May 29, 2019
Last night, 28 May 2019, Toronto’s Echo Beach was host to a raw, energetic rock n’ roll concert that could’ve easily been lifted from the 1970s. And it didn’t involve a 75-year-old Mick Jagger or 76-year-old Paul McCartney. The stage was confidently dominated by four adolescents from Michigan, half of whom are too young to buy alcohol in their own state: Greta Van Fleet.
Opening with their debut album’s first single, “When the Curtain Falls”, Greta wasted no time in regaling the crowd. The bluesy hard-rock number would’ve felt comfortably at home in a Led Zeppelin setlist from 1970.
Deluged with a debonair bassline; booming drums; rollicking guitar solos; and a howling vocal range, Greta’s concert transports listeners to the glory days of rock music. Back to the Future’s Dr. Brown may have claimed the secret to time-travel was accelerating to 88mph, but Greta Van Fleet have affirmed the real secret, is guitarist Jake Kiszka hitting 88 notes per minute on his Gibson Les Paul.
The twins (Jake and Josh Kiszka) took turns under the spotlight, while third brother on bass guitar and keyboard, Sam Kiszka, the underrated act of the night kept the rhythm alive and moving throughout the show.
What makes Greta’s live performance such a treat, is they don’t try to replicate their studio recordings. Three-minute songs like “Highway Tune” extend to ten-minute jam sessions with blistering guitar solos galore. It’s raw, unadulterated rock and roll at its finest. Greta treats the concert as an entirely different medium than the studio record. In the studio, they’re polished, calculated, and perfectly timed. On stage, they’re unhampered and spontaneous. And they don’t hold back, flexing their musical prowess, exuding their talent through lengthy, improvised solos. In the studio, you get multiple takes and edits to nail each note. When it’s live, all you have to deliver; and the boys from Michigan do. In spades.
Playing through their set list of hits compiled from their initial EP (From the Fires) and debut album (Anthem of the Peaceful Army) Greta signed off for the night with their most heavily Zeppelin-inspired number: “Safari Song”. Blending a groovy guitar riff and a catchy verse, with a dash of Robert Plant’s signature “mama”. If I was previously thinking “It’d be great if they covered Whole Lotta Love”, I was only left asking myself, “Is there an Uber service that can take me back to 2019?”
For years rock fans have been harking back to an era enamored with the blues-infused hard rock of the Rolling Stones or Led Zeppelin, circa 1972. Greta Van Fleet is part of rock and roll’s rebirth, circa now.