Friday opening ceremony day. Always mixed emotions for me. I produced the opening ceremony music for Atlanta 1996 but my mum hastened her own death one week before so I had to fly home to look after my dad and deal with all the shit. I've never watched one since.
I have had almost nothing to do with these Olympics. I was asked by Tony Hall to make sure that the Cultural Olympiad included enough superstars to balance the worthy high and community arts projects. I got all the main promoters together to find a hard nosed group, ready and willing to take part but feeling very marginalised and looked down on by the Cultural Olympics team. Suffice to say it all got very 2012 but in the end everyone got what they wanted I think.
Then I was drawn into the row over how much live music and how much playback would be at the ceremonies. There are huge logistical problems in amplifying thousands of performers but,more than that, there is the risk factor in live performance going out live around the world.
So they ended up with a compromise….more of that later.
As this was my home Games and as 16 years have elapsed I figured it was time to break my boycott. So, with great trepidation, I went out and bought a freeview box and tuned in.
The last thing you need is another opinion on the ceremony itself. You almost certainly watched it anyway. I loved the Tory bitching about it being leftie propaganda. I was moved by the NHS bit, as both my mum and dad worked for the NHS their whole lives and believed in it completely and it is THE best thing we do; I thought that by and large they got the balance between live and pre-recorded sound just about right…
But what a spoiler at the end!!!! Just as I was breathing a personal sigh of relief that Bono was not carrying the Olympic flag and Sting was not performing bare-chested; just as I was breathing a sympathetic sigh of relief for Danny Boyle and Seb Coe [whom I never really used to like but whom I must say I have warmed to over the past year]; just as I was thinking They’ve pulled it off’ all ones worst nightmares rolled into one twenty seconds of hell!
You all witnessed it. Paul Macartney’s pre-recorded voice a full ten seconds apartfrom the real microphone sound of Macca himself. There followed twenty seconds which passed like a nightmare of my whole professional life flashing before me. Then suddenly by a miracle it was sorted…very very well done to the technical team who achieved that….absolutely brilliant seat-of-the-pants work. Really impressive. Knighthoods all round girls and boys.
I watched the Atlanta ceremony with my dad on his little portable black and white and I remember when it ended that I hadn’t moved, hadn’t spoken, hadn’t eaten or drunk anything. I’ll never know what it is like to be there at the show, listening to the soundtrack you have designed and created. In retrospect I think I’m glad I was thousands of miles away!