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[Review] Stryper @ 170 Russell, Melbourne 05/03/2023

The yellow and black attack are back after last gracing out shores in 2018, they have made their return and the fans couldn’t be happier, the unending line snaking up and around 170 Russell in Melbourne a testament to the numbers waiting to get in.  As I made my way down the stairs it was clear there was a b-line for merch knowing it sold out last time Stryper were in town. So after a quick stop there I got my spot up close to the stage so I didn’t miss a minute of the action.

Opening the nights proceeding were Crosson, delivering a set almost reminiscent of a theatre show, complete with dancers, costume changes and a few rocking tunes in-between. They have been around for quite a while so it must be working for them, and they had the crowd starting to warm up by the end of their set. Followed closely by Sydney’s Panik who gave a flat-out thrash set, for a threesome these guys packed a punch and had 170 rocking with big riffs and high kicks. They left the punters well and truly ready and left me well impressed.

The heavy metal tunes were pumping from the speakers, the fans were singing along getting their voices warmed up, could any compete with Michael Sweet? definitely not, but we all like to think we could. The Marshall amps were stacked across the stage ready to be put to the test with Robert’s kit perched on top in his trademark sideways style. The lights dimmed the tension palpable, we have been waiting out the last few years to have Stryper back in Australia, and we were more than ready to rock out with them.

After touring as a trio last time due to Oz’s ill health I am happy to report that all four members were here and looking sharp. As they took the stage the fans erupted, it was clear they had brought their singing voices and weren’t afraid to use them. In God We Trust got the party started followed by Revalation and More Than A Man. Constantly engaging with the crowd Michael Sweet exuded happiness to be touring again and to be back in Australia. After having his own health issues of late we were delighted to have him here as well. While the set list wasn’t as extensive as Stryper’s last visit there was lots to love as Surrender and Calling On You rang out.  Free was up next, the boys smashing out the songs with gusto,

Oz and Michael shredding skills both exemplary, as always the solos were hit to perfection showing the room just how it is done. The booming drum intro to Sorry from the ripping album God Damn Evil had everyone up and about, and while it was apparent Robert had been having a few technical issues with his kit he didn’t let this stop him hitting the gritty depths of the wicked groove. The hits keep coming with All For One, Always There For You and the amazing Divider which was explosive in its delivery and had the fans singing along.

The Valley ripped the venue a new one, it was loud, and it was heavy, just how we like them, then followed by the one we all wanted to hear Yahweh! Styper bibles were at the ready, randomly thrown out to the crowd over the course of the evening. While one grazed my hand, sadly I didn’t get the coveted keepsake, maybe next time, as Michael promised they would keeping coming back for as long as we would have them. Perry Richardson was magnificent, dazzling us all night, his smile as wide as the stage, loving every minute. The fans loved right back as Soldiers Under Command rang out, the punters losing their minds as this epic song played and 170 sang along in loud voices keeping them primed for To Hell With The Devil a classic Stryper hit and one we all happy made the cut.

As the night drew to its conclusion, we were hopeful for just one more song and through the higher powers our prayers were answered with the boys returning for Sing-Along Song. This took the crowd to celestial heights, we were drained nothing left in the tank but we screamed out hearts out as they boys came to the forefront giving them the applause they so deserved. Robert threw not drumsticks but his stack of bibles to the hungry crowd, and still they remained elusive to me. Next time I will have my bible catching hand on point!  Final waves and thanks were given, and we were left to recover from a night of hot sweaty, godly rock, that can only be described as angelic. 

Stryper were the preachers, and we were their congregation, spellbound by their words, captivated by their songs, we were disciples schooled in the church of heavy metal, and didn’t we love it! 

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[Review] GLAMFEST@ Bridgeway, Adelaide 27/01/2023

This was one tour that I had been anticipating for quite a while, more so than many others that have travelled through Adelaide over the last few years. As a big fan of glam rock/hair metal of the 80s and early 90s, I was surprised to see this line-up coming to town. While many bands from the US rock scene of the era went on to have huge success internationally (Guns N Roses, Poison, Bon Jovi …just to name a few), there were so many other artists who released fantastic material at the time that didn’t fare so well longer term, or commercially in Australia. This is why I would certainly call the inaugural Glamfest a niche-genre show. Four of the bands included on the line-up (Tuff, Pretty Boy Floyd, Enuff Z’Nuff, and Faster Pussycat all had debut albums that I bought back in the day and absolutely loved! Hence my excitement!

The Adelaide gig was held on a very warm 37 degree day so by the time the doors opened after 4:30pm, the line-up of punters in leather pants, bandannas and cowboy boots were very hot, sweaty, and eager to get inside to enjoy the air-conditioned darkness of the Bridgeway Hotel’s main room.

As soon as the crowd began to file in, the first band, Sydney’s Crosson opened the show. With their catchy hard rock tunes and theatrical show which included two dancing girls and front-man Jason Crosson’s LED light up guitar, they were a suitable opening act for such a gig and they did a good job of capturing the crowd’s attention as they filed in.

The second Aussie band to feature at Glamfest were next up.  Melbourne’s Sister’s Doll have played  the Bridgeway a couple of times in the past and are a popular band already with the glam rock crowds around the country. They instantly worked the stage well as they always do, getting more of a crowd up to the front of the stage as they worked their way through songs from their first two albums as well as some from their forthcoming third. It’s always a blast seeing the three Mileto brothers proudly flying the glam rock flag and living the dream on stage.

After this, came the first international band of the night, Tuff. When their debut album What Comes Around Goes Around was released way back in 1991, I gave it a glowing review in Adelaide’s biggest street-press newspaper at the time and have continued to keep the band in my hair-metal playlists ever since. As I had yet to see Tuff perform live, their inclusion in the tour was one that I was very pleased about and they did not disappoint! Front-man Stevie Rachelle proved to still be a very entertaining performer whose onstage banter between songs was awesomely comical. Their set contained quite a few songs from their aforementioned debut album, including their power ballad I Hate Kissing you Goodbye, their tribute to rock n’ roll history The All-New Generation, and one of my favourites of the set Good Guys Wear Black. Tuff went down very well with the crowd and they ended their set with the perfect song for the occasion, their 2008 track American Hair Band which pays tribute to the scene we were celebrating at this gig.

The second LA band to make it to the stage were Pretty Boy Floyd. Despite their debut album Leather Boys with Electric Toys being released closer to the days of the grunge era, towards the end of the Hollywood glam hey-day, they had an over-the-top glam look complete with huge hair and lipstick, and thankfully, they have never strayed too far from their original influences and image. PBF were due to appear in Australia a couple of years ago to celebrate the 30th anniversary of this album but due to covid, this was one of many gigs to never happen. For tonight’s Glam Fest set however, we finally got to hear this tribute to that debut album as most of the songs from the set came from it. Pretty Boy Floyd seemed to get even more of the crowd down to the front of the stage as they opened with the crowd pleasing song Electric Boys with Electric Toys before getting through other classics including Rock and Roll (Is Gonna Set the Night on Fire), 48 Hours, their big power ballad I Wanna be with You and their cover of Motley Crue’s Toast of the Town. Steve Summers proved that he was still a very entertaining and energetic front-man despite having to deal with technical stage issues throughout the set as his microphone fell out of it’s cable on multiple occasions. When their set ended with one of their later songs Saturday Nite, Steve let the crowd know that he would be heading out right away to meet everyone when he left the stage. True to his word, Steve was very gracious, spending quite a bit of time by the merch stand, signing autographs and having his photo taken with fans.

Next was Enuff Z’Nuff. When they initially released their debut self-titled album back in 1989, they weren’t happy with being lumped into the glam-metal genre by their record company as they felt they were more of a power-pop band. They definitely had the look of a brightly coloured, psychedelic, long-haired rock n’ roll band though, plus they seem to still be a popular addition to any glam-metal line-up such as Glamfest!

The current line-up of Enuff Z’Nuff features founding member and bassist Chip Z’Nuff on lead vocals and bass, covering the absence of original vocalist Donnie Vie. Despite Chip not being the original vocalist on the classic recordings, it was amazing how similar his vocals sounded to the original releases. They opened their set with a cover of The Beatles Magical Mystery Tour due to the band releasing a Beatles/Paul McCartney tribute album in 2021. Tonight’s set included another two songs from this album, but the songs that appeared to be the most popular with the crowd were Enuff Z’Nuff’s early original songs including their hit ballad Fly High Michelle and their closing song New Thing (causing members of Pretty Boy Floyd to jump back up onstage to help with backing vocals).

The band featured on the line-up that seemed the most out of place to me initially was Eclipse. I was the least familiar with them compared to the other bands, plus they were the only international band not from the US, but from Sweden. Also, they didn’t seem to fit the glam metal mould as much as the other bands, being more melodic hard rock/AOR. Leading up to the tour, I did notice that there was quite a bit of support for Eclipse on social media so I was certainly excited to see their live show.

From their opening track Roses on Your Grave, they had the crowd on-board and showed that they had a very energetic and rocking set, particularly the way front-man Erik Mårtensson and bassist Victor Crusner used the large Bridgeway stage and interacted with each other and the crowd. By this point in the day, my ears had started ringing already and I was considering moving further from the stage for an ear-break but Eclipse were too entertaining not to remain where I was near the front. I just hoped that my ear-plugs could withhold the day!

Set highlights for me included their songs The Downfall of Eden and the set closer Viva La Victoria, which seemed to come around too quickly.

Right after Eclipse had vacated the stage, I was definitely in need of visiting the beer garden for an ear break. Not only had every band been REALLY loud, but with a DJ playing between the sets, there was no chance to reset or have a conversation break with any of the people I knew at the gig.

After this short rest, it was time to re-enter the main room for the set from Wednesday 13. A few minutes into this set, it was apparent that a lot of the punters were here for this. Wednesday 13 had everyone down the front of the stage and seemed to get the best crowd response of the day. Of course the band were all in typical horror glam/punk style with their ghoulish make up and a set list of songs that always make for a fantastic Halloween party playlist. The set contained classic Wednesday 13 songs including I walked with a Zombie and I Want you…Dead, new songs including the very catchy Good Day to be a Bad Guy, and some popular songs from Wednesday 13’s previous band Murderdolls  including Nowhere and the set-closer I Love to Say Fuck, which had everyone singing along at full voice, featuring Wednesday 13 brandishing an umbrella with a giant middle finger emblazoned on it!

To finish off the day’s festivities, at close to midnight, Faster Pussycat hit the stage! This was the band featured in the line-up that I have been the biggest fan of for the longest time. In fact, my own band Trash City initially started as a FP tribute as we managed to include 8 songs from their debut album in our own set list! Their set started with the heavy groove of Where There’s a Whip There’s a Way from their second album Wake me When it’s Over. From there, the band worked their way through songs from various points in their career including Cathouse, Don’t Change that Song and Bathroom Wall from their self-titled debut, a cover of INXSDon’t Change and their latest single Like a Ghost. Some technical issues unfortunately caused the band to have to stop the set on a couple of occasions and front-man Taime Downe was certainly showing his frustration at he seemed to be having trouble hearing the mix from the stage at times. Thankfully this didn’t stop the band from powering through to the end of the set. Before they were done, their hit ballad House of Pain went down very well with the room as did their set-closer Babylon, also from their first album. Despite Taime being the last remaining original member of the band, the current line-up has been together for longer than the originals ever were and played the songs perfectly. Drummer Chad Stewart kept the groove perfectly with bassist Danny Nordahl, while guitarists Sam Koltun and Australia’s own Ronnie Simmons owned the stage and weaved together seamlessly.

At the end of Faster Pussycat’s set, as everyone filed out of the venue, there was a lot of talk between everyone about how great this event’s line-up was, and it seemed that a lot of people were hoping this could become an annual event, bringing a collection of relatively obscure glam metal acts to the country who may not be able to tour here on their own.

Silverback Touring have certainly been doing a great job of bringing a range of bands to the country that we haven’t had the chance to see here before. I would absolutely be one of the people who would love to see this particular event become an annual event. I can think of a lot of bands from this genre that I would love to see in Australia in the future!

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