Massive Attack pulls out of Georgia gig in solidarity with anti-government protests

Massive Attack has cancelled one of their upcoming shows in Georgia in solidarity with protests against “government’s attack on basic human rights”.

The British band was scheduled to perform on 28 July at the Black Sea Arena, a state-owned venue that promoted the event as an “audio-visual theatrical show” that would “present [the band’s] activities linked with the details of everyday life”.

In a statement posted on the band’s social media, Massive Attack announced they would not be performing as it could be seen as “endorsement of [the government’s] violent crackdown against peaceful protests and civil society”.

“We’ve decided to cancel our show in Georgia on 28 July in protest of the Georgian government’s attack on basic human rights. At this moment, performing at the state-owned Black Sea Arena could be seen as an endorsement of their violent crackdown against peaceful protests and civil society,” the band said.

“Beatings, arrests, threats, and violence against peaceful protesters, activists, and opponents, along with laws smearing civil society and denying LGBTI rights, go against everything we stand for.

“We stand in solidarity with peaceful protesters in Georgia defying state violence & feel that it is their voices that need to be heard and their struggle that needs to be under the international spotlight. We’ll return and perform with you in freedom.”

Event organisers have said ticket holders will be refunded.

The announcement comes amid massive demonstrations taking place in Georgia’s streets over the last two months, where people have been protesting a parliament-approved law regulating the media and NGOs, which sounds very similar to a law in Russia that has been used to silence several political opponents.

The bill will require media and NGOs to register as “pursuing the interests of a foreign power” if they receive more than 20 per cent of their funding from abroad.

The bill was passed despite unrest in the country and the EU stating that it might prevent Georgia’s entry to the European Union. The US too has objected to the “Kremlin-inspired law,” imposing travel bans on Georgian officials linked to the bill.

Protestors have been taken off the streets by police and activists and politicians from the opposition have been beaten severely in detention.

Georgian students protest against a law on ‘foreign agents’ near the Parliament building in Tbilisi, Georgia (EPA)
Georgian students protest against a law on ‘foreign agents’ near the Parliament building in Tbilisi, Georgia (EPA)

The cancelled gig comes days after Massive Attack performed at the Gothenburg Film Studios in Sweden, their first live show in five years. They performed their song “Safe From Harm” which the band dedicated to the people in Gaza.

“Traditionally this is a song of protest, tonight it is a song of solidarity with the Palestinian people,” he said at the gig.

Massive Attack has been vocal in their support of Palestine, and have boycotted performing in Israel since 1999.

Earlier this year, in response to a fan who wrote, “Your shows in Tel Aviv were fantastic” on X, the band wrote: “Massive Attack have not performed (& will not perform) in Israel since the international request was made by Palestinian civic society & artistic institutions in 2002 (reiterated in 05 as BDS) as a form of non-violent pressure on Israel to end its brutal occupation of Palestine.”

“The band took a decision not to perform in Israel in 1999 – some years before the Palestinian call for international boycott was made – based on our own observations of military oppression, occupation & apartheid.”