U2's Bono and the Edge performed a surprise 40-minute concert inside a Kyiv subway station on Sunday in a show of solidarity with Ukraine amid its continued efforts to push out Russian military forces.
Standing under pink neon lights and donning all-black outfits, the superstar duo performed hits such as With or Without You, Sunday Bloody Sunday, Angel of Harlem, Vertigo, and Desire for a crowd of Ukrainian soldiers and residents. Those watching from the metro station-turned-bomb shelter were also serenaded with a cover of Ben E. King's Stand by Me — although they changed the lyrics to "stand by Ukraine." The two Irishmen tweeted from U2's account that they had been invited to visit and perform by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Bono, who is famous for his humanitarian work, told the crowd of about 100 at the Khreshchatyk subway station that "the people in Ukraine are not just fighting for your own freedom. You are fighting for all of us who love freedom. We pray that you will enjoy some of that peace soon."
The surprise concert earned the praise of Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who tweeted a play on one of the band's most beloved lyrics, saying, "It’s a Beautiful Day in the Kyiv metro. The people of Ukraine have shown remarkable determination and resilience in the face of this brutal invasion."
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After the performance, the two musicians visited the grounds of St. Andrew’s Church in Bucha, a Kyiv suburb briefly captured by Russian forces. The level of depravity of the Russians in Bucha was revealed once those forces withdrew. The Russians left mass graves filled with innocent civilians. People were discovered shot with their hands tied behind their backs, buried around scores of neighbors. There were also scores of reports of mass rape in the region.
Russia began invading Ukraine in late February and has turned millions of women and children into refugees fleeing the violence. The bloodshed has also already killed tens of thousands of Ukrainians and an unknown number of Russians. President Joe Biden and other major Western leaders have condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin as a war criminal as devastation has mounted across the European country.
Russian forces withdrew from the capital toward the end of May in order to concentrate on taking the Donbas, which is located in the southeastern part of Ukraine and now controlled by Russian-backed separatist groups.
For his part, Bono has clearly felt impassioned by the war. The singer, who is Irish, made headlines in mid-March when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi read a poem written by him in which he compared Zelensky to the patron saint of Ireland on St. Patrick's Day.
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Pelosi read at the Capitol Hill event, which was focused on Ireland, "Oh St. Patrick, he drove out the snakes with his prayers but that's not all it takes / for the snake symbolizes / an evil that rises / and hides in your heart / as it breaks / and the evil has risen my friends / from the darkness that lives in some men / but in sorrow and fear / that's when saints can appear / to drive out those old snakes once again / and they struggle for us to be free / from the psycho in this human family / Ireland's sorrow and pain / is now the Ukraine / and Saint Patrick's name now Zelensky."