LONDON - The Who, Russell Brand, Kate Moss, the Spice Girls, Take That, a Queen moment with special guest Jessie J and a member of Monty Python were among the British stars who showed up to entertain the sold-out Olympic Stadium here during the closing ceremony of the Summer Olympics Sunday night.
Big Ben itself opened the ceremony as a replica of the famous London bell and its bell tower erected in the stadium chimed 10 times, with the audience counting from one to 10.
As a small version and vision of London was seen in the stadium with such famous buildings and sights as Tower Bridge, the Gherkin, The Eye and others, singer Emeli Sande began the performances to much applause.
Soon after, 40 "Stomp" members suspended above the stadium ground began hitting pots for a bit of a Cirque du Soleil feeling.
Actor Timothy Spall then showed up as Winston Churchill, popping out of the top of Big Ben as he spoke words from Shakespeare's "The Tempest. " Cars, meanwhile, drove in circles, and they soon turned out to be wrapped in newspapers. In what Twitter followers took as a tribute to British newspapers, women on the stadium ground were also shown handing out papers to other actors.
Up next was a bit of official business as International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge and Prince Harry, standing in for Queen Elizabeth II , walked into the stadium, and the British anthem played.
Then the music picked up in pace, as following a countdown from five to zero, Batman and Robin jumped out of a car, and Michael Caine's voice as Batman's butler Alfred was heard.
Madness then got the crowd to clap along as they performed their hit "Our House," with the sax player suspended in mid-air at one point to many cheers.
Blur's "Parklife" was next before the Pet Shop Boys showed up to sing "West End Girls" from the back of a rickshaw pulled by cyclists with unusually shaped red or orange hats. The Pet Shop Boys themselves wore black spikey hats as they performed.
Older stars made space for new ones as Simon Cowell's boy band One Direction next entertained the crowd before Stomp recreated the bustle of London's working days.
Ray Davies, former singer of The Kinks, then sang his love song to London "Waterloo Sunset" as the audience seemed to enjoy the tribute to the British capital.
The ceremony continued in tribute mode as Sande next sang while a tribute video showing celebrating and crying athletes played.
Soon, the Games' athletes and their flags entered the stadium. As the British stars walked in as Elbow sang "Open Arms," the stadium was lit in the colors of the British flag, and the Union Jack flag was formed by lights when the stadium was shown in an overhead shot.
In an extended segment focused on inspiration, all athletes were seen walking around the stadium, some of who seemed to walk in from the audience while Elbow sang "One Day Like This." As athletes continued to pour into the stadium, the songs previously played repeated.
The audience welcomed all athletes with a big round of applause before 303 white boxes were carried into the stadium - representing the 303 competitions of the Olympics. That segment also saw black-and-white highlight videos from some of the competitions, followed by color videos including ones showing big British winners like Chris Hoy, Mo Farah and Jessica Ennis, as well as Jamaican sprint star Usain Bolt.
Some more Olympic business was handled next as the medals for the marathon was handed out as is tradition during the closing ceremony, following by a segment that honored the volunteers of the Games.
The music then kicked in again with a brief Queen interlude before a children's choir - in white T shirts with the black word "Imagine" on them - sang "Imagine" with help from a John Lennon video. The BBC said the choir was made up of kids from Lennon's birthplace Liverpool.
That kicked off the "British Symphony of Music" portion of the closing ceremony that featured a slew of stars as the stadium took on a concert feel, including various light shows.
First off was George Michael who sang "Freedom." "You are at the center of the universe," Michael said before he launched into a second song, "White Light."
He was followed by a group of bikers that brought Kaiser Chiefs lead singer Ricky Wilson into the stadium where he joined his band mates on stage for a song.
A David Bowie video montage was next, and then the London fashion industry got a tribute as trucks with fashion posters drove in - only to reveal a group of models, including Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell.
Annie Lennox came next on top of a pirate ship to sing "Little Bird" from "Bram Stoker's Dracula."
In a Pink Floyd moment, Ed Sheeran, Nick Mason and Genesis' Mike Rutherford played "Wish You Were Here" while a tightrope walker was shown.
Russell Brand then surprised the audience by coming into the spotlight on top of a psychedelic bright bus lip synching to Beatles song "I Am the Walrus."
Sounds of surprise were heard again as Brand introduced DJ Fatboy Slim who played two of his hits.
Jessie J, Tinie Tempah and Taio Cruz followed with some of their hits before they joined together for a rendition of the Bee Gees' "You Should Be Dancing."
London taxi cabs then brought in the Spice Girls for their much-anticipated reunion to much applause. They kicked off with "Wannabe" and also "Spice Up Your Life" as each of the five singers was driven around the stadium on top of a separate taxi. During the Spice Girls performance, the cameras even showed British prime minister David Cameron London mayor Boris Johnson dancing.
"Wonderwall" kept the stadium in the musical past as Liam Gallagher delivered an Oasis moment.
The closing ceremony producers then went for some comedic relief as Monty Python member Eric Idle came out of a big cannon to perform "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life." Nuns on skates followed by Indian dancers, whose dance moves Idle tried to copy, added to the comedy elements here. The segment ended with a real human cannon ball flying through the stadium.
The show continued with Muse and a video screen tribute to Queen's Freddie Mercury followed by Queen guitarist Brian May and his drum partner joined by Jessie J for "We Will Rock You."
As is tradition, the Greek anthem and the Olympic anthem next led into the final official part of the closing ceremony's Olympic business. London's mayor then handed over the Olympic flag to Rio's mayor Eduardo Paes.
Rio's taste of what is to come at the Rio Olympics in 2016 included samba, a dancing street cleaner, soccer star Pele, model
Allesandra Ambrosio, dancers in clothes with lights, acrobatics and several singers.
London 2012 organizer and former Olympic runner Sebastian Coe, welcomed with much applause, said London presented "wonderful Games in a wonderful city," adding that "we lit the flame and we lit up the world." He also said: "When our time came, Britain, we did it right."
After Rogge declared the Summer Games officially closed, the Olympic flame was slowly extinguished, and the camera focused on Take That, including Gary Barlow whose wife recently had to deal with the loss of their fourth child, to much applause. To their "Rule the World," fireworks lit up the London night sky.
The final performers of the night were The Who who sang three songs, including "Teenage Wasteland" and closer "My Generation" as more fireworks entertained the crowd.