The Paralympic Closing Ceremony – An Unfitting End

Warning – This is purely an opinion piece about the Paralympic Closing Ceremony that occurred last night in London bring an end to the London 2012 Games. It evaluates the music and visual spectacle and why we here at TEJ think that it was the most deprived both financially and artistically of the 4 ceremonies and not a befitting end to the whole spectacular games.


Did anyone see that Coldplay concert on Channel 4 last night? We sure did. It was great that a load of people getting a Coldplay concert for free. Right?

Oops, excuse us, it seems our TV guide was mislisted. It was in fact the Paralympics Closing Ceremony.

After all the wonderful effort that was put into the opening and closing ceremony of the Olympics and the talents and artistic endeavours put in place for the Paralympics opening ceremony how comes the closing ceremony ended up being a Coldplay concert?

Whilst Coldplay has a decent sized fan base and some good songs; depending on who you talk to; the decision to use Coldplay to such an extent was lazy and myopic. After all, in the other ceremonies no one artist or band had such lengthy air time or performance time which made the opening and closing shows more diverse and interesting in terms of sound and vision. The Who only got 4 songs (at a push) which they only performed 3 of, as a medley, at the end of the show. That was fitting and just, yet they still only played for less than 10 minutes. In the Olympic Opening Ceremony, McCartney got a snippet of the end and Hey Jude (to some people’s displeasure). Emilie Sande got the most air time through the Olympic Ceremonies, having 4 songs, only two of hers.

Whilst the Paralympics have seen some gargantuan and herculean efforts from those who took part I(Editor)/we feel that the closing ceremony did not reflect the same energy or production budget which was so abundant in the opening ceremonies of both the Olympics and Paralympics. Not only that, but the show felt disjointed, rush and hurried. Also, we were astounded at Jay Z and Rihanna showing up. We understand that this ceremony was not strictly a ‘British Music Ceremony’, but still, they added little to the show and both were forgettable.

Coldplay also should have played some closing songs. As much as we despise the band, we actually were dumbfounded they weren’t in the British Music Closing Ceremony. However, the 14 song set list they played last night was overkill and also, extremely bland. Playing some of the hits at the end would have more than sufficed. There were moments when the band were playing and so much was occurring around them that it was visually unimpressive. It looked a mess, it was haphazard and disjointed. It failed to portray any emotion. There was one moment where there was a theatrical dance about winter with a woman ‘encased in ice’. Coldplay were playing over the top and it did not match together well. It would have been better as an instrumental piece.

As said earlier, the addition of Rihanna and Jay Z seemed pointless and bizarre. The ParaOrchestra, Channel 4 might be responsible for this though, but we didn’t think they were dwelled upon much. Surely they could have performed a composition on their own and then done Viva La Vida with Coldplay. Also Viva La Vida, badly sung, mimed by the band and the orchestra did not play despite playing in the song before. This lacked logic. Maybe it was an issue with the band being unable to hear them, surely not though as they heard them the song before. Also, Paradise. Twice. With Jay Z. It was tedious to sit through at home and the crowd seemed less enthusiastic in the stadium too. The most important factors are that it neither inspired nor was it a ceremony for everyone. It was lazy. Even if we take out the ‘Coldplay’ element, it was still bad. There was no humour, a mess of light and colour, a drain.

It just feels like a missed opportunity!

An alternative solution would have been a house band made up of some big names in music playing several songs for the official closing segment. People like Mark Knopfler, Sting, Jools Holland, Jonny Greenwood, Jason Bonham along with Pino Palladino and Ray Cooper, or others from all decades. Coldplay could have featured too, a 4 song set list at a push.

Maybe even Robert Plant/Jimmy Page together as they were on Unledded or Roxy Music or David Bowie or others

However some of the theatrics and dance would have emoted more and been less of a frenzy to watch if they were instrumental pieces. There also seemed to be a lack of big show pieces. The steam punk themed should have been emphasised in big set pieces and a loose story could have been put around that, instead of on the seasons. Also the loose theme of the seasons was extremely loose, almost non existent at times. There was little glorious imagery that tied the whole thing up with intricate pieces inside. Danny Boyle’s Opening Ceremony pulled this off massively. Made large things for everyone to see in the stadium – the golden rings and rising industrial setting, or the large scale puppets used for the literature section – as well as intricate small dances and little touches those in the stadium and at home could appreciate when viewed up close. This closing ceremony had some large vehicles adorned by animal imagery, but it seemed like a parade of nowhere. Aimless. They should have been somehow larger, slightly more grandiose and all together more stunning.

Another slight annoyance would be that Channel 4 decided to cut to adverts during both Paralympic ceremonies. We, like many, could not fathom that they simply didn’t decide to get rid of the adverts through the ceremony all together. It was after all a special occasion not to be repeated in our lifetime.

This is written not to diminish what was a tremendous Olympics and Paralympics (as we are a music site we cannot go into great lengths about the security debacle or the seating debacle). It is written based on the opinion of what we saw on our television last night as to what we deem should have been as a fitting tribute to the athletes who competed.

It is written in the mindset that whilst most of the mainstream media will praise it using such superlatives as it being ‘Britain’s Finest Hour’, it is fair and balanced to see and hear the other side of the coin. As much as it is for the athletes and those in the stadium to indulge in, those of us at home should be equally entertained and last night it was not the case leaving us feeling short changed and our expectations brought back to reality with a bump. Whilst some may have gawped in rejoice at the prospect of this Coldplay concert, it was not the end London 2012 truly deserved.

Also, in case anyone thinks that it was not a Coldplay concert in disguise, think again. The little wristbands all the athletes and crowd were wearing that light up, they were used during Coldplay’s latest tour.

(Written by both Mark and Mike)

Thumbnail Copyright: PA Images Lynne Cameron/PA Wire