Stryper faithful are surely rejoicing at the announcement that the band will be on tour all fall to mark the 30th anniversary of “To Hell With The Devil.” But before dusting off the multi-platinum project in its entirety (and all the corresponding costumes), the entirely original group comprised of front man Michael Sweet, guitarist Oz Fox, drummer Robert Sweet and bassist Tim Gaines closed out the final night of the “Fallen” outing with a sold out show at the historic Arcada Theatre just outside of Chicago.
And whether somebody first found out about the band from MTV, Christian rock radio or anywhere online, Stryper’s tone never came across as heavy-handed, but rather, built a bridge of unity that transcended beliefs, and just as impressively, an audience that literally stretched from little kids to those who surely sported some mega-hold hairspray and spandex back in the day.
Sure, the group made sure obligatory hard rock heavyweights such as “Soldiers Under Command,” “Calling On You” and “Free” appeared in all their sky high glory, but there was also a significant emphasis on less frequently performed favorites (“Always There For You,” “Rock The People,” “Co’Mon Rock”) along with newer tunes. From the last few years, “No More Hell To Pay” perhaps best verified the foursome’s ability to retain their metallic sensibilities, but concurrently wrap them around the pummeling production techniques of today.
Even the retro “In God We Trust” benefited from the guys’ decision to inject an extra dose of booming aggression, while remakes of Judas Priest’s “Breaking The Law” and Black Sabbath’s “Heaven And Hell” (both longtime influences as previously heard on “The Covering”) were downright timeless. Sweet’s vocals were also in remarkably pure shape no matter what he touched (including monster ballads like “Lady”), which considering the group performed for nearly two hours and were capping off a major tour could only have been heaven sent.
And whether somebody first found out about the band from MTV, Christian rock radio or anywhere online, Stryper’s tone never came across as heavy-handed, but rather, built a bridge of unity that transcended beliefs, and just as impressively, an audience that literally stretched from little kids to those who surely sported some mega-hold hairspray and spandex back in the day. Although Sweet and company were unapologetic about their affection for the ‘80s, the fact that they’re operating at this level so many years later is the ultimate testament to Stryper’s ongoing appeal and impact.
Prior to “The Yellow And Black Attack,” fellow veterans FireHouse also turned in a celebratory set chronicling just over 25 years of mashing up hard rock and heavy metal. Fans never left their feet as they bellowed alongside C. J. Snare on several super-charged infernos, swayed to the ballads and congratulated a lucky couple who got engaged on stage. Here’s hoping they’ve finally found the “Love Of A Lifetime” and that FireHouse keeps scorching on all cylinders.
Upcoming concert highlights at the Arcada Theatre include 38 Special (Sept. 25); Space Oddity (Sept. 29); Jay & The Americans and Felix Cavaliere’s Rascals (Sept. 30); Lou Gramm (Oct. 1); Rita Moreno (Oct. 2); Jackie Evancho (Oct. 6); Stylistics (Oct. 7); Buddy Guy (Oct. 8); Johnny Rivers (Oct. 9); Travis Tritt (Oct. 14); “A Bronx Tale” staring Chazz Palminteri (Oct. 15); and Pat Boone with Debby Boone (Oct. 16). For additional details, visit ArcadaLive.com.