|Guitarist and vocalist Michael Sweet|
|Guitarist Oz Fox|
Make no mistake, Stryper is much more than a collection of gimmicks. These guys are incredible musicians. Michael Sweet and Oz Fox’s riffs and solos are nothing short of jaw dropping. Tim Gaines’ bass lines are incredibly complex, a testament to his jazz influence, and gloriously loud in the mix. Michael Sweet noted from the stage it was harder to find skin tight jeans in 2016 than it was in 1986, and therefore, it is harder to hit the high notes now than thirty years ago. Still, I found Sweet’s voice to be every bit as range capable as it ever was.
|Bassist Tim Gaines|
Stryper is clear about their Christian beliefs, and this is well represented lyrically in their songs, but it is not a focal point of the show, and certainly doesn’t get in the way of the music. Sure, guitarist Oz Fox held up a Got Jesus? T-shirt someone in the audience handed him, and there were several Stryper bibles tossed into the crowd, but in the end it was about the music. The two shows I saw prior to Stryper were the diabolical themed bands Slayer and Ghost. (I wonder if I am the only person to have seen Slayer, Ghost and Stryper in succession. Probably not, but maybe.) I was able to thoroughly enjoy both of those shows without being a devil worshipper.
I would submit one need not be a Christian to equally enjoy every note of a
Stryper show. A great song is a great
song whether it is about hanging out with the devil or kicking his ass. Stryper rocked every bit as much as Slayer,
and as metalhead, I have no shame in saying so.
|Drummer Robert Sweet|
At one point between songs Michael Sweet opined 1986 was music's greatest year. The crowd roared in agreement. I roared in agreement. As Sweet declared from the stage, it was the year when every band had a great guitarist and a great singer. The members of Stryper are right to be included in these ranks. The guitar work was brilliant, absolute, full on shredding.
We also learned, besides their faith, what else inspires Stryper to these lofty heights of performance. Turns out it is Paul Stanley. Michael Sweet revealed to the audience a photo of the KISS frontman the band keeps on stage with the acronym W.W.P.S.D. ?? (What Would Paul Stanley Do) written across the top and DANCE!! along the bottom. Stryper certainly has taken a page from the KISS book of showmanship and aren't afraid to admit it.
|Sweet reveals the band's secret inspiration, while in the background Oz grabs a stack of bibles.|
Stryper delivered an energetic and emphatic performance which transported the audience back to their mid-Eighties heyday. They show no signs of slowing down. The band even jokingly asked the crowd how many would commit to seeing them again another 30 years down the road, should To Hell With The Devil warrant a 60th anniversary tour. The Rolling Stones are fast approaching 60 years on the stage, so why not Stryper. If they do come back in 2046, or any year in-between, I hope I am able to attend.
|Sweet and Fox|
|Sweet and Fox|
|The Sweet Brothers|