GRETA VAN FLEET JUST LOOK AT THAT – PURE ROCK ACTION RIGHT THERE
GRETA VAN FLEET’S extraordinary rise continues as they hit a new, electrifying peak in Manchester…
If Greta Van Fleet’s rise has been meteoric, then they are the Usain Bolt of meteors. With their Anthem Of The Peaceful Army debut album barely a month old, the band of brothers have bypassed all that tedious slogging through increasingly capacious bars and headed straight for something big. Okay, there was a brief UK jaunt earlier in the year, but even that debut headliner saw them selling out and bumping up venue sizes on the strength of a couple of EPS and a reputation. Tonight’s show at the 2,600-capacity Academy follows a whopping three-night stand in London. It’s almost dizzying to behold.
If there’s a taste for classic rock nostalgia in the air tonight, Goodbye June are a perfect appetiser. The Nashville cousins mine similar ‘70s influence to the headliners, but with a brasher take and every dial turned up to 11. That doesn’t apply just to volume but the intent in everything they do: if they’re going to pack a song with riffs they’re going to be mountainous ones; if there’s a tambourine to be shook, Landon Milbourn will do it like Steven Tyler’s car-jacking grandson.
By contrast, the headliners are a lot more nuanced. Most bands with Led Zeppelin in their DNA – and there’s no point labouring to avoid that comparison just yet – would settle for trying to rewrite Whole Lotta Love and try their own Stairway To Heaven. Greta Van Fleet go deeper, or perhaps broader, to gather a subtler palette.
The likes of The Cold Wind and Lover, Leaver (Taker, Believer) take relatively compact rhythms, add big swaggering riffs, and go for the visceral gutpunch with great success. They don’t always feel the need to pile it on, however. They start with the dreamy grooves of Highway Tune (once frontman Josh Kiszka has thrown out bunches of white roses), and throughout the set the music is given time and space to breathe. Edge Of Darkness stretches out the sinuous blues, Flower Power turns into a glorious blend of organ and chiming guitars, and the ecologicallythemed Watching Over takes slow but epically weighty steps.
One area where Greta Van Fleet definitely take the view that less is most definitely not more is in the jams. Four-minute songs are often stretched to twice that, but, crucially, it never quite feels like they’ve gone past breaking point. A big reason for that is the sheer fluid wonderment of guitarist Jake Kiszka’s playing. His loose but soulful soloing is every bit as integral as his twin frontman Josh’s Robert Plant-style wails, perfectly meshing together to create something truly brilliant.
They might have exploded in a very short space of time and at a very young age, but this is emphatically down to quality rather than any kind of hype. Greta Van Fleet have talent and electric charisma by the truckload, and they rock like pretty much no-one else in the 21st century. Tonight is a special show, but the truly amazing thing is the thought of how much more there is still to come. PA U L T R A V E R S