Eastern Mediterranean University’s annual Rock ‘n’ EMU festival has pulled in some major headliners since its inception, but none as big as the band that performed last night. Led by globally renowned Sir Bob Geldof, veteran Irish punk rockers The Boomtown Rats took to the stage in a packed stadium in Mağusa/Famagusta, eastern Cyprus, to perform their greatest hits.
Along with their number one songs I Don’t Like Mondays and Rat Trap, the six-piece outfit also played solo songs by Bob Geldof, whose energetic on-stage presence was a treat for old and new fans alike. The band performed for nearly two hours, with plenty of banter from their 65-year-old front man.
Wearing a leopard-print suit, the outspoken singer explained the back stories to the band’s music, and talked about the Irish conflict, which had formed the backdrop to their lives as they grew up in Ireland. Geldof also made frequent references to the Cyprus Problem.
Geldof: “How long does it take to get from Larnaca to Famagusta? 40 years”
He said “nationalism kills people”, explaining how its presence in Ireland had caused much pain and resulted in the deaths of over 3,000 people.
Geldof called on Cypriots to “open the borders” and to “leave the politicians, imams and priests to one side and unite this island.”
He also quipped, “How long does it take to get from Larnaca to Famagusta? 40 years,” in reference to the length of time it took for the two sides to allow border crossings following the 1974 War and division of the island.
Rock ‘n’ EMU in its seventh year
Now in its seventh year, Rock ‘n’ EMU has traditionally hosted Turkish rock stars, such as Hayko Cepkin (2012), Özlem Tekin (2013) and Teoman (2016), as their headliners. The annual event is staged by the university – the oldest in the TRNC – as part of its annual Social and Cultural Activities programme.
This year, the invitation went to The Boomtown Rats, who are currently on a world tour and who agreed to come to perform their first-ever performance in Cyprus at EMU.
Some last minute protests by nationalist Greek Cypriots, who try to block all international artists from performing in the TRNC, fell on deaf ears. Neither the band nor their fans heeded the call, and the free concert, open to students and non-students alike, went ahead as planned with crowds from across the island flocking the EMU Stadium in Mağusa to watch.
“I am a 70s punk. So to see them was a big treat for me.”
An estimated fifteen thousand were present, among them Karen Howells who told T-VINE: “I am a 70s punk. So to see them was a big treat for me.”
The evening kicked off at 7.30pm with support from local act the MM (Mağusa Music) Band. It was a huge moment for the group – Candan Kınalısoy Doğu (vocals), Enver Ermetal (guitar, vocals), Kürşat Öztürk (bass), Turgut Karagil (drums), Tolga Ruhi (keyboards), Vural Coşar (trombone), Ergün Okcun (trumpet), saxophone (Fazil Yücel), and Hasan Güngör (guitar) – who duly obliged by warming up the crowd.
Who are The Boomtown Rats?
Originally from the seaside town of Dún Laoghaire, on Ireland’s eastern coast, The Boomtown Rats formed in 1975, coming to prominence as punk rock broke in Britain. Their first single, Lookin’ After No. 1, came out in August 1977 and reached the Top 40 of the UK Singles Chart. A string of successes followed until the band broke up in 1986 having released six studio albums and scored 11 top 40 hits.
They reformed in 2013, with four of the original 6 members present: lead singer Geldof, guitarist Garry Roberts, bass player Pete Briquette, and drummer Simon Crowe.
Bob Geldof and Live Aid
During the 1980s, Gelfdof achieved global fame for his political activism. He was one of the founders of Live Aid, a charity concert that took place on both sides of the Atlantic to raise awareness and money for people suffering from famine and disease in Africa. He also formed super-group Band Aid, co-writing their 1984 number one song “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” – the UK’s second biggest selling single of all time. He was knighted for his charity work in 1986.
Concert photos courtesy of Major Music, who also provided the staging and production for The Boomtown Rats concert.