’s hard to think of a fellow British ‘name’ that could have achieved the necessary mix of fantasy and realism. And deserving of equally glowing praise is every single volunteer and athlete taking part. Knighthoods for all!
The Arctic Monkey’s nailing the shit out of ‘Come Together’! Kenneth Branagh doing Shakespeare in a top hat! The NHS and Great Ormond Street Hospital backed by a herd of Mary Poppinses! Contrary to previous speculation, the filmmaker at the helm didn’t get too bogged down in his primary artform, but we must pay special tribute to the lovely little collage of celluloid’s top hits including an all too brief touch of A Matter Of Life and Death.
There Will Be Sport
It might be hard to tell under the build up of building work, torch relays, security issues, politics and budget talk, but the Olympics is actually predominantly concerned with a thing called ‘sport’. ‘Sport’, for the uninitiated, consists mainly of people throwing things and people jumping things and people throwing people while jumping things and jumping people while throwing things. Sometimes with balls. If this sounds like your cup of tea you can watch it on the telly lots this week. Or you can just youtube the Queen and James Bond on loop.
As a single time capsule document of the best of Britain, few can complain about the inclusion of Paul McCartney singing ‘Hey Jude’. But for anyone who’s seen him live over the last 30 years the well worn Beatles dedication to little Julian Lennon is an endless, repetitive bore fest better suited to extracting state secrets than ending an unforgettable night of unifying loveliness. Three things led to Macca being a bit of an anti-climax. The fact that it was out of time, the fact that Arctic Monkeys performed The Beatles better, and the fact that Pink Floyd’s ‘Eclipse’ couldn’t be, well, eclipsed. ‘Hey Jude’ was akin to the moment when the clubowners want everyone to leave so they play a shit tune. But with that in mind…
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Cynicism Be Damned!
If there’s anything – besides music, film, flag-planting and queueing – that we Brits nail on a regular basis it’s a good old fashioned bitchfest, yet at the Olympics opening ceremony there genuinely was, on the command of Mr. Alex Turner, a coming together. With the cynics hiding in fortresses built for fault-finding for fear of “feeling emotions” the consensus washing over social media was one of wonderment not misanthropy. As the pyre/couldron was lit, London truly felt like the centre of the world. And it felt great. Not that it’ll last into August. We are British after all.