The Wall, a somewhat deranged rock opera from Pink Floyd back in 1979, would have no better showing than standing in the site of the infamous Berlin Wall back in 1990, just eight months after it was brought down. While not technically a full Floyd, Roger Waters leads an all-star ensemble as they perform the evocative record for over 500,000 revellers.
The wall had already fallen when Roger Waters and his crew arrived to construct another one. Not only would they build one on stage but the performance would tear the on-stage and figurative Berlin Wall down once again as the crowd swelled and united around this seminal moment.
The influence of music on the destruction of the Berlin Wall, the iron curtain which separated a city and two worlds, is widely cited. There’s David Bowie’s powerful performance and dare we say it, David Hasselhoff’s contribution. But one of the most important moments of the landmark’s musical journey was provided by Roger Waters and Pink Floyd’s The Wall.
The evening of July 21st 1990 would see Roger Waters take to the stage with a massive show ready for the people of Berlin who swelled in Potsdamer Platz. As well as the behemoth production there was also an all-star list of guests including Cyndi Lauper, Van Morrison, Thomas Dolby, and the Scorpions, as well as many more.
Waters may not have quite embodied the dissatisfaction of the rock star protagonist in The Wall but he puts on a marvellous performance. Luckily, it was all captured as part of The Wall – Live in Berlin and remains a testament to Waters’ original vision for the 1979 record. But the performance did have some changes.
The performance of the song ‘The Trial’ had live actors playing the parts, with Thomas Dolby playing the part of the teacher hanging from the wall, the legendary Tim Curry as the prosecutor, and hero Albert Finney as the Judge. Some songs like ‘Mother’ were extended with solos and others shortened. Otherwise, this provided a perfect retelling of The Wall‘s story, this time backed by the imposing memory of a landscape.
The double album being performed with such integrity is something one can’t imagine seeing in this day and age. It may well remain as one of the only times prog rock, in perhaps its purest form, and pop music last merged on a global scale. But perhaps our favourite moment comes from Water and Van Morrison.
Accompanied by The Band, Van Morrison and Waters share a touching rendition of the classic Pink Floyd track ‘Comfortably Numb’. It’s a powerful reminder of the song’s evocative nature.
Below you can see a clip of the performance which must rank among the best. It is in the video that you can accurately feel the scale of the stage production and the relief the crowd must’ve felt when it was again pulled down.
With the event’s 30th-anniversary event arriving next month, why not sit back and stream Roger Waters performing Pink Floyd’s The Wall live at the Berlin Wall in full, back in 1990.