While Sir Paul McCartney and Arctic Moneys were serenading the atheletes across town, a spectacular concert featuring Duran Duran, Snow Patrol, Stereophonics and Paolo Nutini took place in London's Hyde Park Friday (June 27) evening to mark the opening of the Olympic Games.
Timed to coincide with the official opening ceremony, which took place several miles across London in the newly-constructed Olympic Stadium, the event featured a live TV relay of the Danny Boyle-directed extravaganza shown alongside the music offering, which went under the banner of BT London Live.
Each of the four acts playing were chosen to represent a different country in the United Kingdom, with Scottish singer-songwriter Paolo Nutini opening the show with a rousing run through his biggest hits, including "10/10," "Jenny Don't Be Hasty," "These Streets" and "Coming Up Easy."
Video: Duran Duran perform 'Wild Boys' at BT London Live
Next up was Duran Duran, representing England. Opening their set with a sprightly rendition of 1981's "Planet Earth," the band led the 50,000-strong audience through their back catalogue. Highlights included "A View To A Kill," "Save A Prayer," "The Reflex," accompanied by a dramatic fly over from the Red Arrows, and a moving "Ordinary World," which singer Simon Le Bon - wearing a garish Union Jack styled jacket - dedicated to "the whole world" before adding, "may we have a peaceful games." Inevitably, the band's closing song "Rio" drew the biggest and loudest audience reaction.
Duran Duran was followed by Welsh rock act Stereophonics. Opening with "The Bartender and the Thief," taken from sophomore set "Performance and Cocktails," the band performed a strong selection of material from their seven studio albums, with "A Thousand Trees," "Just Looking," "Local Boy In The Photograph," "Mr Writer" and a stripped-back "Handbags and Gladrags" among the standout moments.
Snow Patrol, representing Northern Ireland, brought the evening to a triumphant close with a similarly hit-filled set. Granted a late night curfew by Westminster Council, following the recent controversy over Bruce Springsteen's July 14 show in the same location, where organizers pulled the plug when the gig overran, the group proved worthy headliners - "Chasing Cars," "Run" and "Chocolate" all suitably anthemic high points. The night culminated with a live TV feed from the Olympic Stadium showing the lighting of the Olympic flame.
Video: Snow Patrol perform 'Chasing Cars' at BT London
Underworld, Mike Oldfield, Frank Turner, Emeli Sande, Arctic Monkeys, Dizzee Rascal were among artists who had earlier performed at the music-heavy official Olympic opening ceremony, while Paul McCartney closed the four-hour long show, enciting a mass singalong to "Hey Jude." The soundtrack, entitled "Isles of Wonder" (Decca/Universal) is available to buy now digitally with a physical release to follow.
BT London Live continues throughout the Olympic Games duration, with daily programs of free music, entertainment, sport and Olympic broadcasts set to take place in Hyde Park, Victoria Park and Trafalgar Square. Will Young, Conor Maynard, Roots Manuva, Rebecca Ferguson, Alexandra Burke and Soul II Soul are among the guests scheduled to play. Meanwhile, Blur is set to headline the Aug. 12 Hyde Park closing concert, supported by New Order and the Specials, which, much like yesterday's counterpart, will coincide with the official closing ceremony at the Olympic Stadium.