AFL Grand Final: Caution, May Contain “Entertainment”

(Review of grand final entertainment by LLL, published in The Age newspaper on Sunday 30th September.)

“Local talent time,” was Andrew Demetriou’s stated policy regarding this year’s grand final entertainment.

Although his inspiration was reportedly the London Olympics (?!) many might suggest the new orientation more particularly stemmed from Meat Loaf’s famously aromatic crash’n’burn routine from the previous year, a spectacular debacle which came at a six-figure premium.

At any rate, Channel Seven’s policy before the match largely appeared to be “No talent time”.

IN particular, Tim Rogers seemed to disappear without trace. It wasn’t so much “This is greatness” as it was “This is absence”. *

Paul Kelly fared somewhat better – he was mentioned by Dennis Cometti as “To Her Door” as his performance wafted in the background while the Seven panel blathered on (and on).

Eventually they shut up long enough so that Kelly could do that ‘MCG song’ that he was probably pretty much hired for, really (“Leaps and Bounds”) and we even saw a potted version of it, kind of.

When Kelly sang, we saw the Bull sisters. When the lead guitar player took a solo, we saw Kelly. Well, more specifically, 40 seconds or so of Kelly’s back, as he’d then decided to do that “bonding with his band-brother, the drummer” thing, and turned around.

Anyway, the early “entertainment” highlights for the home viewer pretty much came down to:

1) Excellent choice of AC/DC’s “Hells Bells” intro just as players were going to positions

2) Moment in the pre-game motorcade thingo, when the on-screen images and Craig Willis’s voice fell out of synch. Thus when Craig referred to Rising Star winner Daniel Talia, the image on screen was a guy with two children in a car, prompting the potential reflection that Talia must have started his family pretty early, until one twigged that the guy on-screen was actually a umpire who’d just retired

3) The new ad for auto insurance featuring that Rhonda and Kerput couple.

There was no more entertainment to worry about until half-time, when Tampa Trip came on. Err, Temper Trap.

The AFL/Gudinski GF production might not have rivalled the NFL Super Bowl approach in terms of extravagance re talent-budget, but they did have a stage way planted way out on the field.

This was shaped like a ‘T’, i.e. a conventional stage with an appended “Jagger Space”, i.e. for the vocalist to carry on like a pork chop.

Next year they might want to forget about it, as the Trauma Tramp guy didn’t put a toe out on the Jagger Space till the third song, “Sweet Disposition”.

Either he’s just not a movin’-and-groovin’ around kind of guy, or he’d been numbed by the music.

Both of TT’s vocal songs (the opener was “Trembling Hands”, if anyone’s keeping score) featured keening ethereal – oh, what’s the word here, ah yes “bleating” – vocals, combined artfully with neatly-groomed guitar figures that went around and around in tiny circles like particularly polite goldfish. In between was an instrumental called “Drum Song” – imagine someone mating “Let There Be Drums” with a very old U2 backing track – which was the closest thing the band did to anything rabble-rousing that might have vaguely offset a sporting occasion.

If the kids – or whoever was intended to like this – at the ground had a blast, well, fabbo. You couldn’t tell from the TV, other than the crowd at least applauded and no grandstands were ignited in protest.

They may have been pure gold to a certain demographic and absolute uncut 100% snooze-bait to others.

But compared to last year’s guy, Tramper Track, err Temper Tramp, were almost certainly in tune, presuming one knew or cared what the tunes were.

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* (A severe eye-straining at the source material a couple of days later revealed Tim R turning up for about 15 seconds on camera, mentioned kind of in passing by Brian Taylor, and rapidly sinking into the sunset of the nearest ad break. It was so early in proceedings you could call it a ‘curtain-jerker’ spot although in terms of the crowd apparently assembed to that point at the ground (i.e. there looked like there were more people in Tim’s band than there were in the stands) and the casual arse-wipery of Seven’s treatment of that portion of the entertainment, calling it the ‘bum’s rush’ spot might have been just about as accurate. Hope they paid him PLENTY.)

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