TVD Live Shots: John 5 and The Creatures with Reverend Jack and Jared James Nichols at Voltage Lounge, 11/22

PHILADELPHIA, PA | Philadelphia’s Voltage Lounge is a shoebox of a club tucked away in an old industrial area north of Chinatown and Old City.  On November 22, we packed it in, nearly filled to the literal rafters, to see guitarist John 5 with his band The Creatures (Ian Ross on bass and Logan Miles Nix on drums),  Kentucky’s Reverend Jack, and Wisconsin’s Jared James Nichols were along for support and it was one hell of a good time.

Where do I begin? John 5 may be most well-known as a member of Rob Zombie’s band and he’s also played with Marilyn Manson.  Because of this, I had thought of him primarily as a metal guitarist; however, that is not accurate.  A glance at the guitar stand on stage should have been my clue as it included a banjo and not just one but two (!) mandolins. Throughout the night the songs veered from metal to country to even a little funk. John 5 is delightfully versatile and talented; he cannot be lumped into a single category.

It’s such a treat to watch especially since he does it all with a great sense of fun. The cramped stage played home to several flatscreens that played bits from horror films and classic monster movies, and John 5 himself takes the stage in full face makeup and mad scientist costume. I love a good freakshow (see my affection for bands like Avatar and guitarist Buckethead) and John 5 delivers. It seems a bit incongruent to hear a country influenced song like “Cactus Flower,” from his latest release Invasion, while seeing Godzilla march across the TV screens, but it worked.  It all works.

The show was full of surprises; toward the end of the set, he launched into a medley of classic guitar riffs, everything from Led Zeppelin, to The Police, to Rob Zombie and Pantera.  Leave it to John 5 to be able to get a room full of drunk metalheads to sing along to “Every Breath You Take.”

Half the fun of photographing John 5 was trying to time a great shot of him whilst someone was getting knifed or chainsawed on screen.  Even more fun were the moments costumed characters joined the band on stage—a robot and a cartoon version of John 5, done in the spirit of old monster movies. Good times.

Hailing from Madisonville, Kentucky, Reverend Jack kicked off the night with a set of hard Southern rock to promote their EP “Not Playing Games.” Ryan Garrett and Nathan Parrish laid down the grooves on bass and drums, and guitarist Dustin Black hammed it up, providing the canvas for frontman/guitarist Eric Harmon to showcase his outstanding vocal skills. Harmon’s stage presence and style reminded me a bit of Myles Kennedy; this is indeed a very good thing.

Blues rocker Jared James Nichols is an incredibly gifted guitarist and performer, known for a pick-less playing style. His sound is clearly rooted in 1970s bands like Mountain and Bad Company; this is underscored by his cover of “Mississippi Queen.” His stage presence is well-developed and extremely confident and, while still quite young, Nichols’ performance is mature and charismatic. His last LP was 2018’s Black Magic and he was recently named one of the top 30 blues guitars in the world  by Guitar World. Judging by his performance at Voltage Lounge, the recognition is apt.

John 5 and The Creatures wrapped up their tour on 11/24 in Rochester, NY but will be back out on the road in January as a special guest on Queensryche’s “The Verdict” tour. I was grateful to be able to shoot John 5’s entire set, which gave me the ability to share more of the fun here: a flashing light mouthpiece, a mask that is ripped off only to reveal another mask, and Dancing Elmo, among other things.  John 5 is a human carnival fun house. Go see him.

REVEREND JACK

JARED JAMES NICHOLS

JOHN 5 SET LIST
Crank It
This is My Rifle
Six Hundred and Sixty Six Pickers in Hell, CA
Here’s to the Crazy Ones
Hell Haw I.G.R
Season of the Witch
I am John 5
First Victim
The Black Grass Plague
Cactus Flower
Mando Jam
Zoinks
Midnight Mass
Medley

ENCORE
I Want it All

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