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I've seen the band several times in the past, including each of their Houston visits since they've reunited this decade. That said, Monday night's Stryper concert was by far the best I've seen the band on stage. Michael Sweet's voice may not be as able to hit the same high notes as in the past, but he still demonstrated the staying power of his vocal chords. And the rest of the band showed that they weren't simply content to go through the motions.
As far as returning 80s metal bands go, the show was as loud and the guitars as crunchy as you'd imagine. Even better, the mix of new songs off of the latest release mixed in very well with the classic material and there didn't seem to be much of a lull for any of them.
Three things that made this show particularly nice, though:
1. Returning in the height of Christmas season after losing four Texas dates in November.
The show was initially scheduled for November 5th and got cancelled very close to showtime due to a flu bug going around the tour bus. Two of the shows were rescheduled, and two were cancelled. I'm not sure what the pressure is in the band's situation to make up shows out of financial consideration, but it certainly seemed a stretch to expect shows to be scheduled for the 21st (Houston) and 22nd (Dallas).
Lead singer Michael Sweet addressed the issue early in the set, suggesting that because Texas was the very first state that Stryper really "toured," they felt a bit of responsibility to make up some of the lost dates. Whether you chalk that up to typical band bantering to appeal to the locals or not, it at least adds something to what made the show a pleasure to see.
The original plan for the tour had been to have Michael's son's band (Flight Patterns) open for Stryper. This time around, that wasn't the case. I'm not sure if Michael's family made this final leg of the tour with him. But given the recent passing of Michael's wife before the tour, the thought did occur to me that the band might be making a bit of a personal sacrifice in stretching it out this close to the holidays. However much of a sacrifice went into it, it certainly was appreciated.
2. Seeing the band in a nice venue.
This was my first time to see a show in the House of Blues. No disappointment in the show itself. The grunge music playing before Stryper's set might be the only real question mark, but that's fairly minor.
3. Jonathan Salas.
Typically, even if the opening act is good, I'll start to speculate on how much time is left before they wrap up. This is especially true when the band is completely unknown going in. I hadn't even made time to preview a few tunes by Salas prior to the show this time. But they could have let him play for a good while longer and I wouldn't have had a complaint. The kid is good and I hope there's a lot more opportunities to catch him around Houston. I've since ordered a couple of his CDs, but I'm not sure that the band he played with Monday night is on either. Of particular importance, whoever the drummer he had with him was phenomenal. And I say that as one who's rarely won over by a drummer.
From the Houston show:
Tonight: House of Blues ...
Sixty hours before doors open ...
It's not entirely Stryper unless you relive the power ballad era that they existed in.
"Play skillfully with a loud noise ... that's what these guys do."
The little baby boy that gets mentioned and shown in this one opens the show Monday night with his band:
Old school Stryper:
Monday cannot get here fast enough.
Day three. Don't ask what happened to Day two. You don't want to know and I don't want to relive.
Alrighty ... we're back on the countdown for Stryper swinging through Houston. This time around, there's the promise of a segment of Christmas tunes. This oughta get any good metalhead into the spirit ...
Oh, and while I've skipped a beat on the recording of services the past few weeks, I will update with a bit of blogging soon enough. Exciting times ... can't keep them all to myself, ya know.
Well, the Stryper concert that was supposed to happen tonight got postponed due to the flu overtaking the band's tour bus ...
STRYPER has postponed their concerts scheduled for tonight Wednesday, November 4 (Dallas - House of Blues) and Thursday, November 5 (Houston - House of Blues) due to artist illness.
The rescheduled dates are
December 21 (Houston - House of Blues)
December 22 (Dallas - House of Blues)
Singer / Songwriter Michael Sweet explains, "I've come down with a horrible case of the flu and now it seems to be spreading throughout the bus. I see reports all over the nation where bad cases of the flu are hitting America and had hoped we could make it through this entire tour without it affecting us, but unfortunately it has. It's really bad and I wish our friends and fans all the best with their health during this season. I have seen a doctor and am on medication and anticipate a speedy recovery. My sincerest apologies to all the fans for this inconvenience but I look forward to seeing you all in December when we return. Just for these two shows we will be putting together a special Christmas segment of the show. It'll be great to spend the holidays with our friends and fans in Dallas and Houston."
The rescheduled shows will include a special Christmas segment and will include the fan favorite 'Reason for the Season', never before performed live at a Stryper show.
Tickets purchased for each concert will be honored on the rescheduled dates.
Fan meet and greet purchases will also be honored on the rescheduled dates.
For additional tour and ticket information, please visit www.livenation.com or www.stryper.com.
It's a bummer, but I'm impressed that they're willing to stay on the road so far into December. As for the inclusion of their popular Christmas song, "Reason for the Season" I could have sworn I've heard it live before. Granted, I'm old and the memory fades ... but still.
Also tempting is that this could theoretically resolve my fleeting desire to catch Mindy Smith at the HOB tonight. Might need to spin some tunes of her's to see if I feel up for it. Still a bit groggy from working overnight on Election Day.
Just me, celebrating the week that brings Darlene Zschech to Houston ...
Just me, celebrating the week that brings Stryper back to Houston.
No Koinonia praise & worship this past Saturday since we had to juggle rooms and set up the 6pm group study elsewhere. But a great time was had worshiping with Abel Orta y Familia at Koinonia. Eight of them, total.
A couple of other musical notes for the week ahead:
- Obviously, I've been dropping mentions of the Stryper concert Thursday night at Houston's House of Blues. Nice of 'em to visit around my birthday. As soon as YouTube is done with their online maintenance work, I'm running video daily to celebrate.
- Darlene Zschech will be leading worship every day from Thursday on. First as part of Joyce Meyer's stop in Houston (Thursday - Saturda) ... and then as part of our weekend praise and worship on Saturday and Sunday. For this occasion, I think I need to get back in the habit of hunting for a good seat up close to the stage. It's just a little more fun when everything's loud.
Well, the two-week birthday season began in earnest last night with Derek Webb's show at the House of Blues (small room, edition). I almost managed to end up seeing the show going on in the big room, courtesy of an inattentive moment by the ticket taker. After discovering that they sold the wrong concert t-shirts in a room that was way too spacious, I found my way over to the correct place ... smaller, proper concert t-shirts, slightly less hip people, but cool enough to spend some time with for an evening.
It's ironic that there have been two shows that have caused me to contemplate skipping church on Saturday. Both by bands that have gone in very different musical directions from their earlier releases. The Elms played a recent Saturday at the Warehouse. I don't doubt for a second that I'd have enjoyed their musical style a bit more than I do the latest Derek Webb material. But I'd be kicking myself for a long time if I didn't catch Webb's show. So I opted for the pseudo-techno tunes with Webb's "evil twin" playing a lot of bass guitar in a three-piece band. Musically, not entirely my cup of tea. But Derek Webb is worth the attention for his lyrics above all else. So no regrets ... but The Elms are still on my to-do list for next time around.
Marc Scibilia opened the show with a one-man acoustic set (no Sandra McCracken ... bummer!). I'd think the guy would have to work overtime to avoid comparisons to Dylan. Scibilia works with the comparison, however, going all-out harmonica necklace late in the set. His stuff grew on me over the 45 minute set and as soon as his latest release turns up somewhere other than itunes, I'll be all over that material in particular, "How Bad We Need Each Other" ranking as a personal preference of the material offered.
As for Derek's show, I'm not sure whether I should spend more time regaling the light show put on in a club room that holds less than 200 people, or speculate how much of the music was real and how much was synthesized and/or pre-recorded. Does any of that matter, though? If you know who Webb is and you get his stuff, anything he does around the lyrics is likely to be well received. If not, anything I offer will only confuse.
I did enjoy that he played every track from Stockholm Syndrome, the latest release. But I'll register a minor gripe that there was nothing offered from Mockingbird. The "classics" got the acoustic treatment, while the new stuff got the techno treatment. Not a bad song in the set ... just not enough hours in the evening to fit in more.
The show was also my first opportunity to soak up the new House of Blues venue, much to my approval. Can't wait to see Stryper in the big room next week. I've finally managed to get my Birthday list together, with everything going on in the coming two weeks that's of interest to me. Two concerts, two books, a new CD, a cool movie opening, and Darlene Zschech at Lakewood. I managed to discover that Itzhak Perlman is coming to town on November 4th at Jones Hall. I'm inclined to add it to the list. It's gonna get awfully busy here real quick-like.
A sampling ...
(and word of warning to the easily offended: this is the song with the dirty word)
Wow ... even more good news from the twitters!
I'm not even the world's biggest Relient K fan, but for that price, I'm downloading the whole thing right now.
New release today by The Elms: The Great American Midrange.
I'm a fairly new convert to their music and I'm still a bit selective about which of their many changing styles I put into heavy rotation. There's a couple of songs off of this one that I'm eager to spin a few hundred times, though. "Unless God Appears First" is high on that list. If you're willing to spend a buck more than Amazon's price for the full release, the band is selling a version that has each song done acoustically, in addition to that.
Last, but not least, The Elms hit Houston on October 10th. Unfortunately for me, that's a Saturday night. I'll be at church for most of the night, but I might be calling to see what time they hit the stage.
For those inquiring minds who are interested in such things, there used to be a message board on the band's site where they answered the "So, are you guys Christians or what?" question. I thought they answer (direct from one of the band members) was great. Since I can't find that, this interview with Christianity Today will have to suffice. Needless to say, the tunes aren't you're typical praise & worship stuff and it's unlikely that any will make a worship setlist for Koinonia. But it's still very good, heartfelt, rocking music ... if that's yer cup of tea.
Anyways, here's the trailer for the new release. If you enjoy, buy a song or two ... or an album.
Well, well ... Chris Tomlin's Christmas Tour will hit Houston on 12/19 at Grace Community Church. It's also the last stop scheduled so far for the tour, which is usually a very good thing for the viewing & worshiping fan.
The new Christmas CD is out on 10/6 and that date is sneaking up on me awfully fast.
In case you happen to have a Saturday night free on August 8, Soulcheck seems to be promising a big event at Discovery Green downtown. I can't seem to find a lot of details in the way of musical offerings, but it would seem that they've got quite a bit of space to fill up with something that evening. If anyone goes, I look forward to hearing how it turns out.
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