On 21st July 1990, Roger Waters’ The Wall concert took place in Potsdamer Platz, at the site of the Berlin Wall, which had been torn down only eight months previously. It was a tender moment in history – the unification of people, of humanity… what a beautiful concept.
Around 450,000 people attended the concert, which was broadcast live to 52 countries throughout the world. Roger Waters was joined onstage by Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell, Cyndi Lauper, Sinead O’Connor and Marianne Faithfull.
Funktion-One’s Tony Andrews, John Newsham and Danny Cooklin were also there. More importantly than that, the concert was projected out to that enormous audience by their newly launched sound system – Flashlight.
Asked by a journalist in 1981, following an extensive world tour, if he’d ever perform ‘The Wall’ again, Waters promised (perhaps flippantly but also in hope) never to do so until the bricks fell in Berlin. A decade later, the bricks did fall, and Waters made good on his promise with a star-studded mega-concert to benefit the Memorial Fund for Disaster Relief.
Tony Andrews: “It was momentous. In so many ways it was a really special experience but it was certainly a challenge too. We’d had phenomenal success with the TMS-3 throughout the ’80s but had developed something better – Flashlight. It was still very new but we had absolutely no qualms about using it.
“People were much more adventurous then and more trusting too. I remember the crew being anxious about getting the scrims on before Roger Waters appeared for soundcheck, because they felt he might be panicked by the relatively low speaker count. Flashlight’s power and efficiency marked a technological shift in loudspeaker design.
“For the production crew, it was very much about working together to make it happen. Unfortunately, that didn’t necessarily translate into TV world. After putting the main system and bass in, we started work on the two rings of TMS-3 delays. By the time we got back to the main stage, the bass speakers were all over the place. They’d been moved by one of the major TV companies to make way for a camera track. As you can imagine, we were pretty pissed off, but we sorted it out.
“The delays were working off the old style BSS crossovers, which would automatically go to ‘mute’ if there was a power cut. As misfortune would have it, an overloaded breaker took out the whole sound system shortly into the show. While we were able to get the main system back up and running very quickly, the delays were a different matter because we had to physically get to them to unmute the crossovers.
“There were so many people, you couldn’t even begin to imagine. It was bigger than anything I’ve ever seen or experienced – much bigger than any Glastonbury. Twice during the gig I had to go from FOH to the stage, which meant persuading people to swap places with me, one person at a time. It took an age.
“There was such a strong vibe. Ann and I were stood at FOH on the lighting platform, looking down towards the Brandenburg Gate at a sea of people, all holding their lighters aloft. It was just unbelievable.
“That concert was a truly historic moment and something that I’ll never forget.”