First stop was the merch desk. The roller derby cult classic ‘Whip It’ builds a plot line around a Stryper t-shirt and a family friend from Newcastle had placed an order for appropriate attire to make a suitable statement. Job done.
After a beer and quick dinner (I recommend the Triffid Burrito Bowls) we stick our heads in to hear the Jet-esque stylings of opening support Black Whisky. Their new single ‘Raising Hell’ seems in stark contrast to the expect lyrical content of the main act, but the fans seem to love it nonetheless, as the band get on with their self-affirmed “30 minutes of business”.
9.15pm brings Redstar Born to the stage. The lead singer is engaging and polite. Until he unleashes his vocals. What a sound!?! These guys make some serious noise for a three piece and we loved their tight performance, delivering a heavy and emotive show to a surprised crowd. They’v been named on the upcoming Wallapalooza bill for Mudgeeraba’s Wallaby Hotel and will definitely worth rocking out to. (Mention must be made of the RSB drummer’s t-shirt. We see your bedazzling sequins on the skeleton crown and commend you on your percussive energy and fashion sense. Well played, sir.)
There’s only a short wait after the supports for three-decade veterans of metal, Stryper. A quick chat with a lovely couple, Ruth and Zeke, uncovers that its a romantic night for them, notwithstanding the mostly middle-aged male crowd. Lead singer Michael Sweet’s solo single ‘Forever Yours’ was their wedding song. They don’t hold much hope for it making the set list, but the power of social media alerted them to tonight’s gig and so they are ready to rock. And rock they do.
Sweet enters stage right sans-instrument approaching the microphone. Announcing that tonight they’ll be a three piece, on account of Oz Fox being in an incident that prevent him for travelling, Sweet plays a touching audio message from Oz to the crowd. There’s a cheer as the band take the stage, and launch with precision and pitch perfection into ‘Yahweh’, which is followed by ‘The Valley’. There are a lot of raised hands, but also an enormous sound with guitar breaks and poses, typical of their glam metal legacy. Awesome.
Sweet, later in the set and after endearing himself to the crowd by gently heckling New Zealanders, touches on that glam metal history.
“In 1986, all the dudes looked like girls, and everyone loved it. That was us, but times have changed.”
The set continues with a mix of old and new songs, anchored by their drummer reminiscent of Animal from the Muppets pouring energy into every song. Bibles are thrown to the crowd, as is the practice, and Ruth and Zeke get their romantic acoustic ditty, albeit the more recent single ‘Lady’, wedged between the new album title track ‘God Damn Evil’ and 80’s anthem ‘Always There for you’.
The show is solid and what you’d expect from a metal band 34 years into touring. Sweet is engaging and funny at times, and the band are musically very tight. Stryper rock out more than 80 minutes and leave the stage, returning to chants for more. The drummer has his encore hat on and ‘To Hell with the Devil’ closes Stryper’s Australian tour, much to the mixed bliss and sadness of the audience. Stryper showed no signs of slowing and commit to returning soon with Oz Fox in tow, blessing the audience who pilgrimaged tonight to pay homage to their Christian metal kings.