Monday, 13 August 2012

London Olympics Closing Ceremonies

As readers of my blog will know, I like to put in my own two cents' worth of commentary on all the Olympics ceremonies and London is no different.

Now everyone has their own musical taste and favourites. I am not going to weigh in with the myriad of comments about the choices of musical stars for the London Closing Ceremonies as have countless others. Suffice it to say, there was something for everyone and the event left little doubt that it was all about the British contribution to pop music. How it was executed and the production values of that execution are another matter.

For an event that was not as technical as Beijing, I think that the producers did a really credible job, especially with the stadium lighting, that in my view, made the show. Sure, a few times key show components were left in the dark, but overall, it was well done. Again, as in the opening, the lighting in the seating was fabulous and provided an awesome stage backdrop for the musical acts.

Audio though, left a lot to be desired. Lip synching at events of this magnitude unfortunately seems to be the norm now. Some performers were well rehearsed; others not so. Of course producers have to do it. For any of you out there who have attempted anything even remotely as complex, you will realize that it is virtually impossible to pull off this type of event with its continuous - and rapid - stage changes without some technical glitches, hence the need for pre-recording. It also allows for improved audio in the massive arena environment so that volume - and feedback - no longer becomes a concern. Certainly for fixed stage acts, it becomes easier to perform live; however, for moving acts, it is a lot harder (can you say Spice Girls?). A notable exception last night was the Brazilian presentation which, I am pretty sure, was all live. As a result, the audio suffered and so did the impact of the presentation because the volume that was needed FOR the impact was just not there. How or why this happened, I won't even speculate on.

The theatrics of changing the acts and of presentation was generally very creative. It was essentially a basic alternating of stages, one in the centre of the stadium and the other at the end of the stadium, Nothing complicated there. Several of the entrances and exits and transformations were cool, though. My personal favourites were:

  1. Entrance of Annie Lennox on some sort of demonic pirate ship (wasn't thrilled with her performance but liked the ship).
  2. Morphing of Russell Brand's bus into a giant octopus.
  3. The Spice Girls' entrance and drive-around in LED-illuminated London taxis.
  4. Building of a giant pyramid of white blocks carried by costumed and choreographed volunteers to the Kate Bush song "Running Up That Hill."
  5. John Lennon's 3D face.
  6. Eric Idle's resurrection and performance.
Overall, I enjoyed the variety of acts and the general production although some of the meaning of the segments was probably lost on the global audience. A good effort.

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