Macklemore is a showman. He’s also a pretty good storyteller, pausing after every song he performs to provide enriched details about his life. One particular memory that resonates is when he lived in Brooklyn for a summer when he was 17. While exploring his neighborhood, he would go to random thrift shops, buy outrageous outfits, and wear them as his Professor Macklemore persona. With an urge to stand out and be unique, Mack went on to credit this as a huge moment for him. “If it wasn’t for this place, I wouldn’t be here tonight,” he said, before seguing into his chart-topping smash “Thrift Shop” that immediately had the crowd singing every word. Glad to see mixing and matching plaid and fur garments worked in his favor.
Since releasing The Heist over a year ago, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis have continued to gain more exposure as hip-hop’s brimming superstars. The final night of three consecutive sold-out shows at the theater of Madison Square Garden had the feeling of excitement and appreciation for his journey. In various stories and interviews, the 30-year-old has been an open book about his life that has allowed his fans to connect. He plays the role of motivational speaker very well, using first-person accounts of overcoming addiction and staying true to you that encourages a positive response. At this show, Macklemore’s confessionals were met with applause and chants of his name that echoed throughout the intimate space.
The highlights of The Heist were backed by a full horn section, two string players, dancers and periodic rounds of pyrotechnics and confetti. Songs like “Ten Thousand Hours” set the enthusiastic mood of what’s to come and other recreations brought everyone to their feet. They were at their best during their other No. 1, “Can’t Hold Us,” which received the biggest pop of the night thanks to the smooth vocals of Ray Dalton. More help came from Mary Lambert on “Same Love,” as well as Hollis on the bouncy “White Walls.” Many of the duo’s songs caused a lot of frenzy, but their special guests helped give them a breath of air.
During the show, Macklemore made a note to acknowledge both old and his new fans. “Two years or two days, the fact that you’re here celebrating is what matters.” That’s enough to give respect for Macklemore’s growth, where at one point he was facing adversity, and now is comfortable welcoming listeners to his world. Seattle’s hometown hero has a clear role in hip-hop as the messenger of chasing dreams. And his growing fanbase—an eclectic crowd of teens and older folks—are right beside him. After all, the praise he received during his encore performance of “Irish Celebration” demonstrates that things are only going to get bigger.
Previously: Macklemore Freestyles at Madison Square Garden