Live Gig Report and Photos: Robert Cavuoto
Stryper set the bar high on Sunday, November 20th at the Gramercy Theater in New York for their 30th Anniversary Tour of their multi-platinum album – “To Hell with the Devil”; the career-defining album that put the Christian rock band on the charts and their videos on heavy rotation on MTV.
Tonight was the band’s second to last show of the tour and there were no signs of road wear, instead, they ramped things up to give their New York City diehards a stellar performance.
Reprising their yellow and black outfits reminiscent of their time in the 80’s, the band was energetic and in touch with their audience’s desire to hear the iconic album that put them on the map. The time-traveling experience continues to show that Stryper remains a no-nonsense band with Michael Sweet on vocals/guitar, Oz Fox on guitar, Tim Gaines on bass, and Robert Sweet on drums.
It was a testament to the strength of this veteran hard rock quartet’s love for their fans that packed the theater for an almost 2 hour, 20-song concert. The dynamic musicianship and a set list drawn from Stryper devotee’s dream, Sundays show offered an exuberant kick-off to the upcoming holiday weekend for anyone who was there.
Stryper opened with “To Hell with the Devil” and dove directly into the MTV-fueled years with a smoldering version of “Calling on You,” “Honestly,” and “Sing along Song.” Having two multi-talented and strong guitarists in the band; Michael Sweet and Oz Fox delivered an explosive pyrotechnic display of guitar showmanship. They clearly have an undeniable chemistry that complements each other and the songs. Michael is most notably known as the voice of the band but also has an amazing set of chops on guitar as well as Oz. Tim and Robert are a fantastic rhythm section that laid down an unflinching beat. Working in harmony they were like a freight train on fire as they blazed through the show.
After performing To Hell with the Devil in its entirety, the band took a quick intermission and as Michael put it, “We are going to take a quick break to change our underwear!” When they came back they hit the crowd with smoldering versions of Sabbath’s “Heaven and Hell,” with Will Hunt from Evanescence on drums, Van Halen’s “Aint Talkin ‘Bout Love” and Robert’s favorite Kiss song; “Shout it Out Loud.” The set also included “Yahweh” off Fallen, “Revelation” off No More Hell to Pay and “Soldiers Under Command.”
Michael Sweet has alluded in the press that this could be the band’s final tour with the original members. Whether that happens is still yet to be seen but fans at tonight’s show didn’t take that statement lightly and savored this nostalgic moment. The theater was loud; the band looked great and gave outstanding performances. It’s always great to see bands like Stryper carrying on and continuing to cement their rock n roll legacy.