“I’m gonna pop some tags, only got twenty dollars in my pocket.”
I couldn’t help but hum the lyrics to ‘Thrift Shop’ as I walked to the O2 Academy Birmingham, where the man himself would be on stage shortly. As I joined the queue, I couldn’t help but notice that fans of all ages were attending what was set to be an Unforgettable Gig. Some fans had travelled from as far away as France and America to see Macklemore (real name Ben Haggerty) perform and no one would blame them. It was going to be an excellent show.
I opted for the balcony section in the 3000 capacity venue, where there were unreserved seats available. Macklemore, on the other hand, had other plans. When he came to the stage, one of the first things he did was to ask that if, audience members were able-bodied, they stand up, because “this [was] a hip hop show”. He did note that he understood that it had been a long week for some people but he wanted everybody to join the party.
Brixton-based singer, songwriter and musician Dan Caplen was the first support act. He is an R & B artist who performed his tracks ‘Two Fingers’, ‘Badman’ and ‘Flat Champagne.’ He really had the audience involved, especially when he asked them to sing some lyrics back to him. Next, the theatrical Eric Nally sang one song and used interestingly used the mic stand as a prob. He threw it, and himself, around the stage in a really entertaining manner. His voice is excellent and unmissable.
Finally, for support, was MC Dave B. Also from Macklemore’s home town of Seattle, Dave B is a rapper and singer-songwriter/producer. He is featured on Macklemore’s track, ‘Corner Store’ and came back on stage later to perform with him.
To promote his second solo album, Macklemore is on a ‘Gemini World Tour’ and this sold out show was part of that tour. Macklemore spoke about his family and how his two year old daughter is usually ‘on the road’ too but unfortunately, we didn’t get to meet her. She had gone home to the States, but she had a very good reason. As Macklemore told us, she had a new baby sister. It was so lovely to hear the artist talk about his personal life, especially when it was such good news.
Every seat and space was filled. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a venue so jam-packed. Macklemore made the most of this and interacted with the crowd a lot. He especially seemed to enjoy splashing those nearest to him with water from time to time. He also interacted with his band members, who all looked like they were having a great time.
The acoustic performance of ‘Otherside’ had to be my highlight, because it is a favourite of mine. I’ve never heard it played acoustically before either and, funnily enough, I wasn’t even expecting it to be on the set list. It’s a song about drug addiction and is very emotive, even more so when performed with just a piano. In the song, Macklemore talks about how he has suffered through addiction himself, which exemplifies how his music and personal life are connected.
Another highlight was ‘Same Love’, which followed Macklemore talking about the state of politics in America and how his shows were, and would always be, a place for everyone. It was really emotional watching everyone singing the lyrics, “I can’t change, even if I tried, even I wanted to.”
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Macklemore show without ‘Thrift Shop’ and ‘Can’t Hold Us’. Both were huge hits. ‘These Days’ was also performed. ‘These Days’ has, of course, been UK Number 1 recently. Dan Caplen, who also features on the track (alongside Rudimental and Jess Glyne), returned to the stage to perform for that song too.
There were quite a few outfit changes. He initially came on stage in a leather vest and right green pleather bucket hat and was dressed as Willy Wonka at one point too (there is a song called ‘Willy Wonka’ on the album, just to put it into context). I am pretty certain he also dressed up as his own “drunk uncle” too. When performing this one song, I have to be honest. I wasn’t quite sure what I was watching but it was all good fun. This was all quite unexpected, but highly fun. Also unexpected was the amount of dancing involved. There were two backing dancers, who did an amazing job. Then there was Macklemore. Don’t get me wrong. He also did an amazing job. His dance moves kept everyone entertained and there was even some twerking going on.
There was an attempt at crowd-surfing too, but Macklemore did this in his own unique style. During ‘Can’t Hold Us’ he could be seen standing on the crowd. Yes, that’s right- on the crowd. He did get lost in the crowd and the security had to fish him back out again.
There was an encore, which covered ‘Good Old Days’, ‘Glorious’ and ‘Downtown’ and, after all the lights were out, Macklemore could still be spotted on stage- dancing (to James Brown’s ‘I Feel Good’) and handing out T-shirts to fans. I think this says a lot about the artist as he is hard-working and dedicated, but also sums up the gig because nobody wanted to go home after.