Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 July 2014

London Olympics' musical farewell to the world

A general view as the fireworks signal the end of the London 2012 Olympics at packed Olympic Stadium in Stratford east London
A phoenix rises from the Olympic Flame during the Olympic Games Closing Ceremony
The Spice Girls perform during the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic games, London PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday August 12, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY

After 16 days of sporting heroism which made London the centre of the world, the curtain fell on the Olympics last night with a display of exuberant – at times anarchic – revelry that had but one message: "Goodbye world, we hope you had as good a time as we did. Now let's dance."

With 29 gold medals – the last arriving just hours before the grand finale in the Olympic Stadium – reflecting the glory of the best performance by a British team in 104 years, the Closing Ceremony delivered the grandest of grand hurrahs for London 2012.



From a rendition of "God Save the Queen" introduced by Timothy Spall playing Winston Churchill emerging from a miniaturised Big Ben, to Russell Brand on top of a trippy bus and Freddie Mercury's voice delivering "Bohemian Rhapsody" from beyond the grave, this was Britain showing that as well as putting on the greatest show on earth, it can party too.



Just as Danny Boyle's opening jamboree had enthralled the nation with his heady cocktail of the sublime, a skydiving monarch and Mr Bean, so artistic director Kim Gavin, a ballet dancer turned stadium tour impresario, provided a sumptuous feast of British creativity and eccentricity.



Gone was the didactic splendour of the Opening Ceremony with its giant NHS beds and Satanic Mills, Jarrow marchers and Sir Tim Berners Lee. This was all about having fun and, after putting on an unquestionably fine Games, London had reason to celebrate.



The Who, those titans of universally recognised but uniquely British pop, were due to bring the three-hour performance to a climax with a thundering rendition of "My Generation".



A week after his wife lost their daughter, Poppy, in a still birth, Take That's Gary Barlow was due to perform "Rule the World" with the band in a dramatic sequence leading to the extinguishing of the Olympic Flame.



But, reserving the right of this host nation to bamboozle the rest of the planet, there was also the downright wacky. The Reliant Robin immortalised in the classic comedy Only Fools and Horses made an explosive appearance followed by the sight of 160 Household Guards marching behind Madness while playing an instrumental version of Blur's "Parklife".



And do not even mention the multi-coloured octopus and the taxi ballet.



Gavin, speaking before the ceremony, said: "We wanted to host a celebration of all that's good about London, British people, our music and our culture. And capture the spirit that's inspired so much global creativity over the past 50 years."



Watched by dignitaries including Prince Harry, representing his grandmother, and Jacques Rogge, the President of the International Olympic Committee, the extravaganza began with a shout of "It's nine o'clock" from the capacity 80,000 crowd and Scottish R'*'B singer Emeli Sande on a purposely monochrome stage belting out her anthem to success "Read All About It" from the back of a rubbish truck.



And then it ended. Speeches from London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe and Jacques Rogge heralded the official close of the Games as Thomas Heatherwick's copper petal cauldron was finally extinguished after 16 days of constant burning. The only thing left to do was sing away the end of the night and that honour was given to The Who accompanied by the ballerina Darcey Bussell. Goodbye world. Thanks for coming.

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk