Review by Greg Maki
Sometimes just putting on a concert is a feat worth celebrating.
John 5 was scheduled to bring his solo tour to Hard Times Cafe in Hagerstown, Maryland. But less than a month before the show, the venue, which had seemed from an outside perspective to be growing in prominence in the past year or so as a regional concert destination, abruptly closed its doors. (One of the owners cited years of poor sales as the reason. Read about it here.)
Undeterred, the promoter quickly found a new location for the show, which also featured well-known area acts Silvertung (which just signed a record deal with Pavement Entertainment and has started to make a splash nationally), Small Town Titans and Pain.
Orchards Ballroom was an unlikely spot for a rock concert. The proper name of the place is Orchards Restaurant, which, according to its website, offers “elegant dining.” The banquet room that served as the setting for the show is better suited to hosting wedding receptions and corporate events, and clearly was not prepared for what hit it on this night. Diners probably weren’t expecting to see a few hundred rockers and metalheads on their Saturday evening out, either.
The early part of John 5’s set was plagued by technical problems, specifically the P.A. cutting out. After a couple starts and stops—John made it clear the show would go on no matter what—the rest of the concert went off without a hitch, the guitarist bringing the same theatricality to the small room that he does to the big stages he shares with Rob Zombie, with various masks, hats and other accessories, along with his impressive six-string arsenal.
The completely instrumental performance—John 5 was backed by bassist Ian Ross and drummer Rodger Carter—ran the gamut from metal to bluegrass and country before concluding with a cover of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” and a medley of some of the best-known rock riffs, including snippets of songs by AC/DC, KISS, Led Zeppelin, Ozzy, Black Sabbath, Metallica, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and White Zombie.
Even with the early glitches, the show went off rather well, especially considering the circumstances leading up to it. Fans have been looking forward to a John 5 solo tour for years—a small ice storm hit the area last year when he played Hard Times Cafe—-and I’m sure many join me in thanking everyone who worked hard to make this show happen.
JOHN 5 SET LIST: “First Victim,” “Flight of the Vulcan Kelly,” “Villisica,” “This is My Rifle,” “Sin,” “El Cucuy,” “Jiffy Jam,” “Portrait of Sidney Sloan,” Guitar solo, “Six Hundred and Sixty Pickers in Hell Ca,” “Behind the Nut Love,” “Mad Monster Party,” ”Black Grass Plague,” “Beat It,” Medley