Watch U2’s Bono Pay Tribute to Alexei Navalny Following Russian Activist’s Death

During U2’s concert at Sphere in Las Vegas, on Saturday, February 17, Bono paid tribute to Russian politician and activist Alexei Navalny, who died the previous day in a Russian prison at age 47.

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After the band played “Angel of Harlem,” the singer pointed out that the next week would mark the two-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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“For these people, ‘freedom’ is not just a word in a song,” Bono told the crowd as The Edge strummed an acoustic guitar. “For these people, ‘freedom’ is the most important word in the world, so important that Ukrainians are fightin’ and dyin’ for it. And so important that Alexei Navalny chose to give his up.”

Bono then noted that Russian President Vladimir Putin would never say Navalny’s name, adding, “So I thought tonight people who believe in freedom, we must say his name. Not just remember it, but say it.” He then led the crowd in a chant, “Alexei Navalny. Alexei Navalny! Alexei Navalny!”

[RELATED: U2 Make History With First Performance at Sphere in Las Vegas During GRAMMYS 2024, Present Best Pop Vocal Award to Taylor Swift]

Bono then sang a cover of Crowded House’s “Don’t Dream It’s Over,” accompanied only by The Edge.

About Alexei Navalny

Navalny was one of Putin’s fiercest critics, calling out the Russia’s governing party as “crooks and thieves.” In 2020, Navalny was hospitalized after being poisoned, and he was brought to Berlin for medical treatment. An investigation implicated Russia’s Federal Security Service as being responsible.

After he recovered, Navalny decided to return to Russia and he was immediately arrested and imprisoned. He received multiple extended sentences charging him with extremism and other crimes before his death.

Bono Address Israel-Palestine Conflict, Sings U2 Rarity

Meanwhile, at U2’s latest show at the Sphere, on Saturday, February 18, the band played its 2000 song “Peace on Earth” for the first time since 2001.

Leading into the song, Bono gave a speech about the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine.

“To see what the children of Abraham have been doing to each other all over the world for millennia, as well as this very day, it’s bewildering—Christians, Muslims, Jews,” he told the crowd. “To see the suffering of the Palestinian children after we saw the suffering of the Israeli children was almost too much.”

He continued, “And I understand how ridiculous ‘love thy enemy’ sounds right now. We can’t live with ‘love thy neighbor,’ even in our band, in our country, but it is a divine commandment and not advice. Easy to say, almost impossible to enact.”

Roger Waters’ Criticism of Bono

Bono’s onstage comments came after a recent interview Roger Waters did with Al Jazeera, in which the former Pink Floyd member and outspoken critic of Israel called out the U2 singer for an onstage homage he paid to the victims of the Hamas terror attacks at an October 2023 show in Las Vegas.

“Anybody who knows Bono should go and pick him up by his ankles and shake him until he stops being a [giant] s—,” Waters declared. He added, “What he did in the Sphere in Las Vegas a couple of weeks ago, singing about the Stars of David, was one of the most disgusting things I’ve ever seen in my life.”

At U2’s October 8, 2023, concert at the Sphere venue, Bono changed a line in the band’s hit “Pride (In the Name of Love)” from “Free at last, they took your life,” to “Stars of David, they took your life.” The performance took place a day after Hamas militants killed and kidnapped many Israelis in a series of coordinated attacks, including an assault on a music festival.

U2’s Remaining Residency Dates

U2 only has four shows left in its Las Vegas residency at Sphere. The concerts are scheduled for February 23 and 24, and March 1 and 2.

Tickets are on sale now via various outlets, including StubHub.

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Photo by Ross Andrew Stewart/Courtesy of Full Coverage Media

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