The rescheduled UK and European tour is long awaited after illness had forced Greta Van Fleet to cancel their spring dates of 2019. A rammed O2 Academy is testament to the patience of the band’s growing fan base and the atmosphere is charged despite the wet winter’s evening.
The support is quite different from what we would expect from a headliner who are camped firmly in the classic rock camp. Yola brings her astounding take on Americana to the stage and the Glasgow crowd quickly move from fascination to enjoyment as the set develops.
Yola has stage presence by the bucket full and her colourful stage gear belies her modesty. The title track of her 2019 album ‘Walk Through The Fire’ oozes southern charm and is complemented nicely with ‘It Aint Easier’ , both tracks nodding towards motown influences whilst firmly gripping the stars and stripes of Americana.
The performance is wonderfully relaxed with the band exchanging glances and smiles, clearly enjoying the experience of a Glasgow gig. Adding some texture to the night, a medley including Joni Mitchell’s ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ encourages a sing a long from a lively audience and cements the good impression left by this hugely talented artist.
Yola is worth checking out if you can survive without your air guitar for a few moments.
After a healthy wait, Greta Van Fleet step through the dry ice to a momentous welcome. Their now well known 70’s look and feel is instantly apparent and given the venue’s architecture, you could swear you stepped back in time….but for the mobile phones held aloft.
My opinion of the band would be made tonight as I have tried to ignore the polarised opinions as to the band’s authenticity and make my own mind up. Musically, the band are outstanding and the influences are clear. Whether they are plagiarising or not isn’t an issue for the majority in the crowd tonight, who sing along and clearly respect the quality of the performance.
Opening track ‘The Cold Wind’ is powerful and classy and showcases Josh Kiszka’s frankly outstanding pipes. The production is grandiose and seemingly lengthy breaks between songs the norm however the output is unquestionably impressive.
The performance has a hint of choreography which affects the natural feel to the delivery but again, the punters don’t care. The band’s catalogue is relatively narrow but you wouldn’t know from the consistency of the set. Of note, bassist Sam Kiszka has chops that aren’t seen in rock bands these days but as a unit, they are flawless.
Barring a drawn out guitar solo that would give Freebird a run for its money, this has been an impressive show. The band will no doubt mature and find their own way when they untie themselves from the blueprint of their influences and industry machine that greases the wheels. I reckon it’ll be then that we’ll see a truly brilliant band.
As to my opinion? I still don’t know.
Greta Van Fleet will continue to tour the UK and Europe through November.
Review by Chris Stones
Photography by Steven Scouller