I was introduced to electronic producer Jon Hopkins by a friend who shares my fantastic taste in music and described him as a ‘creator of musical landscapes.’ I didn’t instantly take to the repetitive beats and house influences, but there were elements in his music that were far more sophisticated than the average dance music and it grew on me – a lot! Referred to by The Guardian as ‘the next Brian Eno’, last year’s Mercury-nominated album Immunity is widely regarded as a landmark in electronic music.
So when I saw his date at the Dome in December, I quickly snapped up tickets for said friend as a birthday present, which she was rather excited about, to say the least. We then had to wait two long months until the day finally came and after a tasty meal at Pompoko, we made our way to the Dome bar, where we had no choice but to drink wine out of plastic pints. Looking around us, we commented on the mixture of people, reflecting his unexpected broad appeal.We found our seats high up in circle right, flanked by a child and a couple in their sixties, reflecting his unexpectedly broad appeal.
A huge applause enveloped the room as Jon casually walked on stage, dressed down in white t-shirt, jeans and trainers and began twiddling his buttons and knobs to produce an instrumental take on We Disappear, the opening track from last year’s Immunity album. Each beat was synchronised with visuals on a huge screen behind him, completely engrossing the appreciative and very vocal audience, with shouts of “we love you, Jon”, ringing out from various quarters, including ours! Unfortunately, a group of people further down continued to chat through the next track and were promptly told to ‘shut up’ by a man in front of them. Then a couple behind us piped up and were given a thorough vocal drubbing by another audience member. The music demands to be properly listened to and people take it seriously.
At intervals, Hopkins was joined by the guitarist Leo Abrahams and Grammy-winning string arranger Davide Rossi to play beautifully sublime pieces from his three film scores and other collaborations on a grand piano, demonstrating his musicianship and wide-ranging talent. The visuals went from cosmic travel, to the slightly disturbing video for Collider, featuring a girl dancing jerkily, off her face in the early hours at some sort of warehouse party, and gradually built up to the brilliant video for Open Eye Signal, featuring a boy skateboarding on a long, straight road through changing times of day and landscapes. As the steadily building beat took hold, a ripple of movement began from the bottom front row all the way back to the top circle, until almost the entire Dome was on its feet, dancing hypnotically and irresistibly.
There is something of the alchemist about Hopkins, as he bridges the gap between classical music and techno to ‘create a unique brand of super sophisticated dance music.’ If I wasn’t totally convinced when I first heard his music, I am now a convert. This guy is in a league of his own.