Dave Cowl's Review of the Berlin 1990 Concert
Date: Wed, 29 Aug 90 11:15 +1200
From: Dave Cowl
Subject: Berlin Concert Review - original 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 yourself, don't bother to read further. There will
be very little information here which you don't know already.
Those who saw the concert `cleaned up' probably won't gain a lot either.
P.S. I didn't hear Thomas Dolby say anything, unfortunately. If the video
is ever available, I'll make a comparison and post an opinion.
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
metres high and 168 metres 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 on'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
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
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 no 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 lead 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
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
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 and 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 stretched 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 Hammers 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 marchingm hammers, etc. were shown on the
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 thankyou 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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