HOW SWEET IT IS
Led by singer Michael Sweet, Stryper plays to capacity crowd at Whisky
By Gerry Gittelson
Metal Sludge Editor at Large
HOLLYWOOD — Stryper came to the Whisky on Thursday, July 31, and wow the place was really packed for a non-weekend performance, as a crowd of what looked to be close to 1,000 showed up in a venue that comfortably fits about half that many.
The band seemed to feed off the energy, too, starting just past 11 p.m. and giving forth a worthy performance in a triumphant return to the Sunset Strip after first emerging more than three decades ago as a local act called Roxx Regime.
Michael Sweet is still in place as lead singer – though he no longer sports the long, blond hair that helped the Christian band rise up the ranks during the MTV era – and he sang well, finding his early grove on “Revelation.”
Sweet was consistent in throwing out a stream of bibles to the crowd, as is customary for Stryper, but the yellow and black image is mostly a thing of the past, except for the color pattern on the guitars.
“We’re more like black and silver now,” Sweet joked between songs.
While never reaching the respect level of some of their contemporaries like Motley Crue, Guns N’ Roses or even Ratt, Stryper has indeed sold millions of records thanks to such popular releases as “To Hell With The Devil” and “In God We Trust.”
One thing for sure is Stryper’s loyal fans were really enjoying themselves, pumping their fists and singing along to a lot of the choruses.
It’s nice to see Stryper back together, because like so many bands culled from the Sunset Strip, Stryper has had its ups and downs through the years with member changes and some flip-flopping about maintaining their identity as a Christian band.
It has proved an interesting decision for Sweet to rejoin Stryper in 2011 after voluntarily leaving Boston after three years, as Boston is a much bigger act that coincidentally played two nights early before a capacity crowd at the Forum.
Perhaps loyalty and friendships do matter in rock and roll, after all.
At any rate, it was the classic lineup on display at the Whisky, as Sweet was joined but his brother, Robert, on drums (third stint in the band), along with bearded guitarist Oz Fox (third stint) and bassist Tim Gaines (fifth stint).
To Hell With The Cellphones – Stryper live at Whisky-A-Go-Go Hollywood
Stryper riffing and praying on the Sunset Strip
It’s hard to believe, but through the years such luminaries as C.C. DeVille, Doug Aldrich, Randy Jackson, Jeff Scott Soto, Brent Jeffers, Tom Werman and Kenny Aronoff have all been affiliated as either temporary members or session players.
The band has a more-than-decent catalog of hits with “Calling on You,” “Always There For You,” “Honestly” and “To Hell With The Devil,” and Stryper delivered well-executed versions of all of them, plus a few unexpected covers thrown, including the opening “Ain’t Talkin’ Bout Love.”
There was some spillover among the spectators from a celebration at the Rainbow to commemorate the Los Angeles premiere of the new movie “Get On Up” about James Brown, whose last wife was party hostess Tomirae Hynie from the Los Angeles all-female rock band Hardly Dangerous.
Live Photos By: Jake Perry