Saturday night at Wembley arena was the scene for one of the most impressive nights of music the venue has seen. The event had advertised a whole host of stars – Doug Aldrich, Nicko McBrain, Phil Campbell, Tim Ripper Owens, Billy Duffy, Joe Satriani, Paul Gilbert, Corey Taylor, Glenn Hughes, Brian Tichy, Yngwie Malmsteen, Zakk Wilde, Mike Portnoy, Andy Fraser and Kerry King as performing, but exact details of what to expect had not been revealed.
The night started with the video screens showing various well known musicians wishing Marshall a happy 50th anniversary. Then the show itself started. Comedian Al Murray came out to introduce the next artists – Corey Taylor (Slipknot/Stone Sour) and Billy Duffy (The CUlt). Now that is how to get things off to an amazing start – two fantastic performers doing a couple of songs from The Cult – “Lil’ Devil” and “Love removal machine”. Having seen The Cult perform just a week earlier I have to say I was really impressed by Corey Taylor’s vocals – every bit as good as Ian Astbury if not better on these two songs. Sadly though two songs was all we were to get before they went off while the screens played more video messages.
Next the second compere for the evening came on – Iron Maiden drummer Nicko McBrain. He introduced Doug Aldrich (Dio, Whitesnake etc) and Tim Ripper OWens (Judas Priest, Iced earth, Yngwie Malmsteens rising force etc). They treated us to two songs – first up, Dio era Black Sabbath classic “Heaven and Hell”, and secondly Whitesnake’s “Slide it in”. Happily this wasnt the end of their set though – Nicko McBrain came back out (this time ready to play drums rather than in his suit) and took over the drums for a superb version of Iron Maiden’s “Flight of Icarus”. To finish their set off, Corey Taylor came back out and joined Tim Ripper Owens on vocals for a fantastic cover of Judas Priest’s “Livin’ after midnight”.
This was definitely one of those nights where you can’t believe how good it is, and the various artists collaborating on stage was something we’re unlikely to see again any time soon. After some more video tributes Al Murray introduced the next two stars – Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater, Avenged sevenfold, Adrenaline mob, Flying colors etc)and Paul Gilbert (Mr Big) – this night just keeps getting better. They chose to give us three diverse covers – ZZ Top’s “Cheap sunglasses”, Jimi Hendrix’s “Manic Depression” and Joe Walhs’s “Rocky Mountain way”.
Then it was time for more videos before Al Murray introduced some more musicians to the stage – Motorhead’s Phil Campbell and his son Tyler, and joining them was Corey Taylor, back on stage again. They started with a Thin Lizzy song, “Still in love with you” before Slayer’s Kerry King came out to replace Phil Campbell for them to play a nice powerful version of Motorhead’s “Ace of spades” followed by a Pantera song – “Mouth for war”.
With Corey Taylor being replaced by Tim Ripper Owen we were then treated to a great cover of “Hell bent for leather”.
Next up was Zakk Wilde (Black Label society, Ozzy etc) who performed a few tracks with Kerry King. We got a couple of Black Sabbath songs – “Fairys wear boots” and “Into the void” followed by a Black Label Society song – “Stillborn”.
After that Jesse Hughes from Eagles of Death Metal came out to introduce a video about Black Sabbath, and then we got a ten minute interval. Ten minutes? Why so short? – that wasn’t time for even half the people to use the notoriously under-provided Wembley toilets, or get a drink at the bar
Following the interval Al Murray introduced guitar legend Yngwie Malmsteen who played three guitar solos (he’d probably call them instrumental tracks but really they were just guitar solos) – “Baroque And Roll”, “Evil Eye” and “Far Beyond The Sun”, and for me this was the only part of the night that was weak – things lost pace here and would have worked far better with him playing alongside a singer (for instance Tim Ripper Owen who has worked with him before). Nicko McBrain came out next to introduce the house band – Brian Tichy, Adam Wakeman, Nick Bowcot, Chris George. Then it was time for another guitar legend – Joe Satriani. He did a couple of instrumentals/guitar solos – “Satch Boogie” and “Always with me always with you”. While these were both guitar solos they felt more like proper instrumental tracks rather than an excuse to show off his guitar skills, so worked better for me than Yngwie’s set. Satriani was then joined by Paul Gilbert and Nicko McBrain to perform “Going down”.
Al Murray came out next to act as compere while the crew got things ready for the next artist, and after calls from the crowd was persuaded to take a turn on the drums. After a short drum solo he was ordered to get on with it and so introduced the next artist – Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple, Black Country Communion, Trapeze etc). He performed “Black Country” and “Soul mover” before introducing Andy Fraser from Free – who he described as the man responsible for him playing Bass. They played one song together (Free’s “Mr Big”) before Andy Fraser went off and was replaced by Yngwie Malmsteen for a Rainbow cover – “Mistreated”.
We then got some video tributes to Jim Marshall – the founder of Marshall amplification.
By this time thanks to the inability of Transport For London to provide a proper service (2 tube lines to Wembley were closed) then people were streaming for the exits desperately hoping to get one of the last replacement buses home.
To end the night we were treated to a superb version of Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water” with almost all the artists on stage together (only Kerry King and Zakk Wilde seemed to be missing).
I’m sure I’ve missed things out of this review for which I apologise, but trying to take photos and make notes at the same time isnt easy when you’re (a) watching in awe at some amazing collaborations, and (b) having such a great time. The most important thing to know is that this was an absolutely amazing night of music with great artists collaborating to celebrate the massive contribution that Marshall amps have made to music over the last 50 years.
To see more of the photos check out the two photo slideshows