The Killers have issued an apology after the band invited a Russian drummer on stage to perform with the band at their concert in Georgia earlier this week, where frontman, Brandon Flowers asked the audience to treat the fan as their “brother”.
Georgia — a former Soviet state — gained independence from Russia in 1991, but was again invaded by Russia in 2008. Parts of Georgia remain under Russian occupation since the invasion, leading to massive cultural tension between the two sides.
The outrage came after the band reached the regular part of their set where an audience member is invited to play drums on For Reasons Unknown, taken from The Killers’ second album, Sam’s Town (released in 2006).
“We don’t know the etiquette of this land, but this guy’s a Russian. Are you okay with a Russian coming up here?” Flowers asked the crowd, who responded with strong boos.
“You finished yet, or no? You can’t recognise when someone’s your brother?” Flowers continued while being met with further hostility from the gig-goers. “He’s not your brother?…We all separate on the borders of our countries…So I’m not your brother? Am I not your brother, being from America? No”
"One of the things we've come to appreciate about being in this band is it brings people together. And tonight, I want us to celebrate that we're here together and I don't want it to turn ugly. I see you as my brothers and my sisters."
pic.twitter.com/mfuAf2I8xbAugust 15, 2023
Following Flowers' address — deemed so insensitive by some Georgian fans that they chose to walk out — a statement from the band was posted to their social media channels, offering an apology to the Georgian fans while also attempting to clarify Flowers’ intention behind referring to the audience as “brothers”.
"Good people of Georgia, it was never our intention to offend anyone! We have a longstanding tradition of inviting people to play drums and it seemed from the stage that the initial response from the crowd indicated that they were okay with tonight's audience participation member coming onstage with us.
"We recognise 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 apologise. We stand with you and hope to return soon."
The Killers are currently in the middle of the European leg of their tour which will see them play consecutive headline slots at the Reading & Leeds festivals (Saturday 26 at Reading, Sunday 27 at Leeds). For a full list of dates, click here.