John 5 and The Creatures Invade The Queen City
The Invasion Tour 2019 Makes a Stop at Amos’ Southend
Usually, when you think of an invasion, some pretty awful things come to mind like an army of a foreign enemy, a plague of locusts, or a swarm of killer bees. But this past Monday night in Charlotte, a different kind of invasion took place, creatures and all. Rock’s premier guitarist John 5 and his solo band The Creatures hit Amos’ Southend for a show, unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. Born John William Lowery, John 5 is best known for his work with Rob Zombie but he has also worked with David Lee Roth, Marilyn Manson, and has a solid solo career of his own. John is also a gifted songwriter and has written and recorded with a plethora of artists including southern rock legends Lynyrd Skynyrd, Avril Lavigne, Paul Stanley, and Meat Loaf to name just a few. He is an incredible performer as anyone who has seen him live can attest to and the crowd waiting outside Amos’ was stoked for the show.
Opening up the evening, was Reverend Jack. I had never seen them before so I was interested in checking them out. Hailing from Madisonville, Kentucky, they have a great southern rock vibe that is a perfect match for the vocals of Eric Harmon. The band recently released its debut EP Not Playing Games on the Resurgence America label and their songwriting skills are top-notch. Guitarist Dustin Back is impressive not only for his musical chops but also for his outgoing stage presence which kept the audience engaged visually as well. Their set also included a little Allman Brothers with a nicely done cover of “Midnight Rider” bringing out a chorus of cheers from the floor. All in all, it was a great set and definitely a band to put on your radar.
Next on tap was the brilliant guitar of Jared James Nichols. People always say you don’t play the blues, the blues plays you, and that’s exactly what happens when Jared James Nichols hits the first note. He is seemingly transported through the music to a different state of being and those in the audience were lucky enough to bear witness to it. Playing his well worn Gibson Les Paul, known as Old Glory, Nichols put on a master class of rock and blues. His soulful, haunting guitar will move you emotionally and take you to new highs and lows. His latest single “Nails in the Coffin” is extraordinary and not to be missed. If you haven’t yet experienced the magic of Jared James Nichols, do yourself a favor and do it now.
After Nichols’ set, the stage was being prepared for the main attraction of the evening, John 5 and The Creatures. There was a large, black John 5 backdrop at the rear of the stage and two Halloween inflatables stage right and stage left. Four video screens were positioned around the stage showing the John 5 logo which would change over to clips of horror movies once the set began. The Creatures were first to arrive with the drummer and bass player taking spots on the stage before John 5 appeared from behind the curtain of one of the inflatables to wild cheering from the crowd while the intro played warning of a robot invasion. From that point on, it was one amazing feat after another as John 5 showed the audience just how it’s done. The thing about John 5 is that most people have seen him with Rob Zombie and of course he is great in Rob’s band but to see him on his own is something truly spectacular. At his solo shows, John 5 is free to be himself, playing whatever he wants, and showcasing just how extremely talented he is.
Not only does he wow you with his metal licks, but John 5 also plays a wide variety of genres including country, bluegrass, and flamenco. During the course of the show, he also brings out some of his iconic instruments including his LED light-up guitar, a banjo, and a see-through guitar filled with glow in the dark liquid that John plays with a violin bow just to make things a little more interesting. Don’t forget his signature flashing mouthpiece that one lucky fan in the crowd caught and costume changes including a mask and a lace veil.
The night brought out some other creatures as well with a robot spaceman making an appearance and what I can only describe as a robot John 5 with a giant head that shot confetti out at the fans. There was even a dancing Elmo that grooved along to the beats.
Probably my favorite part of the evening is when John asks the audience what they want to hear. The audience shouts out a bunch of bands including KISS, Pantera, and a slew of others and then John 5 plays an extended medley of all those and more. On this night, we heard a little Metallica, Pantera’s “Walk,” of course some KISS with “Rock’n Roll All Night” and even a snippet of “Every Breath You Take” by the Police. There were parts of so many songs and bands, it was hard to keep track of it all so I just kicked back and enjoyed it, taking a few minutes to soak it all in. To cap things off, the Creatures left the stage and John played a solo and some of the “Star-Spangled Banner” during which he used his mouth to play. Pick? Who needs a stinkin’ pick? Not John 5, he is truly a man of many, many talents.
After a brief moment, he announced that they were off the next day and would play one more song if that’s ok. He could have played all night long and everyone would have been more than ok with it. Alas, all good things must come to an end and with a final wave to the crowd, the night was complete.
People pack stadiums and arenas all over the world to see John 5 play with Rob Zombie and that is a wonderful thing. Hell, the next time they roll through Charlotte, I’ll be there with the tens of thousands of fans rocking the night away. But for me, tonight, in this small club on a Monday night, is where the real magic happened. Just like his song says, “I am John 5,” and he showed Charlotte rock fans exactly what that means.