SBD/August 13, 2012/Olympics

Closing Ceremony Is Part Circus, Part Concert, Part Fashion Show

The Closing Ceremony featured music from various eras of British pop culture
A musical “mishmash of eras and styles closed the London Olympics in a long and raucous fashion on Sunday, according to Lisa Dillman of the L.A. TIMES. There were “familiar music icons, including the Pet Shop Boys, the reunited-for-a-night Spice Girls, Annie Lennox, Ray Davies, Fatboy Slim and singer George Michael.” The Who “closed the show with a four-song set."  The show, directed by Kim Gavin and titled “A Symphony of British Music,” featured “quirky elements witnessed in the opening ceremony last month accompanied by a surreal twist” (L.A. TIMES, 8/13). In London, Mick Brown writes the Games “finally came to a tumultuous conclusion last night in a vibrant closing ceremony that would have blown the roof off the Olympic stadium, if it had one” (London TELEGRAPH, 8/13). The AP’s Paul Haven wrote London “brought the curtain down on a glorious Olympic Games on Sunday in a spectacular, technicolor pageant of landmarks, lightshows and lots of fun” (AP, 8/12). In N.Y., David Segal writes the Closing Ceremony “felt as if the Games had suddenly been programmed by England’s version of the Chamber of Commerce, which decided to take advantage of this final moment in the international spotlight to produce one long and kinetic ad for the country’s pop culture.” It was an “elaborate and at times earsplitting spectacle” (N.Y. TIMES, 8/13).

JOB WELL DONE: The FINANCIAL TIMES’ Matthew Engel notes the event “went without apparent hitch.” The entertainment was “less complex and richly textured than Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony and quickly developed into a showcase of British talent.” The highlights were “the reunion of the 1990s group the Spice Girls, and a splendidly impudent rendition of Always Look on the Bright Side of Life by Eric Idle” (FINANCIAL TIMES, 8/13). The WALL STREET JOURNAL’s Fowler & Catton note organizers “dispensed with the history lessons of the opening ceremony for a show that reminded the world of its dominance in popular culture” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 8/13). The GLOBE & MAIL’s Reguly, Brady & Waldie write the Closing Ceremony -- part “concert, part circus, all loud and rollicking good fun -- was slickly produced and as successful in its own quirky way as Mr. Boyle’s own extravaganza and the Games themselves.” Held under a “clear sky, the arena exploded in sexy and contagious mix of samba, carnival music, Afro-Brazilian dance and, in one of the big surprises of the evening, an appearance by Brazilian soccer star Pele,” in the official handover to Rio de Janeiro. However, Rio "has an exceedingly hard act to follow” (GLOBE & MAIL, 8/13). In Toronto, Greg Quill writes Gavin “presented a bookend summary of the themes Danny Boyle raised in his epic opening ceremony a long fortnight ago” (TORONTO STAR, 8/13). In London, Tom Sutcliffe writes where Boyle's opening show “had been a statement of intent and national values, this was an hour-long advert for British stadium rock-show design” (London INDEPENDENT, 8/13).

THE ODD SQUAD: In L.A., Robert Lloyd writes if the Closing Ceremony “lacked the energy and audaciousness and personal touch that Boyle brought to the opening,” it had its “odd moments of oddity, including Russell Brand emerging from a psychedelic bus to sing, or appear to sing, ‘I Am the Walrus.’" The bus then morphed into a "giant octopus" with Fatboy Slim at its center (L.A. TIMES, 8/13). Also in L.A., Randall Roberts writes the “famous British supermodels vogueing and strutting to David Bowie's indictment of the fashion world, ‘Fashion,’ was equally odd” (L.A. TIMES, 8/13). ESPN.com’s Jim Caple wrote 71-year-old equestrian rider Hiroshi Hoketsu “first competed at the 1964 Olympic and may have been the only athlete who can actually remember when the music played at the closing ceremonies was popular.” Caple: “I mean, John Lennon and ‘Imagine’ are timeless, but Annie Lennox and the Pet Shop Boys? Or Russell Brand lip-synching to ‘I Am the Walrus?’” (ESPN.com, 8/12).

NOTABLE ABSENCES: In London, Bernadette McNulty writes there were “some clear flaws: the obvious absence of top-drawer stars like Kate Bush and David Bowie and ELO glaring when their music was used.” The psychedelic section “with Ed Sheeran playing Pink Floyd and Russell Brand doing a karaoke Beatles was too slow and Liam Gallagher was nasal and off key.” McNulty: “The whole affair didn’t feel whittled down but rather way too long. If anything, the Closing Ceremony was not uplifting or cheesy enough apart from the Spice Girls who got the exuberant tone exactly right” (London TELEGRAPH, 8/13). The AP’s Jill Lawless notes viewers “heard the voices and songs of the departed" with Queen's Freddie Mercury singing "Bohemian Rhapsody" and Liverpool choirs performing Lennon's "Imagine." But there were “some notable absences,” including David Bowie, the Rolling Stones and Elton John (AP, 8/13). In Toronto, Thane Burnett writes, “Perhaps it's just hard to get excited about a reception at the Hilton when the wedding took place at the Vatican” (TORONTO SUN, 8/13). In London, Sarah Crompton writes the London Games were “beautiful and inspiring, full of laughter and tears, reverent of the past but hopeful of the future.” London 2012 has “been an event that has made most people want to dance.” Although the Closing Ceremony “didn’t quite live up to expectation, lots of people dancing around can’t possibly be the worst way to end it” (London TELEGRAPH, 8/13).
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