U2 frontman Bono and guitarist the Edge put on a 40-minute performance at a subway station in Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv last night (May 8), praising the country for its fight against the ongoing Russian invasion.
The band, according to their Twitter page, were invited to perform by Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky himself, to show “solidarity with the Ukrainian people”.
President @ZelenskyyUa invited us to perform in Kyiv as a show of solidarity with the Ukrainian people and so that’s what we’ve come to do. -- Bono and The Edge #StandWithUkraineMay 8, 2022
“Your president leads the world in the cause of freedom right now,” Bono told the 100-strong crowd at the Khreshchatyk subway station, which has doubled as a bomb shelter during the invasion.
“The people of Ukraine are not just fighting for your own freedom, you’re fighting for all of us who love freedom. We pray that you will enjoy some of that peace soon.”
The duo played Ben E. King’s Stand By Me, as well as classic U2 tracks With or Without You, Desire, Vertigo and Angel of Harlem. Occasional contributions were made by Ukrainian soldiers and musicians, including Tomos Topelia of Antytila, the band who recently joined forces with Ed Sheeran to remake his 2021 track, 2step.
Between songs, Bono offered words of encouragement to the people of Ukraine. Referencing the band’s track Pride (In the Name of Love), the singer said: “This evening, May 8, shots will ring out in the Ukraine sky, but you’ll be free at last. They can take your lives, but they can never take your pride.”
During their visit to Kyiv, Bono and The Edge also visited the neighboring towns of Irpin and Bucha, the sites of alleged war crimes by the Russian army.
Zelensky took a moment in his nightly video address to the nation yesterday to thank the pair for visiting Kyiv. “I am grateful to [U2] for supporting our people and drawing even more attention to the need to help our people,” he said.
Life has begun to return to some semblance of normality in Kyiv, after the Russian army withdrew from the area in early April, consolidating in the Donbas region in Ukraine’s east. However strikes continue across the country, and air raid sirens frequently ring out in the capital.