Frankenmuth’s favorite sons in Greta Van Fleet continued their Michigan homecoming assault at DeltaPlex on Saturday, plus browse photos from a diverse set of shows in Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids.
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Once upon a time, Greta Van Fleet generated a regional buzz with its retro, Led Zeppelin-like flair, pumping up venues inside The Intersection with young fans embracing the rock bombast unleashed by the Frankenmuth upstarts and old classic rockers relishing the injection of fresh energy into a vintage sound.
Nowadays, GVF is a bona fide international rock phenomenon packing major venues.
That includes Wings Event Center in Kalamazoo and DeltaPlex Arena in Walker — the latter unfolding Saturday as the latest stop on a multi-night Michigan run of “homecoming” shows that continues at Saginaw’s Dow Event Center tonight and moves to Flint and Ypsilanti later in the week.
On Saturday night, the band delivered a scorching, 15-song tour de force at the DeltaPlex — as in, literally scorching. During a few pinnacle moments during the near-capacity show, the powerhouse rock ‘n’ roll band shot off cannons of smoke, plumes of hazy fog and spires of flames that stretched above the massive stage.
Even entering the parking outside, the magnitude of the event was clear: an overflowing parking lot, vehicles crammed into makeshift parking spots forged on a grassy embankment, and a fleet of semi-trucks idling outside a few feet from the stage, ready to load up a traveling rock circus and hit the next town.
The opening number, “Built by Nations,” from 2021’s “The Battle at Garden’s Gate,” was an epic anthem, sparking the kind of classic rock nostalgia that feels like a flaming arrow through the heart. Heavy guitars, crashing drums, and inspiring melodies.
A few songs later, “Highway Tune” offered a rambling ode to the road. The up-tempo song saw grooving fans dance with revelry across the venue.
Along with an impressive live audio mix and a plethora of visual stage effects, the band’s wardrobe was fittingly extravagant. Skin-tight golden jumpsuits, high-heeled boots and, oh, let’s not forgot the voluptuous hair. The quartet of musicians looked is if they would trot right offstage and into a revving private plane with a selection of cold champagne and other indulgent nightcaps.
Other highlights from the night included “Black Smoke Rising,” “Broken Bells” and “The Weight of Dreams.”
In spite of their badass, rock-band persona, the young musicians displayed a sincere adoration for fans, even stopping the show multiple times to point out medical emergencies in the crowd to security. As a music journalist who’s been to hundreds of high-profile shows, I’ve never observed these situations handled with such urgency, proficiency and care as they were at this show.
When an audience member needed help, fans rallied around them and used their phone lights as an SOS to the stage. The band then alerted security who parted the crowd, got the audience member to the front, gently lifted them over the railing and guided them side stage for medical attention. Bravo, Greta Van Fleet and bravo, DeltaPlex crew.
The evening’s three-song encore included “Stardust Chords,” “When The Curtain Falls” and “My Way, Soon,” another rock anthem spectacle, soaring on the wings of electric guitars and Josh Kiszka’s wailing, sky-high tenor voice. – Ricky Olmos
PHOTO GALLERY: Greta Van Fleet, Rival Sons, Velveteers at DeltaPlex
Photos by Jamie Geysbeek
LADY ACE, DJANGOPHONIQUE, DEE DEE BRIDGEWATER, BETWEEN THE BURIED & ME
Elsewhere over the weekend, Lady Ace Boogie assembled a diverse and inspiring showcase Saturday at Bell’s Brewery Eccentric Cafe in Kalamazoo that included the first Kalamazoo performances by hip hop cellist Jordan Hamilton, Grand Rapids’ Cabildo and Lady Ace Boogie & Friends in years.
Earlier in the weekend, Ann Arbor’s Djangophonique, led by Andrew Brown, impressed fans at Grand Rapids’ Listening Room with the group’s gypsy jazz and jazz manouche prowess.
A different variation on jazz was on display Thursday at Grand Rapids’ St. Cecilia Music Center when singer Dee Dee Bridgewater and pianist Bill Charlap entertained attendees with their Grammy Award-winning music.
In contrast, North Carolina’s Between the Buried and Me revved up a progressive metal/metalcore attack at Elevation inside The Intersection on Wednesday. Scroll down for photos from all of these shows.
PHOTO GALLERY: Lady Ace Boogie, Jordan Hamilton, Cabildo at Bell’s
Photos by Derek Ketchum
PHOTO GALLERY: Djangophonique at Listening Room
Photos by Anna Sink