Greta Van Fleet @ Climate Pledge Arena (2023)

Greta Van Fleet @ Climate Pledge Arena (2)

Greta Van Fleet @ Climate Pledge Arena (3)

Greta Van Fleet @ Climate Pledge Arena (4)

Greta Van Fleet @ Climate Pledge Arena (5)

Greta Van Fleet @ Climate Pledge Arena (6)

Greta Van Fleet: 3/12/23 “Confessions of an aging rock ’n’ roller who admittedly is behind the times… When I first heard that an artist named Greta Van Fleet was selling out major arenas my first thought was ‘What’s a female opera star doing playing big time, she must have won one of those TV reality shows?’ I have so much to learn! A friend recommended I give this newer band a listen and the first song I heard was ‘Heat Above’ I thought to myself ‘a Rush wanna be’ based on the vocals, after a further dive I said to myself ‘a mere Zeppelin imitator’. I wanted to hate them but went back again and again, thank you Ryan for the tip. The Kiszka brothers Josh (vocals), Jake (guitar) and Sam (bass/keys), plus Danny Wagner (drums) are uniquely what they are, mid-western American hard rock at it’s best. Two albums and an EP have produced twelve singles, five of them #1’s, that’s no argument when it comes to success. Postponed from an original date Oct 19, 2022 after frontman Josh ruptured an ear drum during a show on the 8th the ‘Dreams In Gold Tour’ had finally made it’s way to The Well in Greenville. Upon entrance to the venue I made my way to my seat in executive Suite 120 (thank you Don) where I got my first glimpse of the near full arena. Only some newly released upper bowl corner seats remained available at showtime. There stood a seriously-awesome white background themed stage set with two massive hanging light panels on each side, each panel had 4 squares of 16 lights each (64 total each side), along with eight posts with futuristic circular rounded lights resembling antennas, plus fire spewing towers and caldrons. Stage R to L: Keys (Hammond XP, Nord, Mellotron) bass, stack of Acoustic 360 amps, platformed drum kit (sun ray on the drumhead), stack of Marshall amps, guitar, each station was covered with front facing individual spotlights facing the audience. Everything was hidden behind a curtain with the symbols of ‘The Battle Of Garden’s Gate’ album engulfing the stage and concealing the set until showtime. A total 70’s glam rock feel (think Queen)! There was an undeniable sense of anticipation as fans were allowed to line up outside the venue since 7 a.m. for a chance at the best general admission spot on the floor. In fact I had attended a show the night before at the same venue and there were already a number of tents set up on a pedestrian bridge nearby wherewith fans would weather the overnight rainstorm. The lights went down as we could hear Josh Kiszka speak the lyrics to ‘Weight of Dreams’ in a prayer or poem-like fashion. At 9:03 the curtain dropped in front of the stage and GVF tore into a 12 song (including a drum solo) / 2 hour 10 minute set beginning with their #6 ‘Built By Nations’ from the newest album performed all in red light. They wasted no time utilizing the fire cauldrons, first ignition was immediately following the first guitar solo. Josh dressed in a white jumpsuit open at the chest with dragon patterns performed barefoot. His vocals all evening long were near exact to the studio recording but even more dynamic, if that’s even possible. Twenty second resounding melodic screams became a repeated normal. Jake dressed in a black suit with similar gold dragon patterns and his ’61 Les Paul commanded authority. Sam all in white with an open jacket with green Fender P in hand was forefront whenever he wasn’t running the bass pedals with his feet. He also eventually went barefoot at some point. The set was heavy on the new album featuring half of its songs. Next up was ‘Black Smoke Rising’ and the #1 ‘Safari Song’ Josh calling out, ‘You know what I like? Sounds like it!’ Every good rock show must have a drum solo, but a nine minute powerhouse pounding with fire shooting up immediately behind the kit deserves a gold medal. Josh gave the command to commence, ‘Do it Danny do it, Danny’s gonna take us in the air, the gate’s gonna open when we walk in.’ Mid-solo Josh was to be found carried around on the floor via a roadie’s shoulders handing out long stem white roses till he ran out, then he hook hands until he was replenished via another roadie. He did that stage left, then stage right, before being lifted back op on stage. Winding down the solo Josh gave Danny the cue, ‘On a voyage on a trip on a trip, do what you gotta do, bring it home.’ Next in the set were ‘Caravel’ and ‘Heat Above’ beginning with opening words by the frontman, ‘I’d ask you how you’re doing but I’ve got a pretty good idea.’ ‘Now tonight as you know is a celebration we’ve all made, it’s a happening, thank you for coming here and being here with us. We feel safe in your care. Life is a celebration of love and where there is love we will live on and so in that philosophy let’s sing our a$$es off for this next one.’ ‘Light My Love’ began with a Gershwin intro by Sam, ‘Play it again Sam’ and ended in an amazing rainbow lighting ‘ROY G BIV’ from top to bottom on the large side panels. Josh set the mood for Broken Bells’, ’Tonight should be a night of healing so if you’re holding on to anything that’s bothering you it’s alright to acknowledge that, you’re always on the mend, you’re always on the mend.’ The song began with an acoustic guitar and Jake on a stool and ended with a heavy on the whah standing electric extravaganza! For ‘Age Of Machine’ the band proved they can get really heavy turning a 6 minute 54 second song into a quarter hour experience (more or less), I wish I would have timed it. When finished, Josh jested, ‘I hope we passed the audition!’ Last song of the regular set was ‘The Weight Of Dreams’ referred to by Josh as ‘one of the better songs we’ve written’ and ‘the thesis of this dreams in gold circus that we’ve been on.’ Sam now had his shirt off and the fire towers became smoking towers filling the entire arena with thick smoke. Josh grabbed a tambourine and started dancing like a man possessed and finished his gyrations by tossing it out like a frisbee into the crowd. The encore was ‘Age Of Man’ with more fire, and the Number One ‘Highway Tune’. Mid-song the band broke into a jam of the Black Key’s ‘I Got Mine’ and a single lyric from ‘The Lemon Song’. ‘Champagne, caviar anyone?’, said Josh, then he downed a single shot bottle holding it in his mouth and tilting his head back. I noticed that Danny was now shirtless as the whole band let loose. Jake broke into a harmonica duet solo with Josh matching the notes with his vocals and a version of Elvis’ ‘That’s Alright’ was underway. It got quiet, ‘Hey Jake where the f*** we’re we? (Jake plays a note), ‘Ah that’s it, that’s it’, and we were back on track with a reprise of Highway Tune rounding out the evening. Noticeably missing from to set, a somewhat surprise were the #1’s ‘My Way Soon’ ‘When The Curtain Falls’ and ‘You’re The One’. Beginning the evening was a surprisingly strong choice of an opener. Guitar/vocalist Robert Finley (blues/soul) got things off to an energetic start with a relatively short 5 song / 25 minute set. The 69 year old legally blind Luisianian who released his debut album at a ripe age in 2016 both demanded and received respect as he pantomimed crop picking gestures during his ‘Sharecropper’s Son’. A second opener Houndmouth (alternate blues/rock) known as a major festival band played a 9 song / 42 minute set. The band from Indiana put on the maps for their 2015 #1 ‘Sedona’ performed well despite two stoppages due to medical emergencies on the floor. We missed at least one song due to the delay, ‘We’re gonna skip ‘My cousin Greg’, he’s doing okay, could we play ‘Darlin?’ The mellower styled set in my opinion didn’t quite sit perfectly between Finley and GVF however the sound was great, all members of the band shared vocals and one could make out every word sung. The vibe of the show as a whole was retro. Many fans dressed accordingly in colorful patterns, denim, and 70’s inspired apparel, one female fan wearing a shirt ‘I’m Here For Danny’. It seemed like female fans on the floor outnumbered the gents at a 3-1 ratio. The pyrotechnics were amazing, fire, smoke, explosions with strobes, one could feel the heat all the way across the arena, it must’ve been impressive to those lucky fans on stage level. Yes Greta Van Fleet proved themselves to be a true rock spectacle, one to be experienced live.” Review and photo by DAve (Concert #759)

Greenville, SC@Bon Secours Wellness Arena

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