Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

Jon Hopkins – Kentish Town Forum, London 22/02/14

24 February 2014, 14:00 | Written by Russell Warfield

Last year’s sensational Immunity mirrored the trajectory of a night out – building to intensity throughout its first half, before warming down and spacing out on its second. Throughout a series of increasingly brilliant live shows and performances last year, Jon Hopkins demonstrated how more reflective electronics can be incorporated into bona fide club sets. Tonight, he’s back for a victory lap in an absolutely packed Kentish Town Forum, bringing a newly developed audio-visual production.

Frankly, the audio-visual element of the show might have been overstated in the show’s promotion. Essentially, the visual components amount to projections of music videos behind Hopkins, and splashes of strobes on the drops. But that’s not to say it isn’t an effective device – especially some of the lighting cues, really bringing the euphoria to the point of electricity, and making some of Hopkins’ subtler pay-offs much more impactful.

At its absolute best, it has the effect which was probably intended: creating 3D landscapes through the interaction of lighting and video, drawing you more and more closely into the atmosphere of the music. During these moments, the experience creates a more holistic state of transcendence, helping to carry some of the more meditative stretches of Hopkins’ recent Immunity in the high energy setting of live performance.

But surely hardly anybody came to see Jon Hopkins for a light show. And in terms of delivery of his music, he’s on typically unstoppable form tonight. Unsurprising early highlight “Open Eye Signal” flows like liquid tonight; damming its tension up, before letting the waves cascade across the room. In live performance, Hopkins treats his material with even more subtlety than on record, really teasing out the slow build-up of its initial passages, before letting the first eruption of rhythm explode with joy within your ribcage.

For all its artistry, some of the best moments tonight arrive when Hopkins allows himself to indulge in this more straightforward joy. “Light Through The Veins” acts as a great example of this – using a fixed metronomic kick to build up a feel-good swirl; offset by a simple, looped melody. Building for ten minutes without significant deviation, it’s one of the easier things for the listener to become absorbed in. For all the good things you can say about other passages like the collapsing house of cards of wonk and breakbeat on which Hopkins closes his set, there’s a lot to be said for the moments when Hopkins goes four to the floor.

If there’s one criticism which can be aimed at tonight’s set, it’s that Hopkins arguably misses the golden ratio between his more innovative, chin-stroking material and the immediate gratification of really loud, pulsating, physical music. If you came here to dance tonight, you may have found the set disappointing – or at best, uneven. But Hopkins’ ambition lies far beyond compelling people to just dance, and with albums like Immunity he’s winning the trust of an audience which is appreciative of his vision. His is music for the mind as well as the body, and his live set continues to find him at the top of his game.

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