January 30, 2010
CLUB NOSTURI, HELSINKI
REVIEW AND PICTURES BY MARKO SYRJÄLÄ
Christian hard rockers Stryper returned to Finland after three year break. Although Christian metal bands are not too much headlines in Finland, Stryper seems to enjoy great success here. This Saturday evening show was completely sold out months ago. This was their last show on their 25’th Anniversary tour here in Europe and was their first time here with the original Stryper lineup: Michael Sweet, Robert Sweet, Oz Fox and returning bassist Tim Gaines.
Stryper kicked off the show with one of their best known songs “Soldiers Under Command” with a vengeance. People seemed to know all the lyrics and good atmosphere was almost tangible. The title track from the bands latest MURDER BY PRIDE followed and it got good response as well. The old classic “Loud n’ Clear” from their debut album THE YELLOW AND BLACK ATTACK was played next followed by two SOLDIERS UNDER COMMAND tracks “The Rock That Makes You Roll” and “Reach Out”. Some years ago the band announced how much they hated and were even ashamed of their old image from the 80’s, but it is now great to see them wear their old trademark again. Yellow and black striped clothing and instruments simply looked really cool on stage although there used to be lots of more stripes used in the past. Maybe this was just a temporary image thing for this Anniversary tour – but anyway, it looked great.
After a short break, Oz and Michael talked briefly to the audience before heading into “Calling to You” which turned out to be a true sing a long song of the evening. A pair of TO HELL WITH THE DEVIL songs followed when “Free” and “More Than a Man” before heading into two new album tracks “Piece of Mind” and “4 Leaf Clover”. It was great to notice that although Stryper albums won’t sell any phenomenal numbers anymore, fans still seem to like newer material as much as they love the classics.
“Open Your Eyes” was the only song played from bands re-union album REBORN. That album is such a different to any other Stryper album because it’s low key, dark and heavy but there is still some great material on that album. “Open Your Eyes” is definitely a great song there. Rarely played “All for One” was the only validated track from often underrated AGAINST THE LAW record which was a pity because there are lots of good songs there. As a matter of fact, the following cheesy ballad “My Love (I’ll Always Show)” was a completely needless song in the set but fortunately “The Way” turned things back to normal. The main show was then over but it wasn’t long until boys returned on stage and played a pair of their biggest hits: “Sing-Along Song” and finally “To Hell With the Devil”.
All in all, the band was in excellent shape in Finland. There was no sight of any tiredness even though the band already had a great number of shows under its belt. Especially vocalist Michael Sweet was in fine form. Unlike many of his colleagues around the same age, Michael still reaches all the high notes and difficult harmonies just like he used to do back in the days. It was noticeable that starting from the third song Michael had some technical problems with his guitar. Actually he managed to break two or three guitar strings during the show but it didn’t affect his performance a bit. Guitarist Oz Fox did great job as well both in guitar and in backing vocals. It was great to see him to have long hair again and having a good time on stage. Returning bassist Tim Gaines seemed to be a little bit of shy on stage but it’s understandable after such a long break from touring and band life. He did a good and decent job anyway with some good backing vocals and excellent bass playing. Drummer Robert Sweet was his usual himself. His performance was a mix of impressive and skilled playing combined with some funny effects like wearing some strange hats during the show. Their set list was a good mix of old / new but for some reason there wasn’t anything played from the brilliant IN GOD WE TRUST release… but you can’t always please everybody?
Although Stryper is a Christian band, and most of their songs are about faith and religious things, it didn’t seem to bother the hard rock fans in there. True believers and regular fans seemed to fit together fine although there clearly was a couple of self-conscious faces in the crowd when Michael asked people to pray together at the end! Other than that, the only difference between this evening and any other metal/rock event in Nosturi was the fact that if you now wanted to have a beer or two you didn’t have to stand in line. The Christian people don’t seem to drink almost at all which was good for us more “heretic persons" but it wasn’t good for business for sure.
FOR MORE INFO GO TO: WWW.STRYPER.COM
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