By Chuck Cox
Going to a Stryper show takes me back to the very beginnings of my live rock and roll experiences.
I couldn’t wait to go see the Christian rock band (I never thought I’d say those words before Stryper came along) with TNT and Loudness, back in 1987 at the State Fair Coliseum in Fair Park. I also got to meet the band two years later at a Sound Warehouse in-store signing in San Antonio.
Seeing them again on Friday night at the Granada was like discovering the excitement of a big rock show all over again. Even though it was on a much smaller stage, it was still vintage Stryper.
One of the few bands from the heyday of 1980’s metal that has all of its original members in the lineup, Stryper almost looks like it stepped out of a time machine. The biggest difference between seeing the band on Friday and 27 years ago was the guys no longer sport the gaudy yellow and black outfits.
But lead singer Michael Sweet can still hit all of those high notes, and his brother Robert can still keep up with the fast-paced drumming on some of the heavier tracks. Guitarist Oz Fox and bassist Tim Gaines also sounded fantastic, making it seem a lot like 1987 all over again.
After the lights went down and Van Halen’s “Mean Street” played, Stryper hit the stage with, appropriately enough, “God.” After “Revelation,” “Loud ‘N’ Clear” and “Reach Out,” the band played two of its bigger hits, “Calling on You” and “Free.” Those two videos were MTV regulars for a while.
Stryper played two fantastic covers it did on 2011’s The Covering album — Kansas’ “Carry on Wayward Son” and Kiss’ “Shout it Out Loud” a few songs later. The main set finished very strong with songs like “Always There For You,” “Honestly,” “The Way” and “Soldiers Under Command.”
Of course, Stryper did its customary throwing bibles into the crowd, which was largely made up of some very devoted fans I talked to earlier at the meet and greet. I’m talking people who traveled across states for the show and donned Stryper logos from head to toe.
For the first encore, the band covered Van Halen’s “Ain’t Talking’ ‘Bout Love” and then “Sing-Along Song.” The show closed with a second encore, the title track from To Hell With the Devil, and a prayer.
Although it was only the second time I had seen Stryper play live since the 1980s, I really love getting the chance to do so. And getting to meet the guys again was pretty cool. Stryper’s VIP packages are very affordable, BTW.
Opening act Finding Iris, another Christian band from Tyler, played a very solid 30-minute set. Although I wasn’t familiar with the band, I knew a couple of its original songs, which I wasn’t expecting. Having lived in Tyler for a couple of years, I thought it was neat to see a band from there open the show.
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