Melbourne had dealt us a hot one as I hit Festival Hall for night one of two sold out shows featuring hip hop extraordinaire Macklemore, as he brings his Gemini tour to our shores. With the future of this fine music establishment hanging in the balance, it was with trepidation that I took my seat, would this be the last time? I certainly hope not.
Ventilation is still not high on the list at Festival Hall and we were sticking to our seats in minutes as the fans streamed in. Xperience took to the stage right on time, delivering a twenty-minute set to get the hip hop juices flowing. Once he told the crowd he had played with Macklemore on several of his albums they were instantly won over and arms started bouncing to the beat. Eric Nally joined him for one song, clad in black and a blindfold he worked the stage with punchy vocals and some very interesting dance moves. The punters clapping along enjoying the entertainment.
Dave B was up next, another short twenty-minute set but instantly he had the attention of the audience with their hands swaying side to side with the beat. His set was over in a flash but I had a feeling we might see him again before the night was over.
The wait between acts was brief, and as the lights dropped for the last time the fans went nuts. This was what they had been waiting for, and with the venue now packed to capacity it was crazy loud. Opening with Ain’t Gonna Die Tonight, Macklemore bounded on to the stage his legions of fans screaming in response. The stage was full, backing vocalists, dancers, musicians and the main man himself, with a screen showing diverse images changing rapidly, with lyrics and pictures flashing to the beat. It was a killer opener and from the fans reception I knew it was going to be a big night. Firebreather turned us all red with some dynamic lighting that almost burnt the retinas straight off my eyes, but once my vision returned it was quite a spectacle to witness with the screen a mass of fire and flames. Thrift Shop caused a meltdown as the hoards lost their minds, who knew that having twenty dollars in your pocket could cause a riot!
Macklemore’s charisma and charm evident with every word and I can see why he has sold out this tour and has such dedicated fans. As he discussed his most recent trip to Australia it was easy to guess what the next song would be, Same Love, it was beautifully received with fans holding their hands aloft to form love hearts. The feeling of unity was overwhelming with backing vocals that were truly beautiful it was a definite stand out of the night. Willy Wonka made for a fabulous edition with Macklemore taking the stage in a purple velvet jacket and orange hat as the big screen showed images from the movie we all know and love. Corner Store saw the return of Dave B, and Dance Off was another hit being dropped. Of course, with a name like Dance Off it was time to pull a few punters up to strut their stuff which was gave us all a giggle.
Finishing out the set was Can’t Hold Us, and at the request of Macklemore it was phones down and enjoy the song like it was 1976! The fans went absolutely crazy bouncing and clapping and as one of the older generation it was awesome to see the youngsters being taken in the moment, social media forgotten if only for 5 minutes. It was a surprise when Macklemore took to the crowd, climbing amongst the punters, riding high on their hands finishing out the night. But we all knew he wasn’t really finished, we just had to make some noise to drag him back to the stage. Excavate saw his return to the stage, followed by Downtown which was fabulous. Macklemore’s voice on point all night, not missing a note, a true hip hop professional. Full credit to all singers, dancers and musicians they were all technically brilliant and made the show the powerhouse that it was. Eric Nally also popping in and out for cameos over the course of the night, added those finishing touches that polished the already precision show to perfection.
Xperience returned for the finale Glorious, fans singing loud and proud, loving every minute not wanting it to end. With all swept up in the emotion that live music delivers it was time to finish up on Macklemore’s request with three shouts of PEACE, leaving everyone on a relaxed high. After throwing at least six towels into the crowd for souvenirs Macklemore departed, ready to a rest up and do it all again tomorrow night.
I wish him luck with his daughters request to bring a koala back to the State’s, it may just require another trip back to Australia with the family in tow, I am sure the fans will be ready and waiting with open arms.
Review Contributed by Cassandra Hale