Dear AFL, in the immortal, paraphrased words of The Hives, we hate to say we told you so. Turns out, if you book Australian music talent for your pre-game entertainment lineup, you get something worthy of the biggest day on the football calendar.

P.s. NRL, it might be time to step your game up, because this year’s performance was a considerable step down from last year’s. Sure, locals Keith Urban and Jessica Mauboy hit it out of the park, but Richie Sambora started off alright and quickly nosedived into disaster territory.

Yes, after a couple of years’ worth of criticism about shoddy entertainment lineups featuring overseas pop-stars and mouldering has-beens, the AFL finally booked the likes of Vance Joy and The Living End to perform at the Grand Final, albeit Sting was there too.

Still, each performer managed to kill it, with special praise reserved for the ‘Riptide’ hit-maker — himself a former minor league Aussie rules footballer — who nailed his set. Despite frontman Chris Cheney losing his voice, The Living End still managed to kill it too.

The same could not be said for Richie Sambora, who once again is getting pulled apart by the proverbial social media horses for the flat set of Bon Jovi covers (which, granted, he co-wrote) he performed during the NRL Grand Final’s halftime performance.

The pop-country stylings of Keith Urban were a relief after Sambora opened his set in decent form with a rendition of the Bon Jovi classic ‘Wanted Dead or Alive’. However, the performance quickly derailed once Sambora and his band, which includes Aussie-born guitarist Orianthi, reached the chorus.

Their karaoke-like rendition of ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’ was singled out as being up there with Meat Loaf and Angry Anderson in terms of awful Grand Final performances. The criticism online recalls the level of flack Sambora and co inspired after their recent Melbourne show.

After taking to the stage almost an hour late, Sambora and his band put on a performance that was slammed as “amateur at best”, with some insisting they would be pursuing the promoter for a refund and many claiming they left the performance early.

By stark contrast though, Sambora’s Adelaide show was well-recieved by the crows. Whether they tried extra hard due to it being a hometown show for both Orianthi and Sarah McLeod is unclear, but it certainly seems like Sambora wasn’t at his peak in Melbourne nor at the Grand Final.

Just goes to show, when you book Aussie music talent, they really deliver.

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