Having developed from rapper to singer, from mixtape to number one album and from home-made label to Ministry of Sound, Example has deservedly moved from the Academy 2 a few years back into the Guild’s Mountford Hall and is bigger and better.
The crowds have grown too, the mass appeal of Example’s sound has brought kids and parents, packs of girls teetering around on improbable heels like bambi on ice and old clubbers jawing like it was Creamfields. Must be something in the water.
Cracking intro songs set the tone on his latest two albums and his most recent – Skies Don’t Lie – quickly primes the crowd, showing of his lyrical ability and hip hop roots.
After that the show flies by with packed crowd mirroring Examples euphoria, a personal highlight was the latest album’s title track, Playing in the Shadows – featured Batman Arkham City videogame ad – is dark and dubby and possibly the first time I’ve ever noticed the stage’s speaker stacks swaying under the vibration of bass being pumped out.
It’s testament to Examples vocals that he can still cut through this with ease, however the first song of the encore, Microphone, has the potential to provide next year’s gigs with its lighters in the air moment. Though I am looking forward to seeing thousands bouncing in the same way they did at the Guild for Hooligans or Kickstarts where, as instructed, I did pick up the person next to me and “go fucking mental”. How the bambi girls ankles coped I’ll never know.
As the night ended with his first number one, Changed The Way You Kissed Me, I reflected on the changes I’ve seen watching Example for the last few years. The current show is like a rock gig with a rapper singing over classic dance tunes with dubstep beats – and will no doubt develop even further into a great arena tour.
This year I’ve had the pleasure of watching what I consider some of my favourite shows in a variety of genres and mediums and the common theme was an observable evolution. If you want to be the best at what you do then you have to work hard, adapt and evolve, and if you get to see this happen then you are truly lucky.