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London puts on star-studded musical show to close Olympics

CTVOlympics.ca

8/12/2012 7:52:51 PM

We were promised "A Symphony of British Music," and there was scarcely a moment that passed in the London 2012 Closing Ceremony where the depth and breadth of Britain's musical output wasn't on display.

One of the first songs was the Beatles 1967 track "A Day in the Life," and what followed was just that.

London's famous traffic circled Olympic Stadium's playing field, now swirled with a stylized Union Jack created by British artist Damien Hirst turned into a giant, swirled, Union Jack. Dotting the cityscape were London's famous landmarks, Big Ben, the "Gherkin," Bankside Power Station. Members of the born-in-London dance troupe Stomp scaled the Tower Bridge to make their percussive performance, while dancers dressed in newsprint ensembles.

As the traffic turned into a street party, it was Graham "Suggs" McPherson and the suited-up gents of Madness performing their 1982 hit "Our House," followed by the Pet Shop Boys, in black cone hats, singing "West End Girls" as they were ferried by bike-riding men in striped "business" body suits. Current boy-band sensation One Direction then entered on the back of a flatbed truck.

In one of the most-anticipated moments of the show, Ray Davies of the Kinks stepped out of a black cab to sing the refrain, "As long as I gaze on Waterloo Sunset, I am in paradise," as hundreds of performers swayed their arms in the air -- the only thing missing were the lighters. 

And so it went. A feast that encompassed 50 years of British rock, pop, rap, dance and electronic music.

There was Emili Sande, who performed at the Opening Ceremony, singing Professor Green's "Read All About It." 

There was George Michael, in sunglasses and a skull belt buckle, singing "Freedom" at his first public performance after a severe bout with pneumonia. 

There was Annie Lennox, riding high atop a skeletal pirate ship, wearing a bar wench dress and singing "Little Bird."

There was Liam Gallagher with his new band, Beady Eye, singing the Oasis classic "Wonderwall," prompting CTV host Jennifer Hedger to say, "The Olympic Games can bring 204 nations together, but it can't bring the Gallagher brothers together," referring to the infamous split between Liam and his brother, Noel.

In fact, the only person who seemed not to be there was Queen Elizabeth II. In her stead was Prince Harry, accompanied by Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, wearing a blue and black printed dress from British fast fashion chain Whistles.

Outside of the music, Britain's rising export is fashion and some of the top names in the industry arrived, first as suitably larger than life billboards, which were ripped away to reveal models Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss, wearing gold gowns by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen. Stella Tennant wore a gold tux from Christopher Kane, Lily Cole was wearing a look by Erdem, a Canadian transplant. Also in the golden fashion show were Lily Donaldson, Georgia May Jagger, daughter of Mick, Karen Elson and Jourdan Dunn, resplendent in a headdress and standing beside the lone male, David Gandy.

Another big fashion moment came in the form of the Spice Girls, reunited and riding atop black cabs, back in pumped-up high-fashion versions of their famous personas. Geri Halliwell reprised her famous Union Jack dress, this time as a red frock with a flag bustle. Victoria Beckham wore a black "mullett" dress by London designer Giles Deacon, while Mel B sported a gold spangled Zuhair Murad bodysuit.

Musical director David Arnold promised a show that was "Lond," and through a non-stop mix tape of the best of British popular culture, London delivered.