|» Stryper 2009 10 03||
Stryper stands for Salvation Through Redemption Yielding Peace, Encouragement and Righteousness. They truly lived up to this ennobling truth when I watched them perform in Dayton this Saturday night.Say what you will about their personal beliefs, but Stryper paved the way for the success of Christian Metal, and even several secular acts. Before their success, only Petra, White Heart, and Rez Band were heavy enough for Christians to tolerate, and most repudiated Stryper, early on in their career.
Before the doors officially opened, Stryper sound checked with "Winter Wonderland", during the fan based prepaid signing session, which was completely sold out! The mass throng of believers that made up the concert crowd, were truly Christians, judging by their choice of apparel, T-shirts, and dialogue in praise of Jesus. Surprisingly, those loyal souls with whom I conversed over the evening's tide, were some of the most friendly Christians whom I have ever encountered.
We spoke very little about Jesus, and mostly about Metal! I would have detailed conversations about great Christain Metal acts, then we would discuss Kiss, Megadeth, Priest, Maiden, Twisted Sister, Anvil, Metallica, Doro, etc. I noticed that there were Many Michaels present, not just the various vocalists for all acts set to perform, mind you. I am proud to submit that once this metalhead freely surrendered, this MettleAngel had himself a way most excellent time rockin' for the one who is the Rock!
I was not expecting too much from this young, heavily inspired '80s outfit from Toronto. This trio dressed to the gills in '80s attire really sparked my interest with their...well manic drive.
They did not have a bass player, I am not sure if Tye Dolynsky is still in the band, or was unable to tour. However, vocalist Shawn Cavallo, and his brother Michael Cavallo made for a great team, along with drummer Dave Lalonde, adorning his Duran Duran tie.
The opening mystical atmosphere began with a countdown, that the audience continued, as the song 'Walls" commenced. Right away I detected a Stray Cats type riff, and I knew these dude were pure '80s rock.
In their prologue over the airways they clearly claimed they were here to end the bad music that is the Jonas Brothers, Hannah Montanna, The Naked Brothers, and Britney Spears. I am all for that, just to keep my son's ears from being tainted with such foul fodder and poisonous pabulum and unhealthy provender.
Michael Cavallo had a very interesting way of playing his guitar sliding his hand to and fro, in a very adept manner. I could tell that he was also infulenced by Jazz, and Funk style musicians. This was definitely made apparent as he rapped and attempted to scat on the song - "Dancefloor" - which I mistook as a Wham! cover.
They paid their homage to that classic era, when the walls pounded with excerpts overhead from such icons as the sadly missed Michael Jackson, Huey Lewis, Duran Duran, and even Stryper, as they began a dual drumming session to the beats of "Jump" by Van Halen.
Michael took a seat at the keys for the somber - "Closer", which was not at all Nine Inch Nails related; although, there were some instances of harsh growling on the closer - "Something More", as the dudes just went frantic, releasing the air pumped clowns into the crowd, which appropriately had the name - Manic Drive inscribed upon them.
I did not buy any of their CDs, including their new one - 'Blue'. However, the boys did blow me away with their presence and capabilities. I am also grateful to Shawn for giving me a complimentary guitar pick, but just one..Yeah!
I would best describe their sound and style as Duran Duran meets Wham!, with a hint of Disturrbed and Godsmack, so check them out. Their music was truly something more than what Wendy and I had originally anticipated.
One critic from the Gospel Music Channel suggested, ""Manic Drive's Shawn and Michael Cavallo display the caliber of musicianship only achieved by well-seasoned veterans and that's precisely what they are. Veteran seems a lofty term to bestow upon a couple of guys in their early twenties."
I most definitely agree. They love the album '1984', and that is the
same year Shawn was born. They will be on the whole US Stryper Tour, and
faithfully and rightfully let it be so!
7,5 chalices of 10
I do not think it was just by chance that the youthful Boston based Flight Patterns made it on this tour. Call it nepotism, but these guys have none other than Michael Sweet Jr. on guitars, and vocals.
Manic Drive mentioned that FP were overcoming some difficulties on this tour, as their van had recently broken down in Canada. I am surprised they did not share a bus with Stryper. Then again, I am sure daddy does not want to spoil or eclipse the promising talent of his son.
Initially, I was excited to see them perform, but after all is said and done, I was not really impressed. They opened with - "She Said Go Write A Song About It", which was average, and perhaps inspired by Mike's late mother. Mike Jr. definitely looked like a younger version of his father, tall, lanky, unshaven, and with his Nikki Sixx styled hair.
"Mountain Song" was no Jane's Addiction cover. The drumming was tight, but I did not see the point of having their keyboardist, who played a small instrument barely three feet long. This sounded more like New Found Glory meets Slipknot.
They introduced the band, but I could not get to my pad and pen to jot this down, and I have not been able to locate any info about who is whom.
"L.B.'s Song" sounded like a new version of Rick Springfield's - "Jesse's Girl', without the leads, and too many grunts and growls by the bassist.
Before playing "By Your Bedside", Mike took a moment to honour and serve the memory of his deceased mother. He proceeded in a rather shy, coy, but sincere fashion to tell us about the ovarian breast cancer donations station at their merch booth. Everyone felt his pain, and was very willing to contribute to this worthy cause, if not at the show then at www.ovariancancer.org.
When I saw the complimentary CD which they are offering with each donation, I noticed that the Robert and Michael produced Enigma '80s act Mass had a new song. Man, I wish they would tour with Stryper!
They ended with "The Runaway", and this was clearly no Bon Jovi inspired anthem. Overall, the guitarist and lead vocalist was quite accomplished, and when Mike sang, especially on the last track, he reminded me of his father's solo efforts, and I even told him so; although the wife adamantly disagrees.
I do not see the need for three alternating vocalists, and the superfluous
keys, but perhaps I am showing my age, as the crowd seemed to dig their
set, and I was very grateful to sit and chat with Mike about his parents
both before, and after the show.
6 chalices of 10
Dressed in a mild and comfortable arraignment of yellow and black, ready to attack and wage war on our sins with Christ by their side, Stryper erupted from the abyss, ready to raise hell with the devil and rock our world.
It was so sweltering in the McGuffy's club, I am sure the bold good boys are glad they opted not to wear the spandex and tight sequin riddled leather gear, that they are known for, over the last two decades.
Thankfully, they did have their classic mustard seed, and charcoal tinted guitars with them. All night long, I felt redemption as they would shred on those axes of power with a righteous humility.
As they hit the stage, they opened right up with "Soldiers Under Command", followed by the title track and best song off their new album. There were very little breaks between songs, and when one riff ended, it immediately bled right into the next song.
Michael encouraged the audience to sing along to "Loud 'N' Clear", then abated and waited for a stronger response before beginning to jam again. This is when the bass solo of Mr. Tim Gaines really became the reason for the teasing.
This is the first time in a long time that original member Tim Gaines - the brother of Steve Gaines from Abattoir and Anger As Art - shared the stage with his fellow brothers in Christ.
I heard that Tracy Ferrie had become ill, and had to depart the band. I was just so grateful to witness Tim on stage with Stryper, again! He has not toured with them in ages, nor has he played on any album since the '80s.
Tim is known for his recent work with the much acclaimed Tourniquet. Recently he played bass on the new album by Boston favourite femme fatale: Kimberley Dahme. I received a promo of her new album, but could not make it all the way through the music. She sounds too much like Shania Twain, for my taste.
Early on into the set, Michael Sweet was having issues with his mic. which kept fading in and out, causing him some frustration, for which he aptly apologized, welcoming the loyal Dayton fans to the show.
Robert was at the very back of the small stage with his drum kit all established, as he pounded the skins wholeheartedly. I did notice though, that he had fans blowing on him; whereas Oz, Tim, and Michael, had to rely upon the fans in the crowd, as they began to immediately perspire, so much so, that Mike had removed part of his attire by the end of the show. I was astonished to see what excellent shape he is in.
I was all grins when they ripped right into "The Rock That Makes Me Roll", nudging the wife to bang her head, as I had now become a human hammer. Finally when "Calling On You" hit her ears, she began to respond with the music that makes us wanna sing.
We were both totally into "Free", the song that made Wendy a Stryper enthusiast. Back then, I used to mock the video, when I thought they had sold out after 'Soldiers'. Now, I really respect the lyrics to this song. You have to admit those outfits were a bit over the top, during that tour with Loudness!
By the time they tore into the flesh of - "More Than A Man", the back of my neck was soaked, and my foot was asleep, with very little room to put it. I did not want to step on the five year old girl who fell asleep on the floor, in front of me, and I did want to pounce on the wife's toes, so I would just teeter, ever thrashing for Christ!
The first respite from constant Traditional Metal theatrics, and pure '80s bliss came when the newly remarried Oz Fox was appointed as the sounding board, to give Michael a breather. Oz began his forthright preaching, praising, and carrying on. He was definitely feeling the charismatic spirit in the air.
When he attempted to point out his lovely new bride, he actually suggested the wrong lady at the bar, as his wife was motioning to him from the side stage. I imagine under those glistening lights, many women looked like his black and blonde, two-toned hair of a wife.
Apparently his spouse is the ex- call girl: Annie Lobert. She promotes the ministry - "Hookers For Jesus". This is a noble service where Christians counsel young women from pursuing a life of living on the streets as a prostitute. I guess you could say they save these young women from a life of hard c**k, the rock (crack cocaine), and help them to discover the Rock that makes them roll!
As Michael resumed his rightful place, he educated the audience about his recent tour and experience with the New York based band Boston. His heartfelt appreciation, and gratitude was clearly more than a feeling. Stryper has discerned covering Boston, in the past, so the chance to sing with the band, and record this song on their new album, along with guitar soloing by Tom Scholz, just brought about a resounding joy and mindful sense of peace, as they burst into "Piece Of Mind".
After this widely recognized song, even by the younger affiliates, Robert descended from his drum kit to toss out the trademark Gideon Bibles. They are now cleverly marked with $1 Stryper sticker, to ensure that no bibles are left behind, as was apparently the case in the past. One Bible just slipped out of my hands, but I would have given it to the lucky recipient, anyway, as Wendy has one from the last time we saw and met the band.
Incidentally, when we were robbed in Cleveland, almost three years ago, and Wendy's purse was stolen, once it was restored to us, all that they left behind save a nail file, and some prayer cards, was Wendy's Stryper Bible! I guess even victims of latrociny are somewhat blessed!
Next they bled into - "4 Leaf Clover" - which is Wendy's favourite new song, and also one of the catchiest, a true shining star from the new album. I really love the new album, and you can read my review here: www.metalcdratings.com.
I was disappointed when they did not play "Eclipse Of The Son", and unless I was out of it, I do not recall hearing "Alive" either, even though both those new tracks from 'Murder By Pride' appeared on the set list.
I guess it was just too hot on stage, and far too crowded. After all, Stryper were playing their smallest venue yet, in a bar, no less! For the fans, though this had it plusses and minuses, I believe.
As I was turning my attention, momentarily elsewhere, Michael tossed a signed guitar pick, which whizzed right by my eye, skimming my brow. As I noticed the sensation, suddenly I felt something hit my hands, and I had caught the very next one he tossed. I have only caught a guitar pick one other time, and that was at a King Diamond show in the '90s, thrown by Andy LaRoque . Quite a contrast, do you not think?
If there is a God, he was with me at that moment. Then again I truly felt the shivers of the spirit of the mettle resonating all over my body. Who or what guided those collector relics right in to my uplifted hands? Did something change from wrong to right, overnight?
Michael then took a bereaving minute to reflect on the tragic loss of his wife Kyle who died this past spring, just as his son had done in their set; vigilantly calling attention awareness to ovarian cancer. He also thanked the Good Lord for bringing a new woman into his life. I respect that he has truly lived up to the vow - "Till Death Do Us Part".
As he began to sing the passionate ballad - "Honestly", he let his guitar dangle, as he grabbed the mic., and began to sing so sweetly, in a very Paul Stanley fashion. There was a background keyboardist to the left of Robert who filled in the proper melodies.
I must admit how amazed I was to hear -"Open Your Eyes" and "All For One" - which sounded so damn crushing and heavy live, unlike they do on the studio albums! Michael has such a majestic voice, and vocal range. He sure hit some ear piercing highs tonight!
Michael also brought our attention to the new movie called - "Whip It". He mentioned that Ellen Page's character Bliss distinctively wears a re-issued Stryper T-Shirt throughout the film. He also concluded that she is is apparently not mocking the band, but supporting them. This devotion has helped Stryper earn a whole new younger fan base, many of whom were in attendance, witnessing their first live Stryper show this very night.
The Roxx Regime refashioning of the more aggressive - "My Love Will Always Show" - was genuinely non poisonous, but still innocuous. It is hard to belive that C.C. DeVille once played with the pre-Stryper brethren, before they discovered Oz.
"The Way" was also another classic return to their sophomore effort, before they made their exit. I was taken back when there was no closing prayer, something you would kind of come to expect from the band, and a blessing which believers in something can truly appreciate.
The exhausted quartet quickly returned after a very short, less than two minute break to play - 'To Hell With The Devil", and with the final lick of that anthem, they made their final exit, and said, "Goodnight!"
Honestly, I would have liked to have heard them play - "In God We Trust", which they redid on 'Reborn', the blistering cut -"The Reign" from that very album, the evocative "Surrender", and the Earth, Wind, & Fire cover of "Shining Star". I heard that it was a fan generated set-list, so I guess these classics just did not make the final cut.
Thankfully, there were no weak songs like - "I Am Always There For You", "It's Up 2 U", or the slightly cheesy, but still merry "Sing-Along Song" - performed at this memorable occasion. Most of the night we were pleasantly treated to non-stop heavy, fast old school Metal!
May the blessed brothers in Stryper always remain together forever!
8,5 chalices of 10
Soldiers Under Command