John 5 and The Creatures featuring Ian Ross [bass], Alex Mercado [drums], and of course John 5 [guitar]are currently on their 2022 North American Sinner Tour with special guest, The Haxans. This Wednesday’s show was at The Chance Theater in Poughkeepsie, New York.
If there is such a thing as being a good sinner, John 5 is a master of it with his guitar playing. He has long been one of the most respected guitarists starting with his days in Marilyn Manson. His fame has grown exponentially since working with David Lee Roth, then joining Rob Zombie‘s band, as well as having a very successful solo career. Riding high on the praises from his latest instrumental guitar album, “Sinner,” John 5 has solidified his ranking in the guitar god world with Satriani, Vai, Johnson, and Malmsteen.
When the lights went out at The Chance Theater, the terror began with John 5‘s 90-minute set. There was a solid mix of his solo classics, surprise songs from his back catalog, and a healthy dose of songs from the latest album. The show opened with dark “First Victim,” with John 5 appearing on stage playing his Lava Lamp Telecaster using a violin bow and wearing a skeleton mask. Those are the moments nightmares are made of. If this was just the intro to the show, you instinctively knew things were going to be bat-shit crazy! Grabbing his trademark gold Fender Telecaster, affectionately named “Goldy,” he tore into an explosive version of “Season of the Witch.” With the perfect wind-up and pitch, it fed nicely in “Que Pasa” with its sampled Dave Mustaine vocals.
To showcase some of his best playing, John performed six songs off “Sinner,” “Georgia on My Mind,” “How High the Moon,” “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” “Creepshow,” and “Land of the Misfit Toys” with its prog-rock-metal vibe and rich guitar tones. All were meticulously performed just live on the album. Often stoic and remaining in his ghoulish character, John 5‘s face brightens at the end of each song with the sense of personal pride of a superb performance and enjoyment of the applause. Keeping it intimate in nature, he continually thanked the crowd and ensured everyone was having fun.
His stage set-up was as entertaining and enthralling as his guitar playing. He incorporated four plasma screens continuously flashing horror movie clips and Hanna-Barbera-esque cartoon characters, all synced to gloomy yet colorful lighting. At one point in the show, a dancing hype John 5 robot came out with a toy ray gun, followed by a chainsaw welding maniac.
Many of the selections in his set-list included complex compositions with progressions that were rich with lead-ins and arpeggio. His influences come from all over the musical spectrum of rock, blues, country, and shredding. His tonal palette is expansive, colorful, and unique as he draws upon his many years of practical experience. It soon became apparent that his guitar was an extension of his body, and the sounds emanating from it weren’t necessarily guitar sounds but harmonic textures. The passion, desire, and pain expressed on his face while he played were the lyrics to his mesmerizing songs. His playing was edgy yet tasteful and fluid. It was awe-inspiring to watch him combine his signature techniques of speed, agility, and melody all rolled into a pyrotechnic display. It was as if he was saying, “I’m John 5, and you can’t ignore what I’m doing up here!”
Before the show, I spoke with John 5 about the magical connection between him and his guitar; he shared, “It’s funny you say that as I thought about it the other day. My guitar was my first toy. I still get to play with my toy at my age. It’s funny to think of it that way as there is a huge bond. Imagine if the first toy you loved growing up you could still play with, and it wouldn’t be weird to play with it in front of a group of people. And to have them be accepting it of it [laughing]! So, there is a bond there, and it’s wonderful. It’s hard to explain because it’s the meaning of life doing what you love, and it’s definitely what I love.”
John 5 took all the fans and guitarists in the audience at The Chance theater to ghoul school with his playing and macabre antics. Some will go home and practice, while others will smash their instrument to bits. Either way, it was one hell of a show. John 5 and The Creatures concert will take your breath away… all of it!
Ticket and meet and greet packages can be purchased here.