Well that was disappointing. Ahead of the Olympics Closing Ceremony, excitable rumours suggested that Kate Bush would play, and David Bowie would break years of silence to sing ‘Heroes’. Instead we got, er, Russell Brand.
The brief was 50 Years Of British Music, and we were primed to expect the ‘best wedding disco ever’. But the end result was both less fun, and less authoritative, than advertised. Where the Opening Ceremony was joyous and eccentric and culturally specific, the Closing Ceremony managed to miss the mark. It felt like a surrealist sketch show commissioned by BBC3 that had bafflingly managed to get a second series.
Muse were as imperious as you’d expect. Ray Davies performed ‘Waterloo Sunset’ beautifully. The Spice Girls were priceless. From Mel B climbing out of a taxi yelling ‘Zig a zig ah!’, to Victoria clinging desperately to the rungs as her cab drove off, the group did not disappoint (plus, afterwards, they partied with Muse and Liam Gallagher til 5am, as the photo below demonstrates). Annie Lennox killed it, singing live from aboard a pirate ship. Pet Shop Boys commanded the arena, singing ‘West End Girls’ from atop over-sized rickshaws.
Liam, singing Noel’s ‘Wonderwall’ with Beady Eye felt sad. Not as sad as Boris Johnson’s dad-bop though. And while Jessie J’s vocals on ‘We Will Rock You’ with Brian May were admittedly quite impressive in a bellowing kind of way, her feeble air guitar attempts were not. Also, Jessie, doesn’t it kind of negate the message of ‘Price Tag’ when you’re singing it from a convertible Rolls Royce?
Russell Brand singing ‘I Am The Walrus’ mixed with ‘Pure Imagination’ from Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, while dancers acted out lyrics from the song was definitely a low. Equally, Eric Idle doing ‘Always Look On The Bright Side’ must have left younger viewers scratching their heads. Let’s not forget George Michael performing a single that nobody wanted to hear (‘White Light’ WTF?). And can someone, anyone, tell us how Emeli Sandé got this gig? Who does she know? Why is she always on stage? Did she invent the Olympics?
If the Opening Ceremony was about how Britain is in 2012, then the Closing Ceremony was a celebration of how it got to be that way. Except it felt as if large holes were missing. For one, where was Adele – creator of the highest-selling album of 2011? And perhaps the fact that younger Ed Sheeran fans confused his cover of ‘Wish You Were Here’ for a new track is an indication that the assumed age of the audience was pitched a little too high. Closing on a track composed by a twenty year old in 1965 may be recognisable, but does it speak to twenty year olds in 2012?
So many questions. Why Kaiser Chiefs and not, say, superior showmen Kasabian (‘Fire’ would have been perfect). Why all the supermodels? At the end of a perfect two weeks of entertainment, it was a shame the curtain had to come down in such dismal fashion.
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Olympic Closing Ceremony: The Full Setlist
1. Emeli Sande – ‘Read All About It (Part III)’
2. Stomp! Choir – ‘Because’ by The Beatles
3. Julian Lloyd Webber playing to Timothy Spall as Winston Churchill.
4. ‘God Save The Queen’
5. Madness – ‘Our House’
6. Blur’s ‘Parklife’, performed by Queen’s Guard band
7. Pet Shop Boys – ‘West End Girls’
8. One Direction – ‘What Makes You Beautiful’
10. Spelbound (Britain’s Got Talent winners) – The Beatles, ‘ A Day In The Life’
11. Ray Davies (The Kinks) – ‘Waterloo Sunset’
12. Emeli Sande – ‘Read All About It (Part III) ‘
13. National flags and the athletes
14. Elbow – ‘Open Arms’, ‘One Day Like This’
15. Men’s Marathon Victory Ceremony, Uganda’s NA
16. The Beatles, ‘Here Comes The Sun’
17. ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ by Queen, ‘Imagine’ by John Lennon
18. George Michael – ‘Freedom’ and ‘White Light’
19. Kaiser Chiefs – ‘Pinball Wizard’ (originally by The Who)
20. David Bowie musical montage + supermodels including Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell
21. Annie Lennox – ‘Little Bird’
22. Ed Sheeran – ‘Wish You Were Here’ (originally by Pink Floyd)
23. Russell Brand, ‘Pure Imagination’ and ‘I Am The Walrus’
24. Fatboy Slim – ‘Right Here, Right Now’
25. Jessie J – ‘Price Tag ‘
26. Tinie Tempah – ‘Written In The Stars’ (feat. Jessie J)
27. Taio Cruz – ‘Dynamite’
28. Jessie J, Tinie Tempah and Taio Cruz – ‘You Should Be Dancing’ (originally by Bee Gees)
29. Spice Girls – ‘Spice Up Your Life’ & ‘Wannabe’
30. Liam Gallagher (Beady Eye) – ‘Wonderwall’ (Oasis)
31. Electric Light Orchestra – ‘Mr. Blue Sky’
32. Eric Idle – ‘Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life’
33. Muse – ‘Survival’
34. Freddie Mercury (Old Wembley footage), Brian May on guitar, Queen – We Will Rock You (feat. Jessie J)
35. Speeches: Sebastian Coe, Jacques Rogge
36. Take That (minus Robbie Williams) – ‘Rule The World’
37. Darcey Bussell (ballerina) – ‘Spirit Of The Flame’
38. The Who – ‘Baba O’Riley’ & ‘My Generation’