NEW YORK — What better way to unwind after a stressful week than to party with thousands of people that adore you? Seems like a winning formula to forget your worries. And that’s exactly what Macklemore & Ryan Lewis did on Wednesday night.
Following a controversial few days — sparked by Mack’s dressing up for a surprise show over the weekend in a costume that some perceived to be mocking Jewish stereotypes, the Seattle rapper and his partner-in-song, Lewis, hit the stage at Manhattan’s Hammerstein Ballroom for the first American Express Membership Experiences Concert Series. Macklemore had earlier addressed the controversy, saying he never meant to offend, and Ryan Lewis told MTV News on Wednesday afternoon that it was a “massive misunderstanding.”
By last night, the fellas seemed ready to party, imploring fans on multiple occasions to “turn the f–k up!” And the Shark Face Gang happily obliged.
Exploding pyrotechnics and a wave of cheers marked the show’s official start, as Macklemore — backed by a band, as always — launched into “10,000 Hours,” off of 2012’s The Heist. From there, he took it back a bit, performing “Crew Cuts,” off of 2009’s The Vs. EP.
It wasn’t just about rapping, though. In between songs, Macklemore often told stories, like the one about the summer he came to the Big Apple when he was 17.
“I would go out, and I would get these really weird costumes,” he said. “I would put on these really weird outfits, like these plaid outfits, a whole golfer outfit, and I would kick it on the town. And when I did this, I called myself Professor Macklemore. So, my name actually came from being in New York City.”
Of course, he got those costumes at thrift shops, and the duo subsequently jumped into the multiplatinum hit “Thrift Shop,” while joined onstage by singer Wanz and two dancers.
With the energy in the venue bubbling, the 30-year-old MC actually took a few minutes to flip the mood. He kicked an a capella version of “Otherside,” a The Vs. EP fan-favorite that recounts his bout with addiction, and then went right into “Starting Over,” a somber Heist track that discusses the struggle to stay sober before a relapse. Next, it was the marriage-equality anthem “Same Love,” which he called “the most important song” he’s ever written.
But then it was time for that turn-up again.
“Can’t Hold Us,” “White Walls” and “Wings” (at the end of which Mack threw his shoes into the crowd) came next. The Seattle rapper took that momentum and threw on his wig and Raven Bowie persona for “And We Danced,” before confetti came raining from the ceiling for “Irish Celebration,” which appeared to be the closer.
Fans would have none of that, though, and after Macklemore thanked everyone from band members and dancers (each by name) to Ryan Lewis, it was time for one more performance of “Can’t Hold Us.”
And everyone put their hands up.