September 28, 2009
Club Soda – Montreal, QC
The off-key, heavily French-accented gang vocal of “All For One” in the parking lot made it official. I was in Montreal to see Stryper! But not to worry, the band was not off key – far from it! Stryper was so tight, I had to wonder if Robert Johnson really DID dell his soul to the Devil at the Crossroads for his legendary musical gift. Conversely, maybe all the praying Stryper does really paid off.
The show consisted of the original line up of Michael Sweet on lead vocals and guitar, Robert Sweet on drums, Oz Fox on Lead guitar and vocals and Tim Gaines on bass and vocals. The current bass player, Tracy Ferrie, was not present due to work or family related issues, depending on whom you ask.
It was fitting to have the definitive Stryper back in action, as this was the band’s 25th anniversary tour. The band, decked out in modernized yellow and black clothes and instruments, played old classics like “Soldiers Under Command”, “Reach Out”, “To Hell With The Devil” and “Calling On You”. They even pulled an old gem from the 1984 album The Yellow and Black attack, “Loud ‘N’ Clear”. A few tracks from their brand new CD Murder by Pride were well received, including “4 Leaf Clover” and their fantastic cover version of Boston’s "Peace of Mind".
I was a little disappointed they didn’t play anything from their 1990 album Against the Law, but it’s understandable, given that it was considered to be a predominantly dark period for the band.
I’ve always thought that the musicianship of each individual member of Stryper has been overlooked and underrated. After seeing them live for the first time, I know it’s a fact. I was particularly impressed by the harmony vocals (assisted at times by their live keyboard player Charles Foley at the side of the stage, but not hidden), and the dual lead guitars of Oz and Michael. These guys should make most guitar shredders want to go home and practice. Hard.
Robert seemed to be a little under the weather, from his remarks on the way to the bus after the show, but he was spot-on and energetic the entire ninety-minute set. Tim was rock solid on the bass, as well as lending essential harmony vocals along with Oz. Tim also has a solo CD coming out on iTunes called breakfast at Timothy’s.
The sound was incredibly loud for the venue size, but it wasn’t distorted or overdone. In fact, the band sounded great, although I felt Michael’s voice could have been a little more up front in the mix. Still, you could hear him hit those high notes, and he sounded amazing the entire night. Here’s to Stryper “Rockin’ the world”!
The first band of the night to play were a surprise, since we only knew about ONE opening band. Manic Drive, from Mississauga, were also a surprise because they were insanely entertaining, with a lot of talent and great songs to boot. If you get a chance to see this band live, don’t pass it up.
The second band to take the stage was Flight Patterns, Mike Sweet JR’s band. This band is young and have a bit of work ahead of them, but they seemed very sincere and grateful for the opportunity to get up there and play their music. Unfortunately, it may not be the music to warm up a crowd of 80’s glam metal lovers. Still, Mike Jr. has a strong voice (big surprise) and hopefully will sing lead on more Flight Patterns songs in the future.
By Darren Boyd