Russian band Pussy Riot welcomed at Barclays Center

Maria Alyokhina, left, and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, of Pussy

Maria Alyokhina, left, and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, of Pussy Riot, speak onstage at the Amnesty International Concert presented by the CBGB Festival at Barclays Center on Feb. 5, 2014 in Brooklyn. (Credit: Getty Images)

Pussy Riot's Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova didn't need any music to get the biggest response at Amnesty International's "Bringing Human Rights Home" concert at Barclays Center Wednesday night.

In their first American appearance since their release from a Russian prison for protesting against Russian President Vladimir Putin, the duo thanked the human rights group for its help and led the crowd in a huge chant of "Russia will be free!"

Madonna, who introduced the duo, recounted how she received death threats during her Russian tour when she spoke out in support of Pussy Riot. "They must be commended for their courage," she said. "I know they do not regret their decisions."

Their appearance was the crowning moment of an evening of celebration for Amnesty's successes and the need for continued work, outlined by celebrities like Susan Sarandon and Bridget Moynihan, as well as activists whose freedom was secured by the group.

The show also marked the 25th anniversary of Amnesty International's groundbreaking concerts, featuring U2 and Sting, that raised awareness of rights abuses around the world and doubled the group's membership.

But it was mostly a new generation of artists, including Imagine Dragons, Tegan and Sara and The Fray, carrying the torch Wednesday night, as well as veterans such as Lauryn Hill, Cake and The Flaming Lips.

"Everyone on this bill is ready and willing to take up the fight," said Imagine Dragons' Dan Reynolds, before the band's emotional set.

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