Ukraine blows Eurovision away with jaw-dropping, emotionally-charged performance

Kalush Orchestra representing Ukraine perform during the Grand Final.

Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra received rapturous applause from the audience after performing their song “Stefania” at the Eurovision Song Contest.

The group, which is the bookies’ favourite to win the contest, stood on the stage as the audience waved Ukrainian flags to show their support for the country.

The folk rap song, which Kalush Orchestra frontman told NME is about his mother, has taken on a new significance since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, starting a barbaric war that has resulted in death, destruction, and the mass migration of millions of Ukrainians.

The reaction on social media was swift, with many heaping praise on Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra for delivering a powerful, moving performance.

Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra appealed for help on the Eurovision stage

Many were moved by the band’s plea to those watching at home to help those in Ukraine and specifically in Mariupol, which has been among the worst hit regions in Putin’s war.

There was also significant discussion about the Ukrainian commentator Timur Miroschnychenko, who is broadcasting live from a bomb shelter in an undisclosed location.

Kalush Orchestra is widely expected to walk away with the Eurovision trophy at the grand final on Saturday night (14 May).

Speaking to TIME magazine ahead of the contest, Kalush Orchestra frontman Oleh Psiuk said: “After the war, a lot of people seem to be finding new meanings there… I hope that Europe also enjoys this song; my mom is enjoying it very much. And I know that it’s now her ringtone on her phone.”

He continued: “The enemy is trying to destroy our culture .But we are here to prove that we still exist, that we deserve to be seen. We deserve to be known. We’re asking for help to protect our culture.”