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Matson on Music

Music news, concert reviews, analysis and opinion by music writer Andrew Matson.

March 6, 2011 at 1:38 PM

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Concert review: Macklemore and Ryan Lewis at the Showbox 03/05/11

Posted by Andrew Matson

Standing center stage at the downtown Showbox last night, a fedora-festooned Sir Mix-A-Lot ordained 28-year-old Seattle rapper Macklemore, standing in the wings stage left.

"I hand you the baton, and run baby, run."

Then Mix — still the most famous rapper from Seattle — tore through his song "Posse On Broadway," a national hit in 1988, well before most of the sold-out, tween-age crowd was born.

It was Macklemore's third and final sold-out Showbox concert in eight days with his DJ/music director Ryan Lewis and band. The stint highlighted his current local dominance and kicked off his first national tour as a headliner.

"I want to continue doing what we're doing in Seattle," said Macklemore, "selling out shows, and do it across the country."

The crowd went wild when he said that, seemingly of the mind that if Macklemore succeeds, we all succeed. The same screaming reaction happened when he announced his plan to perform at the Mariners' home opener at Safeco Field in April.

Everyone's hearts aligned when a cinema-sized screen showed old Mariners footage during "My Oh My," a tribute to recently deceased Mariners announcer Dave Niehaus. The song became a seance when Macklemore stopped rapping and let Niehaus' voice narrate the on-screen action. Pre-recorded pianos twinkled over the top like fairy dust, and some audience members cried.

Compared to Mix's stripped-down "Posse" — drum machines, vocals, and that's it — Macklemore's music was a new hybrid: soft rock piano ballads reformatted as heavy hip-hop anthems, laced with horns and other live instrumentation.

Early lines around the block became lines at the merchandise table, and during the show Macklemore's audience followed his every command ("hands in the air," etc.), laying totally silent between songs while he joked with them like old friends.

The rest of the tour will be about Macklemore testing the waters for national fame. If it seems strange to make that broad push with hyper-local product, consider the success of "Posse On Broadway," which name-checks Dick's Drive-In, and chronicles a nighttime journey as Mix-A-Lot and his friends drive from the South End to Capitol Hill.

In a tidy bit of synchronicity, Mix-A-Lot is from the former neighborhood, "born in the 1960s in the Rainier Vista projects," he said, and Macklemore is from the latter.

Ohio rapper Blueprint opened, as did local hip-hop acts Grynch and Xperience.

Photos by me

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