Macklemore & Ryan Lewis At 3Arena – Photos & Review
A remnants of purple-tinged smoke rolls across the stage of the 3Arena as Ben Haggerty looks out across the stage, a smile clearly visible, ‘I’m home’. The entire arena is engulfed in ear-piercing screeches, for fans of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis this is more of a homecoming celebration than just another gig date. Frontman, Macklemore, has always proudly laid claim to his Irish heritage (as if the ginger quiff of hair didn’t already indicate it), but dressed in an Ireland jersey this seems to be the most triumphant return to Dublin yet. Performing the first night of three in the capital was clearly something he had been look forward to for some time. Besides what seemed like hundreds of Facebook selfies of avid fans with him and his young daughter who were Dublin just a few hours before the show – his energy throughout the show was infectious. Bursting on the stage with two tracks from his latest album, This Unruly Mess I’ve Made, ‘Light Tunnels’ and ‘Brad Pitt’s Cousin’, it was immediately obvious that the duo had come to up the ante on their last performance in Marlay Park in 2014. Addressing the crowd as ‘his people’ throughout the night, he and Ryan Lewis certainly kept their promise.
The show is a mixed bag of performances, range from the power-pop parody ‘And We Danced’ – where the duo take the stage in an almost Ziggy Stardust-esque attire of sequins and expertly cut mullets – to the anthems that preach political correctness such as ‘Same Love’ and ‘White Privilege II’. The pair never shy away from speaking about the undeniable issues that continue to be rife in the world, they’re never ashamed to use their songs as an ‘x-marks-the-spot’ on where they stand on these topics. ‘Kevin’ is a striking track, lingering on Americans’ growing reliance on medications to mask problems rather than searching for an adequate solution. Their music is crucially effective in conveying their frustrations and passions because they are filled with words of real emotion, the lyrics are tethered to intrinsically relevant tracks.
However, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis don’t lose themselves to absolute sombreness. They always find a way to undercut it, whether it’s the anecdotal build to ‘Thrift Shop’ (the audience were perched on the edge of their seats as Haggerty rambled on about the array of shops and sights in the capital) or Lewis’ undeniable musical talent – he’s the backbone of the show with his sound production providing appropriate beats at moments of heartfelt expression or raving lunacy from his musical partner. Macklemore provides the almost Johnny bravo style of bravado and ego whilst Lewis is relatively quiet throughout the set, allowing his perfectly timed bass drops to do the talking. Their lively moments are relentlessly enhanced by the brass, the endless energy of back-up dancers, and the sporadic appearance of trumpeter sporting a kilt during ‘White Walls’ and ‘Can’t Hold Us’.
As is standard now, the pair have not one but two encores. The first primes the audience – a sea of arms waving in the air and chanting along to ‘And We Danced’ and ‘Dance-Off’, with two ‘fans’ begin pulled up on the stage to perfectly execute a dance off. The second encore is more relevant, with the addition of ‘Irish Celebration’ a track that has been missing off the set list since this tour began. It’s at this point the energy feels like it’s reached its peak, with the year that’s in it there almost seems to be a patriotism in the air as Macklemore proudly proclaims he heard the Irish like to get drunk and party.
It’s an undeniably perfect show for a Friday night, the moments of seriousness are brief but remind us that the pair has a strong songwriting history to them but, as the two hour show reaches its end, it almost becomes more based around visual aesthetic, with the strobe lights and costume changes, it perfectly elevates its fans for the weekend that lays head of them.
Review by Elaine McDonald
Photos by Anamaria Meiu