Grand old show

• Some of the artists performing at this year’s AFL Grand Final (L-R): Amy Manford, Kav Temperley, Abbe May, Ian Kenny, Gina Williams and Guy Ghouse. Photo courtesy AFL Photos.

LET’S face it, the entertainment at the AFL Grand Final is no Super Bowl halftime show.

Over the years it has veered wildly from showcasing big-name overseas acts past their best to popular but overfamiliar Aussie bands that lack a bit of stardust.

Oh, and every so often we had a toe-curling moment of car crash TV that was so bad you couldn’t believe it was actually happening (Meat Loaf’s ill-fated performance in the stands in 2011).

Given the border restrictions in place, unsurprisingly the entertainment at this year’s Grand Final at the Optus Stadium is a WA-love fest. Plus premier Mark McGowan lobbied the AFL for a homegrown line-up.

Headlining in the coveted half-time spot will be Birds of Tokyo, a Perth alternative rock band who formed in 2004 and scored big hits with songs like Plans and Lanterns. 

They played pre and post-game at the 2013 Grand Final, as well as at the 2019 Grand Final Parade.

This time, Birds drummer Adam Weston might have to watch out for flying tomatoes as he is a big Collingwood fan.

“I’m a lifelong Magpies member, but I’ll start talking about the men’s again next year!” he laughs. “Our AFLW girls only just fell short earlier this year against Brisbane (which I was at the Gabba for, and yes I’m a huge footy fan) so they’re a super strong chance next season. 

“I’ve had to isolate for two weeks but I’d do it for three months to have the opportunity to be part of such a historic occasion for WA and for football.”

The skin pounder was tight lipped on the songs the band would play, but did reveal they would be doing a surprise cover and collaborating with the WA Symphony Orchestra.

“One of the songs we’ve chosen should do pretty well to light up the stadium and since we have the absolute pleasure of teaming up with WASO again, we’ve got a surprise cover song we’re playing for the first time too.”

Opening the final will be WA stalwart Abbey May, who has been rocking out for the past 20 years. 

When the Voice asked the singer/songwriter about her setlist and footy allegiances, she was playing it too-cool-for-school and keeping her plectrums close to her chest.

“I just hope everyone has a good time and eats some oranges at half time, y’know?”

Thanks for that, Abbey.

Perennial Perth favourites Eskimo Joe (they seem to play at every WA event going, don’t they) will also smash out a few numbers.

Joe guitarist Joel Quartermain, originally from Melbourne, is another muso who might need to look out for airborne fruit.

“I’m a born and bred Essendon supporter,” he says. 

“I spent my earlier years in Melbourne and even after moving to Perth aged 12, stayed true to my roots. I do have a soft spot for the Freo dockers though and it was an honour for the band to be number one ticket holders. Absolutely excited about a Perth grand final and to be playing is a dream come true!”

A unique WA supergroup has been put together for the final, featuring Stella Donnelly, John Butler and The Waifs’ Vikki Thorn and Donna Simpson. 

There will also be a performance by rapper ‘Baker Boy’, a Yolngu man named Young Australian of the Year, who travelled to Perth and quarantined for the event.

Under the theme of ‘Australian Anthems’, the entertainment will also feature renowned Noongar musician Gina Williams accompanied by Guy Ghouse, and Men at Work’s lead singer and successful solo artist Colin Hay.

It was recently reported that Sacha Baron Cohen had moved to WA with his Perth-raised wife Isla Fisher, so rumours were swirling that Borat may put in an appearance at this year’s final. 

So if you see a fluorescent ‘Team WA’ mankini in the stands, let’s pray its Borat and not Mark McGowan.

The pre-Grand Final entertainment kicks off at 4pm (Saturday September 25) 

By Stephen Pollock

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