It’s dangerously good (for more than) half a century to love rock and roll – YU Group on Tašmajdan

photo: Danko Strahinić

When Serbia and playing rock and roll are put in the same sentence, the immediate association for most people will be a kind of madness and masochism. Because, in a country where kitsch, junk and bad taste have prevailed for a long time, even imposed themselves as some new standard (?!), the above-mentioned seems like a fight with windmills in which only the bravest (and a bit crazy, yes) get involved. . Fortunately for us, those brave and daring fighters are still there, and their battalion was led last night by the legendary YU Groupcelebrating over fifty year of existence with a spectacular concert at Tasmajdan.

While we were waiting for the beginning of writing a new chapter of our longest-running rock group, our eyes were directed to the sky every now and then, with the hope that the rain would not spoil what was to come (and imagine – it didn’t!), and then we walked around the crowd, which flocked to everything to a greater number, while hymns for which time does not exist blared from the loudspeaker. As in Politika zabavnik – we were all there, from 7 to (almost) 107 years old: parents with children, grandparents with grandchildren, hardened peers of those we came for, as well as some new kids. United on the famous Taš, elated and slightly unaware that we will witness a historical moment that will only be told to those who come after us.

With a symbolic academic 15-minute delay, just long enough to kick in the longing, before the band came on stage, a short video was played as an introduction. There we had the opportunity to see a series of photographs of the group from its inception up to the present day, as well as commentary on it by eminent personalities such as Peca Popović, Dragoljub Đuričić, Siniša Škarica, etc. Even the photos themselves brought nostalgia and nostalgia, even to those who were not part of the time when it was formed. It is an unreal feeling to see those same people on stage, so many decades later, dealing with the same devotion and love in what makes them not only alive, but vibrant to the extent that perhaps some of those decades could be taken away from their personal tickets.

In shiny suits, like real shining stars, they lit us up when they stepped on stage – and the magic could begin. The same young men whom we saw a moment before with long haircuts, on a black and white surface, now found themselves in front of us – not only as excellent musicians, but as living pillars of rock and roll in our country (and beyond). Visibly in a good mood and justifiably proud, Jelić had a great time from the very start, which was undoubtedly the main catalyst for the extraordinary gig they gave us. Not only well-known songs changed, but also well-known guests who enriched and completed this evening indescribably. Due to such colorfulness and richness, above all, of the spirit, the feeling that we are at an ordinary concert was lost, and the feeling that we were witnessing the birth of history before our eyes grew more and more.

“Who”, “Look only right”, “Who are you looking forward to”, “Forget”, “Fire”, “Little bear”, “I love you dangerously” and a series of other hits, which roared through the Tašmajdan Stadium with a chorus of thunderous ovations, bringing the already heated atmosphere closer to incandescence with each subsequent note. The radiant, nurturing warmth that radiated from the stage warmed us all and brought us closer to each other, and this was largely contributed by the aforementioned guests, without whom this evening would not have been the same: Dejan Cukić, Momčilo Bajagić Bajaga, Nikola Čuturilo Čutura, Bora Đorđević, Zele Lipovača, Bruno Langer, Zvonimir Đukić Đule, Tihomir Pop Asanović, Saša Lokner, Aleksa Jelić, Vlatko Stefanovski, Dado Topić, Aleksandra Đelmaš, David Micić – they left their mark, each in their own way, on the career of the YU group, as well as on the very history of this music in our region. Demonstration of fantastic musical skills, warm hugs that were shared on stage, smiles from the soul, immense gratitude, tributes, sharing of anecdotes and pieces of the distant past, made us all feel for a moment that we ourselves are part of the story that the YU group is writing and coloring sheet music for more than half a century, and bequeaths it to us.

What especially marked last night’s performance was the almost constant presence of Saša Lokner at the keyboards, who with his mastery and virtuosity on them gave additional luxury to the already superb concert of the old masters. Exceptional hammond sections caressed the senses and caused shivers, while the fierce sound on the other side made the heart beat faster. The backbone of the band in sight Zika Jelic i Saša Radojevića was, as always, the perfect base for guitar bravura Drago i Petar Jelicexpectedly flawless. “Desert”, “From the Golden Apple”, “Danube”, “Nona”, “Kosovo Peonies”, “Sailor”, “Strange Forest”, “Winds Blowing the Danube”as well as “The sea is at fault” i “Rock and Roll for Home Advice”, which Zele and Bora treated us to, made the border between the audience and the musicians almost disappear. We have grown into one entity that breathes rock and roll together with all those greats – greats that together count many centuries, centuries during which they laid the foundations, and then built the arches and decorations, for music that is positioned at the very center of many lives.

Nearing the end of the concert, the pearl from their considerable opus that they saved for us to slowly (and sadly) prepare for parting with was, of course, “Black Butterfly”. That beauty is very often in simplicity, this is exactly what this song testifies to, a song with which countless generations grew up, learned the first notes on the guitar, learned to love, learned to live. Sung loudly and accompanied by the strong lights of lighters and phones, she managed to take us for a few minutes to a time long gone (but not forgotten) – a time when completely different values ​​were valued, and when togetherness and compassion, not alienation and sterility, prevailed in human relations. According to the occasion, it was easy to guess what followed: all the guests were invited to return to the stage, to leave us ceremoniously with “I’m leaving”, and the scene that appeared to us during this performance seemed like a dream – bards and doyens next to each other, gathered under the Tašmajdan sky, with the aim of holding a lesson for everyone present on the subject of planks that mean life, but not theatrical ones. Even if it was a dream, waking up was not at all bitter because, now for the real farewell, we were unexpectedly prepared for improvisation and playing again “Strange Forests”even more fervently and heartily than the first time – like a hot stamp that was placed at the bottom of the parchment on which the revue celebration was recorded, a celebration that you don’t see every day, a celebration that everyone who attended it can say is a happy man.

And – doing rock and roll in Serbia is crazy, we won’t even question it. But, as we know, the line between genius and insanity is very thin, and last night the symbiosis of the two was at work in its full glory. YU Grupa is not only a group, but also a kind of musical institution, unwavering and tireless, which shows all of us again and again, and last night especially, what it looks like when you are sincerely, truly and primal in love to the core of what you do. The whirlwind of emotions they took us through escalated with a manic ovation that reflected not only delight, but deep gratitude to those gentlemen – gratitude for perseverance, for giving, for selflessness, for quality and for being faithful to ourselves, which in this day and age is an immeasurable success. Until the next celebration and new jubilee, long live YU Group – we will wait for the morning, the light will come’.


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