Example – Southampton Guildhall 16/3/2011

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Example has been branded as somewhat of a “cross-over” artist; his second studio album Won’t Go Quietly impressed his hip-hop-loving fans and the indie contingent, as well as setting the charts alight. This is well demonstrated by the variety of people in his audience. Most acts performing at the Guildhall will look into the crowd and first witness the dedicated obsessives, pinned against the barrier and mouthing every word. Then there are the jumpers, moshers and headbangers, excitable boys driven only by the desire to bounce. Beyond these are the chin-strokers, closely inspecting the intricacies of the guitarist’s pedals. However, Example seems to have attracted an oft-ignored market to his concerts: actual genuine human female women.

The first support act was the devastatingly young Ed Sheeran, who charmed the crowd into submission. He was followed by the up-and-coming rapper Wretch 32, whose tight set was somewhat marred by a confusing cover of a song by Irish noise-polluters The Script. Example and his band began their set with an energetic version of ‘Last Ones Standing’, met with cheers from a well-warmed up audience. The real party began when he unleashed ‘Holligans’, featuring the line “We came/We saw/We killed the crowd”. A mosh pit which could rival those of Rage Against the Machine ensued and refused to subside until Example left the stage.

While encouraging the faux-violent yet love-filled mosh pits, Example’s performance was also met with excitable screeches from enamoured young ladies. It takes quite a masterful performer to perform the balancing act of creating something that produces hysteria from both groups, and at times the London-born rapper resembled seasoned performer Tom Jones. By which of course I mean Example celebrated a “new record” haul of 28 bras thrown onto his stage. He informed the underwear-chuckers that they could collect their garments backstage afterwards – charming.

Absent as always on this tour was any material from his first album What We Made, which seems to have been sidelined completely, in keeping with Example’s image as an electro-pop maestro. What we are treated to, in addition to all the hits from his sophomore album, is his dubstep-tinged collaboration with Skream: ‘Shot Yourself in the Foot Again’. This was met with an incredible reception, as was the unveiling of new single ‘Changed the Way You Kiss Me’, taken from his forthcoming album Playing in the Shadows, scheduled for a September release.

Included in Example’s blistering encore was ‘Unorthodox’, a new collaboration with support act Wretch 32 featuring a sample of the riff from The Stone Roses’ classic ‘Fools Gold’. Alongside this unfamiliar territory were the ubiquitous singles ‘Watch the Sun Come Up’ and ‘Kickstarts’, both ensuring that any energy the audience had left was spent by the end of the gig.

Example gave a brilliantly measured performance, reaching the different members of his audience in different ways. He wheeled out the hits alongside new material and kept the crowd entertained throughout. Example is undoubtedly a fantastic performer, and tonight he gave his all. He came, he saw, he killed the crowd.

9/10

Good: A charismatic, slick and energetic performance – a real crowd-pleaser.

Bad: The Guildhall is quite an echoey venue, but this only really caused trouble for the support acts, when there were fewer fans to soak up the noise.

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