MICHAEL SWEET: The voice of STRYPER (Concert Review)

Michael Sweet – Solo acoustic tour

Goldfield Trading Post 9/30/2017

Sacramento, CA

While Stryper is on a bit of a hiatus, the energetic Michael Sweet never stops.  This man can’t stand still for a minute.  Whether it’s continually touring or releasing new music yearly under the monikers of Stryper, Michael Sweet, Sweet & Lynch, etc. etc. etc., obviously Sweet doesn’t believe in the statement that “Rock is dead!

Although I’ve seen 300+ shows in my lifetime, I haven’t seen very many acoustic shows.  So, when I saw that Michael Sweet was coming to town, I was intrigued.  Asking my 17-year old son’s interest (his fave bands are Iron Maiden, TSO, Kiss and has never seen Stryper live) and finding out that he was in, I immediately got more excited.  Next thought, are meet & greet passes available?  To my surprise, they were….and at the affordable price of $46.  Wow!!!!  My son and I get to meet one of my favorite singers of all time for $46…SOLD!

On the day of the show, we plan to get to the venue at 7pm.  Get there, parking is a breeze…venue is easy to find in downtown Sacramento.  Walk in, person checks our tickets and immediately takes us to a room where there is zero line and we meet Michael (I guess the meet & greet had started earlier, but I didn’t know…lucky for me…no line).  Take a couple of pics, signed a promo photo for each of us, conversation for a few minutes, we buy a t-shirt…done!  Easy, cheesy!

Goldfield Trading Post is basically a bar with a separate room that has a stage.  The room is about 2500-3000 sq. ft. and is set up to be an intimate setting.  The venue attracts smaller national bands and, on this night, only had about 80-100 people, about 1/3 full.  The crowd has a couple of young kids, but the rest are between the ages of 45-55.  I think “Uh oh.  If I was Michael, it would be hard to be 100% energetic to an empty room.”  8.20pm on the trusty iPhone… a young man appears to announce, “… Ladies and Gentlemen, Michael Sweet!

Michael comes out with an acoustic guitar.  He looks great.  No yellow/black outfit, just basic black.  He is set up as a solo performer with pedals that can create simple drum beats, loop a rhythm guitar part on the fly (like what we have seen Ed Sheeran do on the Grammys) and one mic.  “Thanks for coming… I’m going to take you on a chronological journey.

First song, “You Know What to Do” from the album Yellow and Black Attack.  Holy cow! Michael’s voice sounds AMAZING!  UNBELIEVABLE!!!  This guy is in his mid-50s.  WOW!  The crowd is into it and singing along.

Next song, “Reach Out” (from the album Soldiers Under Command)Michael is not only completely killing it, but is also a master at engaging the crowd.  There are only a 100 people, but it’s a mighty 100… totally into what is going on.

Honestly” from the album To Hell with the Devil is next.  “This song took us from clubs to arenas overnight…” The absolute BEST version I have ever heard.  Amazingly beautiful and emotional changes to the melody.  The crowd was so quiet you could hear a pin drop.

Time for the more upbeat “Always There for You” from In God We Trust.  Perfect placement in the set list.  You could tell that Michael was having fun.  He was giving 110% and wasn’t concerned with how full the room was.  At times, he would stop in the middle of the song and crack jokes when he noticed someone in the crowd doing something worth mentioning.  “You don’t really know this song, do you….

Time for a surprise.  “I wish I had written this song” and starts “Livin’ on a Prayer”.  Yes, the Bon Jovi song.  You can probably imagine EVERYONE was singing along to this popular song from the 80’s.

Next up, another surprise.  “All for One” from Against the Law.  I only say surprise because this album doesn’t always get a ton of love from Michael.  It’s my favorite Stryper album, so I was glad to hear the track.  After the song, Michael stops and says to a person in the crowd “Is that on YouTube already?  I tried not to mess it up.

Then came two songs from the first couple of solo albums after leaving Stryper for a bit in the early 90’s.  “Someday” from the album Michael Sweet and “Real” from the album Real.  Both emotional songs from a transitional part of an illustrious career.  Note, we are at songs 7 and 8 and Michael’s vocals seems to be getting even stronger.

Before starting the next song, Michael tells an emotional story and says something that will be with me for the rest of my life, “I encourage you to think tomorrow will bring hope…” and starts “I’m Not Your Suicide” from the album I’m Not Your Suicide released in 2014.  Okay… total transparency, I almost cried during this song.  I said… almost.  Don’t judge me 😊

Diehard fans know that Michael Sweet was in the band Boston for a bit.  He entertained us with “Peace of Mind” and “Amanda” and the crowd went absolutely nuts.  Can’t go wrong with the Boston hits.

Next, my favorite Sweet & Lynch song, “Dying Rose” from the album Only to Rise.  Too bad that those two heavyweights never got to tour together.  Maybe someday….

Ending the show, Michael played two of Stryper’s biggest hits, “Calling on You” and “To Hell with the Devil”, both off their biggest album To Hell with the Devil.  After thanking the crowd for coming, he shares that he will sign anything that folks buy at the merch booth, no matter how long it takes.  Class act the whole way!

There you have it… a full 80 minutes.  No early exits here.  Delivering the material as if he was in front of thousands.  No religious overtones.  No throwing out bibles to the crowd.  No fluff music.  Just awesome songs, one incredible voice and ridiculous talent.  So, how did my son feel about the show?  He didn’t say one word during the amazing 80 minutes.  Afterwards, he turns to me and says, “WOW!”  Well done Michael Sweet.  Well done.

Pooni out!

Buy: Michael Sweet

Buy: Stryper

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