STRYPER show review
Up until Saturday evening, it was warm in Albuquerque, NM, but on this evening it was freezing. Unfortunately our evening of Stryper began with waiting in line for hours upon hours in the cold. Because it had been so warm, most people were not dressed for the cold, myself included. The wait was a bit frustrating, but I did get to meet many old friends and some Ultimatum fans while we were there. (I guess I should mention that I sing for Ultimatum). People came out of the woodwork to see Stryper and the line was all the way up the street and around the corner. I also got to meet some on-line friends that I knew only by name before. It was cool to put some faces to the names. Former Combat Faith vocalist was in the crowd, as was former Conviction drummer, and several other band members I knew. It was quite the gathering.
Opening band Seven Hours Later came out to the line and gave away a few t-shirts, CDs and such. It was cool talking with them for a bit. Their drummer in particular was very cool and took some time to talk with my 12 year old son, who is also an aspiring drummer as well as a Stryper fan. (He was born a decade to late. Never met another 12 year old into bands like Stryper, Kiss, and Skid Row.) My son brought a drum head to have signed by Stryper as I had passes to meet the band after the show.
The show itself started late, but it was not big deal for me. I had no where to go and was perfectly content hanging out with my son waiting for the show. Seven Hours Later came on finally (fitting name seeing as the show seemed about Seven Hours Late.) Their style is more of a modern rock thing, mixing in bits of pop-punk and alternative. However it was quite apparent that their lead guitarist was a closet 80's metal freak stuck in a nu-metal band. He pulled out some choice solos and generally was the 'ham' of the band. His stage persona was straight up heavy metal. Playing his guitar behind his head, greeting fans, running around the stage, leather pants, spike 'glam-like' hair. A few songs even had a metal sheen to them. Every once and while a few chunky E chords were mixed in with the otherwise modern rock sounds. After the show I approached the guitarist and told him what I thought and he laughed and asked me to tell the rest of his band mates. Sure enough, here was a metal guitarist in love with bands like Cinderella and Stryper playing in a modern rock band. (Guess ya gotta go where God tells you to go). Anyhow, the band overall was not bad, although as I said, not my style. They had good stage presence and interacted well with the crowd. Their set was a bit to long for a crowd who was obviously hungry for Stryper, however. About 3/4 of the way through their set, there was some booing and hissing coming from parts of the crowd. However, the younger crowd, like my 12 year old son and some of the other teens I was standing near were loving it. Eleven Hours Later may not be for the 30-something crowd Stryper was attracting, but the younger crowd ate 'em up. My son was lucky enough to get a drum stick from this performance which the band willingly signed for him at the after show meet and greet. Very cool.
Ahhh, but it was STRYPER were were all there to see. It didn't take but lifting the black covers off the yellow and black striped amps and drums to have the crowd roaring. We were all ready. After the "Battle Hymn" intro, Stryper hit the stage with a LOUD roar from the crowd. They roared into "The Sing Along Song" with the entire crowd singing along. I just saw Kiss and Aerosmith on Monday, and the reaction Stryper got was at least as good as those monsters of rock. Michael's voice is as strong as it has ever been. He NAILED some of those mile high screams. He skipped one or two, but for the most part, he just wailed. I would have swore glass was going to break on "The Way". I mean it was seriously that ear piercing. Oz Fox is still the showman that he has always been, and his vocals were also extremely strong. He and Michael pulled off all those dual guitar solos quite nicely. There was a slight hick-up here and there in the guitar solos, but that is to be expected. It's live!!! Robert was obviously quite sick in the back. I had been warned before the show that a couple of the members were not feeling well. Other than Robert not being into like I have seen him in the past, it wasn't real noticable. He still pulled off all the stunts with the hats, headbanging all the way. He also pulled off the trademark "blindfolded" stunt, playing an entire song with a yellow and black smiley face top hat pulled down over his face. Hair was a flying, including my own, during the rippin' "Soldiers Under Command." I banged my head through the entire song. Apparently Tim Gaines found it quite amusing to see someone headbanging as he smiled and pointed at me during the song when I looked up. (Gosh, I feel so special.) Tim was apparently getting over being sick from the days before, but he was very much into it, smiling from ear to ear through the entire performance. He strained a bit when singing some of those high background vocals, but still managed to hit them all and blend in perfectly. However, you could see in his face he was really having to concentrate to sing. "In God We Trust" was reworked. Hopefully they will record this version of the song as it is heavy as can be. Part of the reason for this was that they were downtuned at least a half step for this song. They played a good mix of songs, including "Caught In The Middle", (which ruled!) "Loving You", "The Way", "Soldiers Under Command", "Loud And Clear", "You Won't Be Lonely", and "Free." I was hoping to hear "Surrender" which they did not play, but I guess they can't play ALL their songs. They also played the two new songs from "7" "Something" and "For You", which included a good deal of crowd interaction. Having owned this disc since it was released, I sang along just like all the old favorites. (I was like a teen living the 80's all over again.) The encore included "The Abyss/To Hell With The Devil", "Honestly", and then "Winter Wonderland". Forgot to mention that they did throw out Bibles, of which my son got one. Inside the bible there is a CDRom message from Stryper's pastor, (Ahh the computer age.) as well as a listing of suggested churches in our area. The show ended with Michael praying for the entire audience. Thankfully everyone in the crowd was respectful and quite during the prayer. Surprising as this was a show that had alcohol being served and there were plenty of rowdy metal fans there. Overall, a great show, even better than the Stryper Expo show I attended in 2001. The band was tighter, even though the stage was smaller. I went away a happy headbanger.