GIG REVIEW: An Evening With GRETA VAN FLEET Live at The Enmore Theatre, Sydney
In 2018 no other band was talked about more than Greta Van Fleet, the Michigan quartet released their debut album ‘Anthem of the Peaceful Army’ last October polarizing the opinions of many music critics. Pitchfork gave the album a severe 1.6 out of 10 rating and called it over precious retro fetishism! Harsh Led Zeppelin comparisons were uttered every time the press mentioned the outfit or when the band members were giving an interview. Yet for all the negative rhetoric (not dissimilar to Zeppelin when they first appeared on the scene 50 years ago), Greta Van Fleet have sky rocketed into the mainstream appearing on major shows such as The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and Saturday Night Live whilst their debut album climbed all the way to number three on the Billboard top 200 albums chart (Zeppelin debut only reached number 10).
The Kiszka brothers and drummer Danny Wagner are all aged between 19-22 and are selling out shows around the world including in Australia where second shows had to be added in Sydney and Melbourne. It was the band’s first time in the country and Sydney siders were the first to see their Australian debut performance last Tuesday night at the Enmore Theatre.
Supporting the band’s Australian leg of their world tour was British rock and rollers The Struts who couldn’t have been a more appropriate band to open up the show. Walking into the theatre and seeing some people dressed as if they were at Woodstock or characters from the HBO series Vinyl was part humorous but also an insight into the cultural appetite of these concert goers. The Struts warmed up the crowd with nostalgic songs in the style of The Rolling Stones, Queen and David Bowie. Their charismatic front man Luke Spiller had the attitude of Mick Jagger and the looks of the late Freddie Mercury, commanding the audience to wave their hands from side to side and going down on the floor to gymnastically jump right back up. He kept asking the audience “Are you having a good time?” then insolently adding “If you’re not, the exit is at the front door!” Their energy and musicianship left the audience perfectly hyped up and ready for some further rock and roll entertainment.
Greta Van Fleet’s entrance on stage whipped a frenzy amongst the mostly young crowd, there was also a fair few oldies who loved the fact that the music of their youth was being rehashed in a new age with such genuine vintage fashion. From their mannerism on stage to the fashion sensibility and of course the compositions themselves all had the yearning romanticism of being a young hippie in the midst of the counterculture revolution.
Extended jamming, keyboard soundscapes and guitar soloing was all apart of the band’s allure and the aura of singer Josh Kiszka really lived up to the mythology of the rock god showing off his bare chest and singing his lungs out. The audience reception was overwhelmingly positive with the entire theatre chanting Greta! Greta! Greta! between songs. The set list consisted of songs of ‘Anthem of the Peaceful Army’ as well as from their debut EP ‘Black Moon Rising’ and covers of John Denver’s “The Music is You” and Howlin Wolf’s “Evil”. Unsurprisingly their Sydney devotees would not leave without an encore and that’s exactly what they got as the band returned to the stage to play the song “Black Moon Rising” and ended the show with an emotional and perfectly timed Bombastic drum solo from Danny Wagner.
Some conceited critics may despise them but their fans have completely lionized their music and newfound success. Great Van Fleet’s insurgency may just be a void that needed to be filled in today’s music market, a thirst for when rock music and its culture was the young people’s creed throughout the world. It will be interesting to see if they can sustain this success long term and if they can evolve sonically on their next album, for now though they are definitely the hottest young rock band around.