September 24 [12:00 EDT] -- On Tuesday night, U2 planted its flag on a stage in Sarajevo as frontman Bono shouted to the war-torn city, "Viva Sarajevo! F*** the past! Kiss the future! Viva Sarajevo!" [650k QuickTime]
The PopMart spectacle is the first major rock concert to roll into Sarajevo since Elton John performed there in 1992, and some 45,000 fans were on hand for the event.
"The fact that we can come and put on not just a concert, but the same concert that we've put on in Paris, New York, or London, I think it's a symbol for the people of Sarajevo that things are getting back to normal," U2 guitarist the Edge said before the band's historic concert.
For the group, the show saw the realization of a dream that has hung out of reach for years, as Bono explained.
"We've been working on this for, what, four years since 1993 when we were on the Zoo-TV tour and a small camera crew from Sarajevan television smuggled
their way out of the city during the war, through the tunnel, and across to Italy where we were playing," the singer said before taking the stage. "They asked us once they were interviewing us why we wouldn't play Sarajevo. So, I couldn't come up with a good reason why not, and I've been trying ever since, and four years later we're here. I can't really believe it myself."
"We went 'round to the president," Bono said of the group's pre-show activities in Sarajevo. "He wanted to meet us, and he said that since we've been here other people have been on the phone from the Boston Philharmonic to Tina Turner saying, 'Yeah, we'll do it,' which is great."
While the band has found itself thrust into the role of diplomats on this latest twist in the PopMart road, they know that they are still simply musicians, and nothing more.
"The one thing they don't want is our pity," Bono said. "They don't want any rock n' roll stars patronizing
them. We're just going to do what rock bands do, and play our songs and pour all that we've got into them." [1MB QuickTime]
The PopMart tour moves on to Greece and Israel this weekend.