"I and everybody else were old farts in her opinion" - Roger Waters on the night Sinéad O'Connor sang her spellbinding version of Pink Floyd's Mother

Roger Waters onstage with Sinead O'Connor in Berlin
(Image credit: Michael Putland/Getty Images)

On June 17, 1981, at Earls Court in London, Pink Floyd performed The Wall for the last time. At the time, few imagined anyone would have the cash nor the cojones to restage the show, but in 1990, Roger Waters – who left the band in 1985 – rallied an impressive array of celebrated guests and performed the entire thing again in Berlin.

The show took place on Potsdamer Platz, a former public square that had been bisected by The Berlin Wall. Local heroes The Scorpions opened the show with In the Flesh?, while some of the more unlikely turns included Joni Mitchell (Goodbye Blue Sky), a version of Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2 led by Cyndi Lauper, and a version of The Trial featuring contributions from a cast that included Marianne Faithfull and actor Albert Finney. 

Perhaps the most moving moment was when the late Sinéad O'Connor stepped forward to sing a haunting version of Mother. Flanked by Waters as well as The Band's Levon Helm, Rick Danko and Garth Hudson, she looks tiny, but the performance is huge, poignancy personified, although Helm and Danko’s harmonies are a little clunky. Hudson's accordion solo is better.

It's a spellbinding performance from O'Connor, but all was not well. According to Waters' version of events, the production team had recorded the rehearsal the night before as a back-up, and it's this version that made the official video release after the sound failed during the actual show.  

And in 2008, Waters revealed that he was unhappy with the Irish star's attitude.

"She was so worried that there weren't any other 'young people on the show'," he told Uncut. "I and everybody else were old farts in her opinion so she was worried that she was doing something that wasn't 'street' enough. And because it wasn't 'street' enough, she came up with this brilliant idea: she said that I should employ Ice-T or one of those people to re-work one of my songs as a rap number! I am not joking! And neither was she fucking joking!"

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.