Kalush Orchestra give an impromptu performance for fans at the border
Ukrainian band Kalush Orchestra were greeted by a gaggle of adoring fans when they returned home after winning the Eurovision Song Contest. The band made several stops on Monday, first meeting with Ukrainian border guards at a customs checkpoint between Ukraine and Poland. A crowd of supporters gathered near the border, waiting patiently to congratulate the stars as they returned.
The group held a makeshift performance, to the delight of those gathered, with frontman Oleh Psiuk reciting some of his most famous hits. Sporting his trademark pink bucket hat, Psiuk said band members had felt immense support from their fans and compatriots in their Eurovision saga.
The band returned from Italy after being given special permission to leave the country for the competition - most Ukrainian men between age 18 and 60 are barred from leaving in case they are needed to fight.
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That stark reality made for a bittersweet moment on Sunday in Turin, as Kalush vocalist Sasha Tab had to say goodbye to his wife Yuliia and two children, who fled Ukraine for Italy a month ago.
With their song Stefania, the band beat 24 other performers on Saturday in the grand final of the competition.
During their performance, which combined rap and Ukrainian folklore, the group were dressed in traditional outfits, including long multi-coloured fringed ensembles. The public vote from home, via text message or the Eurovision app, proved decisive, lifting them above British TikTok star Sam Ryder, who led after the national juries in 40 countries cast their votes.
Hours after Kalush Orchestra's win, they released a new music video for Stefania, which featured scenes of war-ravaged Ukraine.