Musical extravaganza ends the Games

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IOL pic aug13 olympics closing fireworks Reuters Fireworks explode over the top of the Olympic Stadium in London during the closing ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games.

London - London was in party mode as it bid farewell to the Olympic Games on Sunday night.

The closing ceremony, entitled “A Symphony of British Music”, was a celebration of Britain's pop prowess, with the sounds of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody and John Lennon's Imagine ringing round the Olympic Stadium.

Thousands of athletes who have entertained the world during the Olympic sporting extravaganza craned to take pictures of stars like George Michael and Fatboy Slim performing at the centre of a giant stage in the shape of Britain's Union Jack flag.

Meanwhile, the pumped-up 80 000-strong crowd got into the party atmosphere, singing along in full voice as waves of colour swept around the bowl on the pixel screens in front of each seat.

The three-hour spectacle began with New Year-style Big Ben chimes counting down to 9pm (20h00 GMT).

Britain's Union Jack was laid out in the form of newsprint ramps to the stadium centre, though on closer inspection the story headlines were quotations from classic English literature.

The central stage featured a panorama of the London skyline and wartime British prime minister Winston Churchill, played by actor Timothy Spall, appeared atop the Big Ben clock tower.

“Be not afeard; the isle is full of noises,” he intoned, recalling the line from William Shakespeare's play The Tempest that inspired Danny Boyle's dramatic July 27 opening ceremony.

In his biggest role to date, 27-year-old Prince Harry, third in line to the throne, represented Queen Elizabeth II at the show.

The 1980s band Madness, who played on the Buckingham Palace roof for the queen's jubilee, kicked off the mass singalong with their hit Our House, which was followed by Blur's tune Parklife.

With the crowd on backing vocals, The Kinks' frontman Ray Davies then played Waterloo Sunset, his gentle 1967 London love song that has played in stadiums throughout the Games.

“After 16 days of competition, we wanted to host a celebration of all that's good about London, British people, our music and our culture,” Kim Gavin, the show's artistic director, said beforehand.

“And capture the spirit that's inspired so much global creativity over the past 50 years.”

More than 300-million people would be watching around the world, the audience were told.

While a chosen athlete carried each national flag into the stadium, the competitors streamed in as one, some wearing their medals and others taking pictures of the scene.

They formed the wedges in the Union Jack as as Elbow played their symphonic hit One Day Like This on the stage.

There was one final well-respected medal ceremony - that for Sunday's men's marathon, in which Stephen Kiprotich won Uganda's second-ever gold medal.

One of the hallmarks of the London Games has been how athletes have been enthusiastically cheered, regardless of nationality.

Sounds of The Beatles' Here Comes The Sun then washed around and the Kaiser Chiefs belted out The Who's Pinball Wizard as Mods on scooters rode around the stadium.

Supermodels like Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell strutted their stuff in a tribute to British fashion.

Annie Lennox appeared as the figurehead of a ghost galleon, while DJ Fatboy Slim performing on a colourful camper van that turned into a blow-up octopus.

Jessie J, Tinie Tempah and Taio Cruz sang the Bee Gees' hit You Should Be Dancing.

Tickets for the ceremony cost between £20.12 and £1 500.

Jonathan Mann, 51, who paid £150 for his seat, said: “I have been absolutely blown away by the whole of the Olympics. The whole spirit of the country has been fantastic. It's been absolutely incredible.”

Emma Mann, 40, added: “It's been like a carnival in our house for the last two weeks.” - Sapa-AFP



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