“This is the most important song I have written,” Macklemore said before launching into the opening verse of “Same Love.”
The song tackles the prickly subject of gay marriage, and the hometown crowd of 7,500 at WaMu Theater raptly listened to every one of Macklemore’s introductory words to the marriage-equality anthem.
“Same Love” is a bold statement from a budding hip-hop star, especially one with arena-rap ambitions who was flanked by four video screens and moments earlier entered the stage to a burst of pyro while wearing a faux fur vest and riding a scooter. Homosexuality isn’t a topic often touched upon in the world of hip-hop, Frank Ocean notwithstanding, and it definitely isn’t something rapped about favorably. But Macklemore has spent years developing a devout fan base, winning over crowds with his emotional songs and sincere delivery, and that sincerity combined with the devotion of his fans is why almost everyone in the venue sang along to every verse of “Same Love.”
Macklemore’s duality affords him the ability to go from silly to serious and it’s part of what makes him such a commanding and charismatic presence onstage. The concert was one of the first in support of “The Heist,” the record he independently released with DJ-producer Ryan Lewis. The album became one of the most unexpected success stories of the year earlier this month when it topped the iTunes U.S. Top 10 Albums chart and debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 200 with 78,000 copies sold during its first week of release. That success made the show feel like a well-deserved victory lap for Lewis, Macklemore and their fans.
The two-hour show ran the gamut of Macklemore’s career with serious songs such as “Otherside,” a song about Macklemore’s addiction to prescription cough syrup that samples the Red Hot Chili Peppers song of the same name, and “Wings,” delivered alongside more playful and triumphant numbers like “Gold” and “Can’t Hold Us.” Highlights included “Thrift Shop,” during which he wore the aforementioned vest, “The Town,” which pays homage to Seattle’s hip-hop history and “And We Danced.” During the latter Macklemore performed as his alter ego Sir Raven Bowie, donning a bright blond mullet wig and sparkly silver cape. He was accompanied by a crew of backup dancers he calls “the Macklerettes” and as the title suggests, everyone danced.
Macklemore and Lewis closed their set with “Irish Celebration,” a song about Macklemore’s Irish heritage. But the song could have been called “Seattle Celebration” for that one night because the show not only perfectly captured a star on the rise, it was also fitting send-off for Seattle’s hometown hip-hop hero.