As the 30th Olympiad of the Modern Era, or The Olympics, drew to a close on Sunday night, a nation wept. This may have had more to do with the paucity of talent on display and the omnipresence of Lord Coe than the fact that London 2012 had reached its conclusion, though.
The 2012 Summer Olympic Games is officially titled the Games of the XXX Olympiad, which makes it sound like it is associated in some way with hardcore pornography. One can only imagine what qualifies as an Olympic sport in those Games.
Everything that was wickedly subversive and fun about Danny Boyle’s brilliant opening ceremony was absent here. There seemed to be no overall theme linking the acts, though granted there were lots and lots of taxis. The musical fodder was second rate, and there was a noted absence of certain big-name stars. Take That were there minus Robbie Williams, which in many ways would certainly be for the best, but Williams is undoubtedly a global megastar, unlike his former band-mates. Adele didn’t perform, but Essex’s Jessie J did, and she snatched at the limelight like a spoiled child who refuses to share any of their pick n’ mix with their younger, shyer sibling despite repeated attempts at reasoning.
With dark splotches on a flesh-coloured body suit, J’s costume appeared to be a paean to the symptoms of syphilis, a disease that saw its rates of infection decrease dramatically following the discovery of penicillin by the Scottish scientist Alexander Fleming. It was a timely nod to Britain’s medicinal heritage.
It’s a challenge trying to work out which of the performers didn’t once have a crippling dependency on alcohol and/or narcotics. But I don’t judge them for their addictions. I judge them for their alleged high cholesterol levels. Seriously, forget butter, it’s not good for you. Eat Flora instead.
Flora isn’t one of the major sponsors of ‘The Games’ incidentally, so the International Olympic Committee may well now sue the shit out of me. Fuck. And that’s an intentional use of the expletive “fuck”, not a typo of the UK strand of French Connection, better known in its acronym guise: FCUK. They’re not an Olympic sponsor either.
A closing ceremony that aimed to showcase mainstream British pop acts from the past 50 years was never likely to appeal to me. Bands I adore like The Fall and Joy Division would alienate swathes of the estimated three billion-plus global audience and not sit well with the celebratory spirit of the occasion. Besides, Ian Curtis has been dead for over thirty years.
There’s no reason why innovative acts should have been discounted though. Bands like Radiohead, The Stone Roses and The xx all twin a mainstream sensibility with a creative approach. On paper, Russell Brand showing up as Willy Wonka and performing I Am the Walrus is a surreal, whimsical delight. But it was just dull. Brand is an eccentric comedian, and the creative team should have tapped into his own persona instead of patching him up with a new one.
Can anyone explain why the perma-permed Brian May is summoned to every national event to play a self-indulgent five minute guitar solo? Be it the Queen’s Jubilee, VE Day; He’s allegedly available for state funerals. These events are always by-the-numbers borefests. Flavour of the month popstars? Check. Brian May tuning his guitar on stage while everyone goes off to make a cup of tea. Check. Sir Paul McCartney leading a half-hour rendition of Hey Jude whilst acknowledging the audience by sticking up an appreciative thumb. Check…ish.
That certainly happened at the opening ceremony. He must have been cup-tied last night.
The finale lacked a stellar name. I’m no Coldplay apologist, but if there is a nailed-on Biggest Band in the World in terms of popularity it’s probably them, and they’re British too. Members of The Who bounced around on stage with the dexterity of an arthritic pensioner who’s recovering from hip replacement surgery. Listening to 68-year-old Mod survivor Roger Daltrey belt out “I hope I die before I get old” during My Generation is surely little more than an exercise in personal humiliation. He left his dignity down the back of a sofa somewhere in the 1970s.