Paul McCartney closes the London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony

Sir Paul McCartney brought the London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony to a close.

The music legend performed the closing lines of the Abbey Road song The End, before playing the 1968 classic Hey Jude.

McCartney performed Hey Jude at a grand piano. He was accompanied by his band: Rusty Anderson (guitar), Brian Ray (bass guitar), Paul 'Wix' Wickens (keyboards) and Abe Laboriel Jr (drums). The Olympic athletes, volunteer ceremony performers and the stadium audience also sang along with the song's ending.

Audio problems bedevilled the opening lines, with the audio from the live performance mixed with the delayed broadcast version, causing an unfortunate overlay.

The Olympic ceremony began at 9pm BST, and ended after midnight on 28 July. Directed by Danny Boyle, with musical direction by Underworld, it took place at the Olympic Stadium in east London.

The ceremony charted the development of Britain from pre-Industrial Revolution to the present day, and referenced the Suffragette movement, James Bond, Harry Potter, the National Health Service, Great Ormond Street Hospital, Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland and Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. She Loves You was also among the many songs appearing in the soundtrack.

Musical contributions came from the London Symphony Orchestra, Evelyn Glennie, Mike Oldfield, Dizzee Rascal, Arctic Monkeys, Emeli Sandé, Alex Trimble of Two Door Cinema Club, and McCartney. Also appearing were Bradley Wiggins, Kenneth Branagh, JK Rowling, Tim Berners-Lee, David Beckham and Rowan Atkinson.

McCartney's daughter Stella designed his stage clothes, along with the Team GB performance kit, podium suits and village wear. She tweeted a picture of the jacket cuffs that incorporated the Olympic rings logo.

A week before the ceremony, a video showed the band rehearsing for the performance. During their version of The Beatles' I Saw Her Standing There the sound cut out, a reference to the curfew at the end of his recent guest appearance at Bruce Springsteen's concert in Hyde Park, London.

Unfortunately the Olympics organisers are refusing to allow any YouTube uploads of the actual opening ceremony.

Also on this day...

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10 responses on “Paul McCartney closes the London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony

  1. Chris


    Honestly mate, you have a great talent and always will have, but these mega-performances have to stop.

    You don’t need the money or further accolades, but you do need to be playing smaller, more intimate venues with more audience ‘contact’. This, before you become a musical ‘cartoon’ character, dragged out to play with any artiste who needs to bask in your limelight or for ‘any old’ Brit celebration…the Jubilee, the Springsteen ‘London’ gig and The Olympics, inside a month….was a huge mistake!

    Talk about ‘over-exposure’?

    Any chance of doing The Cavern gig again? Saw you there back in 2001, Dec 14th.

    Hang in there.

  2. David

    I reckon they originally planned a longer set that was cut down (I heard that 40 minutes were taken out of the whole event only a day or two beforehand). It seemed very odd to start with the end of The End, so to speak. Perhaps they were going to do the 3-guitar improvisation. Hey Jude was predictable and, I’m afraid to say as a devoted Paul fan, not very good. He always does “just the fellas” and “just the girls”. Why didn’t he break it into “athletes” and “spectators”, say? Oh well, at least it wasn’t Ob-la-di Ob-la-da!
    But seriously, he can still do full-length concerts where he can warm up in his own surroundings and be in full control of everything (including the sound system). But I hope he’ll call it a day on coming on just to do one rousing singalong at the end.

  3. jim

    why o why do we have to put up with this clapped out rubbish from mcartney? he completely ruined the end of an interesting ceremony. go and sit on sandbanks and forget about any more singing it was diabolical

  4. Julian

    I grew up loving the Beatles as so many did. Paul McCartney is a brilliant melodist but too much of his post-Beatles music has been superficial and saccharine, with lyrics that were sometimes even an embarrassment (the dumb “Ebony & Ivory” as one example among many). What bothers me, and has always bothered me about McCartney, is his unending narcissistic need to be in the spotlight no matter what. He’s played “Hey Jude” a million times at concerts. Why doesn’t he get bored with it? He may be, in fact, bored with it. but he’s never bored by the adulation and the nauseating sing-alongs that may please his adoring audiences but makes a once moving song like “Hey Jude” into a kind of goofy jamboree. He craves the adulation in a way that is obsessional and insecure. It’s not that I think he should retire or stop performing. It’s that this musician’s relentless need for approval has led to him hawking his well worn songs into whatever venue he can hope to find. Yes, many of you will respond with So what? But when your mission is to preserve the myth of the Beatles (this myth Lennon wanted to dismantle because he knew it was phony and a fantasy, meaning the Beatles were human like anyone else and wrote their share of crap too, and so-so songs. Lennon was always the more genuine, honest artist. And for what it’s worth, I cannot imagine Lennon would have spent his next forty years just singing his hits over and over again. In fact, he said he never wanted to find himself doing that. Of course we will never know now how his life may have evolved as an artist in his later years), then that mission will therefore have an air of unreality about it because that is, in part, what myth is. But catchy as many of his songs are, and while pleasing to the ear, is hardly the stuff of art. He writes the most superficial lyrics, seemingly barely giving a thought to them, so many of his songs come across at nothing but muzak, “bubblegum” stuff. When he decides he’s going to try and write music more from the heart, or at least more connected to his emotional life, he can produce some pretty mature and deeper music, such as “Chaos And Creation In The Backyard.” Here he deliberately had a producer whom he allowed to tell him when his, McCartney’s lyrics, were lousy. And that the producer did. They had arguments, big arguments, but out of that I think you have a fairly decent McCartney CD. Not all of the songs succeed of course, “Fine Line” being quite forgettable, but at least he tried to go beyond what I see as his decided penchant to write pleasing melodies with no substance in the songs at all, like Coca Cola. Too many people post sycophantic comments about McCartney and just adore him no matter what. Well, adore if you must. But McCartney is just a man, a fallible human being, and while he wrote some amazing songs, sadly (for him) most of the best ones while he was a Beatle, he wrote and continues to write a lot of crap. There are plenty of musicians who write and perform deeper, more “felt” music than McCartney could ever do (and is mostly never willing to do) Adele being one of them, and of course John Lennon was another (take a listen to his first solo album, Plastic Ono Band. It is remarkable in its intensity of feeling). McCartney will be croaking out “Hey Jude” at eighty at any and all venues that will have him. And they will have him. He’ll creak out there onstage like Dylan is doing now (who is voiceless and is massacring every one of his songs he now sings) to the adoring, sympathetic crowd who still needs to venerate their idol. McCartney has already lost a lot in his voice, no longer reaching the higher notes without strain, and you can often hear the strain in “Chaos” which is sometimes irritating to the ear. If he wants to keep on keeping on, more power to him. But Dylan is already a ghoulish presence onstage, with his strange new hand gestures like he’s a Sinatra crooner. But that’s Dylan and he’s always been strange. That won’t be the direction McCartney goes in and hasn’t, as they are nearly the same age. But more and more, McCartney will not be able to sing his never ending “Hey Judes” without looking and sounding like a relic who has no idea when to quit, or if he does have an idea, just can’t quit. I don’t think he’s reached that yet. But he has reached a long long time ago the saturation point with “Hey Jude” and a host of other tired Beatles’ songs, some of them not that great in the first place.

  5. b.mason

    please remember that without Paul McCartney’s higher vocal range, many of the Beatles songs would’ve been un-sing-able and so would never have been written in the first place…and without him you probably would never have heard of John Lennon because Macca was the Beatle who could communicate with the business people and wrote melodic songs that appealed to a broader audience.Without this broad appeal the money that gave the Beatles the power to control their musical direction would not have been there…it was this that gave them [including Lennon], the visibility that allowed them to be more freely creative. Paul McCartney is a living legend and a genius in my opinion and was the perfect ballance to Lennons’ more agressive side. Stop slagging the master.Also, while you’re praising Adele or anyone else ,keep it in mind that the Beatles are the main reason that the music industry evolved enough to support was their success that attracted the investors. Macca creates joy in people.It’s pointless to speculate about how cool Lennon would’ve been because you simply don’t know and he’s dead, let’s enjoy the guy’s we have left alive.I saw an almost 3 hour Macca gig in 2010, he was superb, no dancers, costume changes , no filler,,,awesome.80 thousand other people enjoyed the experience as appear to be a lonely moaning voice…go and drink some sense into yourself !!

  6. Joseph Brush

    Without John Lennon we probably would have never heard of Paul McCartney. Whose songs dominate the Beatles Red Album 1962-1966? Lennon, that’s who.
    What “business people” are you referring to that Paul communicated with? Were you there when Paul was talking to them?
    Just because Paul is the guy “we have left alive” that doesn’t mean he gets all the credit.
    You go and drink some sense into yourself!

  7. robert

    I have seen Paul live in concert twice – in the 90’s and in 2006 – he was great but already his voice was waning by the later show.

    Very simply I think almost every one agrees it is time for Paul to stop singing – or at least stop these huge epic events.

    So why does he continue? Here’s my take. I think Paul is trying to establish Hey Jude specifically as sort of an “international anthem” – so that even after he is dead (surely he realizes that he is in the last decades of life) – but even after he is gone I believe he hopes thousands of people singing Hey Jude or Let It Be (his tunes) at massive social gatherings will be his enduring social legacy.

    I also believe he has been working to have these songs replace Give Peace A Chance as the theme song of a generation.

    I know it sounds psychotic, but it’s my own personal theory.

    1. paulsbass

      Hahaha, too bad I say this pile of cr@p just yet.

      Dearest Robert, Hey Jude already IS an international anthem, just like Let it be.
      It’s even more so than “Give peace a chance” ALREADY.

      To suggest Paul would intentionally try to “push” the Lennon song over the edge and establish his own – more than ridiculous!!

      And please, Dr. Robert, explain:
      If Macca is having a campaign going to wipe out “Give peace a chance” – WHY, oh why did he include the song in his most recent live repertoire??!

      Both Hey Jude and Let it be were more popular from the beginning.
      And the only Lennon solo song being in that league would be “Imagine”.

      Wow, some people have some crazy ideas…

  8. Dave Robinson

    As great as Paul was…and he was all in with the Beatles…he is quite simply, overexposed and comes off as silly and superficial over the last five years…Paul needs to take a break, and get a grip…he is like wall paper now, everywhere…. and he should consider losing the cover band…after he takes a….long break…they are boring…and he is too….sorry Paul. We still love you…yeah…yeah…yeah….

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