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
Blackman: Landscape of children’s literature does not reflect the cultural diversity of young people
booksMalorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Arts and Entertainment
'Eminem's recovery from substance abuse has made him a more potent performer, with physical charisma and energy he never had before'
musicReview: Wembley Stadium ***
Arts and Entertainment
‘Dawn of Planet of the Apes’ also looks set for success in the Chinese market

film
News
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight

tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Chocolat author Joanne Harris has spoken about the financial struggles most authors face

books
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from How To Train Your Dragon 2

Review: Imaginative storytelling returns with vigour

film
Arts and Entertainment
Josh Hutcherson, Donald Sutherland and Jena Malone in Mockinjay: Part 1

film
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Characters in the new series are based on real people, say its creators, unlike Arya and Clegane the Dog in ‘Game of Thrones’
tv
Arts and Entertainment
A waxwork of Jane Austen has been unveiled at The Jane Austen Centre in Bath

books
Arts and Entertainment
Britney Spears has been caught singing without Auto-Tune

music
Arts and Entertainment
Unless films such as Guardians of the Galaxy, pictured, can buck the trend, this summer could be the first in 13 years that not a single Hollywood blockbuster takes $300m

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has her magic LSD brain stolen in this crazy video produced with The Flaming Lips

music
Arts and Entertainment
Gay icons: Sesame Street's Bert (right) and Ernie

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Robin Thicke and actress Paula Patton

music
Arts and Entertainment
The new film will be shot in the same studios as the Harry Potter films

books
Arts and Entertainment
Duncan Bannatyne left school at 15 and was still penniless at 29

Bannatyne leaves Dragon's Den

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The French economist Thomas Piketty wrote that global inequality has worsened

books
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant and Benedict Cumberbatch

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck plays a despondent Nick Dunne in David Fincher's 'Gone Girl'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty (L) and Carl Barât look at the scene as people begin to be crushed

music
Arts and Entertainment

tv
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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.

    Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

    How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

    A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
    The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

    The evolution of Andy Serkis

    First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

    Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
    Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

    Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

    Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
    Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

    Blackest is the new black

    Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
    Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

    Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

    From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
    Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
    Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

    Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

    The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
    Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

    Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

    The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

    Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

    Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

    Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

    The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
    The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

    The Open 2014

    Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?