Wasting no time at all, as soon as the lights faded from dark to light the Seattle-born hip-hop artist Macklemore sprinted onto the stage. From that moment, until the last his stage presence was mesmerising. The stage set-up was second to none and took the live experience to a whole new level. Opening with ‘Light Tunnels’ the huge LCD screens all over the stage showed filtered live shots of the crowd dancing and singing which gave the stadium show an incredible start.
The key to the flow of the entirety of the set was Macklemore’s incredible storytelling ability. Rod Laver Arena is not an intimate venue by any stretch of the imagination, however, an ability to command an audience paired with some very interesting stories made the performance by Macklemore to 10,000 people feel like a performance to 10. Such ability was used as a lead into ‘Brad Pitts Cousin’ where a hilarious story regarding people’s desire to “beat each other when getting off an airplane” which, when combined with his acting skills had the crowd quite literally in stitches. Telling his wife “Fuck it, I’ll meet you there” whilst acting out pretending to push people out of the way was just too much for me and had me in hysterics.
For ‘Buckshot’ Macklemore further illustrated his skills as a multi-disciplinary artist. Accompanied by an audiovisual show showcasing the street art of Seattle with a passionate vocal performance was a joy to experience. During the outro of the song Macklemore even drew, in seconds, a caricature of himself, which he signed and then threw into the mosh. Quite obviously it was akin to throwing a hot chip into a pack of seagulls and the portrait was fought over fiercely. I think I even heard a rip or two as people fought to take home a priceless piece of memorabilia.
Another anecdote regarding his young daughter Sloane was an unexpected break into Thrift Shop. Having the crowd on the edge of their seats when telling of an outing in Melbourne when his daughter supposedly said her first words, “Thrift Shop”. Accompaniment was not only in the form of amazing visuals but also from a very very tight band. Ryan Lewis played a numerous number of instruments such as keys, synths and percussion which was impressive to say the least. The other members of the band were also extremely passionate and dedicated performers moving around the stage in conjunction with the backup dancers which meant that the stage was never a boring place for the eyes.
In the wake of racial shootings, especially in America the movement ‘Black Lives Matter’ is at the forefront of media discussion at current. Macklemore and KP both produced monologs regarding love, hate and the inner-workings of society. A touching movement occurred when KP stated, hand on heart that “Hatred will NEVER be able to overpower love” which was a perfect lead-in for the track that ultimately brought Macklemore into the mainstream ‘Same Love’. As expected the beautiful ballad featured terrific piano work accompanied by flowing, passionate vocals from Macklemore. Truly a song that aspired positive change in the world, literally every member of the audience was singing their hearts out. Many among the audience shed a tear or two and rightly so: beautiful lyrics combined with a simplistic floating melody is a perfect combination.
Retreating from the stage for just a mere moment, Macklemore returned as enthusiastically as when he first came onto the stage at the beginning of the night. An obvious costume change from the sweaty basic-white singlet Macklemore had worn for most of the evening, a stark change to a sparkly 80s inspired outfit completed with a spiky mullet wig was a wardrobe change I did not see coming. Even picking two kids from the audience to have a dance-off, the entire track was a spectacular show of light and sound. The epitome of a perfect moment of silliness which worked well after the serious tones of earlier in the show. Showcasing their talent through a vast set-list spanning almost two Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ This Unruly Mess I’ve Made tour was a glimpse into how a stadium show can be truly spectacular. The right amount of production elements when combined with a tight band made for a journey of laughter, sadness and hope lead by the ever popular Macklemore who showed why he is one of the most popular and prolific mainstream hip-hop artists of recent times.