Attending a Greta Van Fleet concert is more than just a live music experience, it’s also a window into how generations of music are passed down. The band obviously has drawn their influences from past recording artists. Although the four members of Greta have grown to dislike the comparison, the Led Zeppelin influences are undeniable. However, the generational bridge doesn’t end at the edge of the stage. In the audience were people old enough to have seen bands of the late 60’s and early 70’s that Greta has drawn upon. There were young people who know those bands in name only. And most fascinating, were parents who brought sons and daughters to the concert—a true melding of the generations.
After opening with The Cold Wind from their full-length album Anthem of the Peaceful Army, they jumped into the first of three songs from the debut EP Black Smoke Rising. Safari Song was the first, which featured a drum solo by Greta’s not-so-secret weapon, Danny Wagner. Wagner is a beast behind the kit and this solo showed why he’s been rightfully compared to greats such as John Bonham. The ever-popular title track was next and the crowd joyfully sang along to the chorus. The trifecta of songs from the debut EP was Flower Power, one of the most dynamic songs from that EP. Bass player, Sam Kiszka, traded his axe for keyboards for the tune, his brother and lead vocalist, Josh, shed his shoes and third brother, Jake, riffed on the guitar.
Next up was the inspiring Age of Man, followed by a cover song. Most bands like to throw in a cover while playing live to spice up the set list and give the crowd something familiar to groove on. However, in their young career, Greta has resisted the trend of selecting obvious covers. On the EP, From the Fires, they featured a cover of Meet on the Ledge by Fairport Convention, a little-known 60’s band. Tonight’s choice was a John Denver song, The Music Is You. Probably not what the crowd expected, but it went over well. You’re The One was a nice acoustic break. After that were three more song in the main set: Black Flag Exposition, Watching Over and When the Curtain Falls.
After the requisite waiting period where the audience chants the band name and begs for the encore they know is always coming, Josh, Jake, Sam and Danny reappeared. Lover, Leaver (Taker, Believer) was first up. Next was an instrumental teaser that eventually lead to that famous riff, the song that started it all…Highway Tune. This was the song that launched Greta Van Fleet from local band with the odd name to bona fide, A-list international rock stars. The third and final song of the night was a reprise of Lover, Leaver (Taker, Believer) which morphed into an almost 15-minute version with a very, very long Jake Kiszka guitar solo. Greta likes to extend their songs with mini-jam sessions, however, this last song took that to a new level. Listening to a great guitar player is always a treat, but sometimes too much of a good thing is…well, too much.
Toss out that last song and it was an enjoyable evening with a band that has seemingly just scratched the surface of its creativity.
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