Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Stryper-Live In Indonesia At Java Rockin' Land



Christian hard rock act Stryper were filmed at this huge festival in Indonesia two years ago. It was reported that it was a last minute addition to their touring schedule, but the band and their management did what they had to for making it happen. Here we have the line-up that played on all of their well know 80's albums as bassist Tim Gaines returned in 2009 after being out of the band for a few years. The set list is also made up of mostly 80's tracks with cuts like "The Rock that makes me roll", "Loud n' clear", "Honestly". Yes, the band is still is still wearing yellow and black outfits only now they are a bit more subtle about their attire. My favorite things about Stryper are that Robert Sweet is a very solid drummer. I have heard it more in the various projects he has done with guitarist Bill Menchen, but you can hear and definitely see it in this performance with Stryper as well. I always felt that Michael Sweet and Oz Fox were a slightly overlooked guitar duo as both were competent and even impressive at times on their solos. One of the major drawbacks of Stryper for me was too many sappy, slow songs. I know that some of those were there most known hits, but they never appealed that much to me. Every hard rock act back in the day seem to have felt the need to tack on at least one power ballad, but Stryper always seemed to put more than one of their albums and for me it slowed down the momentum of their albums. Another part of Stryper that I had trouble with was how high Michael Sweet's vocals could be. He was always in tune, but at times this approach took away from the overall heaviness of their songs. Let's get into this 2010 performance. This was a huge festival and the sound and camera people do a great job of capturing the excitement of an event of such proportions. The first thing that I noticed right away was that Michael Sweet was a much more charismatic frontman than I would have thought. He is very natural and relaxed, but also engaging with the crowd. In between songs he jokes about how 80's glam bands looked and about what MTV has become. Unlike other 80's hard rocks that are now middle aged there is no attempt to act like they are still in their 20's and be the aging rocker. Instead what we get from Sweet and the rest of the band is straight forward show of solid hard rock delivered to the best of their abilities. In listening to Stryper's 80's albums I always felt the production could have been a bit more full in tone on their heavier tracks. On occasion it felt like they were playing music that but someone behind the knobs turned the music down a bit. On this show you get to here some of what you may have been missing on those studio versions for all these years. Stryper managed to act natural, look natural and play their songs about as good as I have heard them. I didn't go into this DVD expecting to be that impressed, but I was indeed impressed. Since the time this concert was filmed the band has released the very likable 2011 cover album "The Covering" and they continue to tour. I was glad to see a veteran hard rock look like they still had something left to give.

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