REVIEWED: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – Live @ Vector Arena, Auckland 2016

The matchstick logo hung above the stage as four bouncing, running and cheering performers graced the stage. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis were centre stage graced by some hype-filled instrumentalists at their sides, and the energy they began the night with, only grew. New Zealand – WE ARE BACK!

Words and photos by Jessie Booth

I was impressed and happy to say that you can damn well believe what you hear on the record. The energy created in the studio was brought on stage tonight at Auckland’s Vector Arena. Macklemore’s signature-long one breath phrases were flawless; he could pull these off after laps around the stage, after leaps off platforms and still not falter. You heard no struggle; you lost no energy, and the crowd went nuts.

I’m not sure where the props came from, and I don’t think Macklemore himself knew either, but a bunch of audience members were waving around Macklemore emoji cut outs, to which he noted: “Well, this is awesome guys, slightly creepy but awesome”. Always glad to make some kind of impact aren’t we Auckland? I can take creepy but awesome…

Now the stage set up was really quite clever. You had Ryan Lewis up the back with his turntables, partial drum set up and guitars, a grand pianist to the left, and another performer to the right commanding a similar set up to Ryan Lewis minus a turntable and plus a trumpet. The interesting thing here is that you could see them absolutely slamming these kits, parading around stage with the guitars and the trumpets like they were center focus, but they were way behind in the mix. In fact, they were barely audible through most of the set, but I can see why they had them there. Ryan Lewis and the percussionist’s monkey jumping around the drums built this intensity and energy on stage, while making a spectacle as they paraded their guitars and trumpet round the whole of the stage.

“I have a big Irish family, and they all wanted to come, but I had to cut it off, even when my cousin Brad Pitt wanted to come…”

All of Macklemore’s pre-song banter was well crafted, and personable to Auckland. The stories seemed just like stories until he would tie them into a lyric or a song title. So it becomes as much a comedy show as it was a music concert.

On Macklemore’s daughter Sloane, he said “She hasn’t said her first word… until today in AUCKLAND! We were chillin’ in the hotel and looked up at me with her big blue eyes, she cocked her head and said… THRIFT SHOP”. – Cue giant crowd roar-

Macklemore was given a white canvas and in a super stylish line drawing who he scribbled out in 20seconds and handed out promptly to a fan in the front row

They rolled out racks of clothing for thrift shop. Ryan Lewis donned big fur number, backup dancers made use of the new wardrobe selection.

Seems like NZ IS DOING PRETTY FUCKING GOOD MAN, the rest of the world has some catching up to do. (State of the world)

Same Love came in with images of stained glass windows, 60s footage of marriage ceremonies, and a low drone, building up all the feels. The whole crowd joined in for the first verse. Now we all know this is the famous song where he married hay couples on stage when same-sex marriage was legalised in some parts of the United States.

It was at this point that I realised the whole vibe of the night. Circles of friends were dancing and singing with each other, couples were posing on their partner’s shoulders, and the crowd were totally polite. It had the attitude but the right kind; just to be confident and have fun.

After all the fun and positivity they successfully brought the intensity with White Supremacy II. The stage was in a wash of red light, only the pianist and Macklemore were visible under low-angled spot lights, with the kind of bass you could feel in your chest.

This leads into Jamilla woods singing “hip hop is not a luxury” at which point Macklemore leaves the stage and it is just her face singing on the screen, with the pianist to accompany.

“There are so many things I love about New Zealand” – Macklmore goes on to list “the woman are beautiful… the nature might be the best in the world… so I went out and cut down a tree and bring it to the show, just kidding. It’s plastic and it’s from Ikea – I just wanted that NZ vibe on stage”

The plastic trees framed a table covered in checkered cloth, where two of the other performers sat like they were at some courtyard cafe during Lets Eat. The props and stage set up were modest throughout, because let’s face it, who needs less hype and ‘fluffing’ than the legendary Macklemore and Ryan Lewis?

Stage antics ranged from Macklmore throwing out cookies, “I’m gonna try for the back row! to the man in the striped shirt! The one who isn’t waving his hand, he is my Waldo, stand up sir!”

“Now if I’m going for the Back row and I don’t make it you are all under legal obligation that you can’t Snapchat this shit”, to 10-second scribbles, audience member dance-offs and a Prince dance interlude.

Then they left without playing downtown and I was like hell no, that’s gotta be the encore song. Then there was thunder and a castle, and this real weird story about how Macklemore was the wonder child of Gaga and Samuel L Jackson, that James brown was his baby-sitter, and Usher was his best friend.The Epic intro lead into And We Danced to which He emerges with a 70s hair metal wig, tassle-jacket and sequin cape, with a giant disco ball circling on the screens.

But where was downtown?!

I wasn’t the only one waiting for Downtown. “We haven’t been here in a long time, I didn’t know what to expect” – to which a crowd member replies “DOWNTOWN!!” And in response to a Downtown chant by the whole crowd, they burst back onto stage complete with the Freddie Mercury, moustache-donning, elastic kneed singer we all know and love from the video clip. There was confetti, sparks flew, we laughed and we danced and it was brilliant.

Tickets for the Christchurch show Saturday night at Horncastle Arena are still available –


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