MIKE SHALER | Go Venue Magazine
February 9th, 2024, at The Machine Shop in Flint, Michigan was the place to be as Michigan native guitar virtuoso John 5 made a stop on his tour to perform his solo material to eager fans roaring to rock.
Kicking off the night was Cage Willis, who brought a brand of Southern Rock that puts you in the state of mind of the dusty back roads of America. Cage delivers some soulful vocals as he wails away on lead guitar, with Andrew Logan plucking out the low end on bass guitar and Benji Koelling thumping the drums. Fans packed the venue early to witness a great start to the night’s events.
Up next, rolling the show right along, was Canadian band, Sticks N Stones. Keeping the crowd on their toes by bringing a heavier sound to the stage. Sticks N Stones had the room chanting along, the vocals by Nick Lisanti reminded me of the band, Volbeat, powerful arena rock worthy pipes to go along with great guitar playing. The band was rounded out with Luke Vasilakos on bass guitar who donned a Flint Tropics outfit, Brandon Gregory on guitar and Robert Lisanti on drums. These guys had the energy and hard rock mood radiating through the air to keep the crowd buzzing along.
With a very packed front of the house, lots of people wanted to get as close as they could to be near headliner John 5. John 5 has an impressive list of people he has worked with, from Marilyn Manson, k.d. lang, Rob Zombie, just to name a few, and currently now with Mötley Crüe.
To experience John 5 in concert is nothing short of extraordinary, the range of guitar playing talent John 5 possesses is otherworldly. From playing regular sized guitars to mini guitars and bass guitars and banjo, the world of music seems to be encapsulated into one being, that being is John 5. Yes, he’s mainly known as a rock guitar player, and he is easily placed at guitar God status. But the playing of non-rock genres is what separates him from the rest of the pack. The ease of transitioning through the tones of rock to metal to country to bluegrass is astonishing.
This show was more stripped down from previous tours I’ve seen John 5 perform. I didn’t see any masks or costume changes. But there were a few things, like using a toy ray gun as he played bass guitar. A big giant John 5 head worn by a crew member danced around on stage for a spell as John riffed away. A bunch of white balloons that had John 5 printed on them were released out into the crowd to be bounced around until audience members claimed one for their own.
Alejandro Mercado was a beast on drums as he and John played a ton of songs throughout John 5’s catalogue. With songs like “Que Pasa”, “Strung Out”, “Creep Show”, “Land Of Misfit Toys” and a medley of Mötley Crüe songs, there was no shortage of variety and sweet guitar picking that kept the crowd pleased and wanting more.
John 5 will be on this solo tour with dates running until March 1st. Catch a show if you can, your ears will thank you, you’re welcome in advance.
Sticks N Stones