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A Glorified Pop Concert - The Closing Ceremony London 2012 Didn't Deserve

Posted: 13/08/2012 08:21

Olympics Closing Ceremony

If Danny Boyle should be knighted for the London 2012 Olympics' opening ceremony, then Kim Gavin should be deported for the closing ceremony.

Roddy Piper said in They Live: "I have come to chew bubblegum and kick ass... and I'm all out of bubblegum." If only the majority of the singers were busier gnashing away whitening their teeth then it would have saved us from listening to them. Because they kicked our arses in the worst possible sense. This was a spanking for two uncharacteristically cynicism-free weeks in the UK, and now the movement back to parity would be swift.

The harbinger of doom came via the BBC, who thought it would be prudent to re-invite the gaffe-ridden Trevor Nelson back to commentate despite his opening ceremony incompetence. Flanked by a Welshman and a Scotsman, this was unsubtle equality policy fare when people just wanted someone competent.

But that was the least of our worries. The show began by mimicking Peep Show's rainbow rhythms sequence, which, judging by that unflattering comparison, is about as slow a start as the tortoise's when he raced the hare.

At least Timothy Spall arrived as Churchill to offer some gravitas. Akin to Kenneth Branagh as Brunel in the opening ceremony, this was a parallel that merely served to offer false hope. And watching Wallander would be more enjoyable than what was to come.

What was with that Only Fools and Horses Batman and Robin sketch? That the rest of the world would have been baffled was not the issue so much as the incongruity of it. Besides, Batman and Robin aren't very British, are they? Del Boy falling through the bar would have been preferable.

Madness then arrived to belt out Our House, or what is otherwise known as 'overkill'. Contrary to popular belief, they are not as revered nationwide as many purport them to be. Their lead singer is a Chelsea fan and, from the ska era, they don't hold a candle to The Specials, who would have been much more welcome.

Now it was Blur's Parklife. Only they weren't even there, and this signalled a recurring and disheartening trend for the evening's entertainment. They were followed by the Pet Shop Boys, with Neil Tennant looking like a nefarious Archbishop of Canterbury. Astonishingly, he wasn't the most ridiculously dressed act on show.

Horrifically, some boy band entered the fray. "I don't know who they are," Liam Neeson might have mused. "But I will find them and I will kill them." If only. Reassuringly I had no idea who One Direction were and the only regret is that in the aftermath I now will. Like most of the closing ceremony, they were as catchy as the bubonic plague.

A saviour temporarily arrived in the guise of Ray Davies. His rendition of The Kinks' seminal Waterloo Sunset was as measured as it was perfect. He didn't need to gyrate or enter via an ostentatious set because he's a class act, and we were glad to have him.

But Emelie Sande was back. Many, including myself, thought and hoped it might have been David Bowie. Why was she on again?

Elbow were possibly the highlight. The song choices were exceptional and choreographed superbly, as the athletes entered the stadium simultaneously through the spectators. It was a universal feeling of togetherness and a suitable spectacle to bow out on.

Only it would be tainted by a glorified pop concert. Because then it was Madness, Blur, Pet Shop Boys and One Direction again. I was awaiting the Spotify advert to arrive. Where were The Specials? The Smiths? The Stones? The Stone Roses? And that was just the 's'.

Even the TV producer cottoned on to the misery of the monotony. The cameraman focused on some sweet Ukrainian athletes dancing and would later dwell on some Australian darlings who looked like the best pair since Cole and Yorke. Usain Bolt was MIA, probably partying with the Swedish volleyball team.

Kate Bush got an airing, but like the best acts, Kate wasn't there. Tributes to Freddie Mercury and John Lennon were poignant and worthy celebrations, even if the song choice was questionable.

Whoever would have thought George Michael would act as the redeemer? He belted out Freedom with gusto, but then sullied himself with a song nobody had heard of. Despite the exposure this plug is getting George, I won't buy your new album.

It was then over to the mods, with the Kaiser Chiefs the passengers. How fitting their last notable song was Everything Is Average, for their best efforts came back in 2004.

Bowie then made a fleeting appearance. Samples from his 'best of' was followed by Fashion, with a plug for supermodels. It was all a bit panto. Kate Moss would prompt cheers, Naomi Campbell would prompt jeers. Maybe, given the quantity of African countries in attendance, Naomi was shopping for diamonds...

Annie Lennox then turned up looking like an Adam and the Ants groupie. There was, refreshingly, no preaching from her for once, but it was still an awfully forgettable performance. Sweet dreams aren't made of this.

Then I wanted Armageddon to arrive. Watching Russell Bland bastardise Gene Wilder and then The Beatles' I Am The Walrus was like watching a war crime: I was both horrified and powerless to stop this talentless t**t in the hat. The less said about it, the better.

Norman Cook livened it up but clearly didn't do much other than just stand there and dance awkwardly. Although Christopher Walken flying around the stadium might have compensated for what was turning into a nightmare.

Jessie J, Taio Cruz and Tinie Tempah strutted into centre stage shortly after. Two weeks ago the world thought we were useless at sport and great at music...

The Spice Girls' comeback was a reminder of when British music was genuinely great in the 90s, even if they weren't. The highlight of their short-lived comeback was how amazing Emma Bunton looked, rather than Victoria Beckham actually smiling. Incidentally, no one could hear her sing. Although in fairness, she can't.

Wonderwall without Noel Gallagher seemed wrong and Liam reaffirmed that consensus. Although a universal anthem that everyone knows the lyrics too, the Mancunian sounded like a stereotypical Scouser. What chance did this farewell to the world have when even one of Oasis' finest was horribly tainted?

Electric Light Orchestra. Mr Blue Sky. Brilliant. Only they're not there. Even Jeff Lynne turned them down.

Eric Idle's Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life was a welcome antidote to the shrieking and grating. A very British choice, it paved way for the entrance of Muse, who were lamentably bad.

Freddie returned from footage which may or may not have been from Live Aid. Yes, we got it, Live Aid was much better than this rubbish.

Brian May got his guitar out for a solo which required support before Jessie J returned to take Freddie's place. She looked like Gozer from the end of Ghostbusters and was the first Brazilian on show in the evening. Ahem.

The Brazilians then took charge to demonstrate they may even be barmier than the Brits. Alessandra Ambrosio's presence was pleasing, but The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou's Seu Jorge was there too. Just have him perform a bit of Bowie and we'd all be happy.

Seb Coe arrived to smugly pause for applause, which was good in so much as it heralded the evening's imminent conclusion. Dullard Jacques Rogge then gave a speech which couldn't have sounded less inspiring if it was delivered by Sven-Göran Eriksson. "Your majesties, your highnesses..."

Even though his royal sycophancy during the jubilee celebrations was creepy, one had great respect for Gary Barlow's performance after his recent tragedy. The song choice - Rule The World - was a beautiful and touching denouement, even if The Who got to have the last say with My Generation.

Coe ended his speech by pronouncing "We did it right." We did indeed. Apart from the closing ceremony's abject playlist.

 

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