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U2's Bono and the Edge held a concert in a Kyiv subway station in support of Ukraine

Bono, Taras Topolia and "The Edge" perform at a subway station-turned-bomb shelter in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv on Sunday.
Sergei Supinsky
AFP via Getty Images
Bono, Taras Topolia and "The Edge" perform at a subway station-turned-bomb shelter in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv on Sunday.

Two members of the Irish rock band U2 played a concert in a Kyiv subway station on Sunday, performing some of their classics and sharing the stage with Ukranian musicians.

Bono and the Edge wrote on Twitter that Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had invited them to perform in Kyiv "as a show of solidarity with the Ukrainian people."

And that's what they did, playing a roughly 40-minute acoustic set to a crowd of about 100 people gathered in the relative safety of the Khreshchatyk metro station-turned-bomb shelter.

They performed hits like "With or Without You," "Desire," "Angel of Harlem" and "Vertigo" to a rapt audience that included soldiers in military fatigues.

Bono addressed the audience between songs, praising the Ukranian resistance and expressing his hopes for peace. At one point, the Irish Times notes, he invoked the struggles of his own home country.

"The people in Ukraine are not just fighting for your own freedom, you are fighting for all of us who love freedom," he said. "We pray that you will enjoy some of that peace soon."

They also performed alongside Ukrainian singer Taras Topolia and members of his band, Antytila. They are among the many civilians, including artists, who have taken up arms to defend their country, and were dressed in military uniforms.

The two groups sang a rendition of Ben E. King's "Stand By Me," changing the lyrics to "Stand by Ukraine."

"This station covered a lot of people from the bombs, and now in this station U2 is covering all of the world with their love," Topolia said.

Antytila later wrote on Instagram that the performance had been impromptu and without rehearsal.

They said they had traveled from Kharkiv to Kyiv at Bono's personal invitation, and called it a "very important moment for us and all country."

They also thanked the U2 musicians and the people of Ireland for their support of Ukraine, and called on leaders of European countries and the European Union to help with diplomatic efforts and the evacuation of Ukrainian soldiers from the besieged city of Mariupol.

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Антитіла / Antytila (@antytila_official)

Zelenskyy thanked the global superstars in his nightly video address, according to Reuters.

"I am grateful to [Bono, U2] for supporting our people and drawing even more attention to the need to help our people," he said.

Bono and the Edge were later pictured visiting Bucha and Irpin, two cities near Kyiv where Russian troops are accused of committing war crimes. The Irish Times says they greeted people as they toured damage in a residential area in Irpin, and visited the site of a mass grave near a church in Bucha.

This story originally appeared on the Morning Edition live blog.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Rachel Treisman (she/her) is a writer and editor for the Morning Edition live blog, which she helped launch in early 2021.

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