CONCERT REVIEW: JOHN 5 – Terrifyingly Terrific at The Sherman Theater, Stroudsburg, PA (August 22nd, 2021)

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If you are looking for blazing guitar pyrotechnics and star wattage, look no further than John 5 and The Creatures. John and his band are currently out on a 22-date trek across the U.S. with the blues guitar maestro Jared James Nichols as the opener.

John 5, along with band-mates Logan Miles Nix on drums and Ian Ross on bass, were in lockstep the entire night and instinctively knew each other’s subtle cues and mannerisms, giving a flawlessly 75-minute concert. During that time, they tore through a series of 13 songs ranging from the blues/country of “Hell Haw I.G.R.” to the earthshaking “Crank It” and “Zoinks” to the shred-ability in “Season of the Witch.” John even cranked out part of “The Black Grass Plague” while seated at the edge of the stage using a gold Fender electric ukulele with a white veil draped over his head.

John 5′s playing abilities are unsurpassed to most guitarists with the perfect combination of technique, style, and diversity. He is a visionary player that can paint music with his playing, with each song being a highly technical composition. His playing style stretches the boundaries of rock, country, progressive, and blues, sometimes all in the same song.


Photo by Robert Cavuoto

Throughout the show, John assaulted his arsenal of Fender Telecasters in countless ways by playing above the nut, over the neck, and rapidly toggling his pick-up button to act as a kill effect creating his signature sonic squeals. He also utilized various guitar effects that changed the guitar’s sound, helped shape the songs tone, and bent the pitch without the help of a tremolo bar. The crowd-pleasing Telecasters in his armamentarium were his glow-in-the-dark lava guitar and his light-up guitar; which he used during the end of the night during his medley of classic rock songs.

If watching his over-the-top playing wasn’t enough, John is carrying the torch for macabre theatrics in the vein of Rob Zombie and Alice Cooper but with his own unique twist. The stage was reminiscent of a child’s nightmare with two blow-up ghouls flanking the stage, a big-headed John 5 who runs out on stage taunting the crowd, and a dancing John 5 robot. With instrumental guitar concerts having connotations of someone staring at their fret-board while meticulously playing a perfect piece of music, John 5 has turned that notion upside down as his concerts are quite a spectacle. In a prior interview, I asked him about his highly entertaining approach to performing live. He told me, “There are a lot of guys who bring their wives, girlfriends, or friends to a show. I want to give someone who has no idea about the guitar a good time. We have plasma screens on stage playing videos, monsters coming out, inflatable props, and I use many different instruments. I want it to come across as entertainment. It’s really turning into an instrumental Alice Cooper show! It’s supposed to be fun, and I want people to have a good time.”


Photo by Robert Cavuoto

John rarely speaks at his shows as he remains in character and lets his guitar do all the talking, but when he did speak tonight, his words were heartfelt. He thanked the crowd for coming out to see him during a pandemic and the dangerous weather conditions of Hurricane Henri that pounded Pennsylvania with heavy rain the entire day.

Tonight John 5 and The Creatures took the audience over the musical edge with his innovative, creative, and theatrical playing. The common thread running through all of the songs, regardless of their style, was the passion and emotion applied to them as he delivered each with heart and soul.   

JOHN 5 Setlist:

Robot Invasion Warning (Played over PA) / Six Hundred and Sixty Six Pickers in Hell, CA / Crank It – Living With Ghosts / Zoinks! / Hell Haw I.G.R. / Cactus Flower / Mando Jam / I Am John 5 / Que Pasa? / Howdy / The Black Grass Plague / Season of the Witch / Medley: (Crazy Little Thing Called Love | Georgia on My Mind | You Really Got Me | Heartbreaker | Sweet Leaf | Every Breath You Take | My Sharona | La Grange | For Whom the Bell Tolls | Another One Bites the Dust | Runnin’ With the Devil | Symphony of Destruction | Detroit Rock City | Thunderkiss ’65 | Hot for Teacher | Killing in the Name | Walk) / Land of Misfit Toys

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