Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

By Patrick Campbell

Artist:  Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

Date / Venue:  Thursday March 13th, Vector Arena, Auckland

For their second trip to New ZealandMacklemore & Ryan Lewis pulled out all the stops, fresh from a gig atTSB Bank Arena in Wellington, the duo - along with their full band and dancers - made their way up toAuckland for a one night stand at the Vector Arena. It was a long night filled with tears, laughter and great music, and it will go down as one of the biggest, and brightest nights in Vector Arena's history.

After an hour of what I would consider one of the worst DJ sets I've ever witnessed - highlights included a dubstep remix of Queen's We Will Rock You, and a one minute speed mix of Lorde's Team - Tinie Tempah took to the stage to warm up the crowd. The man took his job seriously, not only warming them up, but wearing a lot of them out. By the time his 45 minute set was over, half the crowd seemed to disappear out the doors to get refreshments. Just him and a DJ, Tinie bought an insane energy and even more crazy noise level to the arena that left everyone there buzzing and ready for more to drown out the ringing in their ears.

After half an hour or so, the crowds long wait was over and the instrumental intro to the show began, as the band - which included a three piece brass section - came on stage the audience's cheers grew louder and louder, until Macklemore finally took to the stage with Ryan Lewis raised behind him. The feedback from the audience was immense and from the beginning the energy levels on and off the stage in the arena were matched.

Throughout the set the audience was taken through a journey by the rapper and producer. Whilst Ryan Lewis stayed mute when it came to stage banter, Macklemore opened up to the audience, inviting them to stay at his house so he could take them to the thrift shop, and even telling them about his battles with drugs and alcohol. The latter resulted in an a capella rendition of one of his most personal songs, just him and a spot light for two minutes. His talent and passion were not showcased any better throughout the night than during that song.

They threw in all their well-known hits, namely: Thrift Shop, Same Love, and Can't Hold Us. For the first and last of these the collaborators were bought on stage to sing their choruses, and dancers would join the stage to bring a full exciting atmosphere to the arena. It became a party, one with smoke machines, confetti cannons and streamers.

The night was split between comedy and personal songs, with three costume changes including one into a Mexican outfit for the radio friendly White Walls and a glittery cape and David-Bowie-in-Labyrinth-esque wig for their older song And We Danced. Macklemore knew how to take the audience where he wanted. He made us laugh, and he could bring us to silence with his stories and more personal songs like Wing$, which was one of the loudest sing-alongs of the night, the entire crowd was entranced and enthralled by the raw emotion the rapper displayed.

Though you could question whether the opening DJ was necessary, as were the half an hour of stories that were put to the audience by Macklemore, it is clear that the rapper is a master of his craft and delivering it to audiences. With the mega producer Ryan Lewis by his side he is unstoppable, managing to create songs that slay the charts together, and performing them together in a way that an audience can sit back and watch with joy, or can get into right in the middle of the mosh-pit.

Though I have never been the biggest fan of their music, tonight certainly turned me into one, I haven't seen many rappers perform at such a high level, and to see one doing that and doing it on their own terms brings out a whole new level of respect in me. They finished the show promising: "we'll be back very soon." And I for one certainly hope they are.