Greta van Fleet @ Manchester 02 Apollo review - old school glam rock lives on ★★★★★

A blast from the glam rock past and a window into a heyday of sequins, big hair, and unapologetic grandeur, Greta van Fleet are comfortably one of music’s most unique and exciting bands. From eardrum-shredding guitar solos and comparisons to Led Zeppelin to going viral on TikTok, GvF are a true old-school band for the modern era.

Formed a decade ago in their snow-dappled home city of Frankenmuth, Michigan, the band is named after a neighbour (with her blessing) and consists of its three Kiszka brothers Josh, Jake, and Sam and friend Danny Wagner. On stage, the elven quartet is famed for their irresistible pizazz, making them one of the best live bands on the planet.

Currently touring with their latest album, named The Battle at Garden's Gate and released during the pandemic last year, the GvF is embracing a newfound depth to their music to great effect. Their debut album Anthem of the Peaceful Army was a litany of crisp guitar riffs and Josh’s wonderfully acerbic vocals, but their latest record is far more introspective.

As a result, GvF’s presence on stage is impossible to ignore. Supported by the impossibly cartoonish Marcus King and his band (more whisky-and-cigarettes vocals you’ll not find this side of the Mississippi), they immediately proved they’re far more than Brian May-style curls and jumpsuits, with drummer Danny Wagner launching into a Neal Pert-esque drum solo.

Greta van Fleet (from left) Sam Kiszka, Josh Kiszka, Danny Wagner, and Jake Kiszka

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    From there, vocalist Josh took the reins, his breathtaking voice flawless in person and just as clean as if lifted straight from vinyl. Far more accomplished individual performers and musicians than one may assume given the band’s mastery over their merged final product, each band member shone in a live setting. But it was guitarist Jake who stole the show.

    Long hair whipping around him as he swayed, shirtless aside from an open leather jacket, he displayed the kind of technical and performative skill that few veterans possess, let alone 26-year-olds from rural Michigan. He promptly launched into the mind-blowing five-minute solo on The Weight of Dreams as if he was playing Smoke on the Water.

    After throwing roses, his sunglasses, and a tambourine into the crowd, Josh caught a disposable camera and took a few snaps. It was fitting: this was a gig to remember.

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    Greta van Fleet @ the Manchester 02 Apollo
    Greta van Fleet guitarist Jake Kiszka plays a solo behind his back