Wednesday, March 4, 2015

John 5 at the Gramercy Theatre

John 5
John William Lowery was born in 1971 in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, where at age seven he was inspired to play guitar after watching Buck Owens and Roy Clark perform on the television series Hee Haw. On the condition that John's grades remained high, his parents supported his passion and accompanied him to evening performances in local bars. John's first middle school band, Dirty Tricks, won a battle of the bands contest. Early on, he began to experiment with ghoulish facial make-up in another band, Vampirella. With stars in his eyes at age 18, he drove to Los Angeles, California, and was robbed of all his savings on his first night there, forcing him to find refuge in abandoned warehouses. Undeterred, his start with a band called Alligator Soup led to session work on television/movie soundtracks, commercials and infomercials. He later played in bands with Rudy Sarzo, Lita Ford, Randy Castillo, k.d. lang, Rob Halford, David Lee Roth, Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie. Lowery was renamed John 5 with his Marilyn Manson gig, and has kept the name. John 5 also has released seven guitar albums, the most recent being 2014's Careful with That Axe.

At the Gramercy Theatre tonight, John 5 & the Creatures consisted of 5 with bassist Ian Ross and drummer Rodger Carter. The 90-minute set began with face-painted musicians playing in the dark and 5 with a green light held in his mouth. The lengthy instrumental track ended, and 5 tossed his light into the audience. Henceforth, the rest of the set was similarly all instrumental, with 5 playing proficient lead guitar non-stop from the beginning to the end of the performance. Although his metal drop-d tuning style was forefront, the show was also a display of his diverse abilities, featuring sojourns into jazz fusion, industrial, bluegrass, country, and much more. For one song, 5 played an LED-covered Fender guitar, but for the most part, all the flash was in how his fingers slid across his Telecaster fretboards with surgical precision, speed and finesse, ranging from the rockabilly "Jiffy Jam" to the flamenco-inspired "El Cucuy." Perhaps the down point was an overly long instrumental version of Michael Jackson's "Beat It" but this was followed soon afterwards by a medley of heavy metal riffs which included Iron Maiden's "The Trooper," Metallica's "Enter Sandman," Ozzy Osbourne's "Crazy Train," Black Sabbath's "Heaven and Hell," Judas Priest's "Living After Midnight," and Dio's "Stand Up and Shout." All evening, John 5 said little between songs and never sang a note; the dazzling guitarist's talented hands impressively spoke all the necessary verbalization.

Visit John 5 at