John5 brought his solo act to Las Vegas and treated guitar fans to a mind-blowing display of shredding skills accompanied by a visual circus! This has become an annual event at Count's Vamp'd, and it was my third year in attendance. While the performance, and even the stage setup, has undergone only minor changes it is never dull or boring! John5's performance is purely instrumental, and he is accompanied by a phenomenal bass player (Ian Ross) and a superb drummer (Logan Miles Nix).
The stage is set in glowing neon and white inflatable props (with ghosts, a Jack-o-lantern, Frankenstein's monster, skeletons, and gravestones) in order to catch the black lights, as well as a pair of monitors showing random bits of classic horror films such as Creature From the Black Lagoon. Throughout the evening John's guitar tech brings him various instruments and objects to use with them, while wears freakish costumes such as an evil clown, a neon skeleton, a robot, and a woman in a gingham dress with her face painted like John's. He uses a violin bow, a baby doll, and his tongue to create some very interesting sounds, even making seem as if the baby doll is talking through the guitar. It's weird, freaky, and incredible! He plays numerous guitars. One made of clear acrylic with glowing green liquid inside. Another is covered in LED lights. A couple of them are miniature (about half the size of a standard guitar), and he even plays a banjo for a short bit.
In my opinion, the highlight of the night is when John5 plays a medley of well-known guitar riffs which begins with him doing a cover of Michael Jackson's "Beat It", then flows into a blend of jams including "Every Breath You Take", "Running With The Devil", "Highway To Hell", "Thunderkiss '65", "Beautiful People", "Broken", "Walk", "My Sharona", "For Whom The Bell Tolls", and probably a dozen others that I have forgotten. It is amazing how he blends each one into the other in a seamless jam that goes on and on but ends way too soon. I absolutely love this part of his show!
John5 is an unbelievable talent, and always packs the house. He is also a really nice guy. At the end of the show he handed me one of his custom guitar picks - he has various characters from The Brady Bunch on them and gave me a Cindy pick. It made my night!
His solo tour ended in San Diego this past weekend, but he'll be out with Rob Zombie, starting off in May. I highly recommend catching him on his next solo tour. You will be amazed!
John5 photos from Randy Udell / R U Rockin' Photos