Paralympic Closing Ceremony Review: A Celebration of Coldplay

PARALYMPIC CLOSING CEREMONY: Sunday 10th September, Channel 4, 7pm

As confetti blows around an empty Olympic Park, I find myself asking two questions- what are we going all going to talk about now, and why on earth did I not get around to buying tickets?!

OK, in all honesty that second question is a bit complicated, as I did manage to queue for tickets online, only for my laptop’s motherboard to spontaneously combust before I’d entered my credit card details. Thanks for the Olympic memories Toshiba.

Like many people around the country, I was also eager to catch the final bit of Olympic fever by watching last night’s Paralympic Games Closing Ceremony. Having seen all the previous carefully scripted shows with variety the likes of the Artic Monkeys, Paul McCartney, the Spice Girls, the Who, Ray Davies and Elbow, I thought we’d be in for a treat. Little did I know Coldplay were going to play an entire concert….

I was concerned at how the proceedings were going from the outset, with the whole show apparently dedicated to a celebration of fire. “Don’t look too closely for meaning”, was the message of Kim Gavin, Artistic Director. “Oh shit, this is going to be awful,” was my retort.

Machines piled into the arena, with pirates on-board flanked by people in wheelchairs, gnarling at the audience as they made their way around the stadium. But if you thought that this scene seemed out of place, you hadn’t seen the group of Worzel Gummidge lookalikes yet, dressed in rags and covered with dirt. As for the guys with pith helmets and safari suits, I honestly have no idea.

Next up was Coldplay, who took to the stage and, er, never left. They were joined by international superstars Rihanna and Jay Z, who promptly chomped through two or three of their greatest hits. Not a bad show on reflection, but a Paralympic show?! I beg to disagree, despite Coldplay welcoming on stage a disabled drummer and a somewhat tokenised Paralympic band.

Whatever happened to the promised celebration of how far we have come with disability in this country? The opening Paralympic ceremony focussed around Stephen Hawking and a number of other disabled stars, so why not was this not repeated this time round rather than putting Coldplay on repeat for 15 songs? And as for the very British ceremony we were all promised- two of the acts weren’t even from this country!

Did something go wrong, someone drop out, or somebody forgot to book the Rolling Stones? And why make the big finale of the show Chris Martin standing on top of a huge staircase to nowhere? His ego has never been more immense…

Being disabled in this country is no longer the terrible life sentence it used to be thanks to campaigners like the recently deceased Lord Morris. The Paralympics have also no doubt done wonders for our perception of those who are less abled bodied. Let us celebrate and remember these facts, rather than worshipping a band who are supposedly at the forefront of British music, than on the frontline of disability awareness.