Paying tribute to cricket legend Shane Warne, bagpipes and sparkling disco balls were featured in a packed pre-match musical performance by British singer Robbie Williams.
Williams was joined by Delta Goodrem in front of tens of thousands of fans as they geared up for the 2022 AFL final between Geelong and Sydney.
Williams was locked up as the headline artist in July, saying at the time that he was “so excited” to perform in the MCG.
He and the AFL had teased a star-studded lineup for the rest of the finals entertainment, sparking rumors in the weeks leading up to the game that Kylie Minogue might be getting company.
On Thursday it was confirmed that he would be joined on stage by another homegrown pop star in Goodrem.
After a Welcome to Country from Uncle Colin Hunter Jr, the first musical act of the day was of course Mike Brady performing Up There Cazaly.
Without him it wouldn’t be a big final on the ‘G.
Dressed in bright pink, Williams began his set on a gold stage that descended to ground level.
While performing the hit Let Me Entertain You, surrounded by gold-clad dancers, he made his way to the stage in the center of the ‘G.
Despite a few minor technical glitches—some backing vocalists’ microphones were turned off for a call-and-response introduction to Rock DJ—Williams and his spandex-covered dancers led the crowd.
Prior to the new album Lost (XXV), Williams told the audience that they would get through the “mandatory new song” together.
After a rousing rendition of Feel, he dedicated the next song Angels to cricketer Shane Warne, who died unexpectedly this year.
“Love you Warney,” Williams said of his friend, whom he called “one of Australia’s biggest rock stars.”
It was the song’s second time this year that it sounded over the “G,” as Williams dedicated a video performance of the song to Warne during his state funeral.
In another nod to Australiana, he covered John Farnham’s You’re the Voice, which he called Australia’s unofficial national anthem.
A bagpipe band joined the chorus as archival footage of Farnsy flooded the screen.
He welcomed Delta Goodrem on stage for a rendition of the 2000 hit Kids, a duet he originally performed with Minogue.
In a shimmery pink jumpsuit that was even more striking than Williams’ own outfit, Goodrem held her up during the song that ultimately destroyed the Kylie rumours.
From then on, all eyes were on the real event, with tension building as the umpires came in, the ball was delivered and the teams made their way to the sacred grass.
The anthem was performed by ARIA winner Katie Noonan after Premiership Cup Ambassador Bachar Houli delivered the 2022 Premiership Cup.
The halftime entertainment features big names such as G Flip, The Temper Trap with Budjerah and Ngaiire, Goanna with Shane Howard, Christine Anu, Emma Donovan, Tasman Keith and William Barton and The Australian Girls Choir.
Energy was high at the MCG for the first major final in Melbourne in three years.
The biggest game of the year was marred by a review by the Hawthorn Football Club, which revealed allegations that key figures at the club are intimidating young First Nations players and separating them from their families.
The AFL has pledged to conduct an external investigation into the allegations.