Rumours abound for weeks. Who will be left out? Who will actually make a surprise appearance? Will this be the closing show to close all shows?
England, undoubtedly one of the world’s strongest forces in music and art, kept tight lipped about who would confirm their presence in the closing of the 2012 London Olympic Games, until the last minute. Spice reunion … again? Elton and Adele? Bowie??? JAGGER?!?!
Well, we pretty much knew Sir Elton would prbably give the live performing a miss. After his much documented fall-out with Olympic organizers and his “stepping down” as musical director for the entire Games, it was no surprise that he was a no-show at the Closing.
Personally, I had my ups and down through the Closing Ceremonies? What was most terrifying was in the minutes leading up to the ceremonies, who is playing over the loudspeakers?? One Direction. My gut turned a little, as I had visions of a Brit Awards full of cheese masked with the usual pomp of an awards show. I’m not sure if I was disappointed or not, kind of in the middle I suppose.
One thing is obvious, Britain still knows how to properly honour their legends and put on a clanger of a show. Another thing is obvious, there is NO competing with a British ego, schedule conflicts or long-standing feuds (Oasis, tsk tsk), even if a billion people are watching. Was a shame to see Take That perform without Robbie Williams, but congratulations on a soon-to-be-baby!!
MOMENTS TO LOVE FOREVER
Freddie Mercury & Queen – Long long live Freddie Mercury, whose voice will forever thunder through stadiums of athletes, champions and underdogs alike. Tonight was no exception, and possibly one of the most powerful and thoughtful tributes that could have been. Much like the recent Tupac hologram at Coachella2012 , the Closing Ceremonies audience was floored by a floor-to-ceiling likeness of Freddie Mercury, leading the 80,000 strong crowd in an acapella intro of “Deyo”. The power of Mercury’s message shone brightly and hit the crowd dead in the heart, making way for another legendary solo from Queen guitarist Brian May. I almost wish there had been some sort of opportunity for Adam Lambert to have made an appearance with Queen, perhaps as a “passing of the torch” internally, but understandably he’s not British. The tribute to Queen and Freddie Mercury was stoic and beautifully executed … until… (See Jessie J & Queen below)
Annie Lennox – … can do no wrong. One of our generations most powerful voices provided the drama, glamour and fierceness we know her for time and time again. Leading the stadium form the bow of a gigantic Galleon, Annie delivered her 1993 hit, “Little Bird” without wavering so much as a note. Her every move was calculated and graceful, and her dancers flowed despite some pretty challenging costumes. As always Annie Lennox captivated. I could also hear the hammering of sewing machines across the globe as drag-queens in every nation scramble to get those outfits and choreography nailed as fast as possible :).
Spice Girls – Unarguably the worst kept secret of the week, between leaked photos days ago of the group rehearsing at a car dealership, to Victoria Beckhams’ tweets on the day leading up to the Ceremonies. Regardless, the Spice Girls brought the stadium to their feet once again, and left us all really really really wanting a Ziga-Zig-Ahhh. The car-eography was a lot of fun, the taxi entrance building a suspense worthy of a Spice entrance. Was also fun watching the girls navigate their stiletto heels, while performing on rooftop of cars racing around the stadium. … ** Also, Geri’s figure looks amazing!!
John Lennon & Children’s Choir – Not much I could ever say about a John Lennon “Imagine” montage that hasn’t been said hundreds of times over the years. Timeless. Poignant. Thoughtful. What really impressed my eyeballs was watching a cluster of dancers from across the stadium congregate holding various curvy set pieces, and effortlessly for John Lennon’s face as though it were coming up from the earth. Even better, a rush of white balloons cascading toward the ceiling as the song ends. Cliche, sure, but why not, how better to follow up a children’s choir, let’s be frank.
Supermodels / Bowie Tribute to Fashion – Enjoying the Ceremonies with my mother in tow, I could feel the anticipation to see Bowie … BOWIE!!! So when the first strains of “Fashion” came on, I wondered if the legend would actually make alive appearance. What I didn’t see coming was an Olympic first! Only the Brits would understand how important their contribution to the fashion world actually is, and boy did they let us know. Massive billboards, shot by Nick Knight, featuring some of the world’s hottest UK supermodels rolled out on flatbeds while images of Bowie flashed on the screens to his hit, “Fashion”. The billboards dropped, and the beauties, including one male supermodel David Gandy (wearing a Paul Smith suit), hit the largest runway of their careers. Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss (both wearing Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen). Stella Tennant (in Christopher Kane), Lily Cole (in Erdem), Lily Donaldson (in Vivienne Westwood), Karen Elson (in Burberry), Jourdan Dunn (in Jonathan Saunders and Stephen Jones), Georgia May Jagger (in Victoria Beckham). There was a subtle tribute to the highly influential late designer Alexander McQueen as foot soldiers casually made a signature skull formation in the centre of the Union Jack staging, noticable only by those in the know, how very ‘boujis’.
Eric Idle & Monty Python – Light hearted, good natured, as ‘British-as-it-gets’ fun and frolic. After a disastrous attempt at a shot out of a human cannon, screen legend Eric Idle hits the stage to lead the county in a rousing version of “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”, from the legendary Monthy Python film, “The Life of Brian”. Always good for a kick in the pants and a flying nun moment to lighten the drama.
Take That & Gary Barlow – While for many, it was a disappoinment to see Take That perform without longtime member Robbie Williams, who had a baby due at any moment, the big gasp of empathy in the night was for frontman Gary Barlow. Audiences around the world tweeted their appreciation for his strength, considering the stillbirth, loss of his fourth child, less than a week before. The performance of “Rule The World” was felt in warmth.
MOMENTS TO LOVE OR LEAVE
Jessie J & Queen – Yes, we are all proud of Jessie J for conquering what is a difficult musical world. Her vocal chords are robust, on-mark and she has really taken the pop world by storm. Her medley with Tinie Tempah and Taio Cruz was appropriately Top of the Pops, and fit together. HOWEVER, the thought that in any way she was the right frontman to pay tribute to Freddie Mercury leading “We Will Rock You” is so ridiculous. Even George Michael could have pulled off Freddie more appropriately. :)
One Direction – Again, love the inclusion of tween pop idols, of course it made headlines, which was important. Am I jaded that so many artists had to really cut their teeth for so many years of British history before being bestowed with such an honour? Grow some leg hair, knock out a second album maybe, I dunno. Regardless, the boys seemed to be having the time of their lives (all 10 years of their lives so far), so everybody wins.
Fatboy Slim – First, and foremost, I will ALWAYS love me some Fatboy Slim! I think his music is masterful, he took music production to another level with his daredevil approach to sampling and inspired lawsuits across the globe with his innovative borrowing techniques. HOWEVER, singing along to lyrics that clearly are a mash of nonsense looks like, nonsense. Lypsynching to nonsense lyrics whilst fist pumping from atop a boingy octopus at the age of 49 is also a bit much. Also, those of us who know Rockerfeller Skank, know darn well that the scratching is part of the track, so pretending to scratch a CDJ was more embarassing than anything. I’m glad they honoured such a major talent, but it was a bit of a farce, and not age appropriate at all, unfortunately.
Liam Gallagher & Beady Eye – Wonderwall – Of course I applaud Liam Gallagher for all the impact he and brother Noel made on the British music scene. The song will always be iconic, and will always incite patriotism wherever we are from. This performance just seemed a bit “I need to plug my new band”, at the expense of his brother being too cool for school to even show up. It really requred both of them, Beady Eye can create their own anthems.
All in all, the evening was, of course, a beautiful tribute to a very hard working country of musicians and artists. Many have called it a glorified Brit Awards, but what did we expect with such talents and showmanship?
I can honestly say I had expected some sort of “Candle in the Wind” debauchery to extinguish the flame, but, as luck would have it, the divas collided, and the show was allowed to close with grace and dignity.
I’m sure Elton slept just fine.