‘I had to calm an impossible situation’: Brandon Flowers addresses The Killers controversy in Georgia

Brandon Flowers has said he was faced with “an impossible situation” after inadvertantly inviting a Russian fan onto the stage during The Killers’ show in Georgia.

The frontman of the Las Vegas-formed rock band caused controversy with remarks he made at the Black Sea Arena in Batumi, where the band were performing as part of their Imploding the Mirage tour.

As is tradition, the band invited a fan onto the stage to play the drums on their 2006 song, “For Reasons Unknown”, when Flowers, 42, addressed the crowd.

“We don’t know the etiquette of this land but this guy’s a Russian. You OK with a Russian coming up here?” he asked.

While there were some cheers in the crowd, many booed and shouted: “No.”

Russo-Georgian relations have been particularly strained since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year, which has led to an emigration of Russian citizens to Georgia. The Killers also happened to be performing shortly after the 25th anniversary of Russian president Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Georgia, in 2008.

“I had to calm an impossible situation,” Flowers toldThe Sunday Times in a new interview. “We want our concerts to be communal and I had no idea words I was taught my entire life to represent a unity of the human family could be taken as being pro-Russian occupation. We’re sad how this played out.”

After the band’s rendition of “For Reasons Unknown”, Flowers addressed the crowd, telling them: “You can’t recognise if someone’s your brother? He’s not your brother? We all separate on the borders of our countries? I’m not your brother? Am I not your brother, being from America?”

 (Leon Neal/Getty)
(Leon Neal/Getty)

Repeating this, Flowers said that the band had the ability to “bring people together”, adding: “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,” he continued, before introducing the next song.

Flowers’ comments, as well as the apology shared by The Killers after their gig, caused uproar among Georgian fans on social media.

After the show, The Killers released a statement on X, formerly Twitter, addressing Flowers’s comments.

“Good people of Georgia, it was never our intention to offend anyone!” they wrote.

“We have a long-standing 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 on-stage with us.”

The band continued: “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 apologise. We stand with you and hope to return soon.”

The Killers headlined Reading Festival in the UK on Saturday (26 August), where they continued their tradition of inviting a fan onstage to play drums on “For Reasons Unknown”.

You can read critic Mark Beaumont’s review here.