Thursday, April 05, 2007

All Hail The Barracudas

If you happened to work in the cultural department of Zagreb council, Croatia's victory at the world water polo championships in the early hours of Sunday morning meant primarily: less than 48 hours to organise a two-hour concert on Zagreb's main square to celebrate the fact that - in the words of Baruni's ever-adaptable football song - 'Neka pati koga smeta, Hrvatska je prvak svijeta' ('If you don't like it it's your problem, Croatia are champions of the world').

A similar doček on Trg Bana Jelačića four years ago, honouring Croatia's world-champion handball team, ended up remembered for the wrong reasons when Marko Perković Thompson was greeted by fans near the stage with raised-fist salutes - much to the dismay of Zagreb's then mayor Vlasta Pavić, who had allegedly never wanted him there in the first place. Pavić's deputy at the time, one Milan Bandić, is now in the mayoral seat himself, but the politician who endeavours to be all things to all Zagrepčani couldn't repeat the invitation: even with a major new album to promote, the devout Thompson doesn't perform during Lent.

Indeed, as late as Tuesday morning, nobody seemed to know very clearly who was coming; Oliver Dragojević arrived as planned, but despite expectations there was no sign of Miroslav Škoro - although his place and Thompson's was ably filled by Tomislav Bralić, whose ubiquity over the last six months is owed entirely to his patriotic klapa mega-hit Croatijo, iz duše te ljubim (Croatia, I love you from the soul) - originally performed at an army song festival (Hrvatski pleter) in 1997, but revived in 2006 for a klapa spectacular in Hajduk Split's Poljud stadium. In fact, for the coastal-dominated water polo squad (who specially requested Mišo Kovač to play them out), Bralić is somehow more appropriate than his Slavonian or Zagoran models - offering patriotism and the sea in the same package.

Representing the hosts, meanwhile, was the task of veteran rock band Prljavo Kazalište (that's as in veterans of rock, not rock by veterans, although their guitarist Damir Lipovšek-Keks has been moonlighting as producer of the new Thompson album) and a surprise opening act - Žiga i Bandisti, whose album of Medjimurje folk songs arranged for a brass band turned out to be another of late 2006's sleeper hits, if not quite northern Croatia's answer to the Bralić phenomenon.

That said, Bralić and Žiga have both been responsible for some surreal musical experiences of late. If klapas aren't supposed to perform in stadiums, then Ljubav se ne trži (a Medjimurje standard) really isn't supposed to have a trumpet bridge. And teenage girls really aren't supposed to link arms when they hear that trumpet bridge at, say, a waterpolo doček in the middle of Zagreb and start dancing a kolo to it the way that can be guaranteed to happen at any house party when somebody thinks it's a good idea to put on the Goran Bregović soundtrack to Underground.

And somewhere there were water polo players, weren't there?

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At 12:18 am, April 06, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

he,he krivo ti je :-))
neka,neka, pati...

At 10:40 pm, April 14, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

there is nothing wrong with the trumpet bridge in "ljubav se ne trzi" since brass orchestras have a long tradition in medjimurje. ziga might not be a perfect singer, but at least he is trying to preserve traditions which are about to sink into oblivion.


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