London Olympics – Opening Ceremony (review)

London Olympics – Opening Ceremony – review With a billion people watching, the Brits decide to ROCK. 

First of all, if you haven’t seen the opening sequence involving a stunt double of Queen Elizabeth parachuting out of a plane with James Bond – it’s worth a look.  The fact that Her Majesty, who always seems to come off as a sour puss, agreed to play along with the joke, shows that she really does have a sense of humor.  

The biggest thing that surprised me was how much rock music was a part of the 4 1/2 hour event.  During the phenomenal opening section, British filmmaker Danny Boyle chronicled the progress of the country from farming to the Industrial Revolution, and beyond, all fueled by homegrown music.  The Beatles, Stones, Kinks and Who represented the Sixties, while Queen, Led Zeppelin, Bee Gees, and David Bowie were featured from the Seventies.  

You want to know how times have changed?  Once banned by the BBC, the Sex Pistols were featured not once, but twice during the performance – “God Save the Queen”!  Eighties music from the Jam, Eurythmics and Pet Shop Boys adorned the show as well.  At one point, Mike Oldfield came out and played his eerie number one hit “Tubular Bells” (which many know as the theme to the Exorcist).  The British Olympic team, announced last, came out to the appropriate “Heroes,” also by David Bowie.  Another British band, the Arctic Monkeys, did a very faithful rendition of the Beatles’ “Come Together,” while people dressed in dove costumes rode bikes around the stadium (whoa!)

After the stunning lighting of the Olympic torch, Pink Floyd’s “Eclipse” was played, to great effect.  Lastly, Paul McCartney came onstage for a rousing version of “Hey Jude,” which made plenty of sense – no matter what language you speak, we can all sing “na na na na” over and over.  He was honestly moved by the proceedings, choking up at the very beginning.

The London ceremony didn’t set out to try and outdo the syncopated juggernaut that was the Beijing celebration from four years earlier.  Instead, it concentrated on things that were inherently British – from the Queen to James Bond, from Harry Potter and Mary Poppins to Chariots of Fire…and the incredible music.  

One final note – easily the biggest British star at the moment, Adele, was oddly absent, but rumors abound that she’ll be part of the closing ceremonies.  –Tony Peters