BY BOB DeHART | Go Venue Magazine
It was a little nostalgic for me last night as Stryper took the stage in Lincoln, Nebraska at the Royal Grove. The first time I had ever seen Stryper was in 1986 in Topeka, Kansas at the local arena. They were in the middle of the To Hell with the Devil tour. I took my then girlfriend to see the show. I even dove for as bible that Michael Sweet threw into the crowd, that I promptly gave to my date for the evening. Whether she still has it…we’ll never know.
Fast-forward to 2023 and Stryper has not slowed down at all. It would be worth arguing that Michael Sweet is one of the busiest and hardworking guys in the music business. Stryper is clipping along very well, releasing new work very steadily these past few years. Throw in some solo work and side projects, the newest a second release with George Lynch that just came out last week, there is no slowing down for Mr. Sweet. And if you haven’t checked out the Sweet/Lynch release…you should. It’s an amazing record.
As for the show in Lincoln, it was opened by Omaha area band Fallen Reign. They are a progressive metal band that got the crowd going and warmed up for the main act. Their set was about 30 minutes long, but enough to get the local fan base a taste of what they came for, and it’s safe to say they gained some new followers on this night.
Stryper opened up with the Sing Along Song off of the To Hell with The Devil Album. It was a great set list, hitting on some classics but also mixing in some newer releases. There was an obvious reaction from the crowd for the classics, Calling on You, Free, Loving You, and Always there for You to name a few. But surprisingly, there were also great reactions to the newer material. Which, for a band that has been around as long as Stryper, sometimes the fans are tolerant of new songs and not necessarily welcoming to them. That was not the case here, the fans loved and sang along just as much to the new as well as the old. I think that speaks a lot to the quality of work that Stryper has been putting out.
Stryper still sounds amazing live. Michael Sweet’s voice is strong as ever, and also might be one of the most underrated guitar players out there. Taking nothing from Oz Fox, who is amazing, but Michael Sweet does a tremendous job of switching off on the solos with him. Robert Sweet still can bang the drums with the best of them. I love his unique style of playing and the way his drums are set up, so the crowd can actually see him. The newest member of the band is Perry Richardson on bass. He joined the band in 2017 and fits in very well. He has lots of energy and it is contagious.
The show ended with the classics, Soldiers Under Command and To Hell with The Devil. I loved seeing these guys again, although I didn’t catch a bible this time. It was still a great night!