Dave Cowl's Review of the Berlin 1990 Concert


Here it is - the all singing, all dancing non-spell-checked review of the Roger Waters concert in Berlin. I know it was a long time ago now, but it took me ages to recover from my trip and catch up with life as I knew it. This review may not contain all the facts and may be incorrect in places. If you saw the concert in person, don't bother to read further. There will be very little information here which you don't know already. Addition: Those who saw the concert cleaned up probably won't gain a lot either.

The concert was planned before the Berlin Wall came down. Although Berlin seemed to be the obvious place for the concert, it seemed very unlikely that it would be possible. Places like Wall Street were considered. A couple of months after plans got underway, the wall was breached in Berlin, making this the obvious location for the concert. The concert arena was constructed in no man's land, a place called the Potsdamer Platz. It was a very warm day in Berlin on Saturday 21 July. Our bus arrived around noon, giving us a bit of time to check out the sights, the real wall, buy postcards, etc. The security on the gates were very thorough when we went in. They looked like they were from a motorcycle gang or something. I certainly wasn't interested in arguing with them - not that they spoke English anyway. Upon entry to the actual stadium, we were all handed a pink cardboard mask, designed to look like the crowds faces from The Wall film. These had instructions on the reverse in English and German, saying when to hold the masks up to ones face.

The concert programme was only 15 DM, and was very colourful, informative and written both in German and English. T-Shirts were 35 DM. Once in the stadium, the sheer magnitude of this concert became evidient. The wall was in a partially constructed state. Once complete it would be 25 meters high and 168 meters wide. There was a big round screen up behind the wall and video screens built in near the bottom. There were several support bands. The first was a German club band (I think) - I don't remember the name of the band. The Hooters played a fairly reasonable set of songs, including all the songs I have heard from them. The Band also played a set. The Band were Garth Hudson, Rick Danko and Levon Helm. The Chieftains and James Galway also played a set.

The real concert got underway at about 10 pm local time. Just before the concert started, the gates were opened to non-ticket holders (all the tickets were sold) to relieve crushing. After a speach from Leonard Cheshire (founder of The Memorial Fund for Disaster Relief), the concert began. First on stage were the Scorpians. They arrived in a big white limo and performed an adequate version of 'In The Flesh.' Then the trouble started - it was supposed to be Roger and Ute Lemper performing 'The Tine Ice,' but the music appeared to be out of sync and nothing came from the mics at all. Ute Lemper could not be seen on the stage. Whether she forgot to turn up or didn't bother as there was nothing she could do, I don't know. Roger wandered around a bit, shrugged his shoulder and waved a lot. I thought the crowd (reputed to be aroud 250,000) were exceptionally well behaved considering the circumstances. At one stage Roger walked out to the middle of the stage and performed a tap-dance! Just a short one, mind. Things seemed to be back on track as the music started again and Roger began about half way into 'Another Brick in the Wall Pt 1.' The sound level was still a bit low, though, and in the breaks between songs, the audience was chanting 'Louder, Louder.' While the instrumental ending of this song and the following song, the teacher puppet grew from behind the stage. This was a great crowd pleaser, being about the height of the wall again. One hand held a cane which swung around while the fingers wriggled and writhed. There were the usual spotlights in his eyes. A helicopter then flew over head (like in the album) with a screamed phrase ('You, yes, you! Stand still laddie' sort of thing) from Roger (apparently on board - I'm a bit suspicious about that, though). This led into 'The Happiest Days of Our Lives,' which was sung by Roger and the East Berlin Radio Choir. The sound was truned back up to the normal level about now.

Next came 'Another Brick in the Wall Pt 2,' sung by Cyndi Lauper with evidence of Roger's voice also. This came as a bit of a shock, but you sort of warm to these versions of the songs after a while (IMHO of course). Thomas Dolby came on in the instrumental bit and performed a short keyboard (one of those portable things) solo - made shorter by the squelch sound and subsequent fade of his instrument just before he finished. Sinead O'Conner came on to perform Mother. After testing her mic for a bit, they launched into it. More sound problems but this time, not as bad. It seemed that for the next half of the song they were running on rather limited mic circuits. Rick Danko and Levon Helm sang the 'Hush now baby ... don't you cry' bits with Roger (who was playing an accoustic guitar). It sounded sort of Hill Billy to me - it will be interesting to hear it on the Live Album release. The sound seemed to be sorted out with Joni Mitchell's, 'Goodbye Blue Sky' - very different from the original but still very good. The Wall film sequence was shown on the big screen in this sequence. James Galway played his flute during this song also. Empty Spaces was the long version from the film (also called What Shall We Do Now?). Roger sang the first bit and Bryan Adams sang the rest. He was very good, I thought. The film animation was shown on the big screen. He went on to play guitar and sing in Young Lust. This song had a really good 'Hammond Organ' solo bit in it.

Jerry Hall appeared as the Groupie (Oh my God, what a fabulous room...) before 'One of My Turns.' For this track Roger was in a small Hotel Room, about 60 ft up the wall. In it were a couple of lamps, a chair, some guitars and a t.v. with poor reception. In the instrumental break, Roger proceeded to throw various objects through the window (shattering the glass) to great cheers from the crowd. He remained in the room for 'Don't Leave Me Now' after which there was an instrumental break allowing him to return to the stage for the last few tracks from the first half. The hotel room disappears again, covered by the familiar bricks. Down on the stage there are four brick holes left especially so that the band can be seen through the wall when Roger sings 'Brick in the Wall Pt 3.' Bricks are placed in these holes until there is only one hole left. Roger goes onto to sing 'Goodbye Cruel World' - the last brick is placed on the final Goodbye.'

Intermission time - on the wall (now complete across the stage) footage of the war scenes is shown and more information about the Memorial Fund for Disaster Relief is presented. After this a British Airways advert is shown. It seems that this ad was not familiar to the Germans, as the Boos from the audiance were only evident after the B.A. logo appeared.

'Hey You' was performed by Paul Carrack (very good IMHO) from behind the wall. The video screens allowed the audience to see this. Now that the wall was complete, it was lit up with projections of various things for the rest of the concert. Some were Gerald Scarfe cartoons, some were photographs of the Berlin Wall, and other such things. These projections were very impressive, due to the scale of things. 'Is There Anybody Out There' featured huge spotlights searching around the sky. 'For Nobody Home,' Roger appeared on stage with his typical scene - the chair, the lamp and the tv. For Vera, a lot of war photo album style photos of soldiers and airmen appeared on the wall. A large number of soldiers appeared on the stage also. 'Bring the Boys Back Home' featured Roger and the Choir. A huge list of names, like a monument appeared on the wall, followed by 'BRING THE BOYS BACK HOME' across the wall in lettering about 18 metres high. This faded into a whole lot of white crosses on a red background. Next an Ambulance arrives on stage, Roger puts on a doctors coat and gets a large syringe from the ambulance. Roger sings his bit on 'Comfortably Numb' and Van Morrison (with Band members) sings the 'Gilmour' bit (Not so Good IMHO). When Roger sings the 'There'll be no more ...' bit, he sticks the syringe into the wall, and proceeds to push the plunger down. The guitar solos are performed on top of the wall by two musicians from the Bleeding Heart Band (I'm not sure which two).

'In The Flesh' sees the stretch Limo again with the Scorpians performing the music (with the Bleeding Heart Band) and Roger, appearing on a podium about 20 ft up, dressed in a dictators type uniform, sings the lyrics. The soldiers appeared on stage again with large Hammer banners. The giant Pig appeared for 'Run Like Hell.' The pig was very big, black and had the Hammers logo on its side. During it's inflation it knocked down some of the wall at the top. It had large fangs and spotlight eyes also. Q Magazine has a good photo of it. Soldiers abseiled down the wall also. Roger managed to sing all the lyrics by himself. Roger also sang 'Waiting for the Worms' and 'Stop.' During 'Stop' he ripped off his dictators uniform. Scenes of marching hammers, etc. were shown on the wall. 'The Trial' was something else. Tim Curry was the Prosecutor and started the proceedings. Albert Finney was the Judge. All performers in 'The Trial' were outrageously costumed - it was really good. Thomas Dolby was the teacher. He was bouncing like a yo-yo from the top of the wall with largely exagerated arms and legs swinging in all directions - it can't have been easy to sing in this position! Ute Lemper was Pink's wife and Marianne Faithful was his mother (very good too). Trial scenes from the film were shown on the wall. The wall coming down at the end was quite amazing. The stage looked pretty messy after that.

The performers slowly assembled on part of the stage which rose up above the wall rubble. They then all joined in for 'Tide is Turning' (from Radio KAOS) as the finale. At the end there was a really neat fireworks display, which left us rather covered in smoky crap, but it was very good. Roger said thank you to all. We slowly left the stadium - once again I was amazed at how well the crowd behaved. The spotlights from the show formed a sort of pyramid in the sky, which could be seen for a great distance. I saw a couple of people with huge bricks taken from the wall. I thought that the bus driver wouldn't be very happy if I grabbed one - they were rather large. I got a bit of the real wall though. All in all it was a great experience. MTV interviews were very interesting - poeple compared it to Woodstock, saying it has been the greatest concert since. Roger hinted that he might do it again sometime - something like "It is really a diferent show - it seems a shame to do it only once". Well, that's about all I have to say. My sources are the simulcast video, the Official Concert Programme, Q Magazine September issue, and personal experiences. That's all folks.


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