Photo by Steve Gullick

Photo by Steve Gullick

– GORILLA, MANCHESTER –

I’m a little dubious about tonight’s gig at Gorilla, the main reason being that Jon Hopkins’ recent Mercury Prize nominated album ‘Immunity’ has been played to death since I got hold of it a few months ago and I’ve never listened to it with anyone else around. For me the whole album feels like I’ve broken into Hopkins’ house and bugged it. Right from off it’s as if I’m sneakily listening in to something very private and personal. So for 700 people to be packed into the venue to hear him play is almost like mass voyeurism. Another thing playing on mind is whether tonight’s gig will amend the way I hear the album afterwards.

As I open the door at the end of corridor into Gorilla’s arched venue space I’m hit by a hellish wall of searing heat. This accompanied with the loud dance music from the intermediate DJ it’s almost as if on one side of the door it’s just before 10pm on a Tuesday night, and on the other, 2am on a Saturday morning at some super club like Cream in its heyday. It’s rammed, heaving and sweaty.

I grab a good spot down the side right near the stage and all that’s in front of me is a bunch of teens, probably freshers, dancing around waving glowsticks. Have I misinterpreted everything I’ve heard on this album, or have they? Well we’re just about to find out, as it’s dead on 10 o’clock as Hopkins enters the stage.

There’s just a table with his gadgets, gizmos and laptop between us and him as the large screen slowly lowers behind him for the visuals to be beamed onto. After a short intro the sparse piano of  ‘Breathe This Air’ rolls in to a welcoming cheer from the crowd. It’s subdued and the glowsticks are thankfully lowered as the haunting melody gently waves over everyone.

Hopkins has his head firmly facing down and is concentrating hard on twiddling knobs and hitting pads and adding extra distorted squeals and Aphex Twin-esque sounds to pretty much the first half of the album. But the second half of the album is a different animal. So, from ‘Abandon Window’ onwards, instead of pacing things down a little, he keeps the momentum going and builds on what he has started, and the glowsticks are back out again. Apart from a small technical problem where the sound completely cuts out the rest of the set is relentless. The visuals throughout aren’t much to write home about, especially as the gig has been billed as an audio/visual show. Some are quite good, but the majority are pretty basic at best, but everyone’s eyes have been on a studious Hopkins for the full hour.

My earlier qualms have been put to bed, as tonight’s show added a layer of brutality to the sophistication of what is my favourite album of the year so far. The gig and album are two very separate entities and Hopkins has mastered both to perfection, neither impinges or distracts from the other.

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Simon Zaccagni

‘Accidental Editor’ None of this was planned; I’ve never been in a band, never been part of the ‘music scene’ and never expected to be the gaffer of a music website with loads of dedicated music loving writers. I bought my first record when I was 8 and haven’t stopped buying since. I love crate digging for bizarre and weird stuff, but equally happy ploughing through press releases looking/listening for something I’ve never heard before.