DEREK SCALLY in Berlin, Irish Times
TONIGHT'S FREE U2 concert at the Brandenburg Gate to celebrate the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 will take place behind a wall erected by organisers, metres from the original.
The wall means that only 10,000 holders of free tickets - and very tall people - can find what they're looking for.
The irony was not lost on Berliners yesterday.
"The Brandenburg Gate is the symbol of our unity, the view should be open to all, at all times," said Hans-Joachim. "One wall was more than enough."
A spokesperson for Berlin's city government said blocking the view was MTV's idea."I find it rather unfortunate and unusual for organisers of a free concert - particularly one of this nature - to demand such a barrier," said a city spokesperson.
U2's four-song mini-concert is being staged as part of the MTV Europe Music Awards.
"We are asking fans without tickets to watch the concert on television," said Nicola Haake of MTV. "The barrier is for security reasons and to contain the crowd, allowing the surrounding shops and restaurant continue trading."
MTV was unable to say why the concert was being staged on Pariser Platz, on the eastern side of the gate, rather than the Tiergarten park side, where there are no space problems and no businesses to be disturbed.
All tickets for the U2 show were snapped up in just three hours last week.
For many former East Berliners, the concert is a case of deja-vu all over again. In 1987, a David Bowie concert in West Berlin ended in a riot on the other side of the wall between police and fans. A year later, the Stasi feared a repeat performance at a Michael Jackson concert at the Reichstag, on the far side of the Brandenburg Gate. After letting fans listen to the first few songs, Stasi officers launched a violent clampdown.
Anyone without a ticket for this evening in Berlin has several options: book a room with a view at the Hotel Adlon; seek sanctuary at the French or US embassies; visit the exhibitions at the Academy of the Arts; or talk your way in.
Police say they will be lenient with ticket-less fans ready to run, to crawl, to scale this city wall only to be with U2.
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