Marshall 50th Anniversary @ Wembley Arena

Marshall 50th Anniversary
Review by Ashley Brooks
Photography by Sabrina Dersel

We recently had the privilege to be a part of a memorable night in history! With such formidable artists covering the past 40-50 years of rock this, of course, came as no big surprise.

The line up was simply a who’s who list of guest artists from various inspirational bands forming a kind of dream team.

There were legends such as, Glenn Hughes, Andy Fraiser, Phil Campbell, Corey Taylor, Joe Satriani, Zakk Wylde and Mike Portnoy, and many other Monsters of Rock, to give you an idea of the sort of quality and experience that was present that evening. This was inevitably a night not to be missed!

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The celebration marked the 50th anniversary of Marshall Amplification which has been the trademark sound of British rock since 1962. After the tragic loss of Jim Marshall earlier this year, it was also like a commemoration of the great man behind the amp himself. It was clear, from both fans and musicians, that there was a great deal of respect for Marshall and his legacy. It felt an honour to be there, for everyone involved, off-stage as well as on-stage.
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I’m ashamed to admit that almost two weeks before the show I still hadn’t bought tickets for me and my mates, and all of a sudden we were there on the front row of Wembley Arena! I really couldn’t believe our luck and as the stage lights went on there was a roar of excitement through the crowd in anticipation of what was about to happen.
I always love going to concerts like this where you just know you have so much in common with everyone around you, as you look at people proudly wearing their Deep Purple and Motörhead shirts from some other amazing gig from the 80’s.
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The show started with an instrumental jam which set the stage for the other musicians to join in with later.
The house band did a really great job throughout the evening, as they covered so much material.
The set list was extremely diverse and engaging and really showed off the talents of the musicians.

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There were covers of Whitesnake, Judas Priest, Motörhead, ZZ Top, Hendrix, Free and Deep Purple to name a few. To me this illustrated the love and appreciation for the genre of rock, and how influential all the bands have been to each other. It was clear that the musicians were genuinely excited to be sharing the stage with other rock legends. There was so much love and respect shown for each other and this really added to the powerful atmosphere of the concert.
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There were so many things to get excited about but I’d like to share a few of my personal highlights.
I was impressed by Corey Taylor’s vocals, and thought he covered a wide range of challenging songs (e.g. Thin Lizzy’s ‘Still in love with you’ and Pantera’s ‘Mouth for war’), really bringing them to life. Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens somehow managed to reach vocal pitches that are simply breathtaking and left most people on stage with big smiles. The energy of Motörhead’s ‘Ace of spades’ was amazing and really came at the right time to lift the energy levels of the crowd.
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After the interval the speed-swede Yngwie Malmsteen burst on to stage in his typical over-the-top style with a blazing flurry of notes. I think it came at the right time in the concert, and was actually quite refreshing to see such an entertainer pleasing the crowd with his guitar acrobatics! Swinging the guitar around, playing with his teeth, kicking his picks towards the audience and throwing his guitar behind him to one of the fearful stage guys; all the things you hope to see from a rock guitarist!

Unfortunately all good things must come to an end and, as we were all hoping for, there was a massive jam finale, to an all-time classic ‘Smoke on the water’. All the musicians just let loose and, for the first time in the concert, the fans were finally given permission to actually get up from their seats and rock with the music! (It was kind of strange that for this kind of affair we had to remain seated.

It was clear that this was frustrating to many fans, including myself, as there were times you just wanted to get up and move with the music. However, the concert also lasted over 3 1/2 hours so it was quite nice to be seated in some ways, I suppose.)

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It was surreal to see all these incredible figures of rock, covering decades of music, all on one stage jamming with each other at the same time; all who have been so influential at various stages of my musical and life journey.

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It really made me want to go back home and dig deep into the musical archives to rediscover the amazing music and sounds of these rock artists who, undoubtedly, have a lot to be thankful to Marshall amps for their signature sounds. To top things off, as Brian Tichy (house drummer) was taking his bow to the audience, I was waving at him, giving him air-drumming hand signals, and he threw one of his drumsticks to me!

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What a great souvenir to leave with!
We must now wait patiently for 2062 to arrive and find out what the next 50 years of rock has in store.