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Live Review: Macklemore @ Riverstage, Brisbane

18 May 2024 | 9:56 am | Jess Martyn

“There’s 8000 people in this motherf*cker, and you guys sold it the hell out.”


Macklemore (Source: Supplied)

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If there’s one word that could sum up Macklemore’s performance on a cloudless Friday night in Brisbane, it would have to be energy. 

From the denim-clad fans doing cartwheels over the grass plains of Riverstage to the raucous response to each of the many proclamations made from the stage, the energy was high – and there was never a dull moment. 

As the lights went down and the brass band started up, the crowd was on their feed dancing, singing and clapping along to the triumphant lyrics of CHANT, delivered brilliantly by Tones And I.

Buoyed by the excitement of the energetic dance crew and the theatrical fire jets behind them, Tones And I pulled off impressive notes with strength. 

Then, with the whole crowd’s attention, Macklemore took off his glasses and began the sermon. 

“Fuck a pedestal, fuck a platform, fuck a big ass stage. This is human-to-human interaction. It’s just us. I’m gonna sweat my ass off, I’m gonna go so fucking hard tonight, and I expect you to do the same,” he declared. 

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“I need your energy. I need to see you. I don’t want to look at the back of an iPhone, and I definitely don’t want to look at the back of an Android.”

There would be more words of wisdom throughout the show, but not before an irrepressible performance of the song that started it all. As the Thrift Shop brass riff sounded, Macklemore donned his fur coat and brought the now-cult classic music video to life on stage. 

With crowd energy already high, the dance crew was hyped for their Cadillac routine and the call-and-response with the crowd. 

Macklemore had a way with words and a penchant for toeing the line between badass and wholesome, always making everyone in the crowd feel at home and weaving in neatly with the setlist. 

Energy and confidence like that only come out of hard work and preparation, and yet the performance couldn’t have looked more effortless, words flowing like a river from the platinum blonde-haired man Brisbane friends now know as Ben.

“I wanna commend you Aussies for showing up for one another and leading with love. You are welcome here tonight to be 100% authentically yourself,” he concluded as Same Love began to play. Naturally, the crowd knew and loved every word of the passionate musical sermon. 

Macklemore’s ability to instantly switch up the vibe was particularly impressive, turning Riverstage from a soulful gathering to a party in a second. 

Addressing the audience, he said of the massive crowd: “There’s 8000 people in this motherfucker, and you guys sold it the hell out.”

The switch to Downtown was a set highlight, the song taking on a new life with live brass and hyped-up dancers. Special mention to his Freddie Mercury-esque male vocalist, Eric Nally

From there, the set was all killer, no filler, from the hugely popular Wing$ with a brilliant brass solo, to the triumphant dancing and singing through These Days, to the full disco vibe of 1984 from the 2023 album, Ben. 

The set was peppered with unexpected highlights, beginning with a solemn nod to Palestine in the form of Hinds Hall, a timely, brilliantly phrased message delivered to a highly receptive audience. 

Then there was the dance-off – because the best way to flood a crowd with more positive energy is to remind them that the opportunity to create extraordinary moments is everywhere and that we would all do well to be a little less self-conscious. In any case, it helps if you can do a back handspring. 

“When I see a dance-off like that, I just feel glorious,” Macklemore declared, seamlessly transitioning into the next song as the stage filled with colour and sparks came down from the ceiling. 

For some, perhaps, the biggest highlight of all was watching their fearless leader take on the “shoey” rite of passage, one that he had been building up to throughout the show. “This shoe has been around the world with me,” he said before pouring his water into it and drinking as though it was an initiation into the Aussie family. 

The encore was just as heart-warming as the rest of the show, particularly for guest star Tones And I and opening act Nick Beeba. Tones sang the opening lines of Good Old Days with a passionate grunt to her voice, and the crowd was hooked. It was a triumphant finisher and one that earned her high praise from the man himself; “That right there is one of the most pure human hearts and talents and souls I have ever met, and she’s from here. She is my fucking sister, and I will always be in her corner until her dying day.” 

Meanwhile, Beeba declared Brisbane one of his top three shows of all time – and it likely would have made that list for several in the crowd.