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In support of their latest album, The Final Battle, popular Christian rockers Stryper stopped by the House of Blues San Diego to deliver their unique blend of heavy metal and inspiring messages of faith. Since it had been at least 30 years since my last Stryper show (yikes!), I was both excited and curious to see how the band’s current live show would compare to the energetic performances I witnessed back in the glory days of the late 80’s.  At their peak of popularity, Stryper made a significant impact on the emerging Christian music scene, enjoyed heavy airplay on MTV, and achieved one platinum and two gold records.  Knowing the band is still going strong 39 years since the release of their debut EP album The Yellow and Black Attack is simply awesome. 

A positive vibe filled the House of Blues San Diego as band members, dressed in their familiar black and yellow attire, strolled on stage beaming with smiles and waving to the crowd to loud cheers.  They kicked things off with the catchy mid-tempo banger “Sing Along Song”.  As Michael Sweet sang that first melodic chorus followed by those tasty and amazing Stryper backing harmonies from guitarist Oz Fox and bassist Perry Richardson, it was quite clear these guys were on their game! The band was loud, tight, and the vocal harmonies were fantastic.  Maybe most importantly, the band and the audience were having a blast.

Lead singer and guitarist Michael Sweet is an incredible talent; his voice is distinct and magical. He can still manage most of the high parts from songs he recorded well over 30 years ago – which is certainly not the case for most veteran metal singers from the 80’s!  Sweet commands the stage with his energetic performance and fun interactions with the crowd.  Drummer Robert Sweet, who with brother Michael founded the band 40 years ago in Orange County, California, kicked into beast mode with wild drums fills during the dramatic intro for “Loving You”.  Robert still famously sets up his drum kit facing stage right to provide a more unimpeded view of the audience – and vice versa.  I’m surprised more drummers don’t emulate Robert’s set up, as it allows the drummer to interact more with the crowd while the audience can enjoy more of what the drummer is doing behind the kit – flailing arms bashing toms and cymbals, legs furiously working the hi-hat and kick drum. 

Recovered from brain surgery in 2021, it was good to see lead guitarist Oz Fox looking healthy, laughing and shredding like usual, plus his backing vocals are outstanding.  Bassist Perry Richardson (FireHouse), joined the group 2017 and fits right in.  You can’t miss Richardson on stage with his massive head of curly blonde glam hair.  But his outstanding musicianship and excellent backing vocals help round out an impressive quartet hitting on all melodic metal cylinders. 

The set list had a nice balance of songs from 10 different albums, mixing in huge hits like “To Hell With the Devil”, “Soldiers Under Command”, “Free”, “More Than a Man”, and “Calling on You”, solid deeper cuts like “Surrender”, and two tracks from the new album including the double-bass drum face melting “Transgressor”.  Overall, Stryper put on an entertaining memorable high-energy performance with an uplifting message – proving once again why they have been so successful for nearly four decades. Despite the album name, The Final Battle, this is not a farewell tour by any means.  Stryper is already making special plans to celebrate their 40th anniversary in 2024. Catch them on tour this year and keep an eye out for a special milestone anniversary tour next year! 

Keep rockin’ and be well,

Greg Vitalich


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Greg Vitalich

Photojournalist - San Diego

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