“You’re approved for MICHAEL SWEET on Sunday” is what my good friend and editor told told me last week. This was a going to be a fun one, since the second concert I ever shot for Amps And Green Screens was STRYPER. I arrived, collected my photo pass and tickets and headed inside. First on the bill was a band called REDLINE DRIVE. Knowing Michael Sweet was going to be playing an acoustic set, it didn’t surprise me that the openers followed suit.
REDLINE DRIVE impressed me. Especially since they are pretty much an 80’s hair metal band reincarnated. You can hear the GUNS N’ ROSES, POISON, and WHITESNAKE Influences (among others) clearly, so hearing an acoustic performance from these guys was rather interesting. And somehow, they nailed it. Lead singer Scott Kimes’ voice lends really well to the relaxed acoustic sound, and the way Guitarists Brad McCain, and Johnny Stallion play off each other is great. Very smooth players, both these guys. All the while Drummer Ryan Scott Brown and Bassist Carlos Silva locked in and rounded out the sound nicely. I’ll have to keep my eyes out and hopefully catch these guys again. Perhaps plugged in; just to hear the difference.
Next up was OL’ JUG OF WHISKEY. I’ve only ever heard them acoustically, So no surprise they nailed it. Looking forward to catch them again too. They have a really relaxed melodic sound, that would fit in just as nicely at a coffee shop as here tonight.
Robbie Gustin, lead singer for SUPERNOVA REMNANT was next up. Having seen them a few weeks prior, I was a little surprised to see just Gustin, who was to do a solo show. He of course, has a fantastic voice and range, as well as being quite smooth on the guitar. This was also his Birthday show, so the entire crowd got the opportunity to sing back to him! One thing Gustin does exceedingly well is banter and talk with the audience. Toward the end of his set, while talking about his past, he pulled out a little bible. Of course it had to be a STRYPER bible. This one was obviously well read and loved. He finished out his performance and we were left to wait for one last act. SWEET.
I was concerned about the size of the crowd for this show, being scheduled for a Sunday night. Rather fitting, in hindsight, I thought to myself; Michael Sweet being the lead singer for the famous Christian rock band. But I was pleasantly surprised. Trees wasn’t utterly packed in (Which suits me fine. I’ve never been much for the sardine treatment) but there was certainly a good turn out. One thing that did make me smile was the number of families at the show. Good on ‘em for bringing the kids out for a Sunday night concert.
Michael Sweet finally took the stage. The crowd was ecstatic, his voice as strong as I remember it from last year. (I was impressed with it then, too!) His range, and strength played exceedingly well with the acoustic sound. He played some STRYPER classics, like “All For One”, “Honestly”, and “Calling on You”. What caught me out, however, was when he played a handful of covers, like BOSTON’s “Amanda” and “Peace of Mind”. He even did a cover of BON JOVI’s song “Livin on a Prayer”. I was happy to hear him close out the show with STRYPER’s “Soldiers Under Command”, recalling that it’s one of The Maestro’s favorites. He played one last song, “To Hell With the Devil”, and bid the loving audience farewell.
Not a bad way to spend a Sunday night. Thank you Michael Sweet. Come back again soon.
LIVE WORDS AND PHOTOS: RYAN “C.B.” WHITEHEAD/ARDENT OWL MEDIA