Rapper, advocate, and ultimate thrift-shopper, Macklemore brought the energy to Rod Laver Arena

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Rapper, advocate, and ultimate thrift-shopper, Macklemore brought the energy to Rod Laver Arena

Image by Chloe Waddell
Words by Chloe Waddell

He’s been popping tags since 2012, and the 'Thrift Shop' rapper has returned to Australia for a run of headline shows.

A sold-out crowd made their way to Rod Laver Arena – upgraded from John Cain Arena due to overwhelming demand – on 15 May, for Macklemore’s only Victorian gig of his 2024 Australia and New Zealand tour. Those of all ages were in attendance, even including kids who were yet to be born when Macklemore was top of the charts, showing how his discography continues to infiltrate every generation. Macklemore, or Ben to his friends, has a diverse collection of tracks, ranging from fun and boppy tunes about mopeds, to spitting hard-hitting words about social issues, and this is all part of his wide-reaching appeal. 

The energy of a Macklemore show is truly indescribable. Although I went in excited to see what I anticipated would be a great show, Macklemore’s gig absolutely exceeded my expectations. It seems this was not unique to me, as walking down Richmond’s Swan Street afterwards I overheard person after person talking about how this ended up being one of the best concerts they have been to, and reflecting the sentiment that it was even better than they had expected. His vocals were clear and even better live than on his recordings, his advocacy for love, acceptance and kindness was peppered throughout, his dance moves were exceptionally engaging, there was fire, confetti, and there was not a single moment in the almost-two-hours that lulled. A big shout out to his dancers and band is also well deserved, for their seamless performances that never faltered on energy.

With ‘Thrift Shop’ early in the set which saw Macklemore don his “big-ass coat”, the crowd knew they were in for a high-energy and fun show. The set list included some of the big and more classic hits, like ‘Same Love’, ‘Wing$’,Glorious‘, ‘Downtown andThese Days’, as well as some more recent favourites, like ‘1984′. Two lucky young girls were brought onto the stage from the pit, given 20 seconds each to show off their best moves during ‘Dance Off’, which did not disappoint. Returning to the stage in an Aussie guernsey, his encore consisted of ‘Good Old Days’ and ‘Can’t Hold Us’, which perfectly rounded out a show of his best hits. 

Never shying away from tackling the big issues, Macklemore recently revealed a new track calling for a ceasefire and condemning the genocide in Palestine. In addition to this being an act of advocacy, the proceeds from ‘HIND’S HALL’ are also being donated to support Palestinian refugees. This song has made it onto the tour set list, and was a powerful moment in Macklemore’s gig that was overwhelmingly well received. Just prior to this song, someone in the mosh pit had passed out. Those around them lit up their phone lights to get Macklemore’s attention, and he was able to organise for help to get them out of harm’s way and ensure they were able to recover safely. This is of course not uncommon in the pit. A perfect segue, Macklemore highlighted that moment in the crowd as an example of humans helping humans, without conditions, without questions, and because it is simply the right thing to do – something that, he said, should be seen in all parts of the world.


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Appearing to be genuinely grateful for the role that his fans, and particularly those in Australia (and in his favourite city, Melbourne – right, Ben?), have played in his life, Macklemore took time to reflect and thank everyone for going on the journey with him. Macklemore will now finish up his Aussie/NZ tour with three sold out gigs across Brisbane and Perth, before jetting back to Europe. For those who haven’t had the chance to see him yet, put going to a Macklemore gig on your future to-do list. 

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