House of Blues – Chicago, IL
Michael Sweet – lead vocals, rhythm and lead guitar
Oz Fox – lead guitar, backing vocals
Robert Sweet – Drums
Tim Gaines – Bass Guitar, backing vocals
Stryper has been around for close to 28 years now and has dealt with breaking up, questions about their faith, along with being MTV darlings in the 80’s. Having listened to Stryper back in the 80’s, I jumped on the chance to check out this tour, thinking it would be more of a novelty act than a true rock show.
The shows started early at 6:30pm with one opening local band. I noticed a lot of families in attendance. The ground level of House of Blues was crowded, the top levels were closed off, but a few people were in the boxes and second level.
As the crowd waited for the curtains to open, I wondered, “Could they pull this off?”
My question was soon answered with the opening song being “Sing-Along Song.” They hit it dead-on with the high lyrics of Michael Sweet and the blistering whammy-bar guitar work of Oz Fox. I felt myself transferred back to the 80’s. The crowd was singing word-for-word, and toward the end you could not help but get into it.
They then played “Murder by Pride,” which was well received, but the crowd was there to hear their classics. They teased the crowd with “The Rock That Makes Me Roll” before launching into an Ozzy classic, “Over the Mountain” from their new album, The Covering – a cover album tribute to all the bands that have influenced them. Hearing Stryper do an Ozzy song was not something I would have expected, but they nailed it.
At one point during the show, they started throwing Bibles into the crowd, which I heard they’ve done, but seeing it live was a trip to see; just glad I was not hit in the head with one of them. The set lasted a little over an hour, they played many of their hits, but the one thing I noticed they did not play was any of the slower ballads that made them MTV darlings and hated-on by diehard Metal heads. Not sure if this was their intention, but I liked how they stuck to just a straight rock mixe with a few cover songs like Black Sabbath’s hit “Heaven & Hell” and Kansas’s “Carry on Wayward Son.”
For the Encore, they played “To Hell with the Devil” and “Soldiers Under Command.”
As they closed out the show, Michael Sweet asked the crowd to bow their head, as he led a prayer for the victims of the tsunami in Japan.
Murder by Pride
Rock that makes me roll
Over the Mountain
Calling on You
More than a Man
Carry on Wayward Son
Shout it out Loud
Heaven and Hell
To Hell with the Devil
Soldiers Under Command
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written by Peter Lizano