Stryper | 06.17.14

live stryper_75Long known and loved for their use of harmony, both on guitar and vocally, their heavenly harmonies rang through the Wildey Theatre like voices from the angels themselves.




live stryper

The Wildey Theatre, Edwardsville, Ill.

When one thinks of heavy metal bands doing acoustic shows, Christian-based hard rock outfit Stryper hardly comes to mind. For a band long labeled “Christian metal” that had its heyday in the mid- to late-1980s, Tuesday night’s performance at Wildey Theatre proved that Stryper should be at the top of the acoustic list.

While certain tunes would never go over well acoustically, the members of Stryper are not only extremely talented, but clever, as well. They are quite aware that, due to their riff-orientated metal style, certain songs would not do them justice in an acoustic setting. However, their catalog, which spans back to 1983’s The Yellow and Black Attack, has some real gems in it, and they pulled them out. They are quite aware that the 1980s are over, and have rolled with the changes. Backed by a new album, No More Hell to Pay, they have hit the road, mostly playing electric shows true to their heavy metal style. Now, totally stripped down ,with no light shows, solos, or spandex, tracks like “Calling On You,“ “To Hell With the Devil,” and new arrangements of “My Love I’ll Always Show” and the uber-popular “Honestly” showed fans that this band does not fool around. Long known and loved for their use of harmony, both on guitar and vocally, their heavenly harmonies rang through the Wildey Theatre like voices from the angels themselves. These guys are truly blessed—or talented, whichever you prefer.

Yet, the band was out to just play and have a great time in the intimate setting. Lead vocalist and guitarist Michael Sweet was in fantastic voice, with a strong vibrato and a rich tone. Gone were the screeching high notes Sweet usually hits. When we chatted post-show, I asked him about the high notes and where they were. “When we play electronically,” he replied, “I do a lot of the higher parts, but I really don’t feel they fit in an acoustic set, and that gives me a chance to play around more, vocally.” With lead guitarist Oz Fox and bassist Tim Gaines backing the superb vocal parts, Stryper flowed with a grace and beauty not often found with this type of music, especially in acoustic form. They were a Harrah Arendt of vocal sweetness.

Stryper performed more than just its own songs. Many fans remember when vocalist Sweet fronted Boston on a tour a few years ago. Playing said band’s “Peace of Mind,” they also jammed on tunes including “Ready for Love” by Bad Company and “Shout It Out Loud” by rock’s premiere showmen, KISS.

Closing with “Sing Along Song,“ Stryper said goodnight, and promised to return in their true hard rock form very soon. While I look very forward to their return to that sound, this show was a treat for fans, young and, well…let’s just say “older,” OK?

Stryper’s fans are very loyal, and though the show was not sold out, many fans paid a tidy sum of money for the “VIP” experience. They always do. Why? Simply put—because it’s Stryper. | Marc Farr

About Marc Farr 244 Articles
Marc Farr is the Live Music & Assignments Editor of PLAYBACK:stl. He's so invaluable to us, we've nicknamed him Mr. Music. Reach out if you have coverage ideas! "I know it's only rock and roll...but I like it!"
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