The best and worst AFL Grand Final entertainment over the years

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The best and worst AFL Grand Final entertainment over the years

(Image: Adriano Rotolo via Flickr)
Words by Harry Connell

Some of the most iconic Grand Final day moments before and after the siren, for better or for worse

The AFL Grand Final is one of the most anticipated events on the Aussie sporting calendar, and in recent years, the pre and half-time entertainment has become just as much of a talking point as the game itself.

With the AFL putting more money into the lineup every year, it’s clear that the Grand Final entertainment will only continue to get better.

Read all the latest features, columns and more here.

This year, international pop sensation Robbie Williams will headline, before he kickstarts his tour down under.

A variety of Aussie talent will be joining him too, including Delta Goodrem, The Temper Trap, G Flip, Goanna, and more.

In the lead up to Saturday, here’s a look at some of the best (and worst) musical performances at the big dance over the years. 

The worst

Angry Anderson – 1991

Perhaps one of the strangest Grand Final performances that comes to mind is Angry Anderson in the 1991 decider between Hawthorn and West Coast.

Anderson’s 1990 hit ‘Bound for Glory’ was featured in a range of advertisements and promotional content and became a sort of unofficial anthem for the AFL.

Anderson belted out a “nails-scratching-down-a-blackboard” rendition of the song, all while standing atop a blue Batmobile-style vehicle.

It’s regarded by many as one of, if not the most embarrassing Grand Final performance of all time, and in 2008, it featured in a satirical TV ad, with a caption stating “Carlton Draught. Proud supporter of footy since 1877 (Except for 1991).”

The Batmobile-esque car is pretty cool though, and sold at auction in 2020 for over $25,000.

INXS – 2010

Michael Hutchence left big shoes to fill following his passing in 1997, but INXS remained adamant on finding someone to fill the front man’s spot.

Following the reality TV series Rock Star: INXS, Canadian J.D. Fortune attempted to take the reins.

While the performance wasn’t horrible, it was certainly underwhelming, and it was evident early in the performance that no one can match the charisma that Michael Hutchence brought to the band.

Their act included hits ‘Suicide Blonde’ and ‘New Sensation’, before the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra performed classical arrangements of both the Collingwood and St Kilda theme songs.


Tones and I – 2019

Underwhelming to say the least- and even national treasure Paul Kelly couldn’t save 2019’s Grand Final entertainment.

Tones and I performed “The Kids are Coming” and “Dance Monkey” to a crowd that didn’t seem all that invested.

It was boring and felt like a lazy booking by the AFL.

Dean Lewis singing a love ballad before Richmond and Greater Western Sydney did battle didn’t help either.

Let’s celebrate the wonderful Paul Kelly here instead, no need for the rest.

Meat Loaf – 2011

For nearly two decades, it looked like Angry Anderson’s disaster of a performance was going to be unchallenged- until 2011 that is.

It’s nearly impossible to talk about Grand Final entertainment flops without mentioning American rock singer Meat Loaf’s 12-minute, tune-warbling spectacle. It was rough.

Meat Loaf, who’s responsible for hits like ‘Bat Out of Hell’, and ‘I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)’ delivered a performance that was memorable for all the wrong reasons.

Taking to the stage before Geelong played Collingwood, it was clear that Meat Loaf could no longer produce the powerful vocal delivery that he was known for during his glory days – as he could be seen struggling on stage just to catch his breath.

Many have regarded it as one of the worst decisions the AFL has ever made, and rightly so.

The Best

The Living End – 2016

Veteran home-grown rockers The Living End showed out in 2016, belting out hits such as ‘Keep on Running’ and ‘Prisoner of Society’ for a full house at the MCG.

They were also joined by legendary rocker Sting, the front man of The Police who sang one of his-then new songs ‘I Can’t Stop Thinking About You’ (for some reason) before finishing with ‘Message in a Bottle’ and ‘Every Breath You Take.’

Overall a high energy performance, before one of the greatest Grand Finals of the modern era, with the Western Bulldogs defeating Sydney to cap off a fairy tale finals run.


Tom Jones, Ed Sheeran – 2014

In 2014 before Sydney and Hawthorn collided at the MCG, the AFL opted for a mixture of young and old, combining international mega-star Ed Sheeran with the then 74-year-old Welsh singer Tom Jones.

Sheeran opened with ‘Sing’ and ‘The A Team’, before the pair combined for a rendition of ‘Kiss.’

The Killers – 2017

While many have been quick to criticise the AFL for their choice of Grand Final acts – the decision to book The Killers in 2017 drew nothing but praise.

The Las-Vegas four-piece have sold over 25 million albums globally and have been responsible for some of the most iconic rock hits of the last 20 years, including ‘Somebody Told Me’, ‘When You Were Young’ and of course ‘Mr Brightside’.

They took centre stage before the clash between Adelaide and Richmond and performed a six-song set of new and old favourites – including a cover of Midnight Oil’s 1990 smash hit ‘Forgotten Years.’

Of course, who could forget the after party – returning to the centre of the MCG to perform again, this time a 45-minute set with the Richmond players as they celebrated their first flag 37 years.

It’s become one of the most enduring images in Grand Final entertainment history, and even The Killers had no idea they would be joined on stage by the players, and specifically captain Jack Riewoldt, who performed a duet of ‘Mr Brightside’ with Brandon Flowers himself.

Riewoldt told the Tigers’ media team that if they won, he’d be on stage singing with them.

After the final siren some calls were made, and the rest is history.


While his Grand Final day performance might have sucked, there’s no doubting Meat Loaf’s talent back in his day.

Image license.