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Last Updated: Saturday, 12 January 2008, 22:05 GMT
Culture capital inaugurates arena
Echo and the Bunnymen
Homegrown talent Echo and the Bunnymen took to the stage
Thousands of music lovers turned out to enjoy the second part of the celebrations marking the launch of Liverpool's Capital of Culture year.

Liverpool The Musical, billed as a once-in-a-lifetime show, was staged at the city's brand new 164m Echo Arena at the King's Dock on Saturday.

A cast of 700 people, aged from six to 78, took to the stage at 2008 GMT for the 100-minute musical extravaganza.

About 50,000 people gathered on Friday for the People's Opening Ceremony.

Ringo Starr premiered his new song on the 100ft high roof of St George's Hall, reminiscent of the Fab Four playing on top of the Apple building in London's Savile Row in 1969.

Members of the Liverpool Welsh Choir

On Saturday, he took centre stage in the proceedings once more, again playing his single Liverpool 8, as well as the Beatles' With A Little Help From My Friends, and a cover of John Lennon's Power To The People.

Other performers included a special collaboration between Vassily Petrenko and the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, with No Fakin DJs, Valley Brass Band and the Liverpool Welsh Choir.

An eclectic mix of Liverpool talent was showcased, including hotly-tipped new band The Wombats, city legends Echo and the Bunnymen and blues singer Connie Lush.

Also on stage were the former Christians frontman Gary Christian, The Farm, Pete Wylie, and Jenny John and the Sense of Sound choir with 100 local schoolchildren.

Organisers once again presented an audio-visual spectacular, with 90 minutes of specially-commissioned film being played out during the show.

Stavanger in Norway is also Capital of Culture for 2008
It is thought Capital of Culture will boost the city's economy by 100m
Liverpool is expected to benefit from 2bn of investment over the next five years
The investment could create about 14,000 new jobs
Liverpool beat 12 other cities to win the Capital of Culture title
It is estimated more than two million tourists will visit Liverpool this year

Local band Urban Strawberry Lunch, who make instruments from anything they can find, accompanied aerial spinners suspended from the roof on wires.

The design for both the People's Opening and Liverpool the Musical, was drawn up by director Nigel Jamieson, responsible for the opening ceremony of the Sydney Olympic Games and the closing ceremony for the Manchester Commonwealth Games.

He is also the co-director of both shows, along with co-founder of Liverpool superclub Cream, Jayne Casey.

The two shows used more than 200 moving lights, 600m of trussing and 4km of cable. It took more than 120 people 15,000 hours to put together.

Saturday's performance was the inaugural event for the new 10,600-steater stadium.

This weekend kick-starts a programme of more than 350 events taking place over the year.

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