Meat Loaf at the AFL Grand Final by Jake Robinson

Posted on October 3, 2011


While Meat Loaf’s performance as part (though in reality the whole) of the AFL Grand Final’s pre-match entertainment has been widely panned, my favourite was in The Age where Leaping Larry said that he sung in keys previously unknown to man. It is perhaps interesting to note what the AFL were buying when they signed him up.

Meat Loaf performing at the 2011 AFL Grand Final.

The previous year’s entertainment consisted of INXS and, for the replay, Lionel Richie. The cobbled remains of INXS were rather forgettable, while Richie, brought in  at short notice to justify the massive income bonanza of the Grand Final replay, assumedly at an outrageous fee, was superb. Part of this is due to the sound setup at the MCG. Anyone who has ever seen a band play there knows that the cavernous spaces and echoes of the stands create the perfect storm for muddled sound. While Richie’s soulful Rn’B backed primarily by sparse electronic instruments was able to overcome this, Meat Loaf’s extravagant backing band and bikie gang was only ever going to result in a swampy mess of noise.

Lionel Richie performing at the Grand Final re-match in 2010.

Criticism has been levelled at the Loaf’s vocal range which was dearly strained in certain parts and perhaps a result of his rumoured poor health in the previous week.

It was also an interesting choice by the AFL to book him in the first place. Perhaps spurred by the NRL Grand Final, who routinely book international music acts, as well as the Super Bowl in America, who have their choice of some of the biggest pop groups in the world, the AFL have followed suit. Unlike INXS, an Australian band with a cherished back catalogue of hits and Richie, a bonafide pop superstar, Meat Loaf has a more eclectic identity. He first gained widespread attention in the pop music world when the British music rag Melody Maker reviewed his show as “the worst gig ever”. However, he turned his brand of giant operatic Harley-fuelled rock into an incredibly successful career. His album Bat Out of Hell is the equal biggest selling-album in Australia and has sold over 43 million copies worldwide. He formed an incredibly successful partnership with the songwriter Jim Steinman who wrote pretty much all of his songs (as well as other songs including “Total Eclipse of the Heart”, “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now” and “No Matter What”).

His setlist comprised of his song from the Rocky Horror Picture Show, “Hot Patootie – Bless My Soul”, his biggest single “I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)” and two cuts from his mega-behemoth smash album Bat Out of Hell (the title track and “You Took the Words Right Out Of My Mouth”).

Meat Loaf as Eddie in "Rocky Horror Picture Show".

I personally believe that Meat Loaf’s success wasn’t necessarily in the quality of his performance but in the gravitas his appearance granted the AFL. Having an international music act adds weight to the event and Meat Loaf was probably one of the few acts willing and within the AFL’s price range.

And even though it probably sounded horrible at the ground itself, watching on TV allowed for a great indulgence in nostalgia-fuelled Loaf brilliance.

Music with Jake Robinson.

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