A reported 10,000 fans attended the short performance, which took place in a public outdoor space bordered by buildings on three sides, and a "temporary security fence" on the fourth.
A two-metre high, tarp-draped fence which, to fans on the other side, looked like... a wall.
Berlin celebrates 20 years since Wall fell by erecting another for U2 (Times Online)
MTV Europe defends U2 Berlin 'wall' (UK Press Association)
Bono sparks row after building own Berlin Wall to block free gig from fans (Scotland's Daily Record)
New Berlin wall built for U2 gig to mark fall of old one (The Guardian)
MTV's statement on the matter refuted the notion that it had built a new Berlin wall, and emphasized the facts that the decision was made collaboratively with local event organizers and that its objective was the safety of all the fans in attendance.
"MTV wanted to ensure that the 10,000 music fans that attended tonight's MTV EMAs present U2 at the Brandenburg Gate enjoyed a safe and happy experience.
The safety and well-being of all attendees at any MTV produced event is of the highest priority. MTV worked closely with our local promoter DEAG, the Borough of Berlin and the Berlin Police department to create a comprehensive security
plan for the event. To that end, MTV placed a temporary security fence around the site perimeter.
Under no circumstances did MTV build a 'wall' of any kind in or around the U2 production site."
My favourite dictionary, the Oxford Canadian Dictionary (Second Edition), defines a wall as "a continuous and usu. vertical structure of little thickness in proportion to its length and height, enclosing, protecting, or dividing a space or supporting a roof."
Sometimes, good intentions aren't enough.
I can completely appreciate the effort to control the crowd in an event like this one. Of the thousands of details planners of an event of this scale would have had to consider, this would be a significant one: no-one wants their event to become the site of a serious injury (or worse).
With that said, this particular crowd-control measure seems a bit tone-deaf. Given that everyone is there to celebrate the destruction of a wall, the erection of a new one (no matter how well-intentioned) would seem a natural target for ridicule.
The objective of staging a huge event like this one is to generate positive publicity for a brand. Unfortunately for MTV, a miscalculation in the optics of one detail among thousands coordinated by the event planners took the event coverage off course, and reduced the event's benefit to MTV's reputation.