With the slow jam “Ten Thousand Hours” blaring and thousands of screaming fans, rapper Macklemore and producer/beat-maker Ryan Lewis took the stage at CenturyLink Center Omaha late Tuesday evening.
Over the next 96 minutes, Macklemore and Lewis performed the most entertaining hip-hop concert I've ever seen.
The audience had to have agreed. Throughout the show — and especially during hits “Thrift Shop” and “Can't Hold Us” — kids danced by their parents, ladies danced with their friends and even a woman on crutches got up and shook it.
Unfortunately, it was a small audience for the CenturyLink Center. Only half of the arena's lower bowl was full of fans ready to raise their hands and party with the rapper.
With props, costumes and barrels of confetti, it was a very theatrical show. During “Thrift Shop,” dancers wheeled racks of clothes onto the stage, and during other songs, the air was filled with spurts of flame, confetti, balloons. Though he mostly stuck to a Bulls jersey, Macklemore donned a cape and wig for “And We Danced” and, for “White Walls,” he wore the same costume from the song's music video.
It all added to the party vibe, and Macklemore said he was hoping for “the biggest dance party Omaha has ever seen.”
Though Lewis' beats and the crazy confetti fueled the party atmosphere, an a capella version of Macklemore's “Otherside” and a version of “Make the Money” that included some freestyling and beatboxing showed off his talent.
Macklemore also showed a gift for blabbing. Between songs, he told a lot of stories, some of them totally made up and others about his day off in Omaha. (He said he spent $30 at Hollywood Candy.)
As for Lewis, he's more than just a guy behind a turntable. He did drop the beats, but he also played percussion on a drum kit spread around his DJ deck and acted as de facto hype man by working the stage and asked the crowd to raise their hands up and have a celebration.
Lewis' backing samples gave us the familiar thumps and melodies to songs such as “Crew Cuts” and “Same Love,” but the addition of live band — five musicians played trumpets, a guitar, trombone, violin and cello — gave the show a human feel most hip-hop shows lack.
It was also admirable and a nice touch that Macklemore and Lewis brought rapper Wanz and singers Mary Lambert and Ray Dalton onstage for the songs “Thrift Shop,” “Same love” and “Can't Hold Us.” They're spreading the wealth where most artists would leave those performers at home.
Early on, Macklemore pulled an interesting trick and played his biggest songs, “Thrift Shop” and “Can't Hold Us,” which let less popular songs such as “Wings” get some of the spotlight throughout the set's second half.
That said, it was an odd choice to perform “Can't Hold Us” a second time, in its entirety, to close out the show.
Before that, he performed fun tunes “And We Danced” and “Irish Celebration” — complete with white, orange and green confetti — for a really fun ending.
“Omaha, without you there is no us. Thank you for coming out here tonight and supporting independent hip-hop music,” Macklemore said after the show. “We absolutely love you guys and can't wait to come back and play again.”