When Daldry and Daltrey took up the London 2012 baton

There was little sign of life at Our House on Monday morning, the latest of several late nights clearly taking its toll after the party to mark the end of a truly spectacular event.

My youngest was battling with her eyelids shortly before the phoenix rose from the ashes of the Olympic cauldron, but it’s fair to say both my girls have put in a few hours at the gogglebox this past fortnight for an event that clearly inspired the nation.

And Stephen Daldry and Kim Gavin’s closing ceremony carried on where Danny Boyle’s spectacular opener left off, a heady mix of great music, culture and drama making us proud to be British again.

To a backdrop of London wrapped in news headlines championing the UK’s unequalled literary heritage, Emile Sande and Stomp supplied the soundtrack as Tim Spall’s Winston Churchill – atop Big Ben – carried on where Kenneth Branagh’s Brunel left off, reading from  Shakespeare’s The Tempest while ‘newspaper taxis’ flanked the Urban Voices gospel choir as they tackled the first of many Beatles numbers, Because, cellist Julian Lloyd Webber played Elgar on the roof of the Albert Hall, Del and Rodney Trotter camped it up as Batman and Robin, and Michael Caine gave his immortal line from The Italian Job.

Nice to see Madness in the mix this time too, airborne saxophonist Lee Thompson still flying after all these years, and how peculiarly grand it was to see the Massed Bands of the Household Division tackle Blur’s Parklife and a pneumatic drill introduce the London Symphony Orchestra and Urban Voices’ version of the National Anthem.

Truly Madly: Cathal, Suggs and co bring down Our House on the big night (screen grabs courtesy of the BBC)

While the Queen couldn’t make it, there were plenty of worthy stand-ins, not least the Pet Shop Boys, projected images of David Bowie and Freddie Mercury, and George Michael and Annie Lennox in person.

Just when you thought this was another old ‘uns gig, One Direction took to the stage – while my youngest harshly covered her ears – but then the Spelbound gymnast troupe took us through the next Lennon-McCartney classic, A Day In A Life, and The Kinks’ Ray Davies led a rousing rendition of Waterloo Sunset, with ‘sha la la’s all round.

We were soon afforded the first glimpses of Damien Hirst’s impressive Union flag artwork, with tears flowing again as the screens showed iconic Games images as Sande reprised Read All About It with the help of 270 young East London voices.

The flag-bearers followed, Ben Ainslie leading Team GB as Elbow upped the ante with the stirring Open Arms and One Day Like This before the stage was transformed again for Kate Bush’s sumptuous heart-pumping Running Up That Hill.

Mast Man: Cornish sailing legend Ben Ainslie leads Team GB in (screen grabs courtesy of the BBC)

There was still time for the business of the day, Uganda’s Stephen Kiprotich and two Kenyan runner-ups receiving their last-day marathon medals before George Harrison’s Here Comes The Sun heralded Kath Grainger and co’s public thank you to the ‘Games Makers’ who’d ensured London 2012’s success.

It was only a matter of time before we heard Bohemian Rhapsody, a brief snatch followed by a touching John Lennon moment as the man himself gave us Imagine on the big screen, with young Liverpudlian choral and signing support, the resultant good vibe even seeing me through George Michael’s Freedom. While his second song, the Bowie Fashion tribute and Annie Lennox’s Little Bird section proved perfect for a ‘comfort break’ and a top-up, I was back for the Kaiser Chiefs tackling Pinball Wizard amid an awesome scooter rally, and hats off to Ed Sheeran and his supergroup of sorts for a pensive Wish You Were Here complete with Pink Floyd-themed tightrope walk.

Just in case there was a danger of the rest of the world understanding this show, on came  Russell Brand for a truly puzzling trip featuring Willy Wonka and the Fab Four (coo-coo-ca-choo) before Fatboy Slim had our pupils dilating, DJ-ing aboard a 50m fluorescent octopus for a storming Right Here, Right Now and The Rockafeller Skank, that followed in turn by celeb limo liggers Jessie J, Tiny Tempah and Taio Cruz, before they combined for Bee Gees tribute You Should Be Dancing.

Added Spice: Taxi for the Fab Five, anyone? (screen grabs courtesy of the BBC)

The dance moves continued apace as the Spice Girls hammed it up perfectly for Wannabe and Spice Up Your life, and while no self-respecting jock would have followed that with  Beady Eye and ELO, Liam’ Gallagher’s version of our kid’s Wonderwall and the subsequent Mr Blue Sky somehow did the trick.

A curiously British pageant then took another unexpected turn in a Pythonesque pastiche as Eric Idle led an array of skating nuns, morris and Indian dancers, rugby players, Welsh girls, angels and centurions through alternative national anthem Always Look On The Bright Side of Life.

Muse were next, their Olympic tribute Survival further underlining the wide church that is UK music, one further extended as Freddie Mercury taught us to yodel from above and ex-bandmates Brian May and Roger Taylor tackled Brighton Rock before Jessie J joined them for a suitably stadium-shaking treatment of We Will Rock You.

It was difficult to know where it could go from there, but the London Welsh Male Voice Choir and London Welsh Rugby Club Choir brought a lump to the throat with the Olympic anthem amid ceremonial flag-waving from Boris Johnson, Jack Rogge and the mayor of Rio.

The fact that we were partied out by then meant it was difficult to fully appreciate the following Brazilian taster session – including Pele’s appearance – or Seb Coe and Rogge’s   well-chosen words of tribute. But there’s only so much you can take in on one night.

Neat Pete: Townshend takes us to the climax with The Who (screen grabs courtesy of the BBC)

Yet on the stroke of midnight the cauldron was extinguished, Take That thrilled the throngs and Darcey Bussell’s dancers confused them one more time before The Who finished the party in style with a Baba O’Riley, See Me, Feel Me and My Generation show-stopper – Roger Daltrey leading a glorious twist on Lord Coe’s message, in what proved a fitting end for a celebratory climax to a truly spectacular and wonderfully inspirational Olympic Games.

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About writewyattuk

A freelance writer and family man being swept along on a wave of advanced technology, but somehow clinging on to reality. It's only a matter of time ... A highly-motivated scribbler with a background in journalism, business and life itself. Away from the features, interviews and reviews you see here, I tackle novels, short stories, copywriting, ghost-writing, plus TV, radio and film scripts for adults and children. I'm also available for assignments and write/research for magazines, newspapers, press releases and webpages on a vast range of subjects. You can also follow me on Facebook via https://www.facebook.com/writewyattuk/ and on Twitter via @writewyattuk. Legally speaking, all content of this blog (unless otherwise stated) is the intellectual property of Malcolm Wyatt and may only be reproduced with permission.
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