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Music

U2 in Ukraine: Bono and The Edge play 'freedom' concert in Kyiv metro

U2 songwriters Bono and The Edge performed a pastoral set in Ukraine, setting up in one of Kyiv’s subway stations, now doubling as a bomb shelter, on the invitation from Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky.

“The people in Ukraine are not just fighting for your own freedom, you are fighting for all of us who love freedom,” U2 vocalist Bono told the audience, veteran soldiers included. “We pray that you will enjoy some of that peace soon.”

The Irish Times reported that the set included renditions of ‘With or Without You’, ‘Desire’, ‘Angel of Harlem’, ‘Vertigo’, before throwing themselves into a searing version of Ben E. King’s ‘Stand By Men’, replacing the final word with the phrase ‘Ukraine’. U2 have long been advocates of global peace, as is evident from anthems ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’ and ‘Peace On Earth’.

U2 are far from the only band who have come forward in an effort to show support for the people of Ukraine. Sonic Youth released the live album Live In Kyiv, Ukraine 1989, with all proceeds going to benefit World Central Kitchen.

Bandmates David Gilmour and Nick Mason, meanwhile, opted to reform Pink Floyd to record a version of ‘Hey Hey Rise Up’. Proceeds from the single and video will go to Ukraine Humanitarian Relief. Guy Pratt played bass on the track in lieu of Roger Waters, who quit Pink Floyd in 1984.

Former Police bassist Sting opted to release an acoustic rendition of ‘Russians’. The song was originally featured on The Dream of the Blue Turtles, and this pastoral arrangement was uploaded onto Instagram. His bandmate Stewart Copeland likened the song to that of a “poet”, during his interview with Far Out in 2022.

Sir Paul McCartney uploaded a photo of himself performing in Ukraine in 2008, waving the national flag. Fleetwood Mac singer-songwriter Stevie Nicks compared Russian president Vladimir Putin to Adolf Hitler. Queen guitarist Brian May, meanwhile, issued a statement on Instagram, declaring his shock and horror towards the conflict.

For now, see U2 perform, below.