London 2012 has left the building (or rather, the Olympic Stadium) and I, for one, am gutted. The closer it got, the more excited I was at the Olympics coming to my city. By the day of the Opening Ceremony itself, I was beside myself with excitement & a smidgeon of nervousness.
I needn’t have worried: the Opening Ceremony was one of the best things I have ever seen. The ‘Industrial Revolution’ sequence had me slack-jawed with awe and the music was phenomenal and atmospheric as the Olympic rings formed above the stadium. And of course, the Olympic Flame (or was it a Cauldron?) bit was beautiful. So I had high hopes for the Closing Ceremony and thought it would be on a par with the spectacle that opened the whole shindig.
Boy, was I wrong.
The Closing Ceremony was entitled ‘A Symphony of British Music’. I love all kinds of music - as long as it has a good beat, I’m a happy bunny. But I was bored after 40 minutes and- judging by people on my timeline on Twitter & Facebook - I was not the only one. By contrast, I was enthralled at the same point in the Opening Ceremony. The music during the sequence in Danny Boyle’s show where the teenage couple were trying to meet up through a highly colourful crowd of dancers was better than most of the Closing Ceremony line-up. More diverse as well: Underworld, The Prodigy, Dizzee Rascal, even Millie with ‘My Boy Lollipop’! A classic and (more importantly) all songs you can shake your tush to. So whose bright idea was it to have Ed Sheeran singing some dirge onstage while a tightrope walker (who wasn’t even in clown make-up- a wasted opportunity!) teetered above the stage?? The last person whose music I want to hear at an uplifting celebration of music is him.
Emeli Sande is a fabulous singer, but why did they have her sing Read All About It… twice?! It’s not the liveliest of songs. She should have performed ‘Heaven’, a fantastic song that would have got the crowd on their feet in the stadium and at home, instead of something so… dull.
That’s the keyword right there- the Closing Ceremony was DULL. When you’re relying on the newly-formed (for one night only) Spice Girls being the act that will save the whole shebang, you know you’re in trouble. If this was going to be a carbon-copy of the Jubilee concert, the least they could do was get Grace Jones onstage hula-hooping. (Or Boris Johnson- that would’ve been a sight). Another good sign things aren’t going swimmingly is when a friend texts you barely an hour into the event saying, ‘Is it me or is this all a bit shit?’, as happened to me.
Now before anyone accuses me of being a cynical British hag who will nit-pick any and everything, you couldn’t be more wrong. I was looking forward to this extravaganza and seeing how it would pan out. The crumbs we were given sounded good: a catwalk with British supermodels; Kate Bush rumoured to be performing. I’m sure it sounded good on paper, but when broadcast live, I was disappointed. And Taio Cruz shouldn’t have been allowed anywhere near the Olympic Stadium, let alone onstage.
And why were the first few acts’ songs on a loop in the stadium while the athletes came out to play? Hearing One Direction more than once is not a good thing for my ears or soul. It was like one long British Airways ad. I’d have been happier if Heather Small had rocked up singing ‘Proud’- the poor woman’s been airbrushed out of the entire gig.
Yes there were some good points: Brian May’s guitar solo was an unexpected highlight and Jessie J was good performing with them, although (obviously) she was not a patch on the legendary Freddie Mercury’s hologram. The Marathon medal ceremony- the final one of the Games -was lovely. Muse (and their slightly scary choir)’s performance were really good and ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life’ was utterly bonkers and I was very happy to see they left the line, “Life’s a piece of shit” in there (no doubt NBC threw a fit when that was broadcast). And the ballet sequence near the end was very atmospheric and really lifted some of the cobwebs.
But it shouldn’t have taken two hours to pass before things started to get better. Everything beforehand just didn’t gel. My hand was reaching for the remote sooner than I imagined but I stuck with it. I know many Londoners didn’t want the Olympics to end but that shouldn’t have meant we had to be subjected to something that looked like it had all been randomly thrown together.
Anyway, all I know is that I want one of those bowler hats with the lightbulb on top, so if there’s one left in the Olympic Stadium, someone fetch it for me please.
© G. Holder. Aug 2012.