From a thrifted fur coat to an orange hat that even Willy Wonka himself couldn’t pull off, Macklemore, real name Benjamin Hammond Haggerty, was a chameleon of different and exciting personas on stage at the House of Blues Nov. 14. His last performance in the US on his “Gemini” tour, the Seattle native performed his most energetic and longest show to date, according to the singer.
Performing 16 songs instead of his normal 11-12, he finished with a tribute to his grandmother, the subject of his album’s hit song, “Glorious.”
“Normally, when I say peace out, I make a peanut butter and jelly and put on jammies and get in the fetal position,” he said to the audience. “But on the last night of the tour, my grandma would cuss my ass out if I didn’t play her song.”
As incredible as the end of the show was, complete with confetti and a dance party continuing long after the final song, the entire show from beginning to end was high energy, interactive and even introspective at times.
Starting off with “Ain’t Gonna Die Tonight” from the new album, Haggerty performed the first part of his set back-to-back. He then took a moment to talk about his favorite thing in the world — his two-year-old daughter, Sloane. Taking a seat on the edge of the stage, he told the crowd to their delight, that when he told his daughter he was going to Boston to finish out his tour, even she knew of the city and was jealous of her dad. Then, to pay her tribute, he launched into his daughter’s favorite, and a classic, “Thrift Shop,” but not before changing into his signature fur coat.
Another personal moment for the singer came just before he sang his popular “Same Love,” when he again took a moment to address the crowd and the current political climate in America. The song has since become an anthem for the LGBTQA+ community, preaching tolerance and acceptance for all sexual orientations.
“In my 37 years, it feels like we are the most divided as a country,” he said. “We feel divided, but regardless of your color of skin, sexual orientation, the bathroom you choose to use, your religion, you are welcome here tonight. There is so much fear and hatred being pushed out of the White House. But we will not be divided. When we show up, leave our houses and see diversity, that is what makes America amazing. Fear and hatred cannot overpower love.”
After another quick change, Haggerty, now clad in an orange top hat and purple suit jacket, sang “Willy Wonka” from his new album. Also from that album was “Corner Store,” in which Travis Thompson, one of two opening acts of the evening, rejoined Haggerty on stage to sing the hook he wrote for the track. This is Thompson’s first time on a nationwide tour, and he has Haggerty to thank for that, he said after his set.
“I was just a kid making music in Seattle and playing shows,” Thompson said. “My producer also produced half of “Gemini” and so he put my music in Ben’s ear and two months ago I got a call.”
The first opening act, Xperience, also made a reappearance, during the show. He co-wrote, “Church,” a song on “Gemini,” and helped Haggerty in making many of the other tracks on the album.
“Me and Mac have been friends for about 14 years now, and so we work on his albums together,” Xperience said in an interview with Artistry after the show. “I wrote a couple hooks on this last album and he considers me a very good opener. Other than a friend, he knows I get the crowd pretty hyped.”
This hyped energy was kept alive and more-than-well not only by the headliner himself, but by the two “Macklerettes,” a nickname he gave to his backup dancers, and the other musicians on stage.
As many artists do near the end of the show, Haggerty thanked his opening acts as well as the rest of the performers he shared the stage with during his tour. However, in his graceful way, he took extra time to thank the production crew that works just as hard as the performers and usually with little appreciation.
“There are a lot of moving parts to a show; I see you,” he said. He then called for everyone backstage to come out to the front and take a bow, including stage managers, audio and video workers and the rest of his large crew. “Give it up for the unsung heros.”