Review: Jon Hopkins - Boiler Shop, Nov 17th

Rory Cameron shares his experience seeing the cosmic sounds of Jon Hopkins come to life...

Rory Cameron
28th November 2018
Photo Credit: Kmeron (Flickr)

It’s around 9pm on Saturday night in Newcastle, in the centre of town. The temperature has dropped, but the night is just getting warmed up, as throngs of people dressed to the nines make their way between the first few bars of the night. Some are already slumped by the wayside, next to regurgitated puddles of their dinner. Tight shirts, bodycon dresses and fake tan is the aesthetic of choice for these revellers. Not so, however, is the case at a small enclave just behind the train station, where a myriad of casually dressed young; old; edgy; goth; gurning; tripping people have gathered.

Boiler Shop is perhaps best known for hosting rowdy Bongos Bingo nights, and occasionally bringing in big artists who want to play a large, central Newcastle venue, but want to avoid the sub-par speaker systems of the o2 Academy. Tonight’s audience was a testament to the diversity of Newcastle, in the sheer variety those who had come to bear witness to one of the most revered names in electronic music right now, unified by the profound, cosmic sounds of Jon Hopkins.

The strength of both previous albums and film soundtracks produced by the Kingston-upon-Thames born artist certainly boded well, as did his live performances. But how would the crowd react to the off-centre stage squeezed into the corner of the room, the enormous queues for the toilet, and £4+ pints?

Hopkins opened with 'Singularity', from his latest album of the same name to enormous cheers from the crowd - who were quickly swept up by the arching rhythms and looping electronic harmonies - dancing and climbing onto others’ shoulders from the get-go. The sound system coped more than adequately with the complexity of the melodies, thumping bass, and distorted crackling produced by the former concert pianist. Whilst there was not much in the way of a light show offered by the venue, an enormous screen presented dancers with fantastic visuals, choreographed specifically for each song, ranging from galactic images, beautiful animations of nighttime woodland scenes, vibrant moving geometric shapes.

A brief lull was quickly overcome early on in the set, in which the majority of the tracks played came from this years stunning album Singularity, and many more from the brilliant Immunity. Just over an hour into the set, Hopkins left the stage and mild alarm swept through the audience that the night was already done, only for him to return for an encore of over 30 minutes, where he played more of his own material, as well as his notable remix of Disclosure’s 'Magnets'. During this encore, many fear remained that each track would be his last, with the crowd effectively whipped up by skilfully mixed keeping the atmosphere electric, and everyone on their feet.

But all good things must come to an end, and Hopkins eventually left the stage to unanimous cheers and applause from the dancing faithful. Overall, an excellent performance, which all strangers alike agreed upon as they filtered back out into the night. And yet, you can’t help but feel if Newcastle had a more enclosed and intimate venue, the night would have improved it even further. Hopkins is on tour for the next few months, I highly recommend anyone who can get tickets to another event to do so.

4 out of 5 stars

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