The American rock band The Killers has apologized after receiving boos and criticism for bringing a Russian fan on stage to play the drums at a concert in Georgia. The band was performing at the Black Sea resort of Batumi on Tuesday as part of their European tour when lead singer Brandon Flowers invited the drummer to help them perform For Reasons Unknown.
A gesture of brotherhood gone wrong
Flowers asked the crowd if they were okay with a Russian coming up on stage, and received a mixed reaction from the audience. He then proceeded to introduce the fan as Alexey, and said he was from Moscow. The crowd booed louder as the fan took his place behind the drums.
After the song, Flowers tried to explain his intention of bringing people together through music, and asked the crowd if they could not recognize someone as their brother. He said he did not want the concert to turn ugly, and that he saw them as his brothers and sisters. He also asked if they did not see him as their brother, being from America.
Some people reportedly left the gig early in protest, while others expressed their disappointment and anger on social media. One user wrote: “The Killers just lost all respect from me. How can you be so ignorant and insensitive to the history and current situation of Georgia and Russia?”
A history of conflict and tension
Georgia gained independence from Soviet rule in April 1991, and has since been seeking closer ties with the West. In August 2008, Russian forces invaded Georgia after the latter tried to regain control of two breakaway regions, Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The war lasted for five days and resulted in hundreds of deaths and thousands of displaced people. Russia still occupies the two regions, which it recognizes as independent states.
The relations between Georgia and Russia have remained tense and hostile, with frequent diplomatic spats and border incidents. Georgia has also accused Russia of meddling in its internal affairs and supporting anti-government protests. Georgia’s public opinion is overwhelmingly pro-Western and pro-Ukrainian, especially after Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.
An apology from the band
The Killers issued an apology on X (formerly Twitter) on Wednesday, saying they did not mean to upset anyone and that they recognized that their comment could be misconstrued. They said they stand with Georgia and hope to return soon.
The band’s statement read: “We recognize that a comment, meant to suggest that all of The Killers’ audience and fans are ‘brothers and sisters’ could be misconstrued. We did not mean to upset anyone and we apologize. We stand with you and hope to return soon.”
The band is known for their hits such as Mr. Brightside, Somebody Told Me, Human, and When You Were Young. They have sold over 28 million albums worldwide and have won several awards, including four Brit Awards and two MTV Video Music Awards.