Rockers from old Yugoslavia reform to heal war's wounds

The vast audience came from all over the former Yugoslavia. Thousands of cars and hundreds of buses bearing the licence plates of Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Macedonia, and all parts of Serbia and Montenegro were parked close to the horse race tracks of the Belgrade hippodrome. The Croatians and Bosnians even left their cars in Dedinje, the exclusive neighbourhood that was once the home of Mr Milosevic.

The concert on Tuesday night was the first given in Belgrade by Bijelo Dugme, (White Button), since the band re-formed in April after breaking up in 1989. Since then, the band's leader Goran Bregovic, 51, has composed music for several movies and has led the Weddings and Funerals band, which has taken Balkan and Gypsy music to an international audience. In what has proved an inspired decision, the musician decided to reunite the band and hold concerts in former Yugoslav capitals of Sarajevo, Zagreb and Belgrade, in order to demonstrate that people separated by wars could at least share and enjoy a common musical heritage. The group's members traditionally included Serbs, Croats and Muslims. Bregovic himself is of mixed Serb-Croat origin and is married to a Muslim. More than 130,000 fans attended the concerts in Zagreb and Sarajevo, sharing songs, emotions and memories similar to those that were almost tangible in Belgrade.

Thousands of middle-aged and elderly fans sang along to songs such as "Let's go Boys and Lets Go Girls" that now belong to another era. Even members of the audience not born when Bijelo Dugme began their career in Sarajevo three decades ago knew the lyrics. "My parents kept all the albums of Bijelo Dugme and I learnt Serbo-Croat by listening to them," said Janez Koska, 21, who travelled from the Slovene capital of Ljubljana for the concert.

For most of the mixed audience, the reappearance of Bijelo Dugme on a Belgrade stage was a throwback to happier times, when citizens of the most liberal state in Communist Europe travelled abroad and embraced Western pop culture. The band introduced sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll to the Yugoslav federation. Their popularity spread across Eastern Europe.

"To me this was a journey to a better past," said Dragan Janackovic, 52, from Belgrade. "It brought back memories of the good years we once had together."

After the break-up of the band in 1989, Bregovic gained international fame with his soundtrack for the Cannes award-winning 1995 film, Underground, by his friend the Sarajevo director Emir Kusturica.

When war broke out in Bosnia in 1992, Bregovic left Sarajevo for Paris, refusing to be drawn into politics. But his return to the stages of Sarajevo, Zagreb and Belgrade has excited commentators, who say the concerts show that people who shared the same history, culture and heritage for decades cannot easily break all bonds. The Sarajevo academic, Salih Foco, said that the performances had given hope for reconciliation among future generations.

"Politics has eaten 15 years of people's lives," Mr Foco said. "But it cannot replace the richness of life that existed in the former Yugoslavia."

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
tech

Company reveals $542m investment in start-up building 'a rocket ship for the mind"

News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Arts and Entertainment
James Blunt's debut album Back to Bedlam shot him to fame in 2004
music

Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'

Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
football

News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Project Manager

Competitive: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsford a...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

IT Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album