Two of the most amazing weeks in London’s history ended tonight with a spectacular closing ceremony and within a very few minutes it became clear that I would quickly run out of adjectives.
Without doubt, the London 2012 Olympics were a success for the UK’s sporting heroes and the nation as a whole, with 70,000 volunteer Games Makers in addition to our staggering haul of 65 medals. This was a proud moment for the UK and the closing ceremony was an informal time for celebration with a symphony of great British pop music.
Emeli Sande performed twice, her beautiful solo voice with piano accompaniment belting out ‘Read all About It’. Within minutes, we had actor Timothy Spall dressed as Winston Churchill performing Caliban’s speech from Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’ while the stadium filled with taxis, trucks and traffic wrapped in newsprint. A truly professional choir and orchestra (conducted by one of the UK’s unsung heroes, Steve Sidwell) helped give the impression of the chaos that these wonderful Olympics brought to the streets of London.
Within minutes of Prince Harry”s arrival and the National Anthem, we had Michael Caine and a Robin Reliant car exploding to free comedy Batman and Robin, reminiscent of TV show ‘Only Fools and Horses’.
In quick succession, we had Madness ‘Our House, the UK army’s finest ceremonial musicians performing Blur”s ‘Parklife’, the Pet Shop Boys with ‘West End Girls’, One Direction, performers from the exceptional musical ‘Stomp’ and dancing troupe ‘Spellbound’ who managed to create a red London bus out of human bodies.
Ray Davies of The Kinks performed London’s informal anthem ‘Waterloo Sunset’, surrounded by children from schools around London creating a representation of the Thames. The entrance of the 204 flags was stunning, but dwarfed for sense of theatre by the spectacle of the thousands of sports men and women walking through the 80,000 spectators to take their place on the floor of the stadium. More music included Elbow’s, ‘One Day Like This a Year’. What is it about UK recording artists and their ability to write and record inspirational songs?
It’s a tradition that the medals ceremony of the Men’s Marathon event takes place in the closing ceremony and the next segment where the athletes recognised the volunteers who made these games possible.
The opening of Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ led into John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ sung and signed by a children’s choir, made complete by film of Lennon himself leading the song. The intro to George Michael’s ‘Freedom’ caused uproar in the stadium and everyone joined in. We do love him and he really entered into the spirit of the event, declaring in no uncertain terms that ‘I’m alive’.
Kaiser Chefs performed The Who’s ‘Pinball Wizard’ while iconic Lambretta scooters so loved of Mods was followed by a celebration of British music and fashion to the tune of David Bowie’s ‘Fashion’.
Another highlight came with Annie Lennox performing ‘Little Bird’ from Francis Ford Coppola’s ‘Dracula’ on a bizarre ship, clearly being enjoyed by the whole stadium and she milked it – parading across the whole stage with a huge cast of dancers. Ed Sheeran with members of Pink Floyd and Genesis with ‘Wish You Were Here’ before Russell Brand on top of a bus sang the Beatles”I am a Walrus’ through a megaphone in a psychedelic segment.
You’ve probably never heard of Fatboy Slim, but he’s a DJ and producer we loved in the 1990s and his ‘Right Here, Right Now’ and ‘Funk Soul Brother’ were accompanied by lycra-clad dancers. Jessie J came on in a convertible singing ‘Price Tag’ and the audience just took over the lead vocals before Tinie Tempah emerged from a following car. His ‘Written in the Stars’ was followed swiftly by the third car revealing Taio Cruz who launched into ‘Dynamite’. Together, the three sang ‘You Should be Dancing’, which the borrowed from the Bee Gees but made totally their own.
The pace dropped as a fleet of London taxis brought on the Spice Girls who were then completely overshadowed by Liam Gallagher’s Beady Eye in ‘Wonder Wall’ with full orchestra backing.
Throughout the event there were some bizarre theatrical pieces, often seeming to celebrate British eccentricity and the next segment led into Monty Python’s Eric Idle leading the stadium in ‘Always Look on the Best Side of Life’. Extraordinary, especially with the skating nuns, Bollywood dancers and bagpipes. Bonkers. Magnificently so.
Segue into Muse and ‘The Resistance’, followed by a massive Freddie Mercury, 21 years after his death and then Brian May’s guitar antics. Quintessentially British. especially when ou add Roger Taylor’s drums and the gorgeous Jessie J rocking out ‘We Will Rock You’. Interesting to choose a girl to sing the lead and bring it right up to date.
The tension dropped suddenly with the formality of the end of the Olympics and a handover to Rio in anticipation of 2016. Crazy dancing, singing, comedy and Pele proved that we’re in for a treat then – maybe they can throw a party as well as we’ve done.
The archetypal British boy band Take That sang ‘Rule the World’ before Darcey Bussell and dancers of the Royal Ballet led up to the extinguishing of the Olympic flame. Who else then, but The Who. Epic.Google+