US pop band the B-52s will no longer perform at a White House dinner for the Australian prime minister, Anthony Albanese, due to the “sorrow” of the Israel-Hamas conflict, the First Lady, Jill Biden, said on Tuesday.
The band, best known for the 1989 hit Love Shack, was scheduled to play at the state dinner on Wednesday hosted by the US president, Joe Biden.
Jill Biden told reporters: “While we had initially planned for the legendary B-52s to perform their iconic dance and party music, we are now in a time when so many are facing sorrow and pain, and we have decided to make adjustments to the entertainment portion of the evening.”
The New Wave band, named after a US bomber aircraft but more famous for their beehive hairdos, will still attend the state dinner but as guests, she added.
Presidential military bands would provide “instrumental music” instead.
Jill Biden made the announcement during a preview for the dinner, which will feature a guest chef, dishes including sarsaparilla-braised short ribs and design featuring US and Australian elements.
Albanese arrived at the White House on Tuesday ahead of a formal state visit on Wednesday, when he is expected to discuss topics including China, Ukraine and the Israel-Hamas war.
Albanese also used the trip to outline a boost in government credit for projects to mine and process critical minerals, including key components used in electric car batteries.
“My government is committed to transforming Australia into a renewable energy superpower and harnessing the critical minerals we have at home is crucial to achieving this,” the prime minister said after the inaugural meeting of the Australia-US taskforce on critical minerals.
Albanese said an extra $2bn in financing would double the capacity of the critical minerals facility – managed by the government’s Export Finance Australia (EFA) agency – to back Australian critical minerals projects.
The event was co-hosted by the Australian resources minister, Madeleine King, and the US commerce secretary, Gina Raimondo, and also drew together Australian and US business representatives.
Australian businesses that invest in critical minerals projects may be eligible to receive financing or loans from the EFA.
Critical minerals include so-called “rare-earth elements” – used in products such as wind turbines and satellites – as well as cobalt and lithium common in batteries that are in electric vehicles and gallium, used in the production of smart phones.
According to US statistics, about 63% of the world’s rare earth production occurs in China, while Australia is the leading global producer and exporter of lithium.