Bono, The Edge, Larry and Adam were still in the dressing room underneath the rapidly filling Kosevo stadium stands. Paul McGuiness and I were standing behind the stage.
"When (Big) Love Comes to Town"
Amb. Muhamed "
Bono, The Edge, Larry and Adam were still in the dressing room underneath the rapidly filling Kosevo stadium stands. Paul McGuiness and I were standing behind the stage as the young women and men of the Islamic choir of the
Paul's bulldog cheeks cloaked the gentleman of a giant he is. His normal calm though was at risk. An Islamic choir would be sharing the stage with U2 for the first time ever, anywhere. In fact, it was the first time that a rock band would share a stage with an Islamic choir. It was a risk, for both, but U2 is an industry. Bono, Paul and the rest of the U2 management were being told that this would not be a good thing, by some of my fellow Bosnians.
In Paul's thinking, this could be a big risk for a big band. In my mind,
Small Obstacles on the Road to "Big" Visions
We had done well in preparing the (big) event. Mirsad Purivatra, Sarajevo Film Festival, was in charge of the marketing and sales. "Bega" was handling security. U2 had committed to absorb any financial risk. Ticket cost would be set to break even while any extra income would de donated to a local charity. U2's enormous traveling caravan had arrived a couple of days earlier. Each day on the road cost close to a million dollars. My informal role was promoter or organizer, but that was really U2 logistics, one Austrian and our capable local Bosnian team. My job was to make certain that Bono, The Edge, Larry and Adam make it to
Even as late as July of that summer, U2 was being pressed by an offer to use the slot scheduled for
We waited at Nice airport in
Paul nudged. We had to make a decision to fly then to make the concert and preparations in time, or cancel. For U2, it was about their professionalism, as well. There had to be microphone checks and adjustments before taking the stage for real. Besides local television, the BBC would be televising the concert live to the
Perhaps it was coincidence, or maybe my Cowboy accent, but probably not the rank of "ambassador." Anyway, we were off to
Islamic Choir & Whistles
The Islamic choir started gradually, rhythmic drum with inspired voices overtaking the buzz of the crowd. In
A few whistles, maybe jeers, came down at the stage from the almost 10,000 IFOR, mostly NATO, troops that were guests in BiH and the concert. Paul's face gathered into an even more worried glance. For that moment, doubt caught up with me. Reis Ulema Mustafa Ceric had also trusted and endorsed my selection of the Islamic choir as one of the 3 opening performers to U2.
Suddenly the kids upfront, the audience core, rose to the defense of a choir with a rhythmic clap. It soon also became an arm sway from this core which sets the tone for any rock performance. They were there for U2 and Bono, but this was also theirs. Bascarcija and the Islamic choir were also part of their city, culture regardless if they ever stepped into a mosque. (It was in the spirit of the Catholic choir of
The whistles died out as if confused by the counter trend set by the concert's mode core. The clapping got a little louder as it caught the choir's rhythm. Paul again glanced, but this time face muscles relaxed. He smiled, big, and then a couple of tears flowed. I think he got it. We were absorbing the tone that was being set. A high collectively lifted the crowd.
Soon, a local band followed, and then a second. It was more punk rock than roll. No matter, the crowd was an open connoisseur. As I walked back to the dressing room, I searched out the crowd. There were girls in Hidjab and those wearing shorts, swaying to a shared moment in tune.
When U2 came on stage, the crowd had swelled to capacity in the stands and on the field. Paul, Miro, Bega, Bono and I had made the decision to open the gates for those who could not afford or did not buy tickets in time. Another 10,000, that had been milling outside poured in like sparkling water, effervescent but without spills. Only 24 hours earlier, there were more than 15,000 tickets still unsold. Some had still not believed that U2 was coming.
Even Bono was not expecting the (big) reception. We had been absorbed with some guests. Bill Roedy, President of MTV, a great friend to this day was there to add his luster. Bono was caught in talking mode after CNN's Christian Amanpour. We had planned this day over dinners and drinks back to when he and his wife, Ali, had been my guests in
Bono and Paul asked me to be host. I was asked to select the 3 opening acts. Besides the Islamic Choir, and one multiethnic band that I personally chose, we also organized a voting contest over radio who would be the third act.
A stop in
"Sing For Me"
By the third or fourth song Bono was losing his voice. The
"How? What do I say?"
"Pjevajte za mene." I wrote on a note and then repeated in my best Bosnian pronunciation.
Bono looked at me and took a (big) swig of the brandy. I thought I heard the Rocky theme as Bono staggered back on stage like the (big) cowboy ready for another ride on the (big) untamed horse.
Bono called out to the audience, "Pjevajte za mene." Not sure if the (big) crowd heard his voice, but they understood his message. The audience followed then led in singing Bono's lyrics and complimenting The Edge's, Larry's and Adam's harmony.
Don't like most things "big:" (Big) power is corrupting. (Big) politics is for small men. (Big) ideas are good, but too often they're nothing more than promotions of the wrong big head. (Big) Love is good, but not if only for you or that which you claim as exclusively your own.
My teammates on the American football team used to call me "
True friends are more than (Big) friends. Many people confuse or abuse statements regarding (big) love for God to instill hate toward the other. I'm a believer in the Big One, but I don't care for (big) monuments to religion. Respect for our small earth is the first monument we must foster to the One that created it all.
But, that was truly a Big night for
After the concert, the "lads," as they are called by their managers, Paul and I walked the streets of
There were kids that night from
There was a "big" summit of Bill, Jacques, Tony, and Kofi to come a couple of years later. But U2 in Sarajevo was the big night when we were not just audience but also drivers of a new vision. We were all Sufi's on that night, those of us in the audience or performing, including the Sarajevo rocker who took his pants down on stage and mooned the audience with his behind.
Unfortunately that mooning has been a reflection of fortune to come for
"Mo'Big Love" morefreedombetterthanless.com
Formated for CROWN by Nenad Bach
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