Bosnians euphoric over Lenny Kravitz show

July 24, 2009 12:39:17 PM PDT
Lenny Kravitz's concert in Bosnia offered a rare glimpse of international glamor in a nation still struggling with the aftermath of a devastating ethnic war.

The rock star thanked his audience in the former Yugoslav republic on Thursday for shelling out euro15 ($21) for the cheap seats, a weighty sum in a country burdened by 40 percent unemployment and where the average salary is about euro400 ($570) a month.

"I love and respect you for that," he told the 6,000 fans who gathered at his two-hour show in the Bosnian Serb city of Banja Luka, where he played such hits as "American Woman" and "Mama Said." He also played Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean," in tribute to the late superstar.

The turnout was remarkable for an event that wasn't a political gathering or an economic protest. The country's economy has never recovered from the 1992-95 war, which left thousands dead in a campaign of "ethnic cleansing" at the hands of the Bosnian Serbs.

The country's leadership has squabbled for years over ethnic differences, halting prospects of joining the European Union and leaving the country's people feeling isolated, and unable to travel freely in the rest of Europe.

Over the last two decades, Bosnia has received rare visits from stars such as U2 and Jamiroquai, both of whom appeared in Sarajevo.

The regional government-sponsored visit by Kravitz, and a later free show by the British rock band Kosheen that drew 10,000 people, offered an unusual opportunity for an experience that is everyday in the rest of Europe.

"This is the best night of my life," said bank clerk Dragana Kunic, 28. "I went to Lenny`s concert and now I'm listening to Kosheen live. I couldn't ask for more."

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