Back in 2008, Queen + Paul Rodgers played a historic show in Freedom Square in Kharkiv, a town five hours east of capital Kyiv in the banks of the Kharkiv, Lopan, and Udy rivers. And now the show's being shown on YouTube, with the express aim of raising funds for the UNHCR - The UN Refugee Agency (opens in new tab).
"So many great memories of great times in Ukraine," wrote Brian May on Instagram (opens in new tab), the day after Russian invasion of the country, sharing the crowd shot that now accompanies the YouTube footage. "It seems unbelievable that the peaceful life of Ukraine could be so senselessly shattered in the 21st century. And it feels unbearable that the world could just watch and let it happen. We are all praying for peace for you, dear friends."
Freedom Square was struck by several Russian missiles in the first days of March during the ongoing Battle of Kharkiv. An estimated 600,000 people have been evacuated from the city.
The 2008 show was free to attend – only those in the "VIP zone" paid for tickets – and was intended to raise awareness of the work of the Elena Pinchuk Foundation (opens in new tab), launched in 2003 to fight against the AIDS epidemic in Ukraine. The first date of Queen + Paul Rodgers' Rock the Cosmos Tour, it was watched by 350,000 fans and an estimated television audience of 10 million, and was released the following year as the Live in Ukraine album and DVD.
“We are very happy to do what we can to raise the awareness of AIDS and also to kick off a new tour,” Paul Rodgers told The Associated Press at the time. “Awareness is the first step towards defeating the problem.”
“Queen lost its singer many years ago, so we know that this can affect anybody,” added drummer Roger Taylor.
As well as May, Taylor and Rodgers, the lineup for the Kharkiv show also featured Jamie Moses (guitar, backing vocals) Danny Miranda (bass, backing vocals) and Spike Edney (keyboards, backing vocals).
Donate to UNHCR (opens in new tab).