You know something’s up when the BBC’s usually reliably anodyne Hazel Irvine is giddily deploying the phrase “musical mash-up”.
The Closing Ceremony of the Olympic Games – curated by Kim Gavin, as opposed to Danny Boyle this time – was everything w e thought the Opening Ceremony was going to be: chaotic, ill-thought-through, rather embarrassing. But it wasn’t valueless: for the last two weeks Britain has been a bubble of positivity, optimism and good-will, and the Closing Ceremony helped restore the cynicism and self-loathing which oils the wheels of everyday life here in Blighty.
Below, we offer our impressions of the performances heard and seen as part of the ceremony, recordings of which are naturally being hawked on iTunes as we speak, in the shape of a compilation called A Symphony of British Music. The message couldn’t be clearer: the party’s over, get back to work.
Madness – ‘Our House’
Having delivered a rousing performance of ‘Our House’ for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee concert a few months back, Madness were called upon to deliver, er, exactly the same thing for the Olympics Closing Ceremony. It didn’t quite come together so well this time – Suggs sounded hoarse as hell, and it’s telling that the version featured on the iTunes album is “re-recorded”.
Massed Bands of the Household Division – ‘Parklife’
There are a handful of living popstars (and a couple of dead ones too) who were respected enough, or lucky enough, to have it both ways: they got to have their music played at the ceremony without having to suffer the indignity, or indeed the logistical headache, of actually performing it themselves. Bush and Bowie got the straight playback treatment, while Blur’s ‘Parklife’ was given a right royal seeing to by the Massed Bands of The Household Division.
Pet Shop Boys – ‘West End Girls’
Neil and Chris did a manful job of sounding withering and laconic even as they were being sped around the stadium on rather unstable looking rickshaws and wearing three foot high Gareth Pugh-designed dunce caps. Respect where it’s due.
Ray Davies and The London Symphony Orchestra – ‘Waterloo Sunset’
Poor old Ray, it must be tiring being constantly wheeled out to buttress the nation’s sentimentality with song. And by god did he look tired. He really ought to have been sat in an armchair sipping a sherry and watching the ceremony on telly, not performing in it himself. As far as Waterloo Sunsets go, this was a cloudy, profoundly half-arsed one.