Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 6 No. 212
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.

Closing Ceremony Part Circus, Part Concert, Part Fashion Show, All British

London ended "one of the most successful Games in history" Sunday night with 80,000 people in the Olympic Stadium rocking and roaring not for athletes, but "for a raucous, exuberant celebration of modern British culture," according to Martin Fletcher of the LONDON TIMES. Artistic Dir Kim Gavin called it “A love letter to our invention and innovation.” Fletcher wrote, "Churchill (Timothy Spall) rose from the top of Big Ben. Fatboy Slim burst from the top of a giant octopus. A piece of shattered sculpture magically reassembled to form John Lennon’s head as one stunning tableau followed another." LOCOG Chair Sebastian Coe said the show was "not anything desperately profound." What it was was "£20M ($31.4) worth of irreverent and cacophonous fun with stunning lighting and pyrotechnics that was shown on 22 giant screens across London and many more across the country" (LONDON TIMES, 8/13). In London, Mick Brown wrote 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” (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 wrote 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 noted 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 '90s 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 noted 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 wrote 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 wrote 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 wrote 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” (INDEPENDENT, 8/13).

TOPPED WITH POP: In London, Richard Williams wrote, "To follow Boyle's Isles of Wonder with Kim Gavin's Symphony of British Music was a bit like switching from 'Ready Steady Go!' to 'Top of the Pops,' albeit with the same mind-boggling shuffling of scenery, dazzling choreography and brilliant use of lighting." The show "was, as promised, more cacophonous than symphonic" (GUARDIAN, 8/12). Also in London, Taylor & Milmo wrote that the show "was Britain showing that as well as putting on the greatest show on earth, it can party too." Gavin's effort "provided a sumptuous feast of British creativity and eccentricity" (INDEPENDENT, 8/13).’s Jim Caple wrote 71-year-old equestrian rider Hiroshi Hoketsu “first competed at the 1964 Olympics 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?’” (, 8/12).

NOTABLE ABSENCES: In London, Bernadette McNulty wrote 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” (TELEGRAPH, 8/13). The AP’s Jill Lawless noted 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 wrote, “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 wrote 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” (TELEGRAPH, 8/13).