Every generation seems to have a white rapper that it simply adores. It all arguably started with Vanilla Ice who then gave way to House of Pain and Eminem. Ben Haggerty (aka Macklemore) is the latest white guy to win over teens and twentysomethings. An excellent lyricist who has surrounded himself with a talented producer and a slew of solid singers and dancers, the guy proved he’s no flash in the pan during an engaging 90-minute show last night at a sold out House of Blues.
Macklemore quickly endeared himself to the capacity crowd right from the start. “I hate the Steelers,” he confessed, adding that he and his crew saw the Browns game that afternoon and were thrilled by the big win. After another diatribe about hair cuts, of all things, he launched in “Crew Cuts,” a nostalgic song about growing up on the streets; a breezy horn riff and a lazy melody made the tune really swing. Macklemore then stripped down to a Sonics jersey and got everyone to jump in unison for the high-energy “Life is Cinema,” a track that creatively samples a Killers’ songs. After goofing around with a fan’s fur jacket that he said “smells like a wet grizzly bear,” Macklemore launched into “Thrift Shop,” a song that found him churning out phrases as fast as any dancehall rapper. Macklemore then dedicated “My Oh My” to the late baseball broadcaster Dave Niehaus; the tribute was truly heartfelt and showed how Macklemore can make the most out of simple subject matter. And before playing the concert’s centerpiece, “Same Love,” Macklemore talked a bit about the re-election of President Obama and bragged about the Seattle gay marriage referendum that just passed. The song, which comes out in favor of homosexuality and chastises rappers for being homophobic went over particularly well because Macklemore had singer Mary Lambert, who guests on the studio track, come out and sing the soulful backing vocals.
After playing a tune about drug addiction, Macklemore returned to having fun with “Can’t Hold Us,” “White Walls” and the set closing “Victory Lap,” which segued into “Gold.” He finished the two-song encore off in fitting fashion, waving an Irish flag as he triumphantly strode across the stage and sang about his heritage.