Philadelphia: December 30, 2019
Greta Van Fleet posted the following message on their social media the morning of their last show of the decade: “Let’s create a night to remember for our last performance this year”. And boy did they deliver!
Aside from the excellent energy from the band, the lighting that was in sync with the performance and the tightness of the musicians, one thing was even more clear to me: this music gives so many people hope and happiness.
I looked down the rail at many friends that I have known for a year and many that I met that night. The look of pure happiness is something I will never forget. For 2 hours, it didn’t matter what was happening back home, who in your family was ill, how tired you were from waiting in the cold for 12 hours, how shitty your job is- none of that mattered. For 2 hours it was simply about letting the music take control and transport you into a world of magic, a world of hope and, most important, a world of peace, love and unity.
Exactly one year ago in December 2018 the boys played a homecoming three night sold out show at Detroit’s Fox Theatre. Little did we know that this was the first unofficial annual get together of the Peaceful Army- member’s of the band’s following from all around the globe joined together in the spirit of Peace, Love and Unity to celebrate the coming new year. Well, Philadelphia 2019 was no different! I was pleased to be in The Met with friends and fans from across the country and, literally, the world. It was a night of revelery for sure. (Please check out my video capturing night two of the Detroit 2019 shows with the Peaceful Army here).
There were about 20 Army members who camped outside the venue since the early morning hours on that cold, windy Monday. In fact, many of those same people camped out the day before for the Sunday show as well. You could tell the pro’s because they had hand warmers, blankets, umbrellas to block the wind and they huddled together to share body heat as the anticipation was building for the doors to open at 6:30pm.
The line outside remained relatively peaceful with people respecting other’s spots in line and entering the venue in an orderly fashion once the doors closed. I was part of the VIP Lounge group which got let into the venue’s lounge 30min before the show while the other two lines- Fast Pass and General Admission- would be let in at 7pm. Well, needless to say, most of us in the lounge didn’t care about the free drink and food- we went straight to the exit and lined up, single file, waiting for security to lead us down to the floor.
The diehards (myself included) found their way to the rail with each person clamoring to get their ideal spot- Sammy’s side? Jake’s side? Front and center?
The night began with Aaron Lee Tasjan opening up with the appearance of Elton John and sounds reminiscent of new old classic rock n roll. The consensus was that he is the best opener GVF has ever had!
FromTheFires will be interviewing Aaron this month- stay tuned!
It was ~9pm when Aaron left the stage and the crew dropped the curtain to reveal Danny’s drum set and the stage lighting while setting up the rest of the stage for Josh, Jake and Sammy. The anticipation was building as evident by the fact that the GA crowd, once loose and relaxed, was pushing up towards the rail and one’s personal space was being diminished more and more.
It was 9:20pm when the familiar tune rang out- “My Whole World Ended” by David Ruffin. However, moments before that, there was a commotion in the crowd that caused me to turn over my right shoulder and see what was happening. There was a 9 year old boy, short with long hair, being encouraged by those around him to find his way up to the rail. I had a little room next to me and I welcomed him up to the rail. His name was Lucas and this was his first concert…ever!! We talked quite a bit and he was full of excitement…and he had no idea what was coming to him! I told him, at the end of the show, the band gives our picks and a drumstick- what would he want? He said definitely a drumstick and I promised him that we would try to make that happen.
I won’t go into a full show review here but I will just say: the energy in the building was something like I’ve never seen before. For those complaining that the setlist doesn’t change enough…I can assure you, that was not a thought in anyone’s mind that night! The pure energy, passion, love and excitement that the band gives off from the stage is something that is indescribable. Every song is like hearing it new for the first time- not only because the band will change up little parts here and there, but because their energy just makes it all feel new again.
Josh was the consummate showman- waving and blowing kisses to fans in the arena, dictating his unique brand of self-deprecating humor between songs, messing around with Jake on-stage and even taking a shot if fireball with two fans!
Josh noticed my little buddy, Lucas, and waved to him several times. I wish everyone could see the magic that was in Lucas’s eyes. The power of music…
Josh came down onto the floor and made it a point to walk along the rail to give high fives. He stopped when he got to Lucas and held Lucas’ hand between both of us and said a few words that I could not catch.
At the end of the night, Danny came out from behind the drumkit to toss a few drumsticks to the crowd. He threw one in my direction but it ricocheted off fans’ hands and fell to the ground between the rail and stage. Securutiy stood there and looked at it as I was passionately encouraging him to get it and give it to the youngest fan in the arena, Lucas. Moments later, that drumstick was in Lucas’s hand. And the best part- it was even signed by “Sam”! Lucas’s dad finally had the chance to wrap him in his arms right after the show and the pure joy between dad and son is something I’ll never forget. Again, the power of music to unite….it’s indescribable.
Wishing you all a happy, healthy and prosperous 2020!
FromTheFires crew: Chris Passmore, Gail Ann (2nd row middle) and Michelle Dobbins (2nd row right)