If globalization had left you wondering what Great Britain’s primary export has been over the past 50 years, the Closing Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics provided a high energy reminder.
A few scattered notes from the what was certainly the best of the three Olympic Games finales I’ve seen:
Besides the brief speeches by IOC boss Jacques Rogge and London 2012 Chairman Sebastian Coe near the tail end of the evening, this extravaganza seemed to have little to do with the Olympics. It was a rock concert, dancefest and sing-along for a crowd of 80,000 spectators and some 10,000 athletes featuring some big names of pop music’s past. It was also part Broadway/West End, featuring more than 3,500 volunteer performers, and almost operatic in scope –we weren’t allowed up for air until the pause brought on by the pair of quick speeches.
The headliners were The Who – Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend with a few sidemen in tow– who brought the show to a rousing conclusion. There was Muse, Fatboy Slim, Ray Davies, George Michael, Annie Lennox, Nick Mason, Liam Gallagher, One Direction, the Petshop Boys, and many others. Madness sang and played “Our House” 29 years –to the week!– since I last saw them stomping and shouting that same song.
The archival footage of John Lennon, during a stirring rendition of “Imagine” performed by the Liverpool Philharmonic Youth Choir and Liverpool Signing Choir, fit in beautifully. There was Freddie Mercury, too, singing the opening lines of “Day-O” with the crowd swaying along. After shedding a few tears during that video memorial, Queen’s guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor got together on “Brighton Rock” and “We Will Rock You”.
Eric Idle was terrific. Backed up by a Monty Python ‘Best of’ cabaret style review, he led the crowd in a “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” sing-along. I’ll admit it: I sang along with that, and “Pure Imagination” from Willy Wonka. “I am the Walrus” and a few others, too. (Spice Girls not included).
Here’s a brief slideshow, 21 pics in all.
And finally, below is some admittedly crappy footage of the finale, The Who playing My Generation, shot with a dancing GoPro2. At least it’s not crappy footage of the Spice Girls reunion.