Toronto, Canada – How often do you get to see one of our generation’s greatest guitar player’s in a close intimate establishment? With a resume that includes David Lee Roth, Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie, and Rob Halford’s side project TWO, John 5 has also recorded ten solo albums, the most recent of which is called Sinner released in 2021. It is in support of this release that finds John 5 at The Phoenix Concert Theater in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on June 9, 2022.
As the lights come up, we are greeted briefly by a large headed John 5 Monster. Shortly after, a layer is removed as another masked man appears on stage, a see through, green-ooze filled guitar in hand. The show opens with “Season of the Witch”. It is at this point, the masked musician pulls out the iconic bow and begins to slide it up and down across the strings. This mask, yet another layer, is also removed, revealing the man himself, John 5, in familiar make-up made famous with Rob Zombie. Along with the long, shiny, sleeveless trench coat bearing his circled 5 logo, it’s the standard look we are completely used to, and completely love!
With barely a break in the action, John and his band mates transition from one song to the next. “Que Pasa”, “Six Hundred and Sixty Six Pickers in Hell, CA”, “Crank it – Living With Ghosts”… In fact, it wasn’t until 5 songs in (hmmmm…… coincidence??) that John finally greets the fans and says “Hello”. Clearly, not there to waste any time. The faithful give a laugh and 5 introduces his mates. I’ll say, this is one chill, low-key dude, completely loving what he does.
Ian Ross – Bass
Alex Mercado – Drums
With no singer in the fold (other than a stagehand briefly singing the first verse of the Foo Fighters’ track “All My Life”), how does a band keep the audience engaged? I’ve seen shows in the past that focus on guitarists, and at the end, I find myself wanting more than just the 90-minute guitar solo. Tonight was different. On this night, 5 brought the funky groove, a blend of styles and genres, and a mix of stringed instruments that resulted in an experience that was far from mundane. In fact, the show was over before I knew it.
Among 5’s arsenal was a few electric guitars (of course), two mandolins, and a banjo (YIP YIP). Clearly, he is a student of his craft, and at one point in the evening, he let the crowd in on a likely little known fact – June 9th was the birthday of a guitar legend. Inventor, innovator, and award winning Jazz great Les Paul was born on this day in 1915. As such, 5 plays a tribute in honor of the birthday. Frankly, it’s astounding. 5’s ability to transition from style to style was a complete pleasure to witness. Rock, funk, metal, blues, jazz, bluegrass… this guy is a true shredder!!
The entertainment from this tour didn’t stop at 5 and his band’s talents, mix of songs and genres. NO! We have theatrics here too! I love a straight up Rock and Roll concert, but I also love a good stage show. With the aforementioned BIG-HEADED JOHN 5, a spaceman with a ray-gun, glowing mouths and guitars, monitors showing an array of clips from classic horror movies, TV shows, and other odds and sods, and the appearance of Texas Chainsaw Massacre serial killer himself, LEATHERFACE! Here, it is all very well crafted however, and completely adds to the performance, rather than moving the focus away from the main attraction.
In addition to John 5’s selection of guitar songs from his catalogue, he also has fun with playing a list of completely familiar songs. Queen’s “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”, plus a glowing guitar medley including songs from Iron Maiden, Van Halen, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, ZZ Top, Europe, Metallica, Megadeth, Kiss, White Zombie, Rage Against the Machine, and Pantera. This had the crowd singing at the top of their lungs and the the band loves it. It begs the question… does the band have the responsibility to engage the crowd, or is it the crowds responsibility to pump up the band? For me, I think the onus falls on both, and there was no need to debate the question here as both were completely present.
Speaking of singing, 5 tells a story of one of his friends complaining that he never plays any of their tracks, so John 5 obliges. The friend? Nikki Sixx. The song? “Home Sweet Home”. 5 swings the mic towards the crowd, and they provide the vocals, while he plays both guitar and piano sections (on the guitar of course!). Super cool!!
As the set nears its finale, 5 lets the crowd in on the fact that they are recording a live album. Their aim is to record live songs from their latest album Sinner. They close with “Euphoria”, and the hopes from the band, and the fans is that this is the show that that track gets selected from for the future live album.
This show was by far one of the coolest, most fun shows I have seen in a very long time. Kudos to you John 5! Thanks for bringing the goods!! I want some more!
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Show Date: June 9, 2022