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Macklemore returns with three back-to-back shows

Maia Wiseman, Editor-in-Chief
Originally published December 18, 2013

Courtesy of Margaux CurrieMacklemore gave three high-energy performances to a crowd of loyal Seattle fans at Key Arena.

Courtesy of Margaux Currie

Macklemore gave three high-energy performances to a crowd of loyal Seattle fans at Key Arena.

Streams of people packed into Key Arena. The air was crisp and buzzing with excited voices. The crowd wasn’t what you’d expect: full of families, teenage boys and middle aged couples.

Openers Krill and then Talib Kweli with special guest Reese warmed up the crowd, but there was the typical lackluster enthusiasm that usually accompanies opening acts.

The lights dimmed, the curtain dropped and a stage covered in musicians, ivy and a stuffed bear was revealed. Ryan Lewis stood behind his tower of DJ equipment, decorated with The Heist flag. The crowd was shouting and clapping, looking for that signature hairdo.

In a spray of fireworks Macklemore raised out of the floor clad in a black and gold sequined marching band jacket. He stood with his back to the crowd, waving his non-mic hand to the beat before launching into “10,000 Hours.”

A video screen backdrop behind the stage played videos perfectly tailored to each song, sometimes including the lyrics. Accompanying “10,000 Hours” was a montage of homework pages and studying.

A clip from the “White Walls” video led up to Macklemore dashing onto the stage in the black and gold mariachi outfit from the video as he was joined by Hollis.

Macklemore later gave the crowd a treat with a freestyle. He used a loop pedal to create a beatbox beat that he rapped over as the rest of the band joined in.

This show was the first of three on Dec. 10 with shows following on the 11 and 12.

The band consisted of a horns section complete with three trumpets, a trombone, and a tuba; a cello and violin to flesh out the strings section; a guitar and Lewis atop his DJ block.

Between songs, Macklemore told small anecdotes, both fictional and factual, creating a personal experience. “I want it to feel intimate. I want you to feel like you’re in my living room,” he said. “It might be an arena of 15,000 but I want it to feel like a room of 500.”

The longest anecdote started out with his return to Seattle and a morning moped ride he took to  re-explore his city. He found himself at Madison Park looking over Lake Washington thinking “I’ve gotta live more,” before he stripped and jumped into the water. When he came up for air he saw two guys stealing his clothes and moped keys.

The only person on the beach was an old woman who he ended up asking for help. According to him, the old woman then told him to “hop on my back,” and after a little arguing he did. She carried him up Madison a few blocks until he asked where they were going and the she replied “you need clothes, we’re going to the thrift shop!”

The crowd went crazy.The backup dancers dashed onstage with clothing racks and Macklemore donned a suede fringe jacket. Wanz appeared on stage to round out the song. Glitter cannons erupted before everyone felt the toasty warmth of flames bursting from the stage.

At this point the audience realized truly what a performer Macklemore is. Later in the show he talked of how at 16 all he wanted to do was to be a performer and he has become one in the truest sense of the word, captivating his audience with every move.

Mary Lambert came out to perform “Same Love,” which Macklemore called “the most important song he’s ever written.”

The highlight of the concert, “what everything was building up to,” as Macklemore said, was the performance of “Can’t Hold Us.” The number was all out with backup dancers, scenes from the music video in the background, Ray Dalton, and huge puffs of air. The crowd clapped and danced through the entire song.

He slowed it down to talk of his struggle with addiction and getting clean through rehab in 2008, launching into an a cappella performance of “Otherside.” He then took his place in a living room-like set to perform “Starting Over.” “Starting Over” is often cited as the sequel to “Otherside” and the transition was seamless. He had previously described how he had to move back into his parents house after rehab and the living room represented not only where he was but how far he’s come.

After two encore songs, Macklemore introduced the entire band. He then reached into his ear and announced that the Key Arena staff were telling him to end the show and  that he was being fined. Someone on the floor yelled “f*** the system.” And then he did, by playing one last song, “Can’t Hold Us,” for the second time.
“I Feel Good” by James Brown played as the sweaty crowds exited with hoarse voices and sore feet. It seemed that coming back to Seattle was just what Macklemore needed and that concert was just what this city needed. It felt good.

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Macklemore returns with three back-to-back shows