Featured Review

By Lisa Lewis
Summer time is concert time and there was no better place to be than at
PNC Music Pavilion Friday night for one of the biggest tours of the
summer season with Lindsey Stirling and Evanescence stopping in
Charlotte on their summer co-headlining tour.

The two man group Cellogram started things off in style as cellist Dave
Egger and percussionist Chuck Palmer took the stage flashing the devil
horns sign to the audience and preparing the crowd for a rocking good
time. The unique duo was all about fun as they ran through a quick set
of a little bit of everything with the highlight being a Cellogram
version of AC/DC's "Back In Black." This was my first time experiencing
Cellogram and they quickly won me over with an entertaining set and
solid musical technique.

As the symphony orchestra took the stage for a warm up, the crowd grew
larger as anticipation grew for the hard rock of Evanescence. This time
out, however, the band put their hard rock vibe to the side and came out
with understated, elegant versions of some of their biggest songs.
Accompanied by the orchestra just like on last year's "Synthesis" tour,
Evanescence focused on the emotion and beauty of their music with the
highlight being the stellar vocals of frontwoman Amy Lee. Although Lee
has one hell of a set of pipes, it simply wasn't enough to carry the
evening. I found myself a tad bored with the performance. I think a
bit of the passion was lost with the vastness of the outdoor venue and
the fact that Evanescence began their set with the sun still out seemed
to detract from the experience. Sonically, the band sounded awesome as
did Lee but for me the feeling just wasn't the same as in years past.
It was a unique concept but it just wasn't quite right. The crowd
reaction seemed mixed with the biggest reactions coming from their
biggest hits "Bring Me To Life" and "My Immortal." The highlight of the
set for me was a solid cover of "Across the Universe" by The Beatles
with brilliant vocals from Amy Lee.

After a bit of a disappointment in Evanescence's set, it was time to
focus on Lindsey Stirling who held the final spot on the evening's bill.
Stirling appeared center stage on top of a riser with giant LED screens
lit up behind her and began the evening with "The Arena." For the next
hour and ten minutes, Stirling would dance, enchant, dazzle, and amaze
the crowd at PNC. She is not only a gifted violinist but one hell of a
performer. I don't think she stood still the entire night as her set
played more like a Broadway show with scenery and costume changes as
well as an array of dancers adding to the visual effect. The highlight
of the night was her biggest hit "Shatter Me" which featured poignant
vocals from Amy Lee and a Broadway medley from Phantom of the Opera
which closed out the night in perfect form and fashion.

If you're looking for a hard rock show, this isn't the tour for you.
But if you're up for a little something different, be sure to check out
the elegant style of Evanescence and the musical theater of Lindsey
Stirling for a one of a kind summer experience.

Stryper @ Founding Performing Arts Center

By Lisa Lewis
The rock and roll scene was alive and well this past Friday evening as
Stryper made a tour stop in Spindale, NC at The Foundation Performing
Arts Center. The band is out in support of their latest album "God Damn
Evil" which may just be the best record Stryper has ever done.

After a short but rock solid set from local favorites Beyond the Fade,
Stryper took the stage to an audience of enthusiastic fans. The crowd
was a sea of Stryper shirts that came ready to rock and Stryper put on a
show that they would never forget. The first to come out was drummer
Robert Sweet. Standing on his massive drum kit, he saluted the fans
with his sticks held high. New bassist Perry Richardson grabbed his
spot stage right and guitarist Oz Fox was situated stage left. Vocalist
and guitarist Michael Sweet was the last one out as he led the band
through an explosive set. Kicking things off with "Yahweh," Sweet was
nonstop all night. It was great to see the band performing with such a
high level of energy which the audience fed off and returned the favor.
Sweet and Fox were stellar all night trading off riffs and playing off
each other's energy. Newcomer Richardson seemed to fit right in to his
new surroundings and has already established a great rapport with his
bandmates and fans alike. The setlist featured four songs from the new
album including the title track, the unforgettable "God Damn Evil" as
well as all the Stryper hits that fans have come to expect from their
live show. Michael's vocals are still top notch whether belting out
rocking anthems or hitting all the "Sweet" notes that would have been
to high to reach for many other singers. His brother Robert was still
a force to be reckoned with as well as he provided a thundering back
bone for what would be an electrifying night of rock and roll. After
punching through the stadium rocker "Loud 'N' Clear," Stryper slowed the
pace for a bit as Sweet put his guitar aside for the MTV era classic
ballad "Honestly." The band ended the show in epic metal style with an
encore performance of "To Hell With The Devil" which included Oz licking
his way up and down his fretboard and the requisite throwing of Bibles
to the audience.

Stryper came to rock Spindale and that's exactly what they did, leaving
fans eagerly anticipating the next show. This is a tour you won't want
to miss so be sure and check them out when the "God Damn Evil" tour hits
up a city near you.

Styx And Tesla @ PNC Music Pavilion

Styx may be your parents Rock n Roll but I want to remind you that this is how Rock N Roll is done and thrives for over 45 years still going as strong as ever. I have to confess that I first became a parent while listening to Pieces of Eight (nine months later to be exact). No matter how old you are, the music from Styx not only stands the test of time, but is timeless.
Styx rolled into Charlotte’s PNC Music Pavilion on June 13th along with the tour which included Tesla and Joan Jett. I work at the venue and was unable to watch the opening acts but having a very busy week of shows scheduled this week, I was able to take the night off just in time to visit merch where my favorite merch guy in the world was and put in my order for a new V-neck, ladies cut, cardinal red Styx shirt and then find my seat for their show. I was able to sit in a spot I always enjoy which was directly behind the mix. Our photographer had much closer seats after her time in the Pit to capture some great close up shots.
This iconic group of musicians are guaranteed to put on a cinematic show with dramatic lighting, a theater screen, ramps and risers to showcase every member of the band, and of course the signature rotating keyboard platform where you get a 360 view of Lawrence Gowan’s performance. James Young, Tommy Shaw and Original Bassist of the band, Chuck Panozzo frequented the front of the stage to show a little dramatic flair in the musical performance.
Speaking of Chuck Panozzo, he was one of the original founding members of the band, at the age of 12, he and his brother John as well as a neighborhood friend, Dennis DeYoung. The name changed and the members changed several times but the sound was solidified by the release of Styx II. Grand Illusion was released in 1977 and was considered the “breakthrough” but you can’t deny the success of earlier releases such as the power ballad, Lady or Lorelei.
They opened with a song from 2016’s The Mission called Gone, Gone, Gone. 3 More songs from this Album were played through the night, as well as Lady from Styx II, Light Up from Equinox and their biggest hits from Grand Illusion, Paradise Theater and Pieces of Eight. The 2 song encore included Mr. Roboto from Kilroy and Renegade.
Tommy Shaw told the audience he was stricken with a sore throat and laryngitis, but the healing power of music overcame him and he pressed on. James Young also mentioned Tommy’s inability to talk earlier in the night and said “now he’s singing like a bird”. If they had not said that he was suffering from vocal issues, I don’t think we would have noticed it. His performance was very good. He either genuinely loves what he does or fakes it very well. He and James Young, as well as Lawrence Gowan always look like they are having the time of their lives.
No review of Styx would be complete without noting that the band’s drummer Todd Sucherman. Todd is undoubtedly one of the best drummers in the business. He has been with the band since 1995 and is well known for teaching, seminars and leading many aspiring as well as accomplished drummers to be better at their craft. Todd has his own fan club who come to the show just to see him and the rest of the show is a bonus.
Considering the original roots of this band was literally a garage band, this tour may inspire 12 and 14 year olds to pay attention to their guitar, piano and drum teachers and start a rock band. The future of rock is depending and counting on it!
The Riptide Review
Karen Corzine