The American rock band The Killers walked off the stage at a concert in Batumi on Monday evening, after much of the Georgian crowd took offense at the suggestion they were “brothers and sisters” with Russians who are also fans of the group.
The band was playing at the Black Sea Arena when the lead singer, Brandon Flowers, spotted a fan with a sign “If destiny is kind, I’ll be your drummer tonight.” The Killers have a tradition to invite an audience member to play a song with them, so Flowers obliged.
“This guy is a Russian. Are you OK with a Russian coming up here?” Flowers can be heard saying in a video making rounds on social media. “I’m all right with it.”
Some members of the audience were not, however, and started booing the band and calling out anti-Russian insults. A handful even walked out of the arena in protest. After the song, Flowers tried to reason with the audience, telling them all Killers fans were “brothers and sisters.” That only seemed to make things worse, however.
V Gruzii na koncertu The Killers pozval zpěvák na pódium fanouška z Ruska. Výsledkem bylo, že publikum vypískalo účinkující a ač se kapela snažila situaci napravit, někteří i opustili koncert.Navíc místní stanice Radio Tbilisi již oznámila, že písně této skupiny nebude pouštět. pic.twitter.com/PTATDoxOzY— Martin (@Qope87) August 15, 2023
“You want to separate people? Am I not your brother? Coming from America, am I not your brother?” he pleaded. The band “brings people together,” he said, and wanted to celebrate that without it turning “ugly.”
Just stumbled across this video on ig pic.twitter.com/VVdJfioN2C— ania (@battleiswon) August 15, 2023
“I see you as my brothers and my sisters,” Flowers said, but the crowd kept booing. The Killers eventually played through the rest of their set and walked away, reportedly without saying goodbye to the audience after the final song. Radio Tbilisi allegedly reacted to the incident by taking all of the band’s songs off the air.
After the incident, part of the audience left in protest, others boo-ed, and according to some of the people who attended the concert, The Killers left the stage without saying goodbye to the audience.Video: Mariam Rigvava. https://t.co/Q8yBazB3A7pic.twitter.com/ZosbrTqy7H— Mariam Nikuradze (@mari_nikuradze) August 15, 2023
The Killers followed up with an apology, telling the “good people of Georgia” it was never their intent to offend anyone, and recognized that calling all fans brothers and sisters “could be misconstrued.”
“We did not mean to upset anyone and we apologize,” the band said in a tweet. “We stand with you and hope to return soon.”
The former Soviet republic in the Caucasus is torn between those who see Russia as an “aggressor” and “occupier” after the 2008 war over South Ossetia and Abkhazia – and side with NATO and Ukraine in the current conflict – and those who wish to remain neutral and maintain economic and cultural ties with Russia. The US and the EU criticized Tbilisi for agreeing to resume commercial flights to Moscow in May. Activists, backed by Washington and Brussels, besieged the parliament in March and forced the government to drop a proposed law requiring the registration of foreign agents that they denounced as “Russian.”