Glasgow 2014 closing ceremony review

Kylie Minogue performs during the Closing Ceremony. Picture: Getty
Kylie Minogue performs during the Closing Ceremony. Picture: Getty
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IT WAS all over bar the shouting. Eleven days when Glasgow didn’t quite feel like itself; blanket media coverage and a clutch of national and international observers unable to hide their surprise that, actually, this is a pretty cool place; medal after medal, with images of astonished swimmers, delirious hurdlers and apologetic relay superstars.

Thousands braving blazing sun and bucketing rain to hang about in the Live Zones, with an embarrassment of free entertainment riches.

If the opening ceremony is supposed to say something or everything about the host nation, closing ceremonies are a much easier proposition: organisers just need to wrap things up in feel-good fashion.

With a declared theme of “All Back To Ours” – invoking visions of late-night revellers staggering into a flat with carry-out and cans – the event began well with the athletes as “festival-goers” streaming out of suspiciously clean looking tents, as if at T in the Park without the mud. On a bright shooting star-shaped stage, Lulu sang, of course, Shout – as she could no doubt do in her sleep – bedecked in tartan but with her accent representing internationalism.

Deacon Blue followed and while their 1987 hit Dignity was another obvious choice, it worked well to accompany a parade by some of the public sector and emergency service workers who have kept the Games running.

Newish local band Prides were a good choice: just edgy enough to keep things modern, but mainstream enough not to disturb. As the Clydesider volunteers (who, from what I’ve seen, have been uniformly cheery) were thanked, the tents were removed to make way for the deafening sound of hunnners of pipers and drummers, reminding any tourists still kicking around that there’s a big Tattoo happening over in Edinburgh.

If this really was a house party, the speechy bit would be the part where you get stuck in the kitchen listening to some bore and try to work out how you can sidle away to go dance in the living room. Despite a lovely rendition of Ae Fond Kiss from Karen Matheson, this long interlude – while probably diplomatically required – followed by a shameless advert for Australia’s Gold Coast, killed the show’s momentum.

Despite Queensland singer Jessica Mauboy’s best efforts, she was no Kylie – so thank goodness the real thing finally appeared to get the party going again with some crowd-pleasers. Camp was turned up to maximum as volunteer performers did the Gay Gordons (make your own jokes about Ms Minogue’s fans), ate chips and did the slosh and “horizontal dancing” in tribute to Gregory’s Girl. While Kylie was great fun, it made this more of a generic pop concert than anything representing Scotland or the Games. But Dougie MacLean’s Caledonia, talking about “the changes that have come over me, in these last few days” seemed both poignant and appropriate.

Perhaps there’s a metaphor in Hampden Park itself, which had been transformed by a track-on-stilts. It was taken back to its usual appearance for the finale. But, once seen, that elevated vision can’t be forgotten. Whatever happens now, neither will these Games.