Stryper Reunion Tour Rocks New York City
Traditionally, a Monday evening is not a night that I like to go see Shows, mostly because of needing to be in work so early in the morning. However, this time was a different case. For on You see, New York City’s Irving Plaza club was this time the host the the one and only STRYPER. This was of course the Christian Metal band from the mid 80’s who’s songs took a different approach to many metal bands of the time. Instead of singing about darker things and life and wild parties, their tunes were more about Love, devotion and following Jesus Christ. For those that never knew it, STRYPER actually stood for Salvation Through Redemption Yielding Peace Encouragement and Righteousness. The band states that their name is derived from the Biblical verse in Isaiah 53:5 "…by His stripes we are healed." This passage is visible directly under the bands logo.
The stage was loaded with amps draped in the yellow and black motif that STRYPER was known for. Robert Sweet’s Drumkit (a Pearl setup with Paiste symbals) was as usual an interesting piece of gear to look at. . Several toms and a couple of bass drums all placed in various parts of his riser. Robert sits sideways, and has several cymbals behind him that he never seems to miss. My view from the stage of this was limited since an amplifier was directly in front of it.
As the lights went down in the club, the sounds of a pre-recorded “Battle Hymn Of The Republic” came across the P.A. System. This track was featured on the band’s “Soldiers Under Command” LP from 1985. Out walked the “Visual Timekeeper” Robert Sweet, his face masked by giant sunglasses and long blond hair. Absent was the yellow and black spandex of the 80’s, instead the band wore regular clothes, denims and such. The opening number was the “Sing Along Song”, and they were off and running. Michael greeted the audience, and Oz asked “is everyone was ready for some Jesus music?” to a resounding reply from the crowd. The band then rocked out to “Makes Me Wanna Sing”. “Calling On You” and “Free” followed, and if I remember correct, it was at this point that the band paused and Michael said they normally wait until the end of shows for this yet since this was what it is all about to them they would do it now. The members then handed out Bibles to the fans that could manage to get one. I must admit I was “this close”, but the kid behind me got one. It essentially is a small softcover Bible with a Stryper sticker on it. Inside was information on how to find a church near your home.
Michael told the audience that they had a couple of new songs on a compilation album that had just come out. The album is called “7” and they performed those new tracks for everyone to enjoy ("Something" and "For You"). Very good in the live sense as well as recorded. “In God We Trust” from the album of the same name came next, along with a tune that I could not remember hearing ever before (but was told it is not new). I still missed the title. Michael then took a minute to tell the crowd that there was a time in their career that they tried to “do it by themselves” and not “do it under His Guidance”, this was the often blasted record of “Against The Law”. They saw this did not work and explained that this is not the way to be at all, at that moment “Caught In The Middle” began (I was hoping for “Shining Star” but that did not happen……)
Some other tunes ran out like the talented Rockers had never stopped playing. Among them “You Wont Be Lonely”, “Reach Out” and “Loud N Clear” before the the seemingly final tune of the evening “Soldiers Under Command”, the band said goodnight and walked offstage. Since the lights remained off, one knew encores were coming. The audience was very sing along and enthusiastic. It was 12 years since Stryper was a band, and this performance was only the fourth of the shows.
For Encore Time, the group returned to the stage Michael shouting “To Hell With The Devil”, then the group started to play this tune from the album of the same name. It seemed as though the audience participation level was high on this one as everyone was singing along. Next up was the power ballad “Honestly”. This is still a favorite track of mine. Michael then said that you know the holidays are just around the corner so the next song was appropriate. The band then rocked through their rendition of “Winter Wonderland”. At that point the show was over, and Michael asked everyone to stop and pray for a moment. The crowd was silent as he spoke his words. When the group finished praying, they thanked us once again and left the stage. It was a really great performance and I am glad that I got a chance to see them.
For reference people interested in Stryper’s music might wanna pick up the release “7”, which is a hits compilation. My two personal favorites are “Soldiers Under Command” and “To Hell With The Devil”.
Official Web Site: www.Stryper.com
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