Live Review: Greta Van Fleet From AO Arena, Manchester, 19th November 2023

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It’s a miserable Sunday evening on the streets of Manchester; cold, raining, dark. But inside the walls of the hallowed AO Arena, 20,000 + fans are about to bear witness to an electrifying experience, with Greta Van Fleet bringing their signature sound to the venue for the very first time.  

From the second the house music went down and Starcatcher Overture went up, the anticipation was palpable; the audience members waiting with bated breath for the ginormous curtain to fall and reveal the band of brothers. As the crescendo reaches it’s peak, the curtain drops and the crowd erupts at the sight of this phenomenal four piece, hand in hand, arms raised to welcome the crowd to the best two hours of their life.  

Commencing tonights proceedings with The Falling Sky, the band are literally firing on all cylinders; the onstage pyrotechnics providing the perfect backdrop to guitarist Jake Kiszka’s blistering guitar work. The audience are absolutely lapping up this performance, frontman Josh Kiszka strutting round the stage, belting out wickedly high notes with effortless ease. Their next two songs, The Indigo Streak and Lover, Leaver (Taker, Believer) are a bold choice after such an explosive entrance, the latter being 25 minutes long. Not many bands could indulge in an almost half hour jam sesh a mere 15 minutes into their set and have their audience completely drinking it in, but it’s something that GVF pull off with ease. 

Cranking it up again, GVF power their way through Heat Above and Highway Tune, before giving drummer Daniel Wagner free reign to pound the skins with an impressive solo, before taking it down a notch with the acoustic section of the evening. A soaring cover of Unchained Melody allows for the modern day ‘lighter in the air’ moment as the crowd turns into a sea of phone torches. Shortly after, GVF are dialling it back up to 10 with Fate Of The Faithful, giving Jake Kiszka another one of the many opportunities to show off his prowess as a guitarist with an impressive solo. 

Tonight’s setlist features seven songs from their latest album Starcatcher, another daring feat from the band, but it provides the perfect opportunity to show how much the band have finally come into their own. Snarky comments comparing them to past rock legends have no place here; they’ve cut their own path in this industry and are having the best time doing it. 

Whilst there were some rumblings in the crowd from audience members lamenting that Farewell For Now didn’t appear as the final song of the evening, there’s no denying that Light My Love was a belting substitute. With spark gerbs raining down on them from above and glow sticks raining down on them from the crowd, the band bid the audience a fond farewell.  

It’s truly awe inspiring to see a band who were playing The Club Academy a mere 5 years ago performing an outstanding headline set at AO Arena. Surely the only logical progression will see them headlining the likes of Old Trafford, and I’ve no doubt that every pair of fingers in this room are crossed in the hope that this becomes a reality.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Generally the show was good but those ridiculous long, self indulgent guitar solos lost many of the crowd. Once or twice is ok but three or four times is boring. The guitarist isn’t good enough to pull that off, his solos are repetitive and often seemed to be running out of ideas. At one point a guy behind us shouted “stop fucking around and play some fucking tunes” which kind of summed up how we were starting to feel as the singer was off stage for yet another 5-10 minute break and another costume change. HINT when you’re about 5′ tall you can’t really pull off a long cape especially when it’s dragging on the floor. His voice is special though and it was a good gig but they need to reign in the guitar solos. I described it as “musical masturbation” he was clearly having fun playing by himself but for anyone watching it got a bit dull after th first few minutes. I’m still gutted I missed their previous gig at the Apollo because I think they probably suit that size of venue better at the moment.

    • Josh had bronchitis so the solos were largely to fill the time while he went off to either take medication, rest his throat, rehydrate, etc. to allow him to continue performing despite being ill.

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