Coldplay to see out London's sporting summer
LONDON (AP) - London's summer in the international sports spotlight ends Sunday, with Coldplay headlining a Paralympic closing ceremony that will recreate the feel of festivals throughout British history.
The rock band will perform hits and collaborate with other stars in the 80,000-seat Olympic Stadium in a ceremony drawing on, among other things, the traditions from ancient Stonehenge.
"We're known as a nation for having the most festivals - it's something we do with 600 festivals a year,'' artistic director Kim Gavin said Saturday. "The festival approach is purely to bring this celebration of the last night of the games in London ... ancient festivals were our inspiration. For instance, the summer solstice and the autumn equinox.''
The "Festival of the Flame'' will feature the cauldron at the heart of the ceremony before it is extinguished following the biggest games in the 52-year history of the Paralympics.
"What an amazing 10 days we've had. We've seen champions made and watched more records than ever before,'' organizing committee chairman Sebastian Coe said. "Fifty-odd countries have now won gold medals and 70 have won medals.
"We've had an extraordinary level of engagement with the public in our stadiums and on television. In any metric you look at this, it's been unprecedented. So tomorrow night's ceremony will be a celebration of all of that.''
Coldplay will be the ceremony's only major band. It will perform what is described as "unusual'' set list that organizers tweaked to ensure that it reflects the four seasons that are at the heart of the show.
There are expected to be collaborations with rapper Jay-Z and pop star Rihanna. Such was the global attraction of performing, organizers were able to turn down approaches to appear.
"Lots of people did want to come in,'' ceremony director Stephen Daldry said. "Kim was also keen it should revolve around one band, one act. So those requests have been turned down.''
All music acts are being a nominal one pound ($1.60), the same as for the opening and closing ceremonies for the July 27-Aug. 12 Olympics.
The ceremony will start with a tribute to wounded British servicemen and members of the British army who helped to protect the Olympics and Paralympics after a private security firm failed to provide enough guards.
The unveiling of a British flag in conjunction with national armed forces charity Help for Heroes will be "devastatingly emotional,'' Daldry said.
The show will be streamed on official games website - www.paralympic.org - with my many countries, including the United States, not showing live on television.
Rob Harris can be reached at http://twitter.com/RobHarris
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