Live Music + Gig Reviews

Jon Hopkins @ Brixton Academy, London

24 April 2015

Jon Hopkins For the last two years, Jon Hopkins has been on what has almost been akin to an extended victory lap; his fantastic 2013 record, Immunity, has been celebrated in live settings with an accompanying audiovisual experience. Every time he has graced the capital with his presence, his shows have been sell outs. From the usual electronica-friendly venues like Village Underground to all-seated auditoriums like the Royal Festival Hall, he’s left audiences buzzing.

Billed as the final tour show for Immunity, this grand finale at Brixton Academy definitely feels like the culmination of Hopkins’ most successful chapter of his career to date. For those who missed out the first time around (or the second time, or third), this is a final opportunity to discover what it is that has had fans and critics using all kinds of superlatives.

The anticipation in the room is electric. As the big screen that towers above the decks bursts into life, a huge roar erupts, and Hopkins, purposely dimly-let so as not to take any attention away from the sound and visuals, shuffles quietly onto the stage. From there on in, the show is a gradual slow build that eventually turns into something that’s assured and joyous.

Sticking mainly to cuts from Immunity and 2009 album Insides, he veers from tranquillity to rowdy with aplomb. What quickly becomes apparent is that, no matter whatever the basis of the music – contemplative piano chords, clunking industrial, calming synths and beats that rise and fall in intensity throughout – the atmosphere is otherworldly. Breathe This Air and Colour Eye are both early highlights and, in the case of the latter, the beats he employs are as brutal as the strobes that come out of nowhere. The sight of Hopkins forcefully hitting synth pads with the palms of his hands, despite the simplicity, is something to behold, especially given that he looks, from a distance, like a silhouette that moves in and out of sight.

All the hard work that has been done beforehand paves the way for a breathtaking final half-an-hour. Collider, one of Immunity’s high points, fluctuates between moodiness and euphoria over the course of a few glorious minutes. By comparison, Light Through The Veins is uncomplicated but no less effective, especially when you happen to be backed by hula hoop artists and lasers.

All of a sudden, it’s all over, with Hopkins taking a final, well-deserved bow before disappearing behind the curtain. Even though the spell is broken once the house lights come up, this dreamy and immersive live show will linger long in the memory. Hopkins is next working on a soundtrack for the upcoming stage production of Hamlet at the Barbican, but hopefully it won’t be too long before he’s back on the road again. This is truly original dance music, well deserving of that extended victory lap.

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Jon Hopkins @ Brixton Academy, London