Gallery By Samuel Phillips
Gallery By Samuel Phillips
The last time Stryper were in Adelaide was, incredibly, more than a quarter of a century ago, in a time when hair-metal was still king and grunge was still truly alternative.
Despite this previous gig being so long ago, I remember it well, mostly because it was so different from any other hard rock gig I’d been to at that point. I may have been barely old enough to drink but I had been to enough gigs already to know that it was highly unusual to be lining up outside Thebarton Theatre in the early afternoon sun to get into a venue that didn’t have beer on the menu. I put this down to Stryper, as a ‘Christian-metal’ band, trying to model good Christian behavior and encouraging a sober early bedtime for everyone on a Sunday.
This time around, it was a very different experience and a more typical rock gig.
Aside from the later hour and the serving of adult refreshments at The Gov, Stryper now had ex-Firehouse bassist Perry Richardson in the band and sadly, lead guitarist Oz Fox was not with the band for this tour. Only days before the band were due to leave for Australia, Oz suffered a brain seizure on stage in Las Vegas and was deemed not well enough to travel. With Oz’s blessing, the band decided to continue with the tour as a three-piece.
By the time support act Sonic Divide opened the show, there was a healthy sized crowd already at the venue and this first set of the night was full of enough epic sounding melodic rock to keep everyone in good spirits. The 6 piece’s big sound and the fact that the band’s guitarist formerly played with Disciple (an Adelaide Christian band who opened for Stryper all those years ago at the aforementioned earlier gig) made Sonic Divide a suitable and popular support tonight.
Second support act Rosemont (formerly Love Cream) seemed a little misplaced with their light-hearted vibe and somewhat funky pop-rock sound but they played well enough to keep the feel-good atmosphere in the room until Stryper made their appearance.
The headliners’ set started with frontman Michael Sweet making a low-key entrance to the stage to welcome everybody to the gig and to talk about the Oz Fox situation. From here it became obvious that this would be an intimate performance rather than a big over-the-top rock show. This seemed to suit the crowd who had filled The Gov on this Sunday evening and there was a genuinely warm feeling in the room between the band and the punters who had come to worship at the altar of Stryper. The set kicked off with a couple of more recent Stryper songs, Yahweh from their 2015 album Fallen and The Valley from the new album God Damn Evil. From here on, the set was mostly made up of classic 80s Stryper hits and tracks from the new album. The crowd sang along in full voice to classics Calling on You and Free from the To Hell with the Devil album which came early in the set, and everyone then seemed to embrace the newer material just as much as the more familiar classics. The set took a more casual turn when Michael brought out the acoustic guitar for a quiet solo rendition of Lady from the early 90s album Against the Law. From here on though, it was full steam ahead as the set was closed with rocking crowd-pleasers including Always There For You, Soldiers Under Command and To Hell with the Devil. There may have been an intimate feel to the show due to the banter coming from Michael Sweet between songs but the performance from the band was pure arena rock in execution and delivery. Relatively new bassist Perry Richardson still looks like the hair-metal rock star he was in Firehouse back in the early 90s, Robert Sweet still plays the drums like a true showman (all hair and sweat), and Michael’s playing and powerhouse vocals are still as great as they’ve always been.
As fantastic as this gig was, and as good as all three members of Stryper were tonight, the presence of Oz Fox was definitely missed. His lead guitar and backing vocals were the only things missing from the sound on the night and he would likely have been in the thoughts of most people in attendance. As the lights came on and the band left the stage I’m sure there were a lot of people praying for Oz to make a speedy recovery and hoping for another chance to see the full Stryper show in Australia in the not too distant future.
Review Contributed by Kym Robey
The utterance of “I’m a Richie girl” from star-struck female fans have been a favourite companion in my life since 1983, generally because it ignited some heated and robust discussion amongst those whose opinions may differ. For the rest of us, the work of Richie Sambora has been at very least stunning and unforgettable, sans requirement for me to guild the lily further. But with his return to Australia in September 2016 being the catalyst for further celebration, and in the company of none other than our favourite Australian expat in Orianthi, I cannot contain my digital lingua. It’s simply too exciting.
At Silver Tiger Media we freely confess to being big fans of the Adelaide Orchid since 2007 and we celebrated with great glee watching her fan base explode with the 2009 release of According To You. And from there Orianthi Panagaris has been a staple of our appreciative rock n roll diet, catering in constantly pleasing form to our meticulous palates.
I will resist the overwhelming temptation to celebrate Orianthi’s musical brilliance with too long an article. Rather I will simply invite all interested parties to share some of this remarkable performer worldwide acclaim, as our travels here and there made the vain attempt to satisfy an unquenchable thirst for her musical prowess.
I will simply let you read on in accompanying pages, offered to build the anticipation further for RSO’s (Ritchie Sambora & Orianthi) Australian Tour. This a most welcome opportunity to see these brilliant stars live and in person as we wait patiently for their keenly anticipated album. Richie, you know we have long loved your work in Australia and cannot wait to see you again. Orianthi, every year and to every adoring Australian heart…you always come home. Thank you
What a sensational opportunity to meet with Orianthi in Adelaide. A wonderful lady and a genuinely beautiful soul. Quite softly spoken and absolutely wonderful to speak with. So captivating and so much fun. I hope Richie liked the photo you took of my t-shirt Orianthi.
I simply must thank Orianthi’s lovely mother and thoroughly charming sister for their hospitality and kindness.
After seeing this magnificent guitarist perform in Las Vegas with Alice Cooper, and a few other shows it was a tremendous treat for me, and everyone assembled to watch Orianthi take to the stage in intimate surroundings.
What a show.
Up close and personal we witness the profound skill displayed by this magnificent performer with every pick, strum and fret dancing digit. Her voice was flawless and simply stunning.
Tracks old and familiar were literally music to the crowd’s ears as a mass sing-along was led by Orianthi. And such gratitude expressed to the masses is seldom heard with such heartfelt truth.
A roar erupts as Orianthi introduces the great man himself to take to the stage. As Orianthi welcomes Richie Sambora to the stage, it was met with an eruption of cheers and glee. Chairs flew and drinks were merrily abandoned as all pressed for a vantage point.
To watch the two perform together is captivating and entirely thrilling. With the announcement of a collaborative album and accompanying tour the assembled followers roared with great merriment.
A sensational and thrilling performance was provided by Orianthi, along with Ritchie and their fabulous band. Such a stunning array of musical talent and technical skill. The most notable difference between Orianthi and Richie is their mutually complementary, but differing styles.
Richie puts so much visible emotion into his guitar playing and whilst no less passionate and impressive, Orianthi does make shredding with such amazing talent and grace seem as simple as breathing.
My wife has been waiting to meet you for many years and have a guitar signed Richie, so thank you. You are a thoroughly personable and accommodating fellow. Our first meeting with you was a thrill.
What a terrific treat for everyone fortuitous enough to attend and next year will be even bigger.
Thank you Orianthi, Richie and all involved. This was indeed a highlight.