TVD Live Shots: Macklemore at the O2 Brixton Academy, 4/7

This review should be titled “A metal guy goes to a Macklemore show,” as it’s something that is completely out of the norm for me. Then again, I am someone who can honestly say that I listen to a bit of everything (at one point or another in my life).

The fact is that Macklemore is so huge in the States that I really wanted to see how the world of hip-hop-pop translates to the UK, and it does big time. Two sold out shows at the legendary O2 Brixton Academy turned out to be one of the biggest crowds I’ve ever seen crammed into the venue. The show was like a giant party—the songs were hook-laden anthems primed for audience sing-alongs, and Macklemore himself strutted across the stage as if he were royalty.

Not being too familiar with Macklemore’s catalog or new album for that matter, I did prep myself a bit by watching video clips from the previous gigs (which is essential for a photographer to get a sense of what to expect). The surprise for me was the second song of the night called “Firebreather,” which is a full on, hard rock explosion. The multi-instrumental genius that is Macklemore guitarist Cinque Kemp was on fire. Man, this guy can shred on guitar, and he makes it look epic at the same time. The energy in the room fueled by the blaring red lights and multiple pyrotechnics looked like a full tilt rock ‘n’ roll party from hell—in a good way, that is.

Having exited the photo pit after the customary three songs, I made my way to the back of the venue and found a spot to watch the rest of the show. This thing was all over the place. It was like a variety show that shifted from intense party mode, later to pivot to political and social arenas. The multiple guests on stage, the crazy outfits, and the support from a tremendous backing band made for a show that never let up and kept the crowd engaged all the way through. I don’t think there was a dull moment, even for a metal head such as myself who doesn’t really understand the genre. Either way, well done Macklemore and crew.

Opening act Dan Caplen, who’s featured on two tracks from Macklemore’s Gemini release, set the stage nicely. He’s got a sort of John Legend vibe crossed with a bit of a gospel feel but with the funk of Cameo and the Isley Brothers. Caplen’s got the songs, the voice, and the swagger to be the next big thing, and based on the crowd’s reaction, 2018 or 2019 could be a prime time for a breakout.

Macklemore’s Gemini tour continues across Europe before heading back to the US this summer. Check out all the dates here.

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