Live Review: King Creosote and Jon Hopkins @ Lancaster Library

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In a recent interview Kenny Anderson (King Creosote) said that he felt he was “at the pinnacle of my song writing, I don’t know where to go” in relation to his Mercury prize nominated album ‘Diamond Mine’, which was written in collaboration with Jon Hopkins. The regard as to which Anderson holds his recent work could be seen tonight as the album was played from start to finish for the first half of the show. The flawless performance meant this spectacular album was brought to life.

They aptly opened with Start which combined soft piano chords with recorded sounds of a café in Scotland and was surprisingly captivating, something which did not wane throughout the night. This then seemed to flow seamlessly into John Taylor’s Month Away which told the story of ‘John Taylor’ who is forced to work ‘on a ship ten miles north of Aberdeen’. The joy and misery of living a secluded life in Anderson’s small shipping town of Fife in northern Scotland characterises most of the songs on Diamond Mine. It gives the show a humble feeling, the lack of bombast and pretension in the songs is why they have such impact. If only more music could be this soothing yet powerful.

Although the collaboration with primarily electronic musician Jon Hopkins may seem an unlikely one, Hopkins played only with an impressive full size grand piano and accordion, indicative of his classically trained musical past. The pairing of piano and acoustic guitar meant the show had a timeless quality about it. It would still have the same resonance tonight as I could if played in Anderson’s town a hundred years in the past.

After King Creosote and Jon Hopkins had finished playing out Diamond Mine Anderson became more talkative, as opposed to the more subdued state he occupied in the first half of the show. His irreverent humour about older pop icons and the attractiveness of the girls in the crowd seemed to juxtapose entirely the heartfelt melancholy ubiquitous in his songs. Particular highlights were his comments about Sinead O’Connor (‘she’s a boy George lookalike’) and Simon Garfunkel (‘he looks like a man who’s had a sex change and back again’), whose songs would be covered in the show.

Hopkins also played some of his own songs during the second half of the performance. One of the highlights of the show was his piano composition Small Memory which was reminiscent of Aphex Twin’s Avril 14th (later sampled by Kanye West on Blame Game) in its ability to be incredibly moving yet simple with the use of sparse piano chords. My Favourite Girl was a heartfelt ode to his lover with the simple, but earnest repetition of ‘you’re my favourite girl in all the world’ being sung throughout the song.

The cover of Sinead O’Connor ‘Nothing Compares To You’ seemed to sum up the essence of the whole night. The original version of this song is a dramatic ballad about yearning for lost love but King Creosote’s stripped-down reimagining of the song could only bring a smile to one’s face. When he sung the last verse of the song he changed the lyrics to ‘nothing compares to each and every one of you’. This clash between sadness and a hopeful optimistic view of life is a testament to the strength of King Creosote and Jon Hopkins’ musicianship.

The performance tonight was not only beautifully crafted but truly an uplifting experience. Even the relentless cold punch of Lancashire winds which greeted us on the way out couldn’t touch this reviewer’s heart.