25 February 2013

The Wall live in Berlin 1990 – Roger Waters

I’ve owned this DVD for a long time but only got around to watching it last night. I have the entire Pink Floyd catalogue, many CD bootlegs of concerts from the ‘70s, DVDs of Waters’ ‘In the Flesh’ and Gilmour’s ‘Pulse’ so you could say may expectations for Waters' 1990 concert were high.

Shame, because it’s a letdown. But why? It’s all there: the fabulous setting in no-man’s land by the Brandenburg Gate, site just the previous year of the former Berlin Wall; superb musicianship; a stage show of gargantuan proportions including the gradual assembly of the vast wall in front of the performers (only to be dutifully demolished after the Trial Sequence); and a cast of international musical superstars to help Roger out.

Perhaps it’s like trying to paint a better version of the Mona Lisa. You can’t improve on perfection. Instead what you get is something different and it’s not as good. Ten years after the original album’s release, musical tastes were already shifting away from the grand and pompous and although the show attracted a huge crowd there is no life, no soul.

It suffers from ‘too many cooks’ syndrome. Van Morrison is so out of place on Comfortably Numb, Cyndi Lauper is a crazy long-haired and hilariously overacting kid on ‘Another Brick in the Wall’, Joni Mitchell appears bewildered on ‘Goodbye Blue Sky’ and Jerry Hall’s spoken part is just cringe-worthy. Research tells me the crowd was subdued on the night so every lull in the music was filled in the studio with a crescendo of multi-layered cheering and roaring. Some tracks suffered equipment failure and mistakes resulting in rehearsal performances from previous days making it onto the disc.
Waters is a renowned perfectionist. Perhaps that’s why so many performers are caught out lip-synching to backing tracks when their moment in the limelight comes. Bryan Adams is miming his guitar parts as are The Scorpions. Even Waters himself is nowhere near a mic for the start of one of his spoken parts.
On my surround sound system the DTS 5.1 soundtrack is loud and detailed. The video predates high definition and looks average. The whole thing is trying so hard to be Pink Floyd but it isn’t. It can’t be. 4/10


Russell Duffy said...

I despair when artists do a great and possibly grand event that includes having cameo performances. It simply ruins the whole point of the performance. I saw Roger Waters on his own at the Dome and it was spectacular BUT...it missed not having Dave Gilmour.

Perfect Virgo said...

I find Waters an obnoxious sh*t and I really only acquired this set for completeness. It's a disappointment on many levels.

Pulse is the definitive Floyd experience (post Waters) for me at least, highly faithful to the original recordings and including an amazing performance of the entire Dark Side album. Gilmour's the man!