1990 – Roger Waters – The Wall – Live in Berlin
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The Wall – Live in Berlin is a 1990 live album release by Roger Waters of a concert staging of Pink Floyd’s The Wall in Berlin, Germany on 21 July 1990. The event’s purpose was to commemorate the fall of the Berlin Wall. A video of the concert was also commercially released.
Held in Potsdamer Platz (a location which was part of the former “no-man’s land” of the Berlin Wall), this concert was even bigger than the Pink Floyd era ones, as Waters built a 550-foot long and 82-foot high wall, which was broken down in the same show. The show had a sell-out crowd of over 250,000 people, and right before the performance started the gates were opened which enabled another 200,000 people to watch.
The concert was staged partly at Waters’ expense. While he subsequently earned the money back from the sale of the CD and video releases of the album, the original plan was to donate all profits past his initial investment to the Memorial Fund for Disaster Relief, an UK charity recently founded by the late Leonard Cheshire. Unfortunately, audio and video sales came in significantly under projections, and the trading arm of the charity (Operation Dinghy) incurred heavy losses. A few years later, the charity was wound up, and the audio and video sales rights from the concert performance returned to Waters. Waters stated on the first airing of the making of The Wall on In the Studio with Redbeard in July 1989 that the only way he was to resurrect a live performance of The Wall was “if the Berlin Wall came down”. A few months after the interview was broadcast, the wall came down.
Initially, Waters tried to get guest musicians like Peter Gabriel, Rod Stewart, Joe Cocker, Bruce Springsteen and Eric Clapton but they were either unavailable or turned it down. Also, on the same 1989 interview with Redbeard, Waters also stated that “I might even let Dave play guitar.” On June 30, 1990 backstage at the Knebworth Pink Floyd performance at Knebworth ’90,during a pre-show interview, David Gilmour responded to Roger’s statement on an interview with Jim Ladd by saying that “he and the rest of Pink Floyd (Nick Mason and Rick Wright) had been given the legal go ahead to perform with Roger but had not been contacted.” Two days later, on July 2, 1990 Waters appeared on the American rock radio call-in show Rockline and contradicted his Gilmour invite by saying, “I don’t know where Dave got that idea”.
In the end, the guest artists for the performance included The Band, The Hooters, Van Morrison, Sinéad O’Connor, Cyndi Lauper, Marianne Faithfull, Scorpions, Joni Mitchell, Paul Carrack, Thomas Dolby and Bryan Adams, along with actors Albert Finney, Jerry Hall, Tim Curry and Ute Lemper.
This performance had several differences from Pink Floyd’s original production of The Wall show. Both “Mother” and “Another Brick in the Wall, Part II” (like in the 1980/81 concerts) were extended with solos by various instruments and the latter had a cold ending. “In The Flesh” (also like the 1980/81 concerts) has an extended intro, and “Comfortably Numb” featured dueling solos by the two guitarists as well as an additional chorus at the end of the song. “The Show Must Go On” is omitted completely, while both “The Last Few Bricks” and “What Shall We Do Now?” are included (The Last Few Bricks was shortened). Also, the performance of the song “The Trial” had live actors playing the parts, with Thomas Dolby playing the part as the teacher, hanging from the wall, Tim Curry was the prosecutor, and Albert Finney was the Judge.
The Wall – Live in Berlin was released as a live recording of the concert, although a couple of tracks were excised from the CD version, and the Laserdisc video in NTSC can still be found through second sourcing. A DVD was released in 2003 in the USA by Island/Mercury Records and internationally by Universal Music (Region-free).
“Tribute,” the London-based ‘good causes’ campaign company, was retained to harness worldwide media resources, which included televising the show live in 52 countries for 2 hours, up to 5 repeats of the show in each of 20 countries, a highlights television show in 65 countries and distribution of a double music CD and post-production VHS videotape by Polygram. Tribute also organised ticket sales for the live event.