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Concert Reviews:
Greta Van Fleet kicks off happy homecoming at the Fillmore

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

Posted: Wednesday, May 23, 2018

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DETROIT -- Greta Van Fleet has grown to feel at home on stages around the world, or at least on both sides of the Atlantic, during the past year.

But there’s still no place like home for the youthful Frankenmuth quartet.

The group’s homecoming got off to a happy start on Tuesday night, May 22, with the first of three sold-out shows at the Fillmore Detroit -- easily the hottest concert ticket of the year so far. The love was on display right in the lobby, where a fan-made banner hung from a bannister to commemorate the opening night, while backstage Fillmore management gifted the group with two giant Jack Daniels barrels bearing its name.

Tunic-clad frontman Josh Kiszka, meanwhile, noted early in the 12-song, 90-minute set that it was good to be home, and that “I see a lot of friends and familiar faces, some family out there, too.” And that seemed to make Kiszka and his bandmates more excited than nervous as GVF turned into a confident, even swaggering performance that lived up to the abundant hype that’s swirled around the group since its first single, “Highway Tune,” rode to No. 1 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart.

The group’s growth, even since its two December appearances at Saint Andrews Hall, was evident throughout Tuesday’s show -- especially during extended set pieces such as “Edge Of Darkness,” “Flower Power” and the epic “Lover Leaver Taker Believer,” each letting guitarist Josh Kiszka solo with heroic ferocity while bassist Sam Kiszka (who doubled on keyboards for two songs) and drummer Danny Wagner powered through the brawny dynamics of the arrangements. Josh Kiszka, meanwhile, demonstrated his formidable lung capacity, while his vocal similarity to Robert Plant remains uncanny and couldn’t help but make anything he touched hew towards the Led Zeppelin canon.

That’s been both a blessing and a curse for GVF, but there are far worse comparisons to be had in the rock world. And the simple truth of the matter is that its songs are gifted with a genuinely timeless quality, firmly rooted in classic rock and blues but in a way that still makes sense as contemporary. It’s why a Tuesday’s crowd spanned generations from grade school youths to grizzled OR (Original Rockers), all finding a common ground in what GVF has to offer.

The show featured most of the songs that got the group here -- including “Safari Song,” “Black Smoke Rising” and a galloping “Talk On The Street” -- but the best news was there’s clearly more where that came from. GVF, which finished recording its first full-length album earlier in the spring, unveiled five unrecorded tracks, including the slightly country flavored “You’re The One,” the psychedelic-tinged “When The Cold Wind Blows” and the intricate, almost proggy “Want You More.” The group also reprised its go-to cover, a stomping rendition of Howlin’ Wolf’s “Evil Is Goin’ On,” and slipped a bit the blues standard “Rollin’ And Tumblin’” into “Lover Leaver’s...” extended improvisations.

As the show ended, with a drum solo by Wagner, GVF had done enough to send everybody home happy -- and to be home to celebrate what’s been nothing less than a global conquest.

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