U2’s Bono Leads Sphere Crowd In Chant Of Alexei Navalny’s Name

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U2 singer Bono paid tribute Saturday night to recently deceased Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny during his concert at The Sphere in Las Vegas, getting the crowd to chant his name as a memorial to his struggle against the Russian establishment.

In a long preamble to a cover rendition of Crowded House’s Don’t Dream It’s Over, Bono spoke of the struggle for freedom and the importance of standing up for it. His remarks on Navalny start at the 2:35 mark in the video above.

“Next week it’ll be two years since Putin invaded and tried to destroy the hard-won freedoms” of the Ukrainian people, Bono said. “Next, it’ll be Poland, next it’ll be Lithuania, East Germany; who knows where this man will or won’t go. To these people, freedom is not just a word in a song. For these people freedom is the most important word in the world — so important that Ukrainians are fighting and dying for it. And it’s so important that Alexei Navalny chose to give his up.

“Apparently Putin would never, ever say his name. So I thought tonight, the people who believe in freedom must say his name. Not just remember it, but say it,” Bono said, leading the crowd in chanting “Alexei Navalny” over the opening chords of the Crowded House song.

Bono has demonstrated his support for Russian opposition before. He and guitarist Dave “The Edge” Evans performed in May of 2022 at the Khreschatyk subway station in Kyiv to bolster spirits in Ukraine.

The band said in a tweet that Ukraine’s President Zelensky “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.”

The subway stations have frequently been used as bomb shelters in the city.

“The people in Ukraine are not just fighting for your own freedom, you are fighting for all of us who love freedom,” Bono told the audience, which included soldiers, in 2022. “We pray that you will enjoy some of that peace soon.”

The Irish Times reported performances of U2 hits With or Without You, Desire, Angel of Harlem, Vertigo and a rendition of Ben E. King’s Stand By Me that replaced the titular “Me” with “Ukraine.”

The U2 performers were joined by Ukrainian singer Taras Topolya from the Ukrainian band Antytila and other local musicians.

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