John 5 & The Creatures at the Arcada Theatre in St Charles, IL

John 5’s solo tour with the Creatures brings a night of virtuoso instrumental musicianship to the Arcada Theatre in St Charles.

It takes something special to be able to not only entertain but fully engage an audience and have people flocking back time and time again for a fully instrumental show. John 5 most definitely has that special “it.” His guitar skills are unrivaled, and although at one point in the evening, after performing the intricate “Howdy,” he bent over gasping for breath after progressively playing faster and faster on every decreasing-sized guitars, he makes it look so effortless. 

These shows are not just a treat for the ears, but also for the eyes. While the production of this tour is more stripped back than previous ones, with less makeup and costume changes, there is still a strong visual aesthetic to these shows, as well as some recurrent aspects from past tours. For the guitar nerds among us, there is also one of the most enviable collections of guitars that get swapped out throughout the evening. The most prominent guitar used was his signature Telecaster called The Ghost. It may not have had the flashing lights of some of his other familiar guitars but it was a sight to behold nonetheless. 

John was joined on stage by Alejandro Mercado on drums. The sound the two of them created more than filled the space and grasped everyone’s attention. Toward the end of the set, John gave a nod to his new bandmates Motley Crue as they performed a medley of some of their biggest hits. His guitar tech came out to join them on stage for bass duties while the microphone was turned around to the audience who willingly stepped into the role of vocalists. 

In the past, these solo shows have typically been hosted at a rock club. What was strange about this show was that it was held at a seated music theater, not that the fans let this get in the way. Throughout the almost 90-minute set, the audience was on their feet and trying to get as close as they could. 

When John stepped back out onto the stage for his encore, he asked the audience if they had any requests. Needless to say, the first one that was shouted out was KISS. Being one of the world’s biggest KISS fans, he obliged with a huge grin across his face as he effortlessly launched into “Detroit Rock City.”

Throughout the entire set, John could not contain the smile that would creep across his face at regular intervals. It was contagious and impossible not to join in when you see someone on stage looking like they’re having so much fun. It was definitely reciprocated by those in attendance. 

Whether you’re a lifelong fan or you’ve just been introduced to him since he joined the Motley Crue ranks, this show cannot fail to entertain and impress you. Even if you’ve seen his shows a million times before, each one will take your breath away as if it’s the first.  

The tour runs until March 1st before joining his Motley Crue bandmates on the road from May. 

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About Kirstine Walton 386 Articles
Kirstine moved from the UK to Chicago in 2011, and has fallen in love with the city and its music scene. She enjoys combining her two biggest passions – music and photography. If there is a band with a guitar playing, chances are she’ll be there…camera in hand. Kirstine went to her first live concert at 7 years old, and hasn’t looked back since!