When I found out that the Spice Girls were going to be playing the closing ceremony of London 2012, I could barely contain my excitement. I booked my place in front of the TV, bought snacks, turned my laptop off and put down my book.
Although no-one had been officially confirmed, the tabloids were full of speculation and pictures of some British acts rehearsing. I wondered if the Spicies would open the show or be the closing act, how many numbers they’d do and what they’d be wearing.
When the show started and Madness struck up, I thought ‘OK, Spice Girls to do the big finale.’ So I put up with One Direction and Emilie Sande (twice). Some of the dancing was impressive and the athlete montages were really moving. Seeing the athletes enter the arena and let their hair down as part of the gig’s audience was a really nice touch.
One part of the show I absolutely abhorred, though, was the celebration of British fashion. I was happy to see British designers’ work on show but I did not agree with including Naomi Campbell (the notorious phone-thrower / assistant basher / blood diamond wearer), Kate Moss (the “former” junkie and ex-lover of Pete Doherty) and Georgia May Jagger (who’s only famous because her dad is Mick Jagger) among others being paraded around as British role models. These are not women we should be encouraging people to look up to. I would far rather see the athletes model British designers’ clothes – they have amazing bodies thanks to training and good diets; not drug/drink addiction or an eating disorder.
I cringed at George Michael. I didn’t mind Pet Shop Boys. I do love Elbow’s ‘On a Day Like Today’ but their other song was a total yawn-fest. Annie Lennox on an elaborate ship was an interesting set but her song was pretty boring considering it was meant to be a celebration. And I was really disappointed with the Jessie J, Tinie Tempah and Taio Cruz trio. Russell Brand doing ‘I Am The Walrus’ was a psychedelic stroke of genius.
And then they appeared: Posy, Ginger, Scary, Sporty and Baby. Say what you like about Spice Girls but when I was a teenager, they were everywhere. They were an absolute pop phenomenon, like nothing the world had seen since The Beatles. I remember how much they influenced me when I was growing up. I last saw them in London 2007, during their reunion tour, and I was so disappointed that they did a mash-up of ‘Wannabe’ and ‘Spice Up Your Life’ – not even singing a full song. As excited as I was, it was over too quickly. I’d waited all night for this and within a couple of minutes – and shots of BoJo and David Cameron dad-dancing – it was over. I didn’t even see the girls on the stage during the final song.
Liam Gallagher followed singing ‘Wonderwall’, a song which his brother Noel wrote for his ex-wife. This stunk of petulance as Liam snarled his way through a song that his brother refuses to play. A not so veiled message to his estranged brother? Grow up boys!
For me, the best parts of the ceremony were the video clips of David Bowie, John Lennon and Freddie Mercury. The musical interlude featuring ‘Running Up That Hill’ by Kate Bush was also a personal highlight.
I didn’t enjoy Ed Sheeran’s cover of Pink Floyd, nor the Kaiser Chief’s interpretation of ‘Pinball Wizard’. Jessie J should not have been allowed to sing ‘We Will Rock You’.
I am not ashamed to say that I blubbed through Take That’s rendition of ‘Rule the World’. I think it took a great amount of professionalism for Gary Barlow to perform under such scrutiny considering the recent family tragedy that he has suffered.
I really hoped the closing ceremony would be camp, kitsch and upbeat. I was really disappointed.