Stryper restored my faith (in them)-Concert Review
On Friday, May 25 of 2012, Stryper performed at the Showcase Live in Foxborough, MA. This was my fifth time seeing them perform live throughout their long and illustrious career. This was the best Stryper show I’ve seen so far, even back at the peak of their fame some twenty-something years ago. In fact, this show restored my faith (in them). Allow me to explain.
The last time I saw Stryper in concert was in September 2009 at the Webster Theater in Hartford, CT. They were touring in support of their album “Murder By Pride.” I had the opportunity to meet the guys in the band for the first time at that show. I felt kind of awkward (but in a good way, if that’s even possible!) to shake the hands of some of my youth heroes and realize that these are just four ordinary guys who happen to be extremely successful at writing and performing the music they love. Just talking to them felt like they were four old buddies of mine, making jokes with everyone and answering questions. It was a great experience. The night, on the other hand, didn’t go as I expected. There was a very low turnout of people, which I found to be uncharacteristic and disappointing. You see, I’m used to seeing Stryper perform in front of packed arenas and stadiums back home in Puerto Rico. It was sad to see this poor attendance, and I felt that this hurt the performance. I wasn’t feeling the same energy that I was used to from them. Sure, the talent was there, and the music was awesome as always, but it just wasn’t the same. Even though the venue was not as full as I wanted it to be, they performed a great set, but I could feel the disappointment coming from the stage. To add insult to injury, someone stuck a rubber fallus up on the marquee next to their name at the end of the show.
But this time around it was different. They were playing for a home audience (Michael lives in the Boston area). I had a gut feeling this was going to be a great show. Showcase Live is about the same size as the Webster Theater, so I was curious to see what the attendance was going to be like. After a brief meet-and-greet, hand shaking and some autograph signing, Gio and I proceeded to the main floor to wait for the show to start. The only thing I didn’t like about the venue was the lack of railing between the stage and the crowd, so that meant no photo pit for us. By the end of the meet-and-greet, the venue was becoming more and more packed with fans. This was a good sign.
The show started with an opening performance by J.Rad, an up-and-coming young hard rock band from New York. They held their own pretty good, I would say.
By the time the lights went out and the “Battle Hymn Of The Republic” intro was playing, the venue was jam-packed with screaming fans. What a relief! The band walked onstage and everyone went frantic. The band was feeling the energy coming from the fans, and they returned that energy with interest!
Stryper’s performance at the Showcase Live was electrifying, superb, and legendary, to say the least. The guys poured their hearts and souls into this show, from “Sing-Along Song”‘s opening notes to the prayer at the end. The fact that this was a smaller venue made the night more special, more intimate. Michael’s vocals are as high and stellar as ever. I have said this many times throughout the years: Michael Sweet is one of the best and most underrated vocalists in metal, period. Oz Fox’s guitar playing was spot-on. He still does almost all of his signature moves, except for the high kicks (don’t worry, Oz, we understand!). His passion for the music and for God’s message translates into his playing. On the other side of the stage, Timothy Gaines in bass is amazing. He can rock that bass with the best of them. He is a talented musician, and a true showman. You can hear the three frontmen harmonizing beautifully in some of the choruses. And lastly, The Visual Timekeeper. Robert Sweet’s drumming is as impressive as ever. I was surprised he didn’t bring one of the usual yellow-and-black drum kits, but chose to use a black kit instead. That didn’t matter to any of us. He definitely brought his energetic and unique style of playing to the venue, and that’s what really mattered. This band is a tight, well-oiled and refined unit. I was happy to hear a couple of songs that I hadn’t heard live in a while: “Makes Me Wanna Sing,” and the power ballad mega hit “Honestly.” Plus, the covers for “Heaven and Hell”, “Breaking The Law” and “Carry On Wayward Son” were the icing on the cake. Please, play “The Trooper” next time!
We’ve been photographing a lot of great bands recently, and have seen lots of great shows. It was very special and heartwarming for me to witness a show from some of my youth heroes, especially when they are this good at what they do. If Stryper is out touring, we’ll definitely be there. Until the next tour, guys! God bless!Click Here to see our Stryper photo gallery!
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