Since the announcement of Stryper’s tour this year, the fan base has been ecstatic to hear the 1986 Grammy Award nominated album “To Hell With the Devil” to be played in it’s entirety. On the same token , the band has also stated after these shows they will take a hiatus. Since this announcement the shows have been one of the go-to events of 2016. As of this writing the tour has wrapped up its final dates for the year but not before the crew here at Photo from the Pit were able to be part of this important piece of Stryper history.
New York City’s Gramercy Theater was filled with excitement as people of all ages filled the venue. A video montage along with a narration of Michael Sweet voice showed the audience about a time when things meant making solid music at the same time the importance of being professional. Looking like a rock star was only part of it. The montage showed snippets of songs such as “Free”, “Honestly” and “Calling You”. This was a perfect way to show our millennial generation in attendance to have a insight of what work and determination can do when people are unified for a common goal.
Stryper stormed the stage with their traditional ‘Yellow and Black Attack’ outfits. As they tore into a set list for the ages, the song To Hell with the Devil never sounded so clear. Hearing the album live in its entirety was a truly exciting moment. Songs like All of Me, and the rarely played Rockin the World left the audience with goosebumps. Not many singers can still maintain a tip-top voice like Michael Sweet. His name has been wrongly been omitted from conversation when it comes to singers of this era. During the middle of the set, Evanescence drummer Will Hunt accompanied Michael Sweet of a rendition of Black Sabbath’s “Heaven and Hell”. Band members Oz Fox traded licks with Sweet as bassist Tim Gaines kept a tight tone. This cover version of a Sabbath classic showed out versatile the band is.
As the night came to a close the final song which was voted by the audience through the band’s social media page was a crowd-pleaser. The band played the athemic song Makes Me Wanna Sing from 1985’s “Solders Under Command”. The band took their bows at the end of the night, as they did their tradition of passing pocket Bibles into the audience. No one knows how long we will wait to see Stryper perform again. Since 1983, the band has did something not many has done and that is maintaining the original lineup since it’s inception. In our current musical one would have to say, maybe it is divine intervention that made this happen. Thank you for the music.
Photos by Anna Svirskaya
Words by Sebastian Benedict