Jon Hopkins at the Fortune Sound Club, Vancouver

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I will admit to ambivalence about electronica. I love the rich, inventive textures through headphones, and its capacity to evince soul from technology is a true feat. But the concerts seem tilted to dance beats and the crowds seem to want what the individual listener does not. I have to accept that I am at more of a party than the albums might portend.

Jon Hopkins, the Mercury-nominated musician and producer, brought the decisively aggressive, peripatetic part of his catalogue and repertoire to his show at the Fortune Sound Club. His was in that exceptional echelon of musician-as-orchestra, with a bank of equipment bearing deep reservoirs of beats and patterns, just within a boundary of accessibility but prepared to play and stray. The opening act, Clark, was a good warm-up, but the moment Hopkins occupied the stage, it took the game up several levels.

Hopkins started, performed and finished without personal flourish. There was little if any egging on the audience, indeed little acknowledgment at all that he was generating this linear and lush but elastic sound for people out there. But it was a warm event, primarily because there is character in Hopkins’ music and an inherent emotional connection in what he creates.

A club is no place to hear his wonderful collaborations with Brian Eno or King Creosote, but it was helpful to know his history of nuance as context for a much more garrulous performance propelled by his recent album, Immunity.

The principal complaint of Hopkins’ work has been its occasionally off-putting, destabilizing detours, but I didn’t get much lost or unsettled in the set. There was a coherence in his activity, even if there was clear innovation and enterprise in the selections and their generation, even if at times I wanted to retreat to the headphones to be reminded of what he can do with less bombast.

(Photo courtesy Miro Cernetig)

Kirk LaPointe
Beatles in concert at six, first Pink Floyd album at nine, Hendrix in concert at 10, pretty hard to shake that.

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