A really good time with Macklemore and Ryan Lewis

***** (5 stars out of 6); September 25 at Lille Vega

At 9:03 PM, an antsy, excited, sold-out crowd at Lille Vega began chanting: “Mack-le-more, Mack-le-more, Mack-le-more” – but they’d have to wait. The crowd, dressed in the expected all-black garb and less expected flannel shirts, a garment made hip by the grunge culture that sprung in the early 1990s from Macklemore's hometown of Seattle, Washington, rammed toward the stage as the lights finally dimmed at five to ten.

Macklemore bounded onto stage to roars and raised arms, possessed with the cool energy of the smooth and simple bassline of his 2011 single ‘Make the Money’ vibrating thickly through the crowd. The song, which chronicles Macklemore’s early rap career, is really about staying true to yourself: making the money, if you're lucky, but not letting it make you.

Macklemore has been rapping since 2000 when, as a 17-year old, he distributed a self-recorded EP entitled Open Your Eyes. After releasing his first full-length album, The Language of My World, in 2005, Macklemore fought a bout of substance abuse and had an unproductive mid-naughties. But in 2010 he teamed up with producer Ryan Lewis to release the EP VS. Redux, and since then the two have been touring Europe and the US – including a stop at this summer’s Roskilde festival – generating lots of hype along the way.

On Tuesday it was obvious why. After polling the crowd for their age – the 90s babies nearly screamed the one 70s flower-child out of the room – Macklemore said: “You know what the first thing me and my boys do when we get to a new city? We go to a thrift shop.” Released this year, the single ‘Thrift Shop’ shuns materialism and glorifies an individualised style of swag that doesn’t depend on money or branded homogeneity. The crowd lapped it up.

The duo then played ‘Ten Thousand Hours’, the first track off their album The Heist, which is set to drop October 9. Not straying far from their core sound, the song features powerful basslines with synth and the occasional horn mixed in to juice up the tempo. The real first of the night came afterward, though, when Macklemore, having a little fun, asked the crowd to sit down—and we obliged. “No one’s ever got everyone to sit down at a hip-hop show,” Macklemore said, and the crowd laughed and cheered.

They were quick to their feet, though, for what was arguably the biggest crowd-pleaser of the night, ‘Wings’, a song about Nike Air Jordans, our relationship to consumerism and trying to fly, metaphorically. Macklemore departed momentarily – a formality for the performer by now – and returned moments later for an encore, the catchy, up-tempo synthesised riff of ‘And We Danced’, from the 2009 release The Unplanned Mixtape, prepping the crowd ready for one last energetic hurrah.

Everyone in Vega sang the refrain and it was clear they sang for the same reason as Macklemore himself—they meant it: “And we danced, and we cried, and we laughed, and had a really, really, really good time.”