Live: Stryper, Petra and Whitecross play dream show in Indianapolis

In metal, there\’s the Big 4- Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax. Many, though, feel like there should be a big 5 or 6 with Overkill, Exodus or others thrown in. With Christian rock, there\’s the Big 4 of Stryper, Petra, Whitecross and either Bride or Guardian. Not often, do all of the bands collectively come together for a show. Last year, Petra and Stryper teamed up for a show in Puerto Rico and fan instantly wanted that bill to come to the States for a show or even a tour. However, this was very unlikely given Petra retired from full-time touring a decade ago and Stryper mainly wanting to tour with mainstream metal bands to evangelize. Then Stryper announced the To Hell With The Devil 30th Anniversary Tour and a date in Indianapolis was announced with none other than Petra and Whitecross as support. Needless to say, the show sold very well and very quick and hit The Egyptian Room at Old National Centre. The day started very early at 4 p.m. with numerous local acts playing as part of Rocktoberfest- a day-long Christian rock extravaganza that ended with three of the biggest names in Christian rock blowing fans away. After four or five locals wrapped up very impressive sets, Petra took the stage for an hour-long set that included songs from each era of their career and had a little something for every Petra fan there. They threw in two tracks from the Greg X. Volz era- opener “Beat The System” and “Judas Kiss” as well as “Lord I Lift Your Name On High” from their second Petra Praise record. Singer John Schlitt sounded as good as ever, guitarist (and Petra founder) Bob Hartman played just as good as he did in the band\’s prime. To top it off, they had longtime keyboardist John Lawry back in the mix to join bassist Greg Bailey and drummer Christian Borneo. If the band was active full-time right now, they\’d have one powerful lineup that could stand neck and neck with their popular 90\’s lineup. Normally, that would be more than enough but we still had Whitecross coming up next, who also played an hour-long set and showed exactly why they are considered to be one of the biggest names in Christian rock history. Frontman Scott Wenzel and guitarist Rex Carroll have long been considered one of the greatest singer-guitarist tandems of all time and they were right at the top of their game in Indy. Wenzel\’s powerful screams echoed through the Egyptian Room and gave chills to everyone in attendance and Carroll’s shredding was exactly like you would have wanted it to be. In the hour-long set, they threw in numerous favorites and even opened with “Enough is Enough” and ended- of course- with the timeless anthem “In The Kingdom.” For those who had never seen Whitecross, it was just what they imagined it could be and for those who were seeing the band again, it was everything they were expecting and knew they could get. Then it was time. The lights went down and it was time for Stryper. A video package played on the LED screen behind the stage that showed frontman Michael Sweet talking about how important To Hell With The Devil was to the band’s career and also discussing the band’s history and how they got to where they are in 2017. Not long after, the band took the stage and blasted into the title track from the record and zoomed through the album in its entirety. For many in Indy, it was the first time seeing Stryper but for others, they saw the band on the original THWTD tour in 1986. Either way, it was the first time seeing a few of the songs- “Holding On,” “All Of Me” and “Rockin’ The World.” It was also the first time in a while the band had played “Honestly,” which was met with a deafening reaction and with a venue like The Egyptian Room, the sound was much more powerful and dynamic than usual, making it for an even better experience. When you think of the THWTD album, you imagine it being played live in a certain way and Stryper do an incredible job of encapsulating exactly what that envisioning would be. After they wrapped up their THWTD set, they took a short, 10 minute break and came back for a second set loaded with newer tracks, covers and a few classic favorites. As “Battle Hymn of the Republic” blared over the speakers, the crowd began roaring with excitement before the band blasted into “Yahweh” from their latest record- Fallen as well as “God\’ and “Revelation.” They also threw in their cover of Black Sabbath\’s “Heaven and Hell,” much to the crowd\’s jubilation. They finished up with “Surrender,” “Caught in the Middle,” “In God We Trust,” “Soldiers Under Command” and “Makes Me Wanna Sing,” all of which went over perfectly with the crowd and sent everyone home happy. -Reggie Edwards  \"\" \"Stryper\" \"\"