Stryper always packs the fans into the Chance and I thought this would be a standing room only show, so my first surprise on entering was that was literally impossible as the Loft had actually set up seats and those that had them were mostly determined to stay in them throughout the show! I've never seen them do this before and considering we got there about ten minutes before Michael was to start, there was not an empty one to be found.
It caused an odd, way too mellow vibe for this show. (Granted it was a solo acoustic show so I wasn't expecting a most pit or anything of that ilk) The seats were set up about ten feet back from the 2' high stage, so everyone who wasn't in a seat kind of felt they couldn't move into the open area in front of the stage because the majority of those seated stayed seated throughout the show and you'd be blocking them...it was absolutely the most amazingly polite rock audience EVER. Usually everyone is right up against the stage two feet from the performer which raises the excitement level.
In the end a minor complaint as we got right next to the stage against the wall just before Michael came out.
When the Loft is completely packed I'd say it holds about 200, my guess is there were 120 or so here this night, very surprised it wasn't sold out considering how well Stryper do in this area, but Michael seemed all good with all of it.
Michael was solo the whole show with the exception of two songs in which he was joined by a guest. He played acoustic guitar, sometimes with percussion backing tracks and sometimes creating rhythm guitar loops live and so he could solo over it during the song.
This show had a very "Story Tellers" vibe to it and felt as if it was Michael just entertaining his friends. Considering the close connection he has with his fans, you could say that's exactly what it was.
He opened with "Dying Rose" off "Only To Rise" the Sweet and (George) Lynch album released almost exactly a year ago. I happen to own this album because I won it by "Stumping the (Eddie) Trunk" (at this show last year - Click this link to read that review of That Metal Show live). Good memories and a great album!
Next up was one of about a half dozen Stryper songs that would be performed, "All For One" from Stryper's 1990 album "Against The Law."
Michael then went back to his 1998 solo album "Truth" for "All I'm Thinking of (Is You)" and then a great story about Stryper in the early days of Heavy Metal Hollywood led into "Calling On You". Here's a video of that one:
As you can hear, Michael's voice is fantastic and the audience (many of them still seated so not visible and making it look much emptier than it was) was vocal and ready to sing along anytime they were asked through out the night.
A couple of times during the night, Michael reminded of us of his stint touring with Boston and his version of "Amanda" showed he must have been a strong fit and made we wish I had caught that tour when it came around.
The title track off Michael's 2014 solo album "I'm Not Your Suicide" was one of the highlights of the night for me. I did not own the album before this show, but picked it up after hearing this live. Michael stayed around to sign any merch (and threw in the 8x10 photo) and take pictures with all the fans.
Next up Michael brought out a special guest for a pair of songs.
If I remember the story correctly, Michael heard 15 year old NJ native Moriah Formica sound checking while he was in a backstage room and ventured out because he was so blown away by her voice. She's going to be appearing on Michael's new solo album and also has her own six song EP coming out soon.
Michael had Moriah plug in and he took a back seat just playing guitar along with her as she did a cover of Skid Row's "I Remember You" followed by Heart's "Crazy On You." Here's the video of the Skid Row cover and I imagine you'll understand why Michael is so impressed. She received quite an ovation.
Once it was back to just Michael, we were treated to one of Stryper's biggest hits with "Honestly" followed by a couple of covers.
First up was an emotional cover of Bon Jovi's "Living on a Prayer" which Michael calls "the greatest song about prayer ever written." Here's the video below. It was followed by a great rendition of Boston's "Peace of Mind"
Back to the "Against the Law" album, this time for Stryper's "Lady" after which Michael asked for requests where he was inundated yells for everything from Black Sabbath covers to songs he had already previously played in the set!
He settled on abbreviated versions of two Stryper classics, first a basically acapella version of "Soliders Under Command" (got the album signed after)
Then the popular single "Sing-Along Song" in which the audience did just that as you can see in this video.
The set ended with a full version of "To Hell with The Devil" after which Michael said he would hang out and meet and take photos with anyone and most of the audience stayed to take him up on his offer.
He really is very humble and gracious and appreciative of his fans. I look forward to seeing the full band come back through in June.