I’ve had a confusing and somewhat hypocritical relationship with Macklemore & Ryan Lewis over the years. I was indignant in 2012 when my boy Flume came a mere fourth in the Triple J Hottest 100, wildly proclaiming how wrong it was that “Thrift Shop” should take the title; all the while grooving along to that catchy AF hook.
I forwarded the link to “Same Love” to everyone I’d ever met, getting swept up in the heartwarming haze that was Mary Lambert and it’s message of equality; only to label “Downtown” a poor man’s “Uptown Funk” and aggressively change the station whenever those cute little intro keys would bust out’ my stereo. By the time the duo brought their This Unruly Mess I’ve Made tour Down Under I was openly claiming to be a hater, while secretly singing along with Ed in “Growing Up”, forgetting I wasn’t meant to be a fan.
My reasons for unfairly hating on them were two-fold. The preaching and the ridiculous. Both of which were delivered in spades on Friday night, and both of which totally changed my mind about this polarizing act.
Rapper slash MC slash frontman Ben Haggerty, and Producer slash Multi-Instrumentalist slash Garfunkel-of-the-group Ryan Lewis treat us to a somewhat slow burn intro, with “Light Tunnels” an unexpectedly perfect opener. The man on the mic proclaims this as ‘the greatest show on earth’, to which my inner pessimist gives a smug little eye roll.
From there, the crowd favourites came in thick and fast, punctuated with endearing comedic stories, an ovary-teasing appearance from Haggerty’s little girl and a mega cookie pitch into the crowd that will see them relocating to Oz if they are men of their word. In the ridiculous column we had “Thrift Shop”, “Brad Pitt’s Cousin” and “Dance Off”, while in the preaching column was “Same Love” and a stunning Black Lives Matter tribute during “White Privilege II”, that brought this critic to tears and saw the crowd chant “Macklemore for President”.
It was in the balance of these two worlds, the two worlds that are so at odds with each other, that Macklemore & Ryan Lewis found their stride. They don’t spend too long in either, perfectly offsetting the heavy with the fun, the tears with the party and the messages with the mopeds.
The night wrapped up with an encore featuring a mini Prince tribute and culminating with the explosive celebration that was “Downtown”. This Unruly Mess I’ve Made had me singing, crying and laughing, not to mention begrudgingly admitting the fact that I’d made a terrible error in judgement and was indeed, a fan.
Whatever your opinion of songs about bargain shopping or white boys preaching, the fact is these guys, and Macklemore in particular, are pretty fucking great. And while I don’t say this often, on this occasion I’m happy to admit I was totally, totally, wrong.