But at times, it simply became a pop concert. Sometimes when Jessie J and Tinie Tempah were blasting out their hits to a psychedelic backdrop, or Liam Gallagher s nasal whine led off Wonderwall -it was a very good one, the kind that had everyone in the stadium dancing along. But at other moments, most notably when George Michael unforgivably used the event to publicise a new song, the momentum flagged.
What Gavin struggled to find was exactly the quality that made the opening ceremony so unforgettable: an over-arching dramatic narrative that gave it meaning. But the event did sometimes manage to encapsulate the emotion that has powered these Olympics.
The athletes have been the stars so it was both right and moving to set them at the centre of the stadium and let them wallow in the uplifting swell of Elbow. It was just that the volunteers who have been the other driving force of the success of London 2012 got their own moment in the sun to the Beatles. Eric Idle and his mad cast of dancers caught something of the joy of all we have witnessed.
But it was only at the very end, after the speeches and anthems, as GB symbolically passed the torch of the Games to Rio, that this closing ceremony found an image that summed up something of the majesty of the 30th Olympiad.
As Take That sang and the cauldron was lowered, becoming a flower of flame, a phoenix was lit above it. Then, ballerina Darcey Bussell flew into that stadium, as beautifully iridescent as the burning bird, to perform, as only she can, a graceful ballet choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon. But London 2012 couldn t end on too serious a note so the whole thing concluded with a mad jamboree with the Who blasting out My Generation and dancers putting tutus on their heads.
Beautiful and inspiring, full of laughter and tears, reverent of the past but hopeful of the future, London 2012 has been an event that has made most people want to dance. So in the end, even if the closing ceremony didn t quite live up to expectation, lots of people dancing around can t possibly be the worst way to end it.