How AFL can get it right with Grand Final music

© Anton Corbijn
By Lachlan Kanoniuk
It's time to go all Killers, no fillers in 2017.
It’s been confirmed by every source aside from the AFL itself: The Killers will be taking to the stage at the MCG to ramp up pre-match excitement before the main event at this year’s Grand Final. This marks not just a decent booking, but a perfect storm of stature, legacy, and relevance. But booking the right act is only half the battle.
The notion of pre-match entertainment at the AFL Grand Final has long been a point of contention. Last year was a relative success, with legacy act Sting headlining above two Australian acts, Vance Joy and The Living End. An internationally recognised music legend, along with two local success stories. Sting performed just three songs, one of them being new, unfamiliar release I Can’t Stop Thinking About You. The locals performed two songs respectively. The limited time proves a challenge in captivating attention and building excitement.
The Killers have hits. 2004’s Mr Brightside has transcended from a borderline indie rock anthem into an almost universally-adored modern classic, the kind of song you could spin at a wedding and have three generations cutting shapes on the dancefloor. Even if The Killers were forced into the confines of a three song setlist, a run of strong new single The Man into Mr Brightside into a closing rendition of All These Things That I’ve Done. Just imagine, 100,000 fans singing along to the a cappella refrain of “I got soul but I’m not a soldier”. Those three songs? They’d be great. But this is an opportunity to not settle for great. Here’s how to make it truly spectacular.
First up, let’s scrap the support acts. Controversial, we know. Midnight Oil are rumoured for this year’s event, which would be huge, with the September 30 date providing a neat lead-in to the iconic outfit’s Australian tour kicking off in October. But with The Killers confirmed, it’s hard to see either band playing second fiddle to the other without selling themselves short. Also it might be sacrilegious to say, but the classic footy anthems can be laid to rest. Apologies, Mike Brady.
This year, let’s make it all Killers, no fillers. If we’re going by last year’s setlists, around seven tracks, plus maybe another one or two to account for changeover time, should do it. The Killers are a fun, dynamic band. Give them the space to make something special, and chances are that something special will happen. Lead singer Brandon Flowers named his favourite album of last year as Jumping The Shark from Sydney artist Alex Cameron. Why not get Cameron and his saxophonist Roy Molloy as backing members for the occasion for some semblance of local representation?
Who knows, we could even get a not–too–pandering cover of an Antipodean classic in the mix. It’s not a sure bet, but imagine Dragon’s seminal hit Rain being belted out by the Las Vegas rockers. Or even a touch of Bee Gees to complement the disco flavour of The Man.
Everything has been lined up to make this year’s AFL Grand Final entertainment memorable, for the right reasons (as opposed to Meat Loaf being very memorable for the wrong reasons). With The Killers, the AFL has lined up nicely for goal. Let’s hope they don’t shank it.