Review by Glen Parkes Photos By Paul McWilliams
Greta Van Fleet’s long-awaited arrival at Manchester AO Arena for their Starcatcher World Tour was nothing short of a revelation. As a first-time attendee to one of their concerts, my expectations were soaring, matched only by the palpable anticipation rippling through the crowd. The venue itself seemed tailor-made for a band of their stature, and as the curtain dropped amidst a prolonged intro, the spectacle that ensued was truly mesmerizing.
The band emerged onstage, silhouetted against an array of illuminating fires, to kick off the evening with “The Falling Sky.” The eruption of sound from both the stage and the electrified audience was enough to raise hairs on the back of your neck. What followed was a relentless barrage of musical excellence, as Greta Van Fleet seamlessly transitioned from one powerhouse anthem to another, barely allowing the crowd a moment to catch its breath.
“The Falling Sky” set the stage ablaze—quite literally—ushering in an inferno that could be felt even at the farthest reaches of the arena. The intensity was relentless, carrying seamlessly into the next track, “The Indigo Streak,” which only served to escalate the crowd’s fervour to a fever pitch.
However, the highlight of the evening undoubtedly arrived with “Lover, Leaver (Taker, Believer),” a behemoth of a track clocking in at an epic 28 minutes. This musical odyssey was an exhibition of virtuosity, featuring soaring guitar solos that held the audience in rapt attention. At moments, I found myself so immersed in the performance that I had to consciously remind myself to experience it beyond the lens of my phone camera.
The concert was not all about unrelenting rock; the band gracefully pivoted into a soul-stirring acoustic set that showcased their versatility and depth. “Unchained Melody,” “Waited All Your Life,” and “Black Smoke Rising” during this segment were soulful and haunting, serving as a testament to the band’s musical prowess beyond their hard-hitting rock anthems.
Amidst thunderous applause, the band exited the stage, only to return for an explosive encore. “Light My Love,” their massive hit, was the ultimate culmination of an already extraordinary evening. It encapsulated the essence of Greta Van Fleet’s distinctive sound—a nod to the classic rock influences of yesteryears while maintaining a unique identity that’s wholly their own.
Comparisons to legends like Led Zeppelin are inevitable, but Greta Van Fleet unequivocally showcased their own distinct musical identity throughout the performance. Their fusion of classic rock elements with a contemporary edge is a testament to their artistry, talent, and the undeniable charisma that has propelled them to the forefront of the modern rock scene.
The setlist itself was a testament to their musical range and depth, seamlessly transitioning between heart-thumping rock anthems like “Highway Tune” to the intricate melodies of “Fate of the Faithful” and “The Archer.” The inclusion of “Rhapsody in Blue” as part of the encore was a delightful surprise, further showcasing their eclectic musical influences.
In conclusion, Greta Van Fleet’s performance at Manchester AO Arena was nothing short of phenomenal. It was a rollercoaster of sonic brilliance, where each track was a testament to their musical dexterity and raw energy. If this concert was any indication, Greta Van Fleet’s trajectory as one of the most influential rock bands of this era seems not just likely but inevitable. Their Starcatcher World Tour is a testament to their meteoric rise and the enduring impact of their music on the hearts of their fans.
In summation, it was an unforgettable night, a testament to the enduring power of rock music, and a showcase of a band at the peak of their artistic prowess.