Jon Hopkins // O2 Academy Leeds // 1.3.19
Coming off the back of last year’s release Singularity, Jon Hopkins is set for another UK Tour. I was lucky enough to see him kick off of this new string of dates at Leeds’ o2 Academy. Not long after doors opened, the venue was filling up the impressively sized open spaced floor fast. Before Hopkins took to the stage a DJ was getting the crowd ready, playing a familiar style of House and IDM beats while the drinks were starting to flow. The minimal stage set up included some laptops, lights, and that was it. By the time the DJ stopped the crowd was a buzz waiting for Hopkins to make his appearance, it was late already and we couldn’t wait any longer.
For those who have never listened to Hopkins, his music walks a thin line between super engaging rhythmic beats and an emotional beauty found in all the best electronic music. For those who do know Hopkins, his live show is everything you’ve imagined and more. Once on the stage, he kicks things off by playing the first four songs from Singularity back to back. The opening title track immediately gets everyone moving with it’s slow swelling synths lines and solid drum beat. The light show behind the stage also gets set in motion with beautiful geometric patterns growing and collapsing in time with the beat, giving you something to focus on as the music fills your soul. After a smooth transition ‘Emerald Rush’ takes over, its stuttering beat and progression making it a weird song to dance to, but everyone does anyway.
After the start of Singularity fades away the crowd explodes in cheers as we’re treated to the lead single ‘Open Eye Signal’ off Hopkins previous release Immunity. This is my favourite song by Hopkins and it absolutely lives up to expectations live. It perfectly encapsulates what makes Hopkins live so great: his control of tension. He builds up and releases these songs in such a masterful way to make the live show a whole new experience, even for someone who’s memorised every song. Hopkins ends the first part of his set; the crowd is sweaty and tired after an amazing hour of music and lights— which was impossible not to dance to every second of.
But Hopkins isn’t done yet, he comes back for an encore of two remixes and an old deep cut. This encore takes the night to another plane. The second song, Hopkins’ remix of ‘Two Dancers’ steals the show. It totally blew me away with its fun, loud synths, the tension building so high I could physically feel it before Hopkins exploded into the final phase of the song. This encore was Hopkins’ opportunity to let loose and show us the power an incredible producer can have.
The gig ended without Hopkins ever saying a word; the energy he conveyed through the music and show said more than enough. If you get the chance to see Hopkins this tour I would absolutely not miss it, you’re in for a sonic and spiritual treat as he takes you away for the night.