13th August 2012
With performances from The Spice Girls, Pet Shop Boys, Jessie J, George Michael, Madness, Eric Idle and – from the Grave, John Lennon and Freddie Mercury – it certainly didn’t lack star potential and the atmosphere was absolutely electric. What a line-up to celebrate the success of our sporting heroes, some of whom we hadn't even heard of until two weeks ago!
With a beautiful bit of floor-art from Damien Hirst, which housed all the athletes, the Closing Ceremony put the athletes right at the heart of the action and their excitement and utter joy was palpable and infectious. There were surely some sore heads the next day!
But how did you find the Closing Ceremony? Did it rock your boat? Or sink your heart? Judging by the Twitter feed on Sunday evening, the jury was out.
Like the Opening Ceremony, the Closing Ceremony had a bit of everything – glamour, comedy, fireworks, noise, surprises, gothic costumes and surreal and unexpected twists. But while the Opening Ceremony’s surrealism was tied together – albeit loosely – with a narrative, the Closing Ceremony seemed not just chaotic, but downright bizarre.
Russell Brand as Willy Wonka singing I am the Walrus, Blur soundtracks, but no sight of Damon Albarn, Fatboy Slim and a giant octopus, rollerskating nuns, scantily clad supermodels, a soundtrack on repeat as it clearly took longer than anticipated to get the Athletes into the Stadium. What must the world think of us? Well, director Kim Gavin did promise a "mashed-up symphony".
Overall, it seems that such is the joyous state of the nation at the moment, such is the tidal wave of goodwill, festivity, joviality, that we'd have gone along with almost anything. And at the very least, how very appropriate to have Always Look on The Bright Side of Life to help us navigate the post-Olympic blues, the anti-climax that is sure to follow.
There were, without doubt, some sound issues. There was a randomness to the whole affair. There was a lack of polish and finesse, which is hardly surprising given that there were one or two rehearsals compared to the six week in-situ rehearsal period the Opening Ceremony enjoyed. There was also a distinct lack of jaw-dropping wow factor that the Opening Ceremony laid claim to with its sheer scale and ambition, and the awesome props like the five huge gold, burning rings and a stadium full of neon doves.
With a stadium this size, individual acts or even groups are so small and insignificant that it’s difficult to give them the presence they need. The liberal use of a random assortment of vehicles to bring the performers around the Stadium and get everyone a glimpse of the action helped, but frequently the performers seemed dwarfed, and poor sound further hindered their performances.
But at least there was light at the end of the tunnel thanks, yet again, to the use of the LED paddles distributed throughout the stadium and the LED lights on the cars. Pulsing along with the music, the lights brought the whole stadium together into one single moving entity.
LED lighting is nothing new, but the application as seen here on a massive stadium-wide scale (including almost 400km of cabling!) will surely be one of the lasting legacies of The Games, as event professionals seek to give their events the edge by using this technology. Find out what Crystal CG – the visualisation specialists behind the LED light show – thought about the whole affair here.
As we start to gear up for feats of incredible human endurance for the Paralympics, my abiding memory of The Games will be the transformation of London into a city I barely recognise – smiling faces, jovial tube announcers, people actually talking to each other! Will this be part of the legacy? Time will tell.