John 5 Mesmerizes Granada Theater in Dallas

John 5 performing at the Granada Theater in Dallas. Photo by Craig Youngblood

It was a warm February Saturday night as fans wrapped around the building, waiting to get inside to witness an incredible John 5 live show! Luckily, it was a beautiful night to sit and wait outside for what we all knew would be an insane night of music! As soon as the doors opened, fans began flowing through the doors, and after the security checks, they made their way to find their best spot for the night. Fans began filling every space possible leading up to the opener, kicking things off for the night with the astonishing Marty Friedman and his incredible band. It was truly unique to see all the fans; you could witness a diverse crowd and seeing so many of them dressed up and supporting the always fun-to-watch John 5 show was fun.

As the opener was set to take the stage, the fans were ready with merch and drinks, waiting to get this night going. The time to kick things off winds down to the last second. The music fades away, and Marty Friedman and his band from Japan take the stage to kick things off. They welcomed the fans and jumped straight into their set with the opening song, Stigmata Addiction, and the fans erupted with cheer and applause. They continued working through the night’s set with Devil Take Tomorrow, following up the opening song and watching his band with all the headbanging and hair flying all over the place on the stage and in the crowd from the fans. You needed to keep your eyes moving during their set because they were all rock stars on that stage and had so much going on. The drummer had a style like an old-school hair band member. He was drumming so fast it was hard not to stay locked on him with his many facial expressions, hair, and arms flying as he pounded away on his drum set. Marty and his band were all rocking and taking turns interacting with the fans. They continued raising the roof with incredible music and fabulous stage presence as they played flawlessly. They played many original songs, and a few covers were thrown in the mix. Toward the end of the set, Marty introduced his band, which was all from Japan. It was their first time in Texas for a couple of them for a couple of them, and the fans gave them a huge welcome with cheers, applause, and devil horns flying high in the air. Marty even had a fan join them with a jam session and then wrapped up their set with Kaze Ga Fuiteiru, which was an enormous amount of energy as they left everything on the stage that night.

After the crew finished swapping out gear on stage for John 5, the house music faded, the lights went out, and John 5’s spoken intro music began playing. You could feel the anticipation coming from the fans gathered there that night. John 5’s drummer took his place on his throne behind his kit as John 5 walked out onto the stage. As the fans erupted, they began playing and jumped straight into their hard-hitting opener, Season of the Witch, filled with thunderous hits and insane guitar solos. The drummer kept them driving into their setlist as they finished their opening song. John 5 struck the guitar riffs to Que Pasa with some fantastic sound samples mixed in with the guitar playing with many interesting parts and changes throughout the song. John 5 and his drummer often took a brief second and immediately jumped into their next song. They had a truly incredible set, complete with fantastic guitar shredding and so many sounds that I never knew someone could make a guitar have. Another fan favorite that John played is Crank It – Living with Ghosts, which included some words played in the background as John continued to show things on a guitar that seemed otherworldly as he played. After they played that song, John 5 strapped on a Bass guitar and began shredding on the Bass and just began having a bass jam session, putting on a clinic of how to play and all the other stuff that you can do playing for the fun of it and just having a great time while you are playing. As he wrapped it up, he played some tunes on the banjo and had a great time. John 5 asked the fans if they were ready to speed it up, and they erupted with cheer. John obliged and began playing even faster. As he finished playing the Bass, he strapped on one of his guitars and jumped into playing again and had some fun with the crowd when he put his mouthpiece in that lights up and, at one point, even had a toy space gun that he played through his guitar. It is impressive to watch him play as he has fun and is so technical at the same time that he plays flawlessly and makes it look so easy. John 5 also brought out his Fender Mandolin, sat down at the edge of the stage, and played with the fans looking and mesmerized by his playing of the small guitar like it was full-sized. John 5 did bring out a guitar tech that played some bass for him, and the three-piece had an excellent time for a few songs and rocked the crowd with a few cover songs.

One of the cover songs was Hot for Teacher by Van Halen, and the fans began cheering and singing along with the lyrics as he played for them. John followed that up with a montage of songs from his newest band, the Almighty Motley Crüe, which he joined recently, and the fans sang along to every song he played. He continued working his way through the set and asked the fans what they wanted to hear, and since he was in Dallas, he did throw in a little bit of Pantera into the mix, and they about blew the roof of the venue when he struck the first chords of Walk. He continued playing bits and pieces of other songs from artists like AC/DC, White Zombie, and the Eurythmics Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This), and the fans sang along again to every song he played. He closed out the set with an original titled Land of the Misfit Toys from his latest album, Sinner, with so many great songs on it. He thanked the fans, and they screamed and cheered for him as he walked off the stage. You could tell they still wanted more and could stay there and listen to him play farther into the night.

This night was not my first time witnessing the incredible show that John 5 puts on when he gets to tour with his band. It is always interesting to me to see all the different ways he plays guitar and the other instruments he can play so flawlessly. It is never short of amazing watching all the shredding, tapping, and various ways John 5 makes his instruments make sounds that seem like they should be impossible. There is never a dull moment, and there is always something to see and watch between his playing and the different ways that John interacts with the fans on the screens he has played set up on the stage. If you have never seen a John 5 show, I highly recommend you check it out, and you will not be disappointed.

Words and Photos by Craig Youngblood

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