Watching the closing ceremonies of the London Olympics between 4 a.m. and 8 a.m., I wish I could have been at the stadium in person because my 23-inch TV set could not contain the spectacle unfolding before my eyes. It's true that TV viewers held an advantage over the live audience in that we were able to watch close-ups of different elements of the ceremony. However, there's still nothing like taking in the whole spectacle in person.
Compared to the opening rites directed by Danny Boyle, this one was less historical and more like a gigantic concert-cum-circus and fireworks display. Billed as "A Symphony of British Music," the extravaganza was a not-too-subtle reminder that the Brits occupy a special place in pop music. George Michael, The Who, Pet Shop Boys, Annie Lennox, Queen, Monty Python's Eric Idle, Ray Davies, Muse, One Direction, and the Spice Girls, who reformed just for the ceremony to sing "Wannabe" and "Spice Up Your Life."
Why, they even resurrected John Lennon and Freddie Mercury on the giant screen. It was eerie watching a huge close-up of Lennon singing "Imagine." The announcer explained that this was the first time the video was being seen in public.
The presence of the Beatles was also evident as many of their songs were performed during the show, including at the beginning and Russell Brand's version of "I Am the Walrus."
Speaking of videos, there were clips of emotional moments during the competition—athletes shedding tears of joy as well as tears of disappointment.
The singing was accompanied by a smorgasbord of visual delights. The artists rode different modes of transportation as they did their numbers—automobiles, motorcycles, trucks, even a Viking ship—circling and running across a Union Jack-designed stage.
I marveled at the audio technology involved in capturing the songs as most of the artists were using wireless microphones.
A taste of Brazil
The athletes, many of whom wore their medals, entered the stadium in high spirits. Unlike the opening ceremony, there was nothing formal about their jubilant mood—clowning before the cameras, singing to their hearts' content and taking souvenir photos of the event.
As in previous Olympic closing ceremonies, Brazil gave a preview of what to expect in the 2016 Olympics. What better way to do that than by staging a mini-carnival just like the ones people witness in Rio, with cameos by Brazilian Victoria's Secret model Alessandra Ambrosio and soccer legend Pele.
Surprisingly, I managed to stay awake during the more than four-hour ceremony. Credit the organizers for mounting a truly entertaining production. I went to bed content that I had watched a magnificent closing ceremony.