Monday, 13 August 2012

London 2012 Olympics: A generally quite positive review of the closing ceremony including inevitable Spice Girls reference


After surpassing even the most ambitious of expectations for all-round feel good amazingness, much of which was due to Clare Balding and her remarkable flick-fringe hair arrangement, the intention of the Olympic organisers to have the Games go out with the biggest-possible bang seemed only fitting for such a successful event.

The medals, the tears, the tracksuits - oh how we were gripped during the 17 days of genuinely unforgettable sporting fun.

And amid talk of Spice Girls atop buses and Pet Shop Boys in funny hats, expectations were dizzingly high - and matched only by fears of a reappearance by an obligatory Beatle, which in real terms means Paul McCartney.

But were those expectations met? Yes they were.

'Impressively redundant commentary'

To the relief of everyone, the result was a show that many agreed was spectacular, proud and confident - in fact, it was almost a bit cocky at times.

Even the odd ropey vocal performance - for example from a stunned-looking Madness on a float, as if the driver had got lost on his way to the Barking Carnival - or the mystifying over-use of the talented Emeli Sandé, not only singing the same song twice, but badly failing to disguise herself with a change of costume on her second bit. Perhaps she was doing the part originally intended for Adele, too.

Even Trevor Nelson and his impressively redundant commentary was kept to a minimum - clearly learning the lessons of the opening ceremony, where a new low was reached with reference to Mr Nelson's cousin, who we learned was one of the volunteers in the crowd scenes. Was the cousin there for the closing ceremony too? We will never know.

But the thing was - Emeli, Madness, One Direction singing over their single, and the Pet Shop Boys in funny hats, and then hearing all those songs again in the background as the athletes filed into the stadium - all this was just the warm up.

George Michael at the Olympic Closing Ceremony: Throwing some shapes
With a bit of medal presentation and general Olympic admin out the way, the show could really begin.

'Weepy clip montages'

And then came George Michael, appearing through a hole in the floor in the centre of the stadium - and he got it both right and wrong. Track number one, Freedom '90, got the crowd to its feet. Then, with track number two (a new, mimed, unknown single called White Light), that same crowd all sat down again, while at home many no doubt marvelled at his spacey-arm dad-dancing.

Other mentionables out of so many include Jessie J in a flesh coloured cat-suit nearly showing her unmentionable; Brian May and his hair; some guy who looks like your uncle playing some CDs from the 1990s (yeah okay Fatboy Slim); Elbow pretending they're at a wedding reception and John Lennon (a different obligatory Beatle) on a video screen singing Imagine (remastered by his widow especially for the event, we're told (thanks Trevor!)) and in turn making everyone reach for their tissues (or vodka): the entertainment, and weepy clip montages, kept on a-coming.

Annie Lennox 'singing inside a bucket'

But it was a shame that someone from the sound team took a tea break when Annie Lennox came on to sing Little Bird, bedecked as she was as a, um, boat (the memory is hazy), which meant her vocal sounded a bit muted, as if she was singing inside a bucket. A small one.

And the disappointment that Kate Bush didn't burst out of one of those white boxes representing the medals won (or something), while wearing a lilac leotard and a floaty skirt made of net curtain, as we heard her still-brilliant track Running Up That Hill, was palpable.

However, it was probably the appearance of the Spice Girls when everything seemed to be alright again in the world.

Even though they looked a bit uncomfortable as they sang on top of those taxis, it was good to have them back - so much so we never realised we even missed them, or more to the point actually even cared - even if the camera didn't quite know who was singing at any one time.

Take That peformed Rule the World, one of the best of their thematically-similar stadium-rousers
'Everyone's favourite homage to the colonial empire'

In fact, followed up by a strangled-sounding Liam Gallagher singing Wonderwall, and a surprise finale from Take That - choosing to sing everyone's favourite homage to the colonial empire, Rule the World, and possibly the only one of their thematically-similar stadium-rousers that could perhaps be seen as slightly inappropriate given the international audience and the song title's unintentional reference to a part of Great Britain's history we don't really like to talk about - the whole thing basically hit the spot, and just felt right.

Although, following Take That with some dancing from Darcey Bussell seemed a climax too far: tv-ooh had work in the morning.

Olympic closing ceremony, we will never forget you, although in time we acknowledge we probably will, or at least get you mixed up with the Jubilee concert or the Games' opening ceremony, at any rate.

But even so, what fantastic feel-good television it was eh readers, and where else would you see a floor made from newspapers printing British poetry and literature and stuff, rather than a page 3 beauty - an omission perhaps conspicuous by its absence, if we're 'celebrating' British 'culture', but what the matter. 

It was amazing.

And speaking of omissions, where was Spandau Ballet singing Gold? Or Heather Small singing Proud? Did her invitation get lost in the post? Let us all hope she'll get a shot at the next London Olympics, right everyone? Right.

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