The Killers have apologised after frontman Brandon Flowers was booed for inviting a Russian fan to play the drums on stage during a concert in Georgia.
The lead singer, 42, suggested the crowd were “brothers and sisters”, which was not well-received and prompted fans to walk out in protest before the end of the show in the Black Sea resort of Batumi on Tuesday.
Georgia has a long history with Russia, having gained independence in 1991 before Moscow’s forces invaded in 2008, and they continue to occupy two breakaway regions.
Tensions have been exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year, which prompted a number of Russians to emigrate to Georgia.
In a statement posted on Twitter after the performance, the Killers said: “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 band reportedly invited the Russian fan on stage to help them perform 2006 track For Reasons Unknown.
In footage shared on social media, Flowers is heard saying: “We don’t know the etiquette of this land but this guy’s a Russian.
“You OK with a Russian coming up here?”
After the performance, which received substantial boos, Flowers addressed the issue saying: “You can’t recognise if someone’s your brother? He’s not your brother?
“Am I not your brother, being from America?”
He later added: “One of the things we have come to appreciate 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.
“And I see you as my brothers and my sisters.”
David Kezerashvili, who was Georgia’s defence minister when Russian invaded in 2008, said: “It’s not hard to see why a touring American rock band could have unwittingly upset local sentiment on what is a complex issue for many outside the country to understand.
“For a start, a huge disconnect exists between the attitudes of ordinary Georgians and their current government when it comes to Russia.
“While the Georgian public believes their future lies with the West, their leaders increasingly lean towards Moscow.
“Most in the country were appalled when the government refused to impose sanctions on Moscow following its invasion of Ukraine, and that anger only deepened when a threat was made to strip Georgians of their citizenship if they dared to join the fight on the front line.
“People are naturally disturbed at the growing influence of the Kremlin in Georgia’s government, and there is the nagging suspicion among many that Vladimir Putin is taking over the country by stealth.
“The events which took place at the concert perfectly illustrate these concerns.”