G4 celebrate 20 years with Eastbourne date and new album

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Can it really be 20 years since G4 sang Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody on The X Factor?

Apparently it is – and they are celebrating with a brand-new album entitled simply 20 released on April 12, plus a major tour which offers dates including June 15 at Eastbourne’s Devonshire Park; and September 27 at Horsham’s Capitol.

At the heart of it all, just as he has been from the start, is former Bognor and Chichester schoolboy, founder member Jonathan Ansell (high tenor/lead vocals) who heads the band with fellow G4 original Mike Christie (baritone). 20 is their first album with Duncan Sandilands (bass) and new recruit Jai McDowall (tenor), who won Britain’s Got Talent in 2011.

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Jonathan still can’t quite believe it has been two decades since those X Factor days: “It’s frightening but every time I look in the mirror, I am reminded that yes, it actually is 20 years! It's amazing to think that we've been doing it that long and actually even longer because we formed prior to The X Factor. It was 18 months before The X Factor that the journey actually began and we are still here.

G4 - Jonathan second from right. TazzyBro PhotographyG4 - Jonathan second from right. TazzyBro Photography
G4 - Jonathan second from right. TazzyBro Photography

“As a band we split after three and a half years and disbanded and went our separate ways and I had a new direction as a solo artist and then it was Mike, my fellow original member from the band, who encouraged us to get back together for the tenth anniversary. He was asking if I would be interested and I have to say I was a bit reluctant. I felt it would be a negative step having had a solo career to go back to it but I'm so pleased I did. It was a scary proposition to re-emerge in front of an audience after all that time but the embrace that we had from the audience was just fantastic. We stepped out onto the stage and we were just completely blown away. There was a choir on stage and they just parted and we stood there and the audience just would not stop screaming. We had to stand there for several minutes and just soak it up and embrace the applause. It was super exciting but it was also humbling. And before we even sang a number we knew that this couldn't be a one-off.

“Since the tenth anniversary we have been continuous every year. We do our Christmas tours in cathedrals and we've also done theatre tours. We've had a theatre tour every year since that tenth anniversary and we just love doing it.

“It has been half of my life! But I still literally can't believe that it has happened. We ended up entering X Factor as a bit of fun to see what Simon Cowell thought and whether we could get a quote that we could put on our college poster and manage to get a few more people in to come and see us but all of a sudden we were getting the most incredible reaction and having the most wonderful time.”

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But maybe the biggest achievement is to have lasted the course – given that so many acts burn very brightly and then disappear: “I would like to think that we've done that by remaining true to ourselves and also not being afraid to push the boundaries. We have never conformed. No one's ever been quite sure where to put our music within the racks and even now on the streaming platforms we're still not quite sure where to align ourselves. We have remained non conformers. But we were there right at the forefront of the classical pop crossover and there were very few of us at that point in time. But ever since then we've continued to break down the barriers and to be our own people. The dream was always to make music and just to continue to make music and to entertain people and to energise people.”