London 2012 ends with sing-along party

2012-08-13 07:30

London – London 2012 was in party mood as it bid farewell, a mass sing-along bringing the curtain down on an Olympic Games that has radiated the feelgood factor throughout.

The closing ceremony, entitled “A Symphony of British Music”, was a celebration of Britain’s pop prowess, with the sounds of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” and John Lennon’s “Imagine” ringing round the Olympic Stadium.

Thousands of athletes who have entertained the world during the Olympic sporting extravaganza craned to take pictures of stars like George Michael and Fatboy Slim performing at the centre of a giant stage in the shape of Britain’s Union Jack flag.

Meanwhile the pumped-up 80 000-strong crowd got into the party atmosphere, singing along in full voice as waves of colour swept around the bowl on the pixel screens in front of each seat.

The three-hour spectacle began with New Year-style Big Ben chimes counting down to 9pm.

Britain’s Union Jack was laid out in the form of newsprint ramps to the stadium centre, though on closer inspection the story headlines were quotations from classic English literature.

The central stage featured a panorama of the London skyline and wartime British prime minister Winston Churchill, played by actor Timothy Spall, appeared atop the “Big Ben” clock tower.

“Be not afeard; the isle is full of noises,” he intoned, recalling the line from William Shakespeare’s play The Tempest that inspired Danny Boyle’s dramatic July 27 opening ceremony.

In his biggest role to date, 27-year-old Prince Harry, third in line to the throne, represented Queen Elizabeth II at the show.

Eighties band Madness, who played on the Buckingham Palace roof for the queen’s jubilee, kicked off the mass singalong with their hit Our House, which was followed by Blur’s tune Parklife.

With the crowd on backing vocals, The Kinks’ frontman Ray Davies then played Waterloo Sunset, his gentle 1967 London love song that has played in stadiums throughout the Games.

“After 16 days of competition, we wanted to host a celebration of all that’s good about London, British people, our music and our culture,” Kim Gavin, the show’s artistic director, said beforehand.

“And capture the spirit that’s inspired so much global creativity over the past 50 years.”

More than 300 million people would be watching around the world, the audience were told.

While a chosen athlete carried each national flag into the stadium, the competitors streamed in as one, some wearing their medals and others taking pictures of the scene.

They formed the wedges in the Union Jack as as Elbow played their symphonic hit One Day Like This on the stage.

There was one final medal ceremony – that for yesterday’s men’s marathon, in which Stephen Kiprotich won Uganda’s second-ever gold medal.

One of the hallmarks of the London Games has been how athletes have been enthusiastically cheered, regardless of nationality.

Sounds of The Beatles’ Here Comes The Sun then washed around and the Kaiser Chiefs belted out The Who’s Pinball Wizard as Mods on scooters rode around the stadium.

Supermodels like Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell strutted their stuff in a tribute to British fashion.

Annie Lennox appeared as the figurehead of a ghost galleon, while DJ Fatboy Slim performing on a psychadelic camper van that turned into a blow-up octopus.

Jessie J, Tinie Tempah and Taio Cruz sang the Bee Gees’ hit You Should Be Dancing.

As well as the flame being extinguished in the stadium, the ceremony featured a segment looking forward to the Rio de Janeiro Games of 2016, and London Mayor Boris Johnson handed over the Olympic flag to his counterpart from the giant Brazilian city.

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