Tens of thousands of fans flocked to the main stage for Example’s incendiary set at V Festival in Chelmsford and Stafford – when he opened for US superstar Justin Timberlake – and hailed him a hero.
If that overwhelming reaction is anything to go by; they will be the hottest tickets in town for his 27-date UK tour in October and November this year.
The British rapper, singer, songwriter and producer sold out arenas all over the UK on his last two tours. But this time he wants to get up close and personal at much smaller venues.
What’s more, Elliot John Gleave aka Example (his initials EG gave him his stage name) personally chose each venue, town and city he will visit. Quite a few of the venues he has never played before, keen to make sure people did not have to travel too far to see him. He was also conscious that on previous tours there were corners of Britain that missed out.
“We could go back and do arenas, but I thought rather than do that, let’s put the effort in and do a proper old school tour. I think there are about ten venues I have never played before; bearing in mind I have been touring since 2004 and have done probably 2,000 shows.
“It’s going to be pretty exciting. It’s all about hitting up every part of the country. There’s certain people who just can’t afford to travel to gigs, so it’s nice they can just get the bus or walk down to the place.”
So how does the 32-year-old prepare for a gruelling trek around the UK scheduled across two months? “I am always flying from one place to another. In July I did 23 gigs in 30 days and took 27 flights. If I get two months off, which is very rare, I’ll get in and rehearse with the band, but in general I like to keep fit; because 90 minutes on stage four or five times a week, you have to be fit for that.
“I do vocal warm-ups and stretches, because I injured myself a few years ago and had to cancel a load of gigs.” Back in September 2012, he tore his Achilles tendon and on doctor’s orders was forced to rest; wearing a brace on his lower leg and foot and applying ice packs six times a day for two weeks. These days, he takes fitness seriously, as a performer who explodes into life under that spotlight, totally focused on being fighting fit for the Autumn tour.
He also reveals that all night drinking sessions and crazy partying for him and his band are not on the agenda during this tour. “We don’t really get too drunk; but we might open a bottle of whisky and have a sip each. We call it ‘band prayer!’ But we don’t do anything outlandish or outrageous these days.”
He relishes the chance to be able to see the faces of his fans at these shows, compared to the huge arena shows where he can be a good distance away from most of the crowd.
“When I go overseas, I am not as big in certain countries as I am in the UK, so you end up playing in front of sometimes 300 to 800 people, and you think, ‘I like being that close to people.’ It is easier to get your energy out to them and that spreads across the venue. You can see everyone’s face, rather than in an arena where someone at the back looks like an ant.”
He promises fans that he is not going to bombard them with obscure songs and loads of new stuff they do not know, and they can be sure that he will be singing all his hits. These will include his two top ten singles from the second studio album “Won’t Go Quietly,” the title track and “Kickstarts,” his two number one singles, “Changed the Way You Kiss Me”and “Stay Awake,” and his chart hits from the current album “Live Life Living,” which was released on 7th July; “All The Wrong Places,” “Kids Again” and “‘One More Day (Stay with Me).”
“I think the key thing for people to remember is; I am not the sort of artist who’s just going to play the whole of a new album. I think you have got to play for the fans. You meet a lot of bands and they do weird shows where they are doing a B-side no one’s ever heard. I think; play all the hits, five or six songs off the new album, and give people what they want
“People paying to see a gig don’t want to hear some weird cover of something or a track released seven years ago that no one bought.”
Example will be backed by his full band and says the shows will be “a spectacular 90 minute show” and “all singing and all dancing,” featuring lasers, flames and lots of lighting effects. But on second thoughts, he adds: “Actually, I don’t know about the dancing! I’m quite bouncy, but I don’t know if that is dancing.”
Back in 1994, 12-year-old Elliot Gleave was challenged to a rap battle at a house party in London by an older boy, and the younger lad won hands down. He studied film directing and started working life in the props department on film sets in Australia where his family live.
At night he made a name for himself as a garage MC. A decade later he was signed by Mike Skinner from The Streets to his label, and with major support from Radio 1, tongues began to wag about him.
When his second album, “Won’t Go Quietly,” dropped in 2010, he broke through to the mainstream; singles “Watch The Sun Come Up,” and “Kickstarts,” were massive summer hits.
Speaking about his current top ten album - his fifth - he reveals it is dedicated to his wife, Australian model and former Neighbours actress Erin McNaught, now Erin Gleave. The title taken from lyrics from one of the tracks, where he is singing about the love of his life. “I don’t want to live life living without you….. It’s quite a romantic album, all about the missus. There’s about five or six tracks which are obviously about the missus, and about being all loved up.”
On 23rd July, Erin announced on Twitter that they are expecting their first child. Example explains how that news has changed his outlook. “The only thing that keeps me going now really is the thrill of being on stage. If I’m totally honest, I have achieved more than I ever thought I would. I am still ambitious, but I think I’ve adjusted my goals purely because I am married now and I’ve got a kid on the way.”
On the new album, he only raps on five verses, unlike previous albums where he has rapped across entire songs. “I don’t really see myself as a rapper. I haven’t done for three or four years now. It doesn’t do justice to all my peers, who are great rappers who make hip hop albums. I am an electronic artist, a singer and I’ve done a lot of production on this album.”
The next single, “10 Million People,” is due for release on 5th October. He said of the track: “10 Million People was written after watching a documentary on early 90’s rave culture. I found this video online where they were interviewing people at an illegal rave. The guy with the microphone said to one of the revellers, ‘surely this whole rave thing is just a fad?’. And the raver replied, ‘well 10 million people can’t be wrong’. It’s my favourite song on the album and feels timeless for me. “
Fri 17 LLANDUDNO VENUE CYMRU ARENA
Sat 18 STOKE VICTORIA HALL
Sun 19 GRIMSBY AUDITORIUM
Tue 21 NEWCASTLE O2 ACADEMY
Wed 22 CARLISLE SANDS CENTRE
Thu 23 YORK BARBICAN
Sat 25 LEEDS O2 ACADEMY
Sun 26 BATH PAVILION
Mon 27 BOURNEMOUTH O2 ACADEMY
Wed 29 NEWPORT CENTRE
Thu 30 PLYMOUTH PAVILION
Sun 02 SOUTHEND CLIFFS PAVILION
Mon 03 MARGATE WINTER GARDENS
Tue 04 FOLKESTONE LEAS CLIFF HALL
Thu 06 EASTBOURNE WINTER GARDENS
Fri 07 NOTTINGHAM ROCK CITY
Sat 08 SHEFFIELD O2 ACADEMY
Mon 10 LEICESTER O2 ACADEMY
Tue 11 PORTSMOUTH GUILDHALL
Thu 13 LONDON O2 ACADEMY BRIXTON
Mon 17 CAMBRIDGE CORN EXCHANGE
Tue 18 NORWICH UEA
Wed 19 LIVERPOOL GUILD OF STUDENTS
Fri 21 BIRMINGHAM O2 ACADEMY
Sun 23 HULL CITY HALL
Tue 25 GLASGOW BARROWLAND
Thu 27 MANCHESTER O2 APOLLO
TICKETS ON SALE FROM 9.00AM FRIDAY 22 AUGUST
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