The Killers Invited a Fan Onstage, Also Invited Controversy

Frontman Brandon Flowers asked Russian fan to play drums at concert in nation of Georgia, to boos
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 16, 2023 9:35 AM CDT

What one band's frontman may have thought was a well-meaning metaphorical embrace of all the people of the world didn't go over well in one former Soviet state. The Killers are now offering a mea culpa after lead singer Brandon Flowers invited a Russian fan who happened to be a drummer onstage to play drums during Tuesday evening's concert in Batumi, Georgia, imploring the crowd to consider each other "brothers and sisters." "Are you OK with a Russian coming up here?" Flowers asks the crowd, as seen in a clip from the Guardian. "I'm all right with it."

Not all of the audience was all right with it, however, as Flowers' question was met with a mix of cheers and boos, the UK outlet notes. After the song was over, Flowers didn't let it drop. "You can't recognize if someone's your brother?" he says in the clip. "He's not your brother?" He then adds: "Am I not your brother, being from America?" The Guardian and NBC News report that some fans left the show in protest, though The Killers did apparently finish their set.

The band's wading into "geopolitical waters," as NBC puts it, likely struck a nerve with Georgian concertgoers amid Russia's war with Ukraine, due to their own history with Russia, which the satellite state gained independence from in 1991. Russia invaded Georgia in 2008, however, and it continues to occupy about one-fifth of the nation, per the Guardian. "The war is in Ukraine, but many Georgians consider that ... Ukrainians are fighting Georgia's war," a political science professor from Georgia's Ilia State University tells NBC.

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"I was thinking that there must be some misunderstanding," one attendee said of Flowers' remarks, calling the 2008 invasion "an open wound." The Killers issued an apology after the commotion. "It was never our intention to offend anyone!" the band wrote in a statement. "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 it. The band says they now see how the "brothers and sisters" comment could've been "misconstrued" and reiterated, "We did not mean to upset anyone." (More The Killers stories.)

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