Mohegan Sun Wolf Den
February 1, 2019
Look who is back and shooting shows for all of you once again! After a small self-imposed exile to take care of some stuff, I had the chance to shoot one of my favorite bands to see live, Stryper.
This last Friday, Feb 1st, I was once again in a mad dash to make it to one of my favorite places to see a show, Mohegan Sun’s Wolf Den. If you have not been there before, it’s a small stage set in middle of a gaming area and holds about 300 or so people. You can stand, sit or listen to the show from one of the many slot machines or table games that surround this little gem. Personally, I prefer to be standing right at the stage, but then most of the time I am shooting the show.
Stryper brought in a crowd from all over, with probably just as many first timers both to see Stryper and to be at the Casino as us old timers; you know fans from way far back in the 80s and multiple times seeing them at The Wolf Den. I do believe this is the 4th time I have seen them at The Wolf Den but I am getting away from myself. I was looking forward to this show because it was the first time I have had the chance to see the “new guy” Perry Richardson on Bass. Let me clarify, first time seeing him in a small venue where I was there to cover the show. I love going to shows like this at The Wolf Den, so many familiar faces and so many friendly people. As I was discussing photography with a new friend, Stryper took to the stage to the opening of the first track off of the album “Fallen”, “Yahweh” to a very enthusiastic crowd. As Michael Sweet walked up to the microphone, I could barely hear the comments about his new abundance of facial hair over the music. By the way…the beard looks great. it was the beginning of a great set.
“The Valley” and one of their most popular 80’s songs, “Calling On You” followed with the crowd singing along to Michael. Another song off of the album “To Hell With The Devil” was next, “Free” another crowd pleaser and another crowd sing along. Fortunately, the crowd didn’t sound to bad tonite. “More Then A Man”, “All For One” and “Lady” didn’t let the crowd catch their breath for then a few seconds.
Michael was in top form and did not disappoint, watching him play is amazing and you realize not only is he a great singer who has kept his voice in top shape, but is a great guitarist. Speaking of guitarists, on stage left, was the indomitable Oz Fox. It was great to see Oz smiling and playing with what looked like not a care in the world, in light of last years health scare.
I was and am still confused by one thing, and that concerns drummer, Robert Sweet. Every time I have seen them at The Wolf Den, his drum kit has always faced to the left and almost hidden behind amps, if any of you are reading this can you explain it to me? Not that it affects this visual timekeepers playing, with his arms and hair flailing all over, those skins got the beating of their life that night, definitely one of the most under rated drummers out on the circuit today.
Now onto Perry, who is still considered to be the “new guy” by many Stryper fans not only in the audience but online Perry came to Stryper towards the end of 2017 and has played in Firehouse, well, actually he is one of the founding members and has also played with Country artists Trace Adkins and Craig Morgan. His playing was right where it needed to be and his stage presence was undeniable as he flung the mane around and dominated stage right. Between his presence and skill of playing, he fits right in on that stage.
“Revelation”, “I.G.W.T” and “Always There For You” followed and so far a great mix from their albums has been played and we were only just over halfway thru the set. “Can’t Live Without Your Love”, “Surrender”, “Sorry”, and “Soldiers Under Command”, at this point the set was starting to wind down, with the title track of the latest album, “God Damn Evil” up next followed by “Honestly”, The Way” and closing the set with the “Sing A Long Song.” Of course there was an encore, “Take It To The Cross” and “To Hell With The Devil” brought everyone together for another sing along to end the evening.
I will be honest, I took a picture of the setlist, my memory isn’t what it used to be, but I don’t remember them playing “Lady”, “Honestly” or “Take It To The Cross”. One of the unfortunate things about being a Concert Photographer is that for a good portion of the show, your mind is not focused on just the titles of songs, but on how well they are playing or how good the sound is or just getting that shot your needing.
Stryper once again kicked some major butt, Michaels voice is still holding up to the standards so many of us have unfairly given our favorite vocalists from the 80’s, His guitar playing and Oz’s playing were fantastic and holding down the line, Perry and Robert… the two most often overlooked parts of a band, the Bassist and the Drummer, both entertaining to watch and listen to.
Starting in May, they are embarking on a new tour, called “The History Tour” and tagged the Greatest Hits and Covers that Influenced a Generation. If you are a fan of their cover album, “The Covering” this is the tour for you with stops locally so far at The Chance Theater in Poughkeepsie, NY on May 18th, The Paramount in Huntington NY on May 19th and The Gramercy in NYC on May 17th. Take a look at their Facebook page or website for more dates and details. I cannot recommend seeing Stryper live more than enough. Even if you don’t like their message, you will like their music.
Till Next Time…
Photos & Review by Frank Piercy at frankpiercy.com