Last Night: Blur, New Order and The Specials, London Live Closing Ceremony, Hyde Park

4.00

Old animosities are suspended for a party in the park

The sell-out Hyde Park crowd sing lustily along to the National Anthem, minutes before Britpop's old kings, Blur, take the stage. Their singer Damon Albarn was fiercely patriotic for his country's music back in those deceptively heady 1990s, and wraps himself in the Union Jack again on one of his frequent sorties into the crowd tonight.

But the Britain Blur explore in this triumphant, possible farewell is an inclusive, dotty place.

"This Is A Low", based around the band missing Radio 4's Shipping Forecast when adrift in America, is revealed again one of the most heartening and heartbreaking moments in British pop tonight.

And one look around the huge, boozed-up, alternately tearful and happy crowd hugging each other in the park is a scene as characteristic of this country at its best as anything in Danny Boyle's opening Olympic film.

The crowd demand the volume, notoriously stingy due to Hyde Park's posh, selfish neighbours, is turned up. And when Blur begin with "Girls and Boys", the slick pop single about "love in the '90s" which kick-started their commercial rule, an adrenalised, punky mood of celebration dominates at first.

Even "Country House", the dodgy single with which they won their war with Oasis, is played with gusto, guitarist Graham Coxon wryly wincing at a song he hates. The true nature of life at the heart of the Britpop storm is revealed in the lyrics' confession that "I am so sad, I don't know why".

Phil Daniels and Harry Enfield, dressed as a char lady complete with tea-trolley, guest on "Parklife".

But 1999's "Tender", when Blur had moved into stranger musical and emotional terrain, is a greater highlight, sung first by Albarn in a baritone croon, then taken over by the crowd, just as they did when Blur last reformed, for Glastonbury in 2009.

They finish with the fine new single "Under the Westway" (the set tonight is a neon-streaked mock-up of the west London overpass), "For Tomorrow"'s utopian pop, introduced as "a London song", then "The Universal". Not, notably, "To the End". For all Albarn has achieved without Blur, watching him lead his three old friends in front of the sort of huge, unified crowd only this band can give him – one reason pop exists – they still look like the fundamental root of his music. He's prevaricated about the band's future in recent weeks. But who could give up nights like this?

Among the support acts, the Specials' brutally realistic lyrics from the early Thatcher years regularly cut through the balmy evening air, as the 1970s of unemployment and the National Front haunt songs such as "Concrete Jungle".

The spectre of Jerry Dammers, the Specials' jettisoned leader, is also present, though the dancing crowd seem oblivious.

New Order are also acrimoniously minus a member, bassist Peter Hook, singer Bernard Sumner's red-faced exhortations to "Come on!" strained compensation for the absence of their only real rock monster.

"Love Will Tear Us Apart" by Joy Division, the band New Order once were, built from the catastrophic life of its original singer, Ian Curtis, when he hanged himself in 1980, has certainly come a long way, as Union Jacks are waved to it by the crowd, one of this Olympic fortnight's many surreal moments.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
books
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
books
Arts and Entertainment
The man with the golden run: Daniel Craig as James Bond in 'Skyfall'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
'Waving Seal' by Luke Wilkinson was Highly Commended in the Portraits category

photography
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Art
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard, nicknamed by the press as 'Dirty Diana'

Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
The X Factor 2014 judges: Simon Cowell, Cheryl Cole, Mel B and Louis Walsh

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace was caught by a camera van driving 32mph over the speed limit

TV
Arts and Entertainment
books
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Iain reacts to his GBBO disaster

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Outlaw Pete is based on an eight-minute ballad from Springsteen’s 2009 Working on a Dream album

books
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012

film
Arts and Entertainment
Simon Cowell is less than impressed with the Strictly/X Factor scheduling clash

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Gothic revival: artist Dave McKean’s poster for Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination
Exhibition
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard has left the Great British Bake Off 2014

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live

TV
Arts and Entertainment
TVDessert week was full of the usual dramas as 'bingate' ensued
Arts and Entertainment
Clara and the twelfth Doctor embark on their first adventure together
TVThe regulator received six complaints on Saturday night
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
Arts and Entertainment
David Baddiel concedes his show takes its inspiration from the hit US series 'Modern Family'
comedyNew comedy festival out to show that there’s more to Jewish humour than rabbi jokes
Arts and Entertainment
Puff Daddy: One Direction may actually be able to use the outrage to boost their credibility

music
Arts and Entertainment
Suha Arraf’s film ‘Villa Touma’ (left) is set in Ramallah and all the actresses are Palestinian

film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

    US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
    Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
    Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
    Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

    The big names to look for this fashion week

    This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
    Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
    Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

    Neil Lawson Baker interview

    ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
    The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

    The model for a gadget launch

    Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
    Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
    Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

    Get well soon, Joan Rivers

    She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
    Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

    A fresh take on an old foe

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering