Frank Turner opens up about ‘weird’ experience playing Olympics opening ceremony

Singer tells NME it was hard to keep 'amazing' plans secret – and denies he was selling out

Frank Turner has spoken out about his involvement in last night’s Olympics opening ceremony, claiming it was a “privilege” to be involved and denying that he had ‘sold out’ by taking part in the spectacle.

The singer, who was joined by an extended version of his band the Sleeping Souls that also included Jim Lockey, Ben Marwood and Emily Barker, performed atop one of the Olympic Stadium’s grass-covered hills, in front of an estimated audience of 80,000 in the Stratford venue and millions worldwide watching on television. You can watch his performance by clicking below.

Speaking to NME about his performance, he said:

It was weird. Not weird in a bad way but definitely weird. It’s on the list of weirdest gigs I’ve ever done.


He went on to say: “It was amazing, an honour and a privilege and all that sort of thing. It was a weird gig in the sense that there was no one directly in front of us. There were an awful lot of people there but they were very far away. Directly in front of us was a field with sheep and horses and people pretending to play cricket. It was weird.”

Turner – who also paid tribute to the ceremony’s director Danny Boyle, who he said was a “disarmingly genuine uber-fan of what I do” – also admitted it had been hard to keep the plans secret. After admitting he had been forced to hide his involvement in the ceremony for “about six weeks”, he added: “I think I did a pretty good job [of keeping it secret]! Some people were leaking stuff after the dress rehearsals on Wednesday and Thursday because they had people in the stadium but I was keeping my lips tightly sealed. I mean, I told my mum, obviously.”

When asked what he thought about accusations that he was selling out by being part of the ceremony, he responded: “OK, the first thing to say is that when I got offered it by Danny, that sort of angle of it is something that went across my mind. If Danny had not been involved, I probably would have spent more time considering it. Danny Boyle is a legend. He’s a famous auteur and a respected man and a great artist.

He added: “At the end of the day, I’m on an independent label. I still do everything myself, I still answer my own emails, I still tour my arse off and I haven’t changed anything about what I do. The world is literally full of people who are crouched in basements, waiting to start hating bands they used to like because too many people like them now, and I really have better things to do with my time than try and argue with those people.”

Other acts to perform at the Olympics opening ceremony included Paul McCartney, Arctic Monkeys, Dizzee Rascal and Two Door Cinema Club’s Alex Trimble.

The London 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony setlist was:


The Who, ‘Baba O’Riley’
Muse, ‘Map Of The Problematique’
Fuck Buttons, ‘Surf Solar’
Sex Pistols, ‘God Save The Queen’
The Clash, ‘London Calling’
Mike Oldfield, ‘Tubular Bells’
OMD, ‘Enola Gay’
The Jam, ‘Going Underground’
The Rolling Stones, ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’
The Beatles, ‘She Loves You’
Millie Small, ‘My Boy Lollipop’
Led Zeppelin, ‘Trampled Under Foot’
The Specials, ‘A Message To You Rudy’
David Bowie, ‘Starman’
Queen, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’
Eric Clapton, ‘Wonderful Tonight’
Sex Pistols, ‘Pretty Vacant’
New Order, ‘Blue Monday’
Frankie Goes To Hollywood, ‘Relax’
Soul II Soul, ‘Back To Life’
Happy Mondays, ‘Step On’
Eurythmics, ‘Sweet Dreams Are Made Of This’
The Prodigy, ‘Firestarter’
Blur, ‘Song 2’
Underworld, ‘Born Slippy’
Dizzee Rascal, ‘Bonkers’
Amy Winehouse, ‘Valerie’
Muse, ‘Uprising’
Tinie Tempah, ‘Pass Out’
David Holmes, ‘I Heard Wonders’
Arctic Monkeys, ‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor’
The Beatles, ‘Come Together’ (covered by Arctic Monkeys)
Underworld/Alex Trimble, ‘Caliban’s Dream’
Pink Floyd, ‘Eclipse’
The Beatles, ‘The End’
The Beatles, ‘Hey Jude’

The soundtrack to the opening ceremony is now available to buy, digitally. Titled ‘Isles Of Wonder: Music For The Opening Ceremony Of The London 2012 Olympic Games’, the album was released at the end of the event. A physical release will follow on August 6.

Olympics opening ceremony – in photos