Kusturica the natural* multicultural artist.
*Without ideological hangups.
Smoking ban from Emir Kusturica Orchestra Simon Broughton, Evening Standard 11.05.09
It was bound to be a wild Balkan night and even the Barbican can’t have seen many shows like this. On stage we had — according to the MC — Kim Il Sung, David Bowie, Vladimir Putin, Slobodan Milosevic and much of the audience who were invited on stage as well.
We were asked to clap our hands, yell obscenities and watch the guitarist spin his illuminated instrument on his groin.
Emir Kusturica is best-known as a film director, notably for larger-than-life movies such as Time of the Gypsies and Underground.
But he’s been a musician for just as long, starting in the 1980s as a guitarist in Sarajevo-based punk band Zabranjeno Pusenje.
Ten years ago, he started the No Smoking Orchestra to play the music his films have popularised in the Balkans and beyond.
Saturday was their debut UK performance with a packed-out hall and a long queue for returns. Kusturica, playing guitar, keeps a fairly low profile and the focus is on vocalist and MC Nenad Jankovic, not least because he’s dressed in a blue bat suit trimmed with the red, blue and white of the Serbian flag.
It’s not about the music, the show’s the thing — a fantastic display of subversion, wit and, like the films, a larger-than-life madness.
One moment the band are stalking up and down the stage on their haunches, the next we are incited to scream Eff-You to a popular music channel.
Standing out in the band are cool saxophonist Nenad Petrovic and violinist Dejan Sparavalo who is the musical star. He brings the fire to the music and the romantic schmaltz when necessary.
He also brings a few spectacular circus tricks. Shoving his violin bow down his trousers, he plays his fiddle by rubbing it up and down the bow and brings the audience to a frenzy.