Live review: Jon Hopkins at The Art School, 28/2/14

_MG_2807The old Vic, a staple in the Glasgow student circuit only recently opened back up to the general public after a three-year overstay at Glasgow venue Capitol (now the Beresford Lounge) while the revamping of The Art School was underway.

Midnight is looming and the venue is absolutely jam-packed with a vast majority of nocturnal bodies all trying to conquer three flights of stairs to reach the top floor in mere anticipation of some organic induced ambience.


All with the same, incessantly gyrating, intentions of seeing the somewhat elusive Mercury nominee Jon Hopkins perform his live set as part of the Berlin-based Leisure System nights.

Hopkins’ producer credentials include film scores [monsters], remixes and collaborations with Brian Eno and Coldplay and have, up until this point, overshadowed his solo work.

Going by this heavier more beat-induced set tonight, his elusiveness seems to be a blessing that has enabled Hopkins to develop as a musician quietly nestled in the background, while getting on with his producing duties.

His work can be looked at in consecutive increments of developmental stages charting his progressiveness through his studio recordings.

Each album displaying different nuances, elements and idiosyncrasies of what could be described as a prophetical conglomeration of what was to become Immunity.

Hopkins tweaks and twiddles; rotates and finger-spins meticulously at infinitesimal knobs and LED units, which offer an array of mangling and warped cacophonies to build upon already industrious beats.

Occasionally he glances up toward the crowd to offer a wave of appreciation to which he is responded with bountiful roars, whistles and applause.

Limits have no bounds tonight, which is helped by the augmentation of Hopkins installing his own PA system as an additional acquirement to meet full audio-assaulting capabilities.

His personally set up lair of technological wizardry in which, one can presumably imagine, is more than likely a place antonymous with the average individuals’ living room.


But for Hopkins, his studio is but a humble domain where he spends most of his time, sampling the naturalistic organically audible aspects of everyday life.

It is due to the fact he Hopkins is inspired by the normalcies of everyday life, that a sense of realism is displayed on Immunity. 

Thus, using a copiousness of naturally collected sound samples, such as Olympic Ceremony fireworks, which were imprisoned, decelerated and modified to sound like the haunting reverberations of a distant battlefield.

As well as NYC-hotel water pipes; light reflecting off the surface of the Thames at certain times of the year, and lorry reversing alarms that offers more depth and scope to the audible landscape.

The whole set is spectacular with many standout tracks including the spectacular ‘Light Through The Veins’, which is converted into an up-tempo, ambient powerhouse of anthemic proportions – soul destroying stuff.

It is due to Hopkin’s work ethic and attention to detail that he is able to connect with the crowd on a more personal level.

There is a connection; a feeling of knowingness, that is only experienced through witnessing him perform live that is all too often missing from other live DJ sets.

Tonight’s performance is spot-on, and a live set not to be missed.

More photos

Words: Derek Robertson
Photos: Jayjay Robertson


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