L’Imperatrice – Heaven – May 2nd 2019

This is how it must feel to be waking up from a coma after five years out of action – or stepping into a parallel universe. 

I consider myself pretty well informed about this world of popular music. So, how can I possibly have been unaware for so long of the French disco phenomenon that is L’Imperatrice? The 1,600 within this sold-out Thursday night at the iconic Heaven know. They mock my ignorance from afar. Or, maybe they’re just mocking my suit. I’ve had to rush straight from a work function. 

L’Imperatrice descend from space to join us under the arches of Charing Cross Station. With their backs initially to the crowd, their opener draws on space travel imagery. Dressed in white with star-trek stripes, you’re immediately aware that this is going to be a spectacle. Lights draw you in. You recall your favourite time ever had in a festival field and observe the similarity to this. Daft Punk might not play live right now but here we have a ready-made alternative. Seriously, it’s that good. 

Maybe tonight is the night to figure out if you’re in heaven”, asks Flore, L’Imperattice’s impeccable singer. Many don’t need to be asked for we already know. It’s impossible not to beam from ear to ear with the joy being created here.

The incredible graphics are playing a part. Disco balls of light and strobe, the earth spins whilst hands are clapped in tune with the beat. And when L’Imperatrice play ‘Vanille Fraise’ we have a summer scene of tennis umpires, clay courts and dodgy moustaches. Sweat-laden headbands spin like golden rings as tennis racquets swipe in time with the beat. God, this is glorious- a show that doffs its cap to retro 70’s sound and imagery whilst still managing to be entirely modern. 


The music is timeless; tunes that have forever been part of your life even though the truth is that this is the first time that you’ve heard them tonight. The groove heads down tried and tested paths; funk, jazz, pop, disco and happy house – a nostalgic soundtrack to your happiest summer ever.

And the images keep on giving. Here we have a grainy collection from when Zidane lifted the World Cup for France. The vocal appears to repeat the mantra that this is your last chance to love. The ascension is glorious as we all proceed to the inevitable lifting of the trophy. Jacques Cousteau gets in on the action; we’re now diving in an underwater world, searching for lost treasures whilst sharks swim in synchronised fashion all around us. It all beats the day job for sure.

I return to earlier thoughts. L’Imperatrice are ready-made headliners of your boutique festival. This would be euphoric in a field as the stars glisten above. Beat-Herder should book them. They’d be a magical fit.  L’Imperatrice – previously unknown in these quarters will not now be overlooked.

LOYAL and Kudu Blue – The Moth Club – Wednesday 20th February 2019

It might only be Wednesday but it feels like a weekend here in Hackney’s Moth Club. The band on stage are ramping up their funky house and my limbs are involuntarily spasming out of control. Yes, I’d love to maintain my cool by standing still with arms folded, maybe just nonchalantly nodding my head in time with the beat. But I’m incapable. This is right up my street. 

LOYAL are the band. Not much is known about them in these quarters aside from the fact that they’re from Brighton. Gigs are sometimes better this way when you have no fixed idea about how a band will sound. 

They start like they’re a deep house Public Service Broadcasting tribute act; but the positive spoken word stuff (Light Up) is barely given time to register before the rest of the band join the lone sampler on stage. Female-fronted singing comes to the fore and for a while it’s like St. Etienne are playing a new track for our delight. 

We’re not far in and after a shuffle of the microphone stands a bearded chap takes to the stage. He’s a smooth soul singer; I might hear that he’s called Shannon but I can’t be sure. Whatever, LOYAL are showing that they’re a collaborative collective. They remind me of somebody.. 

Oh yes, it comes to me in a flash. I genuinely think that over the past twenty years there’s not been many better albums released than those by Bran Van 3000. I adore their collective approach, their crisply produced sound and the way they pass the parcel of vocal responsibility whilst they float between genres. LOYAL are a bit like Bran Van 3000 – this is a massive compliment. 

Before the delights of Loyal, another Brighton-based band, Kudu Blue, warm us up. In the same ilk as LOYAL, this is female-fronted electronic pop, a soulful and jazzy support. There’s moments when I find the singer’s voice a bit too shrill but that’s perhaps because I just want to be soothed tonight. Regardless, there’s enough within this to help you trial your dance moves for the main event.


The venue couldn’t be more appropriate. The Moth Club is all glitzy glamour and gold tinsel. A revamped working man’s club you might be forgiven for wondering when the bingo begins. On the far side of the hall, there’s some lovely red-velvet, half-alcove booths that you can perch in should you need a rest. A sign on the wall warns that ‘children must be off the dance floor by 9.30’. I guess it’s ironic.

LOYAL are taking this disco to another level; the words ‘space between us’ repeat as the crowd draw closer together. They’ve got a new tune out tomorrow we’re told and the band’s hopes are realised when the audience seem to like it. Nobody wants LOYAL’s set to end but we have to honour our workplace commitments tomorrow. 

Is it the weekend yet? 




Delaire – Don’t Move

I’ve left my headphones at work. This is an inconvenience seeing as I’m not now back in the office until Friday. I’ve got a few days of train travel coming up. I really should get a cheap pair for emergencies such as this. 

I had it all worked out when I saw the E-mail hit my inbox today telling me about Delaire’s new single, Don’t Move. Here was a track of shimmering disco funk from the London based songstress. After a day holed up in the office, I planned to do the exact opposite of the instruction in the song title. I’d get home, cook myself some soup and then plug in my headphones for a bit of a silent boogie around the coffee table. I wouldn’t want to disturb my neighbours on a Monday night. 

Delaire’s not an entirely new name to me. In the latter months of 2015, I’d found myself quite taken by her first single, Belief. If I’d have been blogging more back then, I might well have featured the fine, tear down the cheek, atmospheric video that accompanied that tune. You can see from that where the comparisons to the likes of Jessie Ware and London Grammar derive from. 

So, I’ve had to listen to the new single, Don’t Move, through the slightly tinny output of my I-pad. It’s by no means a disaster and I’m still getting the urge to shuffle on my sofa. Any song that begins with the lines  “Jealousy is not for me, I know you’ve seen her more. Her blonde hair, her underwear, I know you’ve seen before” is setting itself up to be a winner in my book.     

Of course, I might have misheard that lyric given my inconvenience. 

As ‘Don’t Move’ progresses, the opening verse of Chic-like funk gives way to a burst of Donna Summeresque disco pop. An imaginary Tina Charles very nearly takes me by the hand and says “Fuck it, you don’t need your headphones to dance around the coffee table to this one Sean”. But Tina’s too polite to swear in such a way. 

And so I remain on my sofa, generally appreciative of Delaire but slightly annoyed that I have no headphones and very aware that I need to put this right.