Thursday 26 April 2018

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis at 3Arena Dublin: 'It's nice to be home'

Macklemore performing at Marlay Park, Dublin, July 10 2014
Macklemore performing at Marlay Park, Dublin, July 10 2014
Eamon Sweeney

Eamon Sweeney

American hip-hop duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis performed to just two hundred people in the Twister Pepper in 2011. Fast forward five years later, Macklemore is standing onstage in the 3Arena proudly wearing an Ireland football shirt and emotionally announcing, "It's nice to be home."

The Seattle born Macklemore, aka Ben Haggerty, has Irish roots and wants everyone to know about it. He's been touted as the most successful white rapper since Eminem, which is where the comparison begins and ends, as they've absolutely nothing else in common, either musically or personally.

Unlike Eminem's notorious shock tactics, Macklemore is an artist with a deep social conscience. The duo gatecrashed the charts with the monster hit Thrift Shop, a runaway success without any major label support, offering another reminder that the conventional music industry as we once knew it is dead and gone and with Lemmy in the grave.

Thrift Shop is dispensed with early on in the set, unsurprisingly sending the arena into raptures. Macklemore is an extremely charismatic front man, but the duo fully grasp the fact this is a hard gig for two people to pull off, so they supplement their appearance with brass and string sections and some dancers to add to the spectacle.

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis attend the MTV EMA's 2015
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis attend the MTV EMA's 2015

The deafening volume is far too extreme for comfort. Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth famously said, "If it's too loud, you're too old," but the effect is to severely blunt the melodies and pop sensibilities of some of their songs.

Yet when it comes to pop and rap with a heart and quest for justice, Macklemore & Lewis have no equals. Same Love celebrates marriage equality, while White Privilege II tackles racism in contemporary America. Their best pop moment yet, Downtown, rounds off the night on a spectacular singalong flourish.

The best hip-hop artist in the world right now is still Kendrick Lamar, who Macklemore & Lewis beat to a Grammy award in 2014. However, when it comes bringing an awareness of social issues into the mainstream, penning irresistibly catchy pop tunes and having a whole lot of fun in the process, Macklemore & Lewis are out on their own.

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