London 2012 Olympics: A musical farewell to the world at the closing ceremony

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Last night's closing ceremony lacked the wonder of Danny Boyle's extravaganza. But nobody cared. By Cahal Milmo and Jerome Taylor

After 16 days of sporting heroism which made London the centre of the world, the curtain fell on the Olympics last night with a display of exuberant – at times anarchic – revelry that had but one message: "Goodbye world, we hope you had as good a time as we did. Now let's dance."

With 29 gold medals – the last arriving just hours before the grand finale in the Olympic Stadium – reflecting the glory of the best performance by a British team in 104 years, the Closing Ceremony delivered the grandest of grand hurrahs for London 2012.

From a rendition of "God Save the Queen" introduced by Timothy Spall playing Winston Churchill emerging from a miniaturised Big Ben, to Russell Brand on top of a trippy bus and Freddie Mercury's voice delivering "Bohemian Rhapsody" from beyond the grave, this was Britain showing that as well as putting on the greatest show on earth, it can party too.

Just as Danny Boyle's opening jamboree had enthralled the nation with his heady cocktail of the sublime, a skydiving monarch and Mr Bean, so artistic director Kim Gavin, a ballet dancer turned stadium tour impresario, provided a sumptuous feast of British creativity and eccentricity.

Gone was the didactic splendour of the Opening Ceremony with its giant NHS beds and Satanic Mills, Jarrow marchers and Sir Tim Berners Lee. This was all about having fun and, after putting on an unquestionably fine Games, London had reason to celebrate.

The Who, those titans of universally recognised but uniquely British pop, were due to bring the three-hour performance to a climax with a thundering rendition of "My Generation".

A week after his wife lost their daughter, Poppy, in a still birth, Take That's Gary Barlow was due to perform "Rule the World" with the band in a dramatic sequence leading to the extinguishing of the Olympic Flame.

But, reserving the right of this host nation to bamboozle the rest of the planet, there was also the downright wacky. The Reliant Robin immortalised in the classic comedy Only Fools and Horses made an explosive appearance followed by the sight of 160 Household Guards marching behind Madness while playing an instrumental version of Blur's "Parklife".

And do not even mention the multi-coloured octopus and the taxi ballet.

Gavin, speaking before the ceremony, said: "We wanted to host a celebration of all that's good about London, British people, our music and our culture. And capture the spirit that's inspired so much global creativity over the past 50 years."

Watched by dignitaries including Prince Harry, representing his grandmother, and Jacques Rogge, the President of the International Olympic Committee, the extravaganza began with a shout of "It's nine o'clock" from the capacity 80,000 crowd and Scottish R'*'B singer Emeli Sande on a purposely monochrome stage belting out her anthem to success "Read All About It" from the back of a rubbish truck.

And then it ended. Speeches from London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe and Jacques Rogge heralded the official close of the Games as Thomas Heatherwick's copper petal cauldron was finally extinguished after 16 days of constant burning. The only thing left to do was sing away the end of the night and that honour was given to The Who accompanied by the ballerina Darcey Bussell. Goodbye world. Thanks for coming.

Suggested Topics
Arts & Entertainment
The original design with Charles' face clearly visible, which is on display around the capital
arts + ents The ad shows Prince Charles attired for his coronation in a crown and fur mantle with his mouth covered by a criss-cross of white duct tape
Sport
Mourinho lost his temper as well as the match
sportLiverpool handed title boost as Sunderland smash manager’s 77-game home league run
Voices
Sweet tweet: Victoria Beckham’s selfie, taken on her 40th birthday on Thursday
voices... and her career-long attack on the absurd criteria by which we define our 'betters', by Ellen E Jones
Sport
Mercedes Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain (front) drives ahead of Red Bull Formula One driver Daniel Ricciardo of Australia during the Chinese F1 Grand Prix at the Shanghai International circuit
sport Hamilton captured his third straight Formula One race with ease on Sunday, leading from start to finish to win the Chinese Grand Prix

VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Arts & Entertainment
Billie Jean King, who won the women’s Wimbledon title in 1967, when the first colour pictures were broadcast
tv
News
Snow has no plans to step back or reduce his workload
mediaIt's 25 years since Jon Snow first presented Channel 4 News, and his drive shows no sign of diminishing
Life & Style
food + drinkWhat’s not to like?
Voices
Clock off: France has had a 35‑hour working week since 1999
voicesThere's no truth to a law banning work emails after 6pm, but that didn’t stop media hysteria
Arts & Entertainment
Maisie Williams of Game of Thrones now
tvMajor roles that grow with their child actors are helping them to steal the show on TV
Arts & Entertainment
Kingdom Tower
architecture
Life & Style
Lana Del Rey, Alexa Chung and Cara Delevingne each carry their signature bag
fashionMulberry's decision to go for the super-rich backfired dramatically
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit