February 4, 2016
The Cannery Music Hall
Southbridge, MA

February 4th is usually a day I spend listening to Alice Cooper, I mean c’mon, the birthday of the Godfather of Shock Rock should be a national holiday, but this year was different, I had a show to see and shoot; one I was very excited to be covering.

One of the best voices to come out of the 80s was playing a solo acoustic show at a small intimate club in Southbridge MA, at The Cannery Music Hall. Michael Sweet the voice of Stryper was playing that night. Additionally, Massachusetts native Charlie Farren, formerly of The Joe Perry Group and Farrenheit, was going to be starting the evening festivities.

Charlie Farren came to the stage and played for a bit, playing songs from throughout his career. His banter with the crowd and an infectious smile throughout his set helped cement the jovial atmosphere of the evening. I wasn’t familiar with a lot of his music other than a couple of Farrenheit songs, and like so many other shows over the last year my cd collection grew after discovering another musician whose work I enjoyed.

Michael took the stage with an enthusiastic crowd welcoming him. He started the night with, “Dying Rose”, a song off the Sweet & Lynch album.

The Cannery is a small venue that holds around two hundred and fifty people or so. This was truly a small and intimate performance with an audience full of friends, family and fans. You could feel how relaxed and comfortable he was playing there and it showed in his performance. His set consisted of songs by Stryper, such as “All For One”, “Calling On You”, “Honestly” and “To Hell With The Devil/Soldiers Under Command” medley. Michael also performed “Amanda” and “Peace of Mind”, from Boston. And two selections from his solo side, “All I’m Thinking of is You”, “I’m Not Your Suicide”

But for me, the surprises for the evening were “Love Hurts” by Nazareth with local singer Livio Gravini joining Michael onstage and singing, another great New England vocalist with a promising career ahead of him. Also hearing Michael’s story about his father being an Elvis impersonator and hearing him take an audience request for some Elvis and singing “Love Me” was great.
Hearing Michael sing Bon Jovi’s “Livin On A Prayer” was almost surreal.

This was a great show, even though it was an acoustic set, the intensity Michael played with brought an energy to the show that could only be matched by a full band plugged in and playing at eleven, as evidenced by the blood streaks on his guitar, he truly put his blood and sweat into it this evening with a smile and humble attitude.

There are not many singers from the 80s metal scene that still sound as good if not better than they did then, and Michael Sweet is at the top of that list.

Michael is playing a few more solo acoustic shows, before heading out with the rest of Stryper to support their new album “Fallen”, you do not want to miss them if he is playing your neck of the woods.

You can check out more tour dates and keep up with him at his website,
His Facebook,
His Twitter

Charlie Farren

Livio Gravini

Photos & Review by Frank Piercy
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