Pre-Sarajevo Popmart concert, September 21, 1997
Bosnia Hit By U2 Fever
By Caroline Smith, Reuters
SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (Reuter) - In what is being billed as the biggest concert ever to be staged in Sarajevo, Irish rock group U2 is about to fulfill a promise lead singer Bono made to the city shortly after the war ended in 1995.
The band's concert in Sarajevo's Kosevo Stadium Tuesday will be the first major pop spectacular in the city since the war ended and is already providing welcome relief to a people tired of politics and the memory of years under siege.
Bono used U2 concerts to attack Western powers for failing to end the war in Bosnia and celebrated New Year's Eve here with his wife Ali in 1995. He did not perform but promised to return and hold a concert in 1997.
"Sarajevo is a part of Europe and we want to celebrate that...Don't worry next time I'll bring the band," he said after arriving on a United Nations aid flight in December 1995, just a few weeks after the war ended.
"If rock'n roll music means anything, it's some kind of liberation...It is about freedom in the end," he said.
Kosevo Stadium is being transformed by hundreds of workers, 450 of them just to build the stage and sound system.
An advance guard of 250 of U2's own technicians was due to arrive in the city Sunday to help construct the 90 foot high stage backed by a giant screen. Organizers said the group had invested $1 million to stage the concert.
Organizers have printed 45,000 tickets but expect around 50,000 people to turn up, a spokeswoman said Sunday.
Special trains will bring fans from across Bosnia and thousands are expected to arrive from other former Yugoslav republics Slovenia and Croatia -- Slovenes have been told they will not require a visa for the evening.
The inflow of visitors is likely to cause havoc around the city, reachable only on narrow, winding mountain roads which 60 U2 trucks will have to navigate to bring in equipment.
Copyright © 1997 Reuters/Variety. All rights reserved.