London 2012: Madness to perform at closing ceremony
Following up on their Diamond Jubilee performance Madness will be taking centre stage at the Olympics closing ceremony.
The band, who performed Our House on top of Buckingham Palace for the royal celebrations in June, are expected to play their hit Baggy Trousers at the Olympic stadium on Sunday night.
The song became part of London 2012 history when it rang out in the stadium at the climax of “Super Saturday” after Mo Farah won his 10,000 metre gold.
Rehearsals for the closing ceremony, which will feature a cast of 4,100 performers, have been taking place this week amid tight security at the 3 Mills Studios in Bow and in Dagenham.
Madness and former Kinks frontman Ray Davies are the latest acts to be confirmed for the three-and-a-half hour programme, A Symphony of British Music, which starts at 9pm.
George Michael will also definitely appear — in his first live performance for a year — as will 21-year-old chart-topper Ed Sheeran and Muse, whose song Survival is the official track for the Olympics.
The full line-up is a closely guarded secret, but leaks from dress rehearsals suggest that Blur — who are also appearing on Sunday at the Hyde Park Live concert — will perform Parklife backed by hundreds of extras.
A live link-up between the events, which are both due to end at 12.30am, is also on the cards.
Other acts expected to feature at the stadium include the Spice Girls, Jessie J, the Who, and Emeli Sandé, whose moving rendition of Abide with Me in honour of 7/7 victims was one of the highlights of the opening ceremony.
There have been reports that Adele will appear even though she is pregnant and famously shy of large audiences.
Rising star Laurretta Summerscales, 21, is also set to dance with the English National Ballet.
The Olympic stadium show will be directed by Kim Gavin, who masterminded the 2007 Concert For Diana as well as Take That’s Circus tour in 2009 and their Progress concerts last year.
Take That’s rumoured appearance on Sunday may not take place, however, after the stillbirth of Gary Barlow’s daughter last weekend.
The show is said to focus on London in contrast to the wider “Isles of Wonder” theme of Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony.
George Michael has been tweeting about how anxious he is about the concert. He wrote: “Rehearsing like crazy for the Olympic closing ceremony. Obviously a bit nervous not having played for nearly a year, but rehearsals sounding great so far!”
Traditionally the closing ceremony celebrates the achievements of the athletes as well as marking the handover to the next host nation.
Organisers will hope the rain holds off: currently the forecast is “changeable” with sunshine potentially giving way to heavy showers in the late evening.
Gavin said the ceremony “celebrates the fact that music has been one of Britain’s strongest cultural exports over the last 50 years”.
Gavin trained at the Royal Ballet School and was a TV dancer before turning to directing live performances.
The worldwide broadcast will feature 3,500 adult volunteers and 380 children from the six east London host boroughs.
It will include a march of the athletes, but unlike the opening ceremony, the flag-bearers will enter the stadium in single file, followed by the competitors marching together, no longer separated by nationality.
This follows a tradition that began at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics bringing the athletes of the world together as “one nation”.
Three national flags will be hoisted, one at a time, while their national anthems are played: first that of Greece, birthplace of the Games, then the Union flag, and finally that of Brazil, host of the 2016 Olympics.
London Mayor Boris Johnson will then return the Olympic flag to Jacques Rogge, the President of the IOC, who will present it to the Mayor of Rio de Janeiro, Eduardo Paes.
The night ends with the extinguishing of the Olympic flame in the cauldron, a poignant moment that will signal the closure of the London 2012 Games.
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