The Most Iconic AFL Grand Final Performances

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The Most Iconic AFL Grand Final Performances

AFL Grand final
Word by Jack O'Shea Ayres

The AFL Grand Final isn't just about footy; it's a celebration of Australian culture.

The AFL Grand Final isn’t just about footy; it’s a celebration of Australian culture, and that includes some unforgettable halftime performances. Over the years, we’ve seen legendary artists take the stage, delivering high-energy shows that have left a mark on the Grand Final’s history. In the lead-up to the 2023 Grand final, where American rock legends KISS are set to perform and the Collingwood Magpies and Brisbane Lions will battle it out to take home the premiership cup, we’re counting down the 4 most iconic AFL Grand Final halftime performances which have electrified the crowd and become an integral part of the Grand Final experience.

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Meat Loaf – 2011 Grand Final

Meat Loaf’s performance at the 2011 Grand Final is one of the most talked-about halftime shows in AFL history. The rock legend took to the stage, and while his intentions were undoubtedly good, the execution fell short of expectations. Sound issues and a vocal performance that was less than stellar left fans and viewers baffled. Despite the technical hiccups, Meat Loaf’s performance remains iconic for all the wrong reasons and has become a humorous footnote in AFL history.

Despite the technical difficulties, Meat Loaf’s willingness to give it his all and the sheer audacity of his performance have made it a memorable, although for the wrong reasons, moment in AFL halftime history.

John Farnam – 2009 Grand Final

Aussie legend John Farnham delivered a memorable halftime performance at the Geelong V. St Kilda Grand Final in 2009. He belted out his 1986 classic hit “You’re the Voice,” and the crowd was enthralled, especially after Australian legends Jimmy Barnes and Mark Seymour joined in towards the end of the iconic track. 

Farnham, known for his powerful voice and stage presence, delivered a flawless performance that had the crowd in the palm of his hand. The atmosphere inside the MCG was electric and Farnham’s ability to connect with the audience and deliver an iconic moment in Grand Final history cemented his status as one of Australia’s greatest performers.

Farnham’s powerful vocals and stage presence made this halftime show an unforgettable moment in Grand Final history, reminding everyone that when it comes to halftime entertainment, Farnham is in a league of his own.

Birds of Tokyo and The Western Australia Symphony Orchestra – 2021 Grand Final

Birds of Tokyo’s halftime entertainment performance at the 2021 AFL Grand Final was a defining moment in the league’s history. As one of Australia’s most prominent alternative rock bands in the modern age, they brought their signature sound and energy to the iconic MCG stage.

Achieving mainstream success with 2008’s Universes, then reaching number one with their 2013 release March Fires, their electrifying performance resonated with fans, delivering a memorable set that seamlessly blended with the excitement of the Grand Final. With hits like “Lanterns” and “Unbreakable,” Birds of Tokyo had the crowd on their feet, and their music became the soundtrack to a pivotal moment in footy history, serving as the perfect backing tracks for the fight between the Western Bulldogs and the Melbourne Demons to take home the premiership. 

Their performance was not only a celebration of music but also a testament to the AFL’s commitment to showcasing top-tier Australian talent on one of the nation’s biggest stages, creating a lasting memory for both footy and music enthusiasts alike.

Hunters and Collectors – 2013 Grand Final

Hunters and Collectors’ halftime show at the 2013 AFL Grand Final was a triumphant return to the stage for the iconic Australian rock band. 

Their performance was a nostalgic journey for fans, as the band had been on hiatus for nearly a decade before reuniting for this special occasion. As they launched into their anthemic hit “Do You See What I see,” the MCG crowd erupted with passion and excitement. The band’s energy was palpable, and their unmistakable sound resonated throughout the stadium, creating a euphoric atmosphere which perfectly encapsulated the spirit of Australian Rules Football. 

Hunters and Collectors’ 2013 Grand Final halftime show was not just a musical performance; it was a moment of unity and celebration for fans who had been eagerly awaiting their return, making it an unforgettable chapter in the AFL’s halftime entertainment history.

Much like the major Australian sporting event itself, the AFL Grand Final halftime performances have evolved over the years, ranging from unforgettable shows like Hunters and Collectors powerhouse performance return, to more recent likable sets by artists like Birds of Tokyo. While some performances will forever be remembered for their technical mishaps, they all contribute to the unique tapestry of the Grand Final’s history, highlighting the importance of music and entertainment in the celebration of Australian Rules Football. 

Each artist, whether a rock legend or a modern pop sensation, brings their own flavor to the halftime show, ensuring that this tradition continues to captivate audiences and provide moments of pure entertainment and cultural significance.

More on the 2023 AFL Grand Final here.