Many thanks to a long time supporter of Ladies who League, the very talented Alex Sarkis for this story today:
In 1993, Tina Turner performed live at the NRL Grand Final. I was only five years old but I still remember the hype surrounding that performance. It came as a finale to the NRL’s long running campaign ‘Simply the Best’ which had spanned two years, using her popular 1989 single ‘The Best’. Tina Turner was a genuine superstar and her performance was electric. She took to the stage in leather pants and kitten heels with only her mic and a shirtless man on saxophone. It was brilliant, and has since become legendary.
Unfortunately, the NRL has not produced another pre-match performance quite like it. Instead, they have settled on booking entertainers that are conveniently in town and/or desperately promoting a new album. What should be an explosive opening act for the season’s main event is, instead, an embarrassing and irrelevant few minutes of music. In 2011 Kelly Clarkson performed ‘Mr Know It All’ to a stadium of Grand Final footy fans. ‘Mr Know It All’ is a bad song at the best of times and did nothing for the occasion. Since then we’ve had performances from Good Charlotte (2012) and Ricky Martin (2013) – obviously due to their existing Australian contracts with ‘The Voice’.
This year, the NRL have hired Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash and the American rock band Train (you may remember their song ‘Drops of Jupiter’). Slash is, of course, a legend and a move in the right direction, although he should have brought Axl with him. I doubt however, that Train will add any excitement to the Grand Final stage whatsoever.
Pre-match entertainment, although not as important as the game itself, is essential in creating the right atmosphere and exciting the crowd. Tina Turner was the perfect choice – famous, energetic, talented and relevant. A big name with a big song and lots of hype! The NRL should aspire to pre-match performances like this. Not only was it a huge marketing success, but hiring a great performer is an excellent way to thank NRL fans for their loyalty. If Rugby League truly is ‘the greatest game of all’, it should hire entertainers that are simply the best.
Some suggestions for 2015:
Jimmy Barnes singing whatever the hell he wants. (Duet with Tina Turner, yes please!)
Pink. I’m not her biggest fan, but she has a huge Australian following and gives high energy performances.
Beyonce – I know it’s not the Super Bowl, but we can dream!
ACDC. Enough said.
Lady Gaga. Essentially psychotic, but ‘Edge of Glory’ is the perfect NRL track.
Ladies who League