Featured image and gallery: Josie Hunt
American rapper Macklemore certainly delivered for his first tour back in the UK post-covid on Sunday, supported by charlieonnafriday and Tones and I. From trumpet and trombone players to expert backing dancers, the energy of the show is off the charts at this Manchester Victoria Warehouse performance.
Walking out in style, Macklemore rocks a blue suit and shades, and the crowd’s cheers shake the warehouse, even shocking Macklemore himself. He starts the opening verse to ‘Chant’, showing that five years after his last album, he’s back and more determined than ever.
An already hyped-up crowd cheers even louder as the chorus hits and the lead singer from Tones and I runs out to join Macklemore on stage for their shared track. ‘Chant’ is the first song of his new album BEN, which is a return to his origin story as he strips it back and explores his love of just creating music.
Macklemore announces that it’s time to “take it back”, as he dawns his famous brown fur coat and dances to the iconic opening sound of ‘Thrift Shop’. The crowd instantly recognises one of Macklemore’s most famous songs and starts dancing along with him.
During ‘No Bad Days’, an upbeat pop collaboration with Collett, Macklemore surprises the audience by pulling out two water pistols and absolutely drenching the front of the audience. Shortly after, the unmistakable sound of ‘Downtown’ blares through the speakers. The audience doesn’t miss a beat with the opening lines as they shout the lyrics at the tops of their lungs and jump along to the catchy beat.
Taking it down a notch, Macklemore takes a moment to say “F**k the pandemic”, which is met with an eruption of cheers. He explains his worry of not being able to perform live again and his experience of the pandemic, before paying homage to the origins of music where there was no recordings or technology, instead we all had to live in the moment. And he calls upon the audience to do just that.
Keeping the tempo low, Macklemore performs ‘Same Love’, ‘Wing$’ and ‘Other Side’ before pushing it up a notch with ‘1984’ as flames shoot upwards on the stage in a wave of heat. Macklemore brought the 1980s to the stage with everything from the dancing and outfits to the font of the lyrics on the big screen.
He walks out in sunglasses and a bedazzled jacket as he talks about his merch and strangely his love of golf. Combining the two, for the first time on tour, he decides to hit tour merch t-shirts into the crowd using a golf club. The first went flying over the crowd, but the second wasn’t as good, with Macklemore brushing it off saying “it’s not his natural habitat for golf”. Keeping the audience engaged, he receives a hearty laugh in response.
Macklemore performs ‘Glorious’, one of my personal favourites, before vanishing ahead of his encore. Coming back out to the emotional and intense ‘Taillights’, he gets down on his knees and his voice fills with emotion as he raps closer to the audience. Then Tones and I’s lead singer makes a reappearance for ‘Good Old Days’ and demonstrates the power in her voice for a ballad-like chorus.
Macklemore gives a shout out to each individual who has accompanied him on stage thus far and then leaps into ‘Ceiling Can’t Hold Us’. Everyone sings to the chorus and shouts the rap as the flames shoot up again and confetti cannons go off in an energy filled finale.
Macklemore’s music isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s impossible to fault the level of energy and presence he brings to the stage, and the emotion and honesty that he puts into each song. He’s truly dedicated to his music and his journey of self-discovery, and it comes across in the way he performs.