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A songwriter plays a chord with the faith that he will hear the next one in his head. -- Bono

U2 makes Sarajevo an open city

- September 24, 1997

by R/V staff

U2 arrived to a heroes' welcome in Sarajevo yesterday to perform in the city's first major rock concert since the Bosnian war ended in 1995.

After stepping off his chartered plane, decorated with the U2 PopMart tour logo, Bono bowed to reporters and photographers. "It's great to be back," he said. "Are we really here? We've been working for four years to come."

Bono and his wife, Ali, spent New Year's Eve in the city in 1995 after flying in on a United Nations aid flight, and promised to return with the band.

Thousands of young people converged on Sarajevo from across Bosnia and other former Yugoslav republics for the special concert, which was added to the world tour.

Tickets were priced three to four times lower than anywhere else on the tour for Bosnian citizens and up to 50,000 people were expected to turn up, organisers said.

"If there's any money to be made tonight it will of course be given to War Child," Bono said, referring to a children's charity also supported by Luciano Pavarotti.

Tourist agencies organised special buses to bring fans from Zagreb in Croatia and Ljubljana in Slovenia, while the first trains since the war will arrive in Sarajevo from Mostar and Maglaj - both towns in Bosnia's Muslim-Croat Federation.

"During the war, U2 talked about Sarajevo a lot. I think it's the right group to come here to have the first concert after the war," said Slovene Damian Medica (25).

"It is very exciting to be here because Sarajevo was so damaged in the war, the two things together - seeing Sarajevo after the war and seeing the concert. I'm very excited."

Organisers say they expect fans from Bosnia's Republika Srpska tottotend as well, though it was not known how many would cross the country's ethnic boundary line.

The band brought in 1,200 tonnes of equipment on 15 buses and 52 trucks. "Thanks for giving us a lend of your city for the evening. I hope we treat it better than the rest of world did during the war," Bono told reporters.

© 1997. Reuters/Variety.

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