Macklemore impresses at First Avenue

MICHAEL RIETMULDER | Updated 12/3/2012

Review: Indie-rapper shared his observations on Minneapolitans during a memorable Friday night show at First Avenue.

Macklemore performing in a fan's coat Friday at First Avenue.

Macklemore performing in a fan's coat Friday at First Avenue.

After a pre-show scooter ride through downtown Minneapolis, red-hot indie-rapper Macklemore came to a few conclusions about Minneapolitans: The women? Beautiful. The men? Bitchin’ mustaches. But that’s not all.

“I bet you guys have crazy pubic hair out here,” goofed Macklemore, shortly into his Friday night gig at First Avenue, the first of a sold-out, two-night stand.

Thanks?

But that’s part of the real life Ben Haggerty’s charm. The Seattle emcee, who’s this week’s Vita.mn cover boy, doesn’t take himself so seriously that he can’t run around on stage in a fan’s fur coat (as he did minutes later) and make wise cracks about our genital garnishes. But at the same time, he’ll open up with incredibly personal lyrics and insightful social commentary.

The mostly young fans (and a few of their parents) at the all ages show saw the full spectrum of Macklemore’s personality, from his fur-coat gallivanting during “Thrift Store” to his introspective tales of addiction in “Starting Over,” both highlights off his new album with producer Ryan Lewis titled “The Heist.”

As much as the crowd seemed to love Haggerty’s playful side, the most memorable moment of the night had nothing to do with flamboyant garb or body-hair punch lines. After the recognizable piano line from Macklemore and Lewis’ gay-rights-supporting hit “Same Love” tiptoed in, fans joined the energy-harnessing rapper on its opening lines. By the end of their captivating rendition of the track, backup singer Mary Lambert, who handles the hook, was tearing up and the crowd erupted with the wildest applause of the night, chanting her name as if to put an arm around her shoulder. It was a truly touching moment.

The performance was especially timely, given that the previous day news broke of a Michigan teacher who was suspended for allowing a student to play the track in her classroom. “It’s crazy to me,” Macklemore said, referencing a poll that showed a split opinion on the suspension. “We have a long way to go in this country. ... It starts right here right here – this is the next generation.”

From there the mood lightened (it was Friday night, after all), with Macklemore climbing and surfing atop the crowd during the prancing “Can’t Hold Us.”

Saving his signature sparkly cape and wig for the encore (think Tina Turner meets pro wrestler), Macklemore picked up a fake British accent and intentionally cheesy choreography (aided by a pair of dancers) for fan-favorite “And We Danced.”

“Minneapolis, thank you for letting me come through and dry hump your women!” boomed Macklemore, before closing with his oldie “Irish Celebration.”

We expected nothing less.