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Monday, March 21, 2011

Stryper, Live! - Harpo’s Concert Hall, Detroit, MI. March 19th, 2011

Stryper at Harpo’s Concert Hall, Detroit, MI.
Sat. March 19th 2011 - Live review

Editor note: Hey folks, well, what do you know? I have my first guest reviewer, please welcome Mr. Mark W.T. Payne!
Mark is actually an author already, so he knows how to write a thing or two! 
Mark went along to the Stryper show, braving life and limb ..., well, something like that!
Anyway, he stepped out on the rough side of Detroit to check out the latest live Stryper show and without further ado, here's the story, enjoy!

(Harpo's venue - Photo by Mark W.T. Payne)

The Yellow and Black Crush Detroit Rock City

Anyone who was attending last Saturday’s Stryper show at Harpo’s, expecting to see a has-been hair band lumbering across the stage in a futile attempt to recapture the 80’s, was in for one hell of a surprise!
This sonic metal quartet originally from L.A., blasted through their ballad-free, straight-up rockin’ set-list like a well-oiled, precision machine and with enough energy to power the eastern seaboard.
Gone are the crazy spandex costumes, globs of make-up and ultra-poofy hair, revealing four stunningly skilled musicians who know how to perform and connect with their audience.
For the 700 who attended Saturday night’s concert, it was an obvious love-fest, with Stryper leading the way and delivering the goods.

Formed in 1983 by brothers Michael and Robert Sweet, this glam metal band was originally known as Roxx Regime and at one point featured Poison’s C.C. DeVille on guitar, before Oz Fox came aboard. Inspired by bands like Van Halen, but distressed at the message they conveyed, Roxx Regime added bass player Timothy Gaines to the group and became Stryper, a name derived from a verse in the King James Bible (Isaiah 53:5).
In 1983 they signed with Enigma Records and shortly thereafter released an E.P. entitled “The Yellow and Black Attack,” propelling them into the spotlight and making them the first ever “Christian rock band” to achieve mainstream recognition and MTV air-play. Platinum record sales followed, along with Grammy award nominations and highly successful world tours.

Drawing on their twenty-eight years of experience and eight original albums, Stryper had a wealth of material to work with on Saturday night and they pumped out their classics like 'To Hell with the Devil,' 'The Way' and 'Soldiers Under Command,' with a fury that made those older songs sound fresh and exciting. They also threw in a few tunes that they haven’t played live in a while, like 'Loving You' and 'Surrender,' the latter featuring an incredible extended guitar duel between guitarists Michael Sweet and Oz Fox. To make the night even more of a “tribute to the classics,” Stryper’s set list featured songs from their latest CD, 'The Covering,' a collection of cover songs from some surprising artists such as Led Zeppelin, The Sweet and The Scorpions.
They treated the crowd on Saturday to Stryper-'ized versions of Ozzy’s 'Over the Mountain,' Black Sabbath’s, 'Heaven and Hell' and Kiss’ 'Shout It Out Loud,' making the songs their own and breathing a fire into them that you just cannot get from a recording!

(Photo by Mark W.T. Payne)

The most startling thing about Saturday’s concert however, was the amazing musicianship and performance abilities, of each member of the band. Lead vocalist Michael Sweet raced from one end of the stage to the other, dancing around like he was twenty and showcasing his amazing vocal abilities, a range which seems to allow him to hit notes you would think only dogs could hear! Guitarist Oz Fox, perhaps one of the most underrated guitarists ever, played his yellow and black instrument like his fingers were on fire, all the while spinning, jumping and kicking, to the delight of the fans crowding the front of the stage.
He also demonstrated some amazing vocal skills of his own, at one point taking over lead duties on 'Over the Mountain.' When Michael and Oz hit the harmony guitar solos, you would think you were attending a guitar clinic, their stunning synchronicity filling the air with an almost dreamy sonic assault.

(Oz Fox, left and Michael Sweet, right - Photo's by Mark W.T. Payne)

Bass player Timothy Gaines bopped his head and displayed a chunky, rich, thumping style, that was the perfect backdrop for the melodic hard metal sound of the band. He too was incredibly animated.

(Timothy Gaines and Oz Fox - Photo by Mark W.T. Payne)
Finally there was Robert Sweet on the drums. It’s easy to see why they call him their Visual Time-Keeper, as opposed to their drummer! He pounded those skins with a wild and entertaining energy seldom displayed by a musician behind a kit!
Regardless of what you think of their beliefs, Stryper is a wonder to behold, and definitely a contender as one of the best live bands out there.
Do yourself a favour; catch them in concert on this tour! You’ll be glad you did!
Murder by Pride
Rock that makes Me Roll
Over the Mountain
Loving You
Reach Out
Calling On You
More Than A Man
Shout it out Loud
Heaven and Hell
The Way
To Hell with the Devil
Soldiers Under Command.

Reviewed by Mark W.T. Payne
Editor's comment: Thanks Mark, big time! :)

Official Stryper website:


  1. Amazing show. This was the first time I was at Harpos and although it was in a rough neighborhood my wife and I loved the show. Stryper can flat out play with the best of them. I second the reviewer that if you get a chance to checkout the show on this tour DO SO, as you won't be disappointed.

  2. Glad you enjoyed the show and review.
    I hope to catch them next time around for sure!
    I'm sure Mark is pleased with others enjoying his review.