Many thought and hoped Greta Van Fleet would be sitting on top of the flash-in-pan scrap heap by now. Well, lads and lassies, wipe the egg from your faces. Because four albums into their career, this engaging four-piece are now a bona fide arena band.
Greta Van Fleet
3Arena, Dublin – 16 November, 2023
Words: Brian Boyle
Photography: Carl Foran
Bombarded with accolades and also criticism over their glaring likeness to a certain Led Zeppelin, the Frankenmuth, Michigan foursome appear to have taken it all in their stride.
This is the band’s third Dublin appearance since their intimate debut at the Olympia Theatre in 2019 and on the back of last year’s open-air soiree at Fairview Park. While the 3Arena is a cold-looking pile of breeze blocks, and its food and drink will bleed you dry, its amphitheatre-style design does offer more than most.
9 pm, it’s lights out, Dublin. The luscious orchestration of the Starcatcher Overture gets the collective juices flowing like free stout at an Irish wake.
A massive curtain cascades to the floor, revealing the Michigan four on an elevated walkway at the back of the stage. With arms raised aloft, they are elaborately turned out. They look like they have arrived first class from the planet kitsch.
Literally kicking off in a blaze of glory, The Falling Sky is loaded with enough flamed pyro to singe the entire crowd’s eyebrows in one fell swoop. Frontman Josh Kiszka looked bang up for it, with his genuine smile making eye contact with his Irish buddies draped over the barrier.
Another newbie off the eight played from the new album Starcatcher, The Indigo Streak, had a much-needed cooling effect and settled the early hysteria. Lover, Leaver (Taker, Believer) gave a nicely timed shot of familiarity, though not for the first time tonight, guitarist Jake Kiszka’s over-extended guitar solos did slow down crowd attention a bit.
For a track that’s still fresh out of its wrapping, Meeting The Master hit a joyous nerve. It served as the perfect precursor for a unifying Heat Above, with Kiszka spreading the love by tossing white roses to the smitten punters.
Highway Tune is still the band’s flag-bearing tune. Only a split second into Kiszka’s riff and this once train depot’s 145-year-old foundations were absolutely shaking. Brother Josh went walkabout in the pit, downing a shot from somewhere, even signing a couple of autographs and donning some seriously dodgy sunglasses.
Not to diss Daniel Wagner’s ability, but drum solos are by and large the perfect time to answer the call of nature, or better still, to refill your €7.80 anti-eco plastic cup. And acoustic sets aren’t much better. But the short and sweet rendition of Unchained Melody was beautifully executed, with Kiszka’s voice captivating the whole arena.
Black Smoke Rising was never going to die a death, regardless of what form it’s presented in, but a fully leaded version will always be superior.
Throwing in three in a row of new songs was a brave but slightly ambitious move, as many turned to social media, scrolling and shooting the breeze. But no doubt Fate Of The Faithful, Sacred The Thread and The Archer will have their day.
As encores go, this one will live long in the memory. Light My Love was a spine-tingling We Are The Champions moment. Yes, it was that good, a swaying choir of juiced-up Dubliners conducted by a flamboyant Michiganian. What could be better?
After the fitting closer, Farewell For Now, the band exited as they entered, side by side and ready for take off.
Close your eyes, and you could’ve been in the classic rock heaven of the ’70s. But Greta Van Fleet are very much a band for the now.
So begrudging Zep purists, lighten the feck up and hop on the Greta Van Fleet’s magic carpet. It’s one hell of a ride.