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Macklemore pleases with diverse set, stories of Salt Lake

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(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Macklemore performs with Ryan Lewis in concert at the E-Center, Saturday, October 26, 2013.

By Lindsay Whitehurst

The Salt Lake Tribune

First published Oct 26 2013 10:53PM
Updated Oct 28, 2013 08:51AM

West Valley City — Macklemore might or might not have skinny-dipped in the Great Salt Lake, but he definitely has memories of playing Kilby Court.

"Sweat was dripping from the walls and we were crowd-surfing from the ceiling," he said at the Maverik Center Saturday. "When you come to Salt Lake City you know you are in for one hell if a [expletive] party!"

The Seattle rapper’s storytelling interludes — and an impromptu freestyle session with Modest Mouse’s "Float On" as a backbeat — served to make the arena feel more intimate during a smoothly executed 70-minute set.

Not sure if the story about seeing his clothes get stolen as he swam in the Great Salt Lake was strictly true or a tall tale to introduce his massive hit "Thrift Shop," but I know a certain newspaper that would be very interested in any photo evidence. (wink, wink.)

The performance did come with the flash worthy of a chart-topping artist, including confetti, fireworks, flames and backup dancers.

Some of his hits aren’t typical top-40 fare. "Same Love" is like a spoken word poem about same-sex marriage.

"I believe we are in the middle of the biggest civil rights movement of our generation," he said, and the 7,000-person crowd roared. "I think we’re finally seeing the power that words have."

Born Ben Haggerty, Macklemore, 30, also talked Saturday about his struggles with alcohol and drug abuse. It was only after he got clean and sober and started working with Ryan Lewis, his producer and co-writer, that he was able to tap into the talent he first showed at age 14.

"Some people can smoke weed and drink and control their life," he said. "I was not one of those people."

He could, however, rock an ‘80s glam-rock wig, gold cape and Stockton Jazz jersey for an encore performance of "And We Danced."

Macklemore is a kinetic rapper, popping out his knees and throwing out his arms, almost marionette-like, as he performs.

The crowd also dressed to impress, with several in Halloween costumes. While the two openers, Talib Kweli, Big K.R.I.T., were good, I have to hand it to the audience member dressed as a unicorn who took it upon himself to hype the crowd before Macklemore took the stage.

Not a bad way to welcome him back.

lwhitehurst@sltrib.com

Twitter: @lwhitehurst

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