Music / Review

What we learned watching Greta Van Fleet live

The Michigan rockers strike a chord – one straight from the 1970s.

While many make it their mission to relive rock’n’roll from the glory years, there are still opportunities to catch talented new bands that bring these sounds into the modern era. With two sold-out shows at the 02 Academy Islington last week and a crowd of ages ranging from 18 to 80, it’s safe to say that Greta Van Fleet are one of these success stories. But how exactly do you begin to compare a band of Michigan-born millenials to the likes of Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix?

Strong stage presence

From the moment vocalist Josh Kiszka walks on stage with guitarist and twin brother Jake, bass player and younger brother Sam, and drummer Danny Wagner, you know this isn’t their first rodeo. Their confidence is confirmed in their attire: bare chests, blouses, luscious locks and arms full of roses which are dispersed to the crowd as a sign of appreciation for their supportive fan base.

Terrific technical ability

Kiszka doesn’t need to say much between songs as his vocal range says it all. Wailing and screeching with both arms held high, his voice is reminiscent of Robert Plant which will satisfy any rock’n’roll fan. The Zeppelin legend has also recently been quoted showing his admiration to the band with the comment that Kiszka is “a beautiful little singer” (Guitar World). This is not, however, a one-man band as guitarist Jake regularly demonstrates his adept abilities to wield his instrument (at one point even held behind his head!), Sam moves from bass to keys for part of the set, and Danny tops things off with long unpredictable solos on the drums.

Plenty of hits

Though yet to release a full-length studio album, Greta Van Fleet do have enough rock anthems to carry them through live shows. After signing to Lava Records in 2017, the band released EPs Black Smoke Rising and From the Fires in the same year containing singles such as Highway Tune, which topped the mainstream US Billboard rock charts, and Safari Song. Their use of heavy rock sounds, riffs and screams is refreshing in this era of popular music which tends to avoid any of the three.

When they’re not on tour, the band regularly moves between Detroit and Nashville finding influence for their upcoming debut album which is due to be released this year. Watch this space!

 

Over-riding love and support

Now with a European tour complete and the start of an extensive US run to come, Greta Van Fleet have taken the approach of playing live music as often as they can. This will please their support base which will inevitably grow from one show to the next.  As their fans range from young to old a typical show will not be without all of the classic rock’n’roll outbursts of crowd surfing, flashing, fist pumping and cheers – all of which is welcomed, encouraged and soaked up by the appreciative foursome.

Staying power

We’ll see. While Jimi Hendrix was only with us for a short period of time, stunning audiences with an ability which laid claims that he had joined us from another universe, his music will live on forever. Greta Van Fleet are due to play big sets at this year’s Download Festival at Donnington Park and Coachella in the US. With more opportunities like this to bring their ’70s sounds to the big stage, this band is poised to rocket into a new dimension.

Get tickets for Greta Van Fleet at Download Festival on 10 June 2018 and at London’s Electric Ballroom on 11 June 2018 at Ticketmaster.co.uk.

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