(Reuters) – An American alternative-rock band, the Killers, has apologised for bringing a Russian drummer on stage during a show in Georgia and for describing fans as “brothers and sisters,” which prompted boos from the audience.
Georgia has a long history of tension with its northern neighbour, exacerbated by Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 and a subsequent big influx of Russian emigrants escaping their country.
The band, seven times nominated for the music industry’s Grammy Awards, performed on Tuesday in the Black Sea resort of Batumi during a European tour.
“Good people of Georgia, it was never our intention to offend anyone!” the band said in a statement on its Facebook page, adding that it had a longstanding tradition of inviting people to play the drums.
“We recognise that a comment, meant to suggest that all of the Killers’ audience and fans are ‘brothers and sisters,’ could be misconstrued,” it added.
The reference was to a remark band leader Brandon Flowers made to the crowd, saying he did not want the situation to turn “angry”.
“I see you as my brothers and my sisters,” Flowers added to the sound of boos and whistles in a video published by the Russian state RIA news agency.
Videos on social media showed people leaving the show, in addition to the booing.
Georgian public opinion is overwhelmingly pro-Ukrainian.
The band has sold millions of albums, with many songs topping the charts since it formed in the city of Las Vegas in the early 2000s. (This story has been refiled to correct the spelling of “Georgia” in paragraph 1)
(Reporting by Lidia Kelly in Warsaw; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)