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Concert Reviews:
Greta Van Fleet gets its Led, and more, out at Saint Andrews Hall

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

Posted: Saturday, December 30, 2017

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DETROIT -- The history of rock ‘n’ roll -- real rock ‘n’ roll -- is dotted with moments of ascent. Think early club treks by the likes of Led Zeppelin, Cream and the Police, or John Mellencamp opening for Heart during 1982 or Guns N’ Roses’ first package tour -- all occasions that indicated something greater was in the offing.

Time will tell if Greta Van Fleet’s current headlining tour, including the first of two sold-out shows on Thursday night, Dec. 28, at Saint Andrews Hall, will rank among those. But the youthful Frankenmuth quartet’s 80-minute show left no doubt that GVF is making the most of this year’s moment of international acclaim.

The comparisons are certainly merited -- particularly to Led Zeppelin thanks to singer Josh Kiszka’s uncanny vocal similarity to Robert Plant and the group’s sinewy, blues-derived dynamics that on Thursday gave guitarist Jake Kiszka plenty of space to solo. (The brothers have also mastered the same kind of center-stage “lean-in” pose made famous by Plant and Jimmy Page.) Over the course of a dozen songs GVF offered a ferocious display of vintage rock stylings played with veteran-level tightness, but also a diverse one that flaunted folk, Americana and psychedelic rock influences as well.

The 12-song set also gave the packed Saint Andrews crowd a taste of what more GVF has to offer beyond the eight songs it’s put out this year. Five of the tunes are unreleased, including impressive-sounding material such as the acoustic-flavored “You’re The One,” which the group preceded with a bit of the late Fats Domino’s “Blueberry Hill,” the thumping Tom Petty tribute “Watching Over” and fiery “Lover Leaver Taker Believer,” which incorporated a bit of the Muddy Waters-popularized “Rollin’ And Tumblin’.”

All of that fit nicely amidst the songs that have caused the rock world to welcome GVF as its new savior act. The group came out steaming with “Talk On The Streets” and an epic “Black Smoke Rising,” while Josh Kiszka introduced the stretched-out “Flower Power” as “a song about peace, love and unity, which we’ve lost in the passing of the last year.” A cover of Howlin’ Wolf’s “Evil Is Goin’ On,” meanwhile, affirmed GVF’s genuine affinity for stomping electric blues.

Much like those aforementioned predecessors, GVF clearly has room to grow; also like Plant on his early Led Zep tours, Josh Kiszka, in his black-embroidered kaftan and headband, seemed at times a hesitant frontman still feeling out his way as an on stage host. But as the group, which performs again Friday, Dec. 29, at Saint Andrews, roared through a venue-shaking n encore of “Highway Tune” and “Safari Song” it was clear GVF is far more than mere hype and is capable of riding its momentum to proverbial next levels.

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