Georgians, angered by Russia’s war in Ukraine and its occupation of their land, say the American band’s action was too naive.
US alternative rock band The Killers have come under fire for inviting a Russian fan on stage during a show in Georgia.
At the Black Sea Arena in the Georgian port city of Batumi on Tuesday, lead singer Brandon Flowers asked the audience: „We don’t know the etiquette of this land, but this guy is Russian. Are you OK with a Russian coming here?”
He asked the crowd to accept the fan who played drums on the band’s 2006 hit For Reasons Unknown as their „brother”.
The audience booed and some walked out.
Many in Georgia have viewed Russia with suspicion since Moscow’s troops launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February last year.
Georgia gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 and has had a troubled history with Russia.
Its internationally recognized territories – South Ossetia and Abkhazia – are controlled by the Kremlin.
Flowers addressed the audience: “Are we all separated at the borders of our countries? Am I not your brother from America?
As the crowd jeered, he didn’t want the concert to turn into an ugly event and told fans he saw them as his „brothers and sisters”.
— Mtavari TV (@MtavariChannel) August 15, 2023
„This is the story of a good concert in Georgia,” Nino Verdzadze, who attended the event, told Al Jazeera.
„When we started shouting, the singer said we are all brothers and sisters and tried to teach us about brotherhood. I’m sorry, but as an artist, you at least have the decency to know the political situation of a country you’re performing in. Would you do that in Ukraine?”
„And the audacity of a Russian guy getting up on stage and playing in a country where he knows he’s not welcome is mind-blowing,” Versatze said.
Georgians protested in and around the concert hall and expressed their anger on social media.
“No, we are not brothers and sisters. Russia is an aggressor, not a sibling,” said a post on social media platform X, formally known as Twitter).
Bands should know better not to call Georgians and Russians „brothers and sisters”. @killers Today he did, resulting in a large number of audience members booing and abandoning the concert.
No, we are not brothers and sisters. Russia is an aggressor, not a sibling. pic.twitter.com/Manvb8btAB
— Katie Shoshiashvili (@KShoshiashvili) August 15, 2023
Since the start of the war in Ukraine, Georgia has seen an influx of Russians fleeing the country.
According to Georgia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs, 112,000 Russians have been exiled in the Caucasus country as of November.
The Killers apologized after the concert, saying the band had „no intention of offending anyone”.
„We recognize that a comment suggesting that viewers and fans of The Killers are all 'brothers and sisters’ could be misinterpreted. We did not want to upset anyone, and we apologize,” the band said in posts on its social media platforms.
— The Killers (@thekillers) August 15, 2023
The Killers are on a European tour. His songs Mr. Brightside and Human topped the global music charts.
The band’s next show is scheduled for Thursday in Bratislava, Slovakia.
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