The Factory Theatre, Sydney NSW
November 14, 2019
The concept of the spoken word tour, and the small intimate shows of established artists is something that has grown over the last five years. I have seen a number of these shows, and even though they have the capacity to fall deep into a pit of egotistical reminiscing, I haven’t experienced it! I have really enjoyed listening to artists reflect upon their careers, interact with the audience directly, as well as give alternate versions of some of their more known, and at times obscure, compositions.
Tonight it is Michael Sweet’s turn. Now I don’t really have to introduce this guy to our readers, except to say that he fronted a well-known metal band from the 1980s, that stood apart from their counterparts with their religious leanings; and with that said, didn’t alienate the non-Christian metal fan, myself in that category.
Stryper, have toured Australia six times now, and no show was more poignant than last year’s tour without Oz Fox (lead guitarist) who was recovering from a tumour scare (our coverage here). The band played last year, as a three-piece, and they were sincere about their situation and played an amazing set. The other great thing for me is that the band in the last few releases, have exposed us to some of their heaviest, and in my opinion, the best material of their career! Michael Sweet, being the frontman, principle songwriter and band leader, is the obvious member of the band to do a tour such as this and it is great tonight to see a lot of people present. It is hard to gauge what sort of audience a show like this will draw, but it is a healthy Factory Theatre tonight.
Opening the show is Sydney based Temtris, and tonight they played an acoustic set. This is no mean feat for a band who is a straight out metal band, so it was great to see them on the bill and to witness them play a set like this. They came out very composed, and actually looked comfortable in this setting and from the opening track they pulled it off!!! The songs really lent themselves to this style and the arrangements that Fox and Gen had put together were amazing. There really was not a song tonight that didn’t work, but for me ‘Enter the Asylum‘ was the high point. However, I need to mention their cover of W.A.S.P’s ‘Hold On To My Heart’, which was brilliant and fit so well into the set. Temtris have grown a lot over the last few releases and this really rang true tonight. I really couldn’t imagine the band pulling this off a few years ago, and I don’t think they could either, but tonight they came, and they certainly delivered. This was a great set, full of power and finesse. The room really got into it and they proved themselves tonight as not just a metal band, but a sincere and accomplished band of musicians. I really can’t talk this set up enough, and I sincerely hope that this won’t be the last time we see the Temtris name in this format.
As Michael walked out onto the stage the room definitely lifted in its intensity and people were happy to be here. He really is a seasoned performer in 2019 and he walked out with confidence and poise, but without any air of arrogance or disdain. As Michael took the stage he burst into a rendition of ‘All For One’ and immediately he had the room in his hand. As the show progressed Michael reflected on aspects of his career, and engaged with banter with the audience, enjoying the Aussie accent, as well as the New Zealander accent, from a number of punters in the room. Michael had a very simple acoustic sound, sequenced a few guitar layers along the way, and as he stated himself, “he had Robert Sweet in a box,” with a small drum machine supporting a few tracks. None of this detracted from the performance, it was raw, honest and dripping with sincerity.
The audience really got into the show and it moved seamlessly between song and story, song and anecdote. Michael engaged some fans individually and sincerely treated the room with respect and he was genuinely humbled to be here. For me the tunes that stood out were ‘Lady’, ‘Soldiers Under Command’, ‘Calling on You’, ‘To Hell with the Devil’ and ‘Sing Along Song’. I think I should probably just write out the setlist!! All of the Stryper songs hit home and it was fantastic to hear them in this format. However, the covers left me a little wanting, I sincerely would have preferred some more Stryper classics, or some of the later material in this style.
What stood out for me tonight was, nothing, there was no real high, and this isn’t a criticism. The set flowed very naturally and without any pretence or manipulation, it could have been an evening in Michael’s lounge room with an acoustic guitar.
As the show came to an end, there honestly was not an unsatisfied customer in the house. The show really had what you would expect, great songs, stories from Stryper and Michael’s solo career and a warm discourse of communication. I really hope he is true to his word and we see Stryper.
In Australia again soon and a new album in early 2020. Come back soon Michael, Sydney had a great night!
Gig Review by Mark Snedden
Revisit our interview with Mr Sweet right here
Photo Gallery by Mark Kent. Facebook: MK Media
Please credit Wall of Sound and Mark Kent if you use published photos
Michael Sweet – Solo East Coast Tour
Nov 15 @ Woolly Mammoth, Bris
Nov 16 @ Stay Gold, Melb