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Concert Review: Stryper & MASS at Showcase Live in Foxboro, MA

March 31, 2011 by  
Filed under Concert Reviews, Daily Music News

Stryper and MASS
Showcase Live
Foxboro, MA
March 26, 2011

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Reviewed by:  Roger Scales

Stryper and MASS – I was hoping the bill would live up to the hype. 

These two bands were made to play on the same stage with each other.  They have a history of playing gigs together in Worcester, Boston, Brockton (the infamous MASS jam with the guys halfway through Stryper’s set at Derringer’s). They also have a history of studio work as well; Michael Sweet produced MASS on their 1989 release Voices In the Night and then being brought back to the production helm helping out on some of their more recent material.  Could the old spark be ignited for another night of magic?  Has too much time elapsed between gigs where the pairing just do not relate to the same crowd any longer?  Can the bands still rock out?   Anyone who has followed these bands with any degree of regularity knew the answer but still for the handful of those who maybe haven’t and were in Foxboro for a night of nostalgia, spandex, big hair, and big fun got a larger than life dose of good old ass kicking Rock n Roll.  Both bands are arguably better than they were 22 years ago and I for one appreciate them both more now then I did then..maybe because for me it was like traveling back in time!

MASS opened their roughly 45 minute set with ‘Falling from Grace” from last year’s Sea of Black album and got the night off on the right foot.  The track features heavy hooks from guitarist Gene D’Itria (battling a torn bicep muscle during the entire show, what a trooper and trust me Gene I know your arm suffered but not you’re playing or energy!) and the pounding drum beats of  Joey “Vee” Vadala who always comes complete with a GONG!   Then right back to a blast from the past with ”Turn It All Around” to keep the crowd moving and grooving which then led us right back to Sea of Black again with my personal favorite “Through the Rain” which features some stellar bass guitar work from Michael “Shula is God” Palumbo.  MASS did a splendid job with the difficult task of picking a set list which keeps fans of any one album or era satisfied.  Someone will always be critical of a song or two that may have been omitted but I didn’t hear too many complaints based on what was offered up.  Kudos to vocalist Louis St. August who shared a few funny stories and a short history of MASS and Stryper together to the crowd; class act from a class guy.   MASS deserved this slot and the crowd gave back to them every bit of what they gave to us.  C’mon Scotty.. get them more gigs!!

Stryper is out on the road supporting The Covering which features recordings of songs from bands that greatly influenced their sound and identity.  Stryper has always been a band extremely focused on stage with endless amounts of energy and tonight was no exception.   Vocalist/guitarist Michael Sweet has a unique gift of being able to connect with his audience on any level.  Even if the Christian message goes over some fans heads and they are there strictly to rock out that’s ok, you’re still welcome to join in the fun.  By and large during the entire set the crowd was singing along to each song and just waiting for the Stryper “tradition” of tossing bibles to their audience.  (I almost caught one but once again my short stature did me in..thanks Dad!).  The band opened with “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” and went right into “Sing A Long Song” which really got the crowd into their set right away!!  

Michael Sweet’s voice was as amazing as ever. He hasn’t lost any range and in many ways is probably a stronger singer now. His guitar playing is on par with many of the great guitarists I can think of.  How often do you get to see a rock performer who is a world class vocalist and a world class guitar player?  Oz Fox has always been considered a top tier guitar player as well and successfully backs up Michael throughout the entire set, giving him a breather when needed, showing again how incredibly talented this band truly is. Tim Gaines, who is back full time on bass duties after having departed for a bit a few years back, kept the train on the right track with drummer Robert Sweet, keeping the rhythm section tight and thundering. Tim’s bass tone was loud and proud and really filled out the sound.  Robert “The Visual Time Keeper” Sweet was as solid as he has ever been and always puts on an amazing display for the fans. I think he is easily one of the most underrated rock drummers of all time and he proved it again tonight.

Stryper did three songs from The Covering in Foxboro: “Over The Mountain” by Ozzy Osbourne, “Heaven and Hell” by Black Sabbath and “Shout It Out Loud” by Kiss.  All had that “Stryper touch” of amazing harmonies while still staying true to the original versions.  Other highlights include “Calling on You”, “Reach Out” and “Free”.  The ONLY issue I have with the set list is the complete omission of any tunes from In God We Trust and Against the Law. If someone reading this has an explanation for me, I’d love to hear it!! This is the second consecutive tour I have seen and again these albums “aint’t representin’!  

It was a trip back in time for me. Everything I loved about 80’s music and all those great double bills were there again on this night.  I want to thank Chip, Mary, Missy, Scotty, Steve and Anheuser Busch all for making it happen in their own ways.  To the guys in MASS and Stryper, let’s not wait quite so long for next time.  I don’t think my walker and private nurse would fit in the “Way Back Machine” with Sherman and Mr. Peabody!


MASS Set List:
Falling From Grace

Turn It All Around
Through the Rain
It’s You
Over You
Do You Love Me?
Voices In the Night
Reach for the Sky
Holy One
Pedal to the Metal
Sea of Black

Stryper Set List:
(Intro) Battle Hymn
Sing A Long Song
Murder By Pride
The Rock That Makes Me Roll
Over The Mountain
Loving You
Reach Out
Calling On You
More Than A Man
Shout It Out Loud
(Oz Fox Guitar Solo)
Heaven And Hell
The Way
To Hell With The Devil
Soldiers Under Command

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