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Rapper Macklemore, known for hits "Thrift Shop" and "Can't Hold Us," kicked off his American tour at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium on Sept. 17. The night came to a peak when he was joined by surprise guest Ke$ha for the encore, "Good Old Days."
Macklemore, born Benjamin Hammond Haggerty, announced in March that he would be extending his European and U.K. "The Ben Tour," adding American dates. The first stop on this leg of the tour was the Ryman, and the tour will next head to Washington, D.C., and end in Los Angeles in mid-October.
Haggerty's stage name harkens back to his home city roots, based off of Seattle Mariners player Mark McLemore. Vocal about social issues and his own battles with drug addiction, Macklemore raps about consumerism, race, LGBTQ+ rights and substance abuse.
A multi-diamond certified, Grammy Award winning performer, the tour follows Macklemore's release of the album "Ben" in March, which included songs "1984" and "No Bad Days." The album focuses heavily on a relapse Macklemore fought through during the depths of the pandemic, with songs full of self awareness and vulnerability.
In an energetic 14-song performance, Macklemore brought a packed Ryman Auditorium crowd to its feet, clapping their hands. And at the end of the night, an old friend of his appeared.
Ke$ha joins during encore for surprise duet
On the second song of the encore, Ke$ha walked out. With slicked-back hair and sporting a fur coat, it's hard not to connect Ke$ha's look to Macklemore's fashion in "Thrift Shop," where he raps: "I look incredible / I'm in this big-a-- coat / From that thrift shop down the road."
The two performers, who toured the country together a couple years back, had a palpable closeness and warmth on the stage. After delivering a hearty performance of "Good Old Days," the two went in for a long, emotion-filled hug. With Ke$ha beaming, it appeared to be a spirited reunion.
"Ke$ha texted me yesterday and was like, 'You're gonna be in Nashville, I'm in Nashville.' It's probably years since I've seen Ke$ha, and I love Ke$ha, she is a brilliant, beautiful star," Macklemore told the audience, adding that he texted Ke$ha today, but didn't know she would be present at the show until he left for the encore and his manager said she was backstage.
Other highlights from Macklemore's tour kickoff
Prior to Macklemore hitting the stage, his DJ, Nick Beeba warmed the crowd up with a 30-minute set, playing hits like "Mr. Brightside" and "Wannabe."
And then, Macklemore bounced onto the stage in a denim vest covered in patches, welcoming his audience to the first performance of the tour.
He started off the night with "Chant" from his new album, and then went into his hit "Thrift Shop." Macklemore admitted to the crowd, "Now, I did get this vest today. There's not that many environments that feel super self-conscious in my life, but being me ... in a thrift shop. ... is just ... weird. It is." He continued, "I'm cheap. I'm cheap, man, and I like a good deal."
It turns out, Macklemore hit the thrift shops in Nashville the day of his tour kickoff, saying, "How cliche is this?" He added that he did not, in fact, have $20 in his pocket — and he's heard the joke too many times over the past decade.
Of his vest, he said, "Anyway, I found this. I think it's like a bunch of states and national parks that I'll never go to, but I think it's really dope."
Macklemore's performance was animated and sprightly dancing around the stage while he rapped. His support included an entourage of eight, with backup dancers, backup vocalists, musicians on horns and percussion. Impressively, his two musicians on the trumpet and trombone danced while they played, showcasing their dexterity.
While keeping the mood light with tracks "White Walls" and "No Bad Days," Macklemore followed with a touching performance of "Same Love." Starting with his back to the audience, Macklemore rapped his 2012 song about LGBTQ+ relationships, saying, "No freedom 'til we're equal, damn right I support it."
Another highlight came with Macklemore's performance of "I Need," a song from the "Ben" album, where he raps about losing track of who he was and what he really wanted. As dollar bills rained on the screen behind him, Macklemore rapped, "I got everything I need / So why am I fallin' to my knees? / I got racks on me, money ain't a thing / All I really want is to be free."
For the final song of the night, Macklemore appealed to the audience to get loud, "Because it might be Sunday in a church, but we're not going out like that, I said: Are you ready?"
The crowd, which barely sat down the entire evening, was clapping and jumping along, rocking the Ryman, and Macklemore finished out the evening with "Can't Hold Us." Colored lights flashed as Macklemore pumped his fist and jumped into the audience, crowd surfing.
Macklemore's Nashville Set List
"No Bad Days"
Encore: "And We Danced," "Good Old Days" (featuring Ke$ha), "Can't Hold Us"
This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Macklemore kicks off tour in Nashville, Ke$ha joins for encore