O2 Acadamy, Bristol on Tue 18th May 2010

Elliott Greave otherwise known as Example has, since 2006 bubbling under the surface of the mainstream music scene. His witty lyrics and use of catchy samples gave him many plaudits from credible artists such as The Streets' Mike Skinner and then, just as it seemed that his efforts to become commercially recognised would pay off he changed his style. Now signed to Ministry of Sound's record label his output has distinctly edged towards Ibiza anthems in their cut. To be fair, as far as Ibiza anthems go some of them are half decent and combined with his comparatively bland lyrics its meant that his radio play on commercial stations has increased hugely and therefore too his popularity.

A few years ago Example was a refreshing change to the urban, street, faux-gangsters – whatever you choose to call them, who seem to dominate the scene and now he is just another pop singer (he raps less on new material,) on a pre-album tour. Scanning the audience I see that the average punter is under 18 and I am gripped by the premonition of how banal this whole experience may possible get.

As the opening act begin playing my worst fears all come true. The opening act was possibly the worst thing I have ever heard in my life and I don't just mean music, I am including the sound of animals being tortured or hearing my grandparents having sex. To even mention their name would be to publicise them far more then they deserve and I pray their careers in the music industry are as short as possible.

My nausea subsides as the support leaves and Example hits the stage. The energy that carried performances earlier in his career are still there and he quickly gets the crowd bouncing happily along with him although there is something vaguely depressing about watching a man approaching thirty with an expanding gut bounce about for kids in the name of fortune and fame but the adoring teeny boppers are certainly putty in his hands.

One of his early singles, 'Me and Mandy' is quickly pulled out and supported by audience participation on the chorus. As fantastic as this track is the night was never going to be about the old tunes. Tonight is about 'Watch The Sun Come Up' and 'Won't Go Quietly' and whilst the sound quality leaves a little to be desired and the vocal quality is compromised by Example's endless bouncing they are infectious feel good songs that I can't help but like for what they are.

'Dirty Face' finds its way into the set, with it's old school rave sound it bridges the gap between the old Example and the new with its riotous stabs and hard bass-line but when contrasted with the new single 'Kickstarts' it just makes his new single seem weak, a dull run of the mill pop song, which lacks Example's personality – it really could be sung by anyone - and in this instance, live, the bad sound quality on the vocals improves the song slightly as the dreadfully bland lyrics are obscured.

'Hooligans' is the finale, easily the best of his new material and is set to be a future single that will be a hit on the dance scene. Whilst Example works the best possible finish with his new material I am left feeling confused about where I stand with it. To listen to his recent music on the radio is fine but live I feel a little alienated – not because I don't like dance music, I do – but because I feel like he is throwing a party that he want kids to attend and I just gate-crashed.

Example is going to get even bigger this year, that much is certain. However, he has transformed himself from being one of the saving graces of UK rap that I have encouraged friends to listen to, into one of my guilty pleasures that I will listen to in privacy, its all so very disappointing.

article by: Richard Potter

published: 21/05/2010 09:04


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