Jon Hopkins, Opera Playhouse, 6/6/09

It was another damp night in Sydney, and the Brian Eno masterminded Luminous festival was well into proceedings, with performances taking place across the Opera House’s numerous halls and ampitheatres. Jon Hopkins epic electronic musings were being performed with no support act in the Opera Playhouse, a room that would have faintly resembled a glorified cinema if not for the stage and live gear set upon it.

At 9pm sharp, Hopkins casually walked onstage looking like a younger and less sheepish Jonny greenwood, and proceeded to play his entire hour long set over two standalone sampler units, a macbook and little else to assist his aural bombardment. The opener was a chilled out number from his debut “Opalescent”, while most of what followed was rest of the set was predominately concerned with material from his latest offering “Insides”

In a live setting, the heavier moments from “Insides” were, quite frankly bowelshaking, where the more expansive material was striking in contrast. “Light Through The Veins” ebbed and flowed through a truly glorious evolution of shimmering harmony, after which Hopkins was joined by a rather portly gentemen in a fedora after 3 or so songs to manipulate the accompanying visuals. The back end of the set featured material from “Contact Note” – more straightforward jams reminiscent of that classic british drum and bass sound that was popularized by the Prodigy in the 90’s that even saw a few punters abandon their seats to get loose.

The sight of Hopkins at work was truly something to be seen – his extremeties chopped, changed and weaved over his samplers like a pair of copulating serpents as he triggered and manipulated a plethora of sonic landscapes. The novelty soon wore off though, with a few sly grins and the occasional sip from a VB can breaking up the show.

With electronic gigs in general, it gets hard to make the distinction between complete spontaineity and basic recreation of the album. i.e nothing ever seemed out of place at any point during the evening in the way you often find with a standard band oriented show. The guys hands are moving at a million miles an hour, but in reality a large chunk of the material performed was done so by a laptop filled with sounds created by Hopkins in his own time. Perhaps its just a lack of understanding of this genre in a live setting, but there is just something more appealing about seeing a couple of guys (or girls) playing their guitars, singing their hearts out and creating everything live. Then again, both shows are two completely different worlds far removed, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to check out the other side once in a while.

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