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STRYPER @ Riverside Live's RMA - Riverside, CA (10.14.16)

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On October 14th, Stryper made a triumphant return to Riverside CA supporting their eagerly awaited To Hell with the Devil 30th Anniversary Tour. Whether you had been a longtime fan of Stryper or had just recently discovered their amazing music, Friday’s show at the Riverside Municipal Auditorium had something for everyone and failed to disappoint even the most discerning Stryper fan. The band, comprised of all four original members including Michael Sweet, Robert Sweet, Oz Fox, and Timothy Gaines, played all 11 tracks off of 1986 Grammy nominated album plus nine additional tracks that spanned their entire catalog of high-intensity rock and roll.

After a solid set from local acoustic sensation The J-Mann Band, lights at the RMA finally dimmed and the near-capacity crowd rose to their feet in anticipation of the start of the show. Red and yellow lighting began to glow on stage as a Stryper “pump-up” video began high above the stage.  The 8-minute video took concert-goers through a chronological journey of Stryper’s amazing 30+ year career chock full of pictures, interviews, and live music footage.  This definitely got the room energized and stirred up quite a bit of emotion with the legions of Stryper faithful in attendance.  Immediately following the video, the lights went dark and “Abyss” began to pulse through the tightly packed auditorium.  As the instrumental came to a close, Michael Sweet and company hit the stage in vintage yellow and black racing suits, launching into the opening track of the night, “To Hell with the Devil”.

And so it began, the 30th Anniversary of To Hell with the Devil was off and running at the historical RMA in Riverside, CA.  Scanning the audience, there was not a fan around me that did not have their fist high in the air, singing along to one of the 80’s most iconic rock albums.  My favorite live tracks from THWTD that evening included “The Way” and “Rockin’ the World”, while others seemed to gravitate towards “Honestly”, Stryper’s most commercial and well-known hit.  Upon completion of the album in its entirety, the band took a short break to change out of their racing suits and into more comfortable attire for the remainder of the set. The second part of the show unleashed a litany of Stryper classics upon the crowd including “In God We Trust”, “God”, and fan-favorite “Soldiers Under Command”. However, my favorite song of the evening was “Yahweh”, off their 2015 release, Fallen.  To me, this was Stryper at its best.  The encore, “Makes Me Wanna Sing”, was chosen by the audience via Stryper app (very cool) and capped of an incredible night of music with the Yellow and Black in Riverside, CA.

Stryper’s performance at the Riverside Municipal Auditorium on Friday night was vocally crisp, instrumentally solid, and brought a consistent energy to the stage that unrivaled by many of their counterparts.  Sweet’s vocals were pitch perfect while Robert, Oz, and Timothy were all crushing it throughout the 18-song set. The remarkable chemistry of the band was showcased all evening long, and left no doubt to the thousand + in attendance that this band was still the real-deal after all these years.  Just six shows into their world tour, this band of brothers homecoming to Southern California was just what the doctor ordered and for many in attendance, one of their live performances in years.  For those that came to show looking to relive the 80’s with classic Stryper, that definitely happened.  More importantly, it gave many Stryper fans an opportunity to hear some of their latest material (which I honestly believe might be their best to date).

Hunnypot Unlimited’s Matthew Belter recently had a chance to catch up with Stryper frontman and guitarist Michael Sweet to discuss the 30th anniversary of the To Hell with the Devil LP as well as all things Stryper.  Here is Part II of our exclusive interview:


Michael Sweet Interview – Part II

Your collaboration with George Lynch on 2015’s “Only to Rise” was pretty tight and has received solid reviews all around the world.   What was in like working with George?  Will fans be seeing any follow ups to Sweet & Lynch’s debut album in the near future?

Really fun man. I loved working with it. George sent me a bunch of ideas. I took those ideas and wrote lyrics and melodies and finished them off. We're going to do it again. We're going to start writing in January. I think he's actually writing ideas now. We're going to start recording in February and release another album man, it's going to be cool.  We're going to get a little edgier with it. We talked about it and a little bit more in the “Tooth and Nail” kind of direction. A little faster songs and more burning solos, so we're going to try and go down that road.


You had an opportunity to front one of my favorite bands of all time, Boston, back in 2008.  What was that experience like and what was it like to work with Tom Scholz?   

It was incredible. Definitely surreal, many times on stage did not feel real, felt like a dream. All that good stuff. Man it was a great time. Opportunity to stand on stage after stage, in front of those crowds and all those fans and singing some of my favorite songs of all time, and perform them next to Tom. It was just great, great feeling man. Short-lived, but an incredible memory I'll always have.


You left Boston back in 2011 to refocus your efforts on Stryper.  Was that a hard thing to do seeing how good things were going at the time?

It was one of the easiest decisions I've ever made. It really was. I knew that I was supposed to leave Boston and devote 100% of my time to Stryper, and I think that's why Stryper has been really churning out a lot of stuff lately, because I have devoted more time to it. It was easy. I didn't even have to think twice about it.


Looking back over an amazing 35-year career (Stryper, solo, along with numerous collaborations), would there be anything you would do differently based on what you know today?

There are a few things that I might go back and do a little differently but I'm pretty happy with the choices I've made over the years and the things I've done over the years. I really don't have many regrets. I have a few, but not many, and they're all minor. The ones that I have are minor. Man, I've been brought to this place with a purpose and I'm not going to sit there and question it, or question God, or where he's taken me at all. It's been quite a ride and quite a blessing and I'm just thrilled to have been a part of it. I feel like there's a lot more in store as well.


Matthew Belter

Executive Editor - Long Beach

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