PJ Hopper – Not Your Daddy

A few of us went on a trip to Leeds to see ‘The Streets’. For Richard, it was a chance to revisit his old University stomping ground and to mournfully observe at every opportunity that the price of a pint had quadrupled in the Students Union since when he was last here. For the rest of us, it was a chance to see Mike Skinner play live; we’d regained a love for dance music on the back of ‘Original Pirate Material’ and really ‘understood’ the recently released ‘A Grand Don’t Come For Free’. For a while, we felt fresh and cool again at the prospect of what was to come.

And then we went inside the venue. As the doors opened, we all gasped in unison at what greeted us. A sea of excitable young people with their lives ahead of them clamoured in huddles coolly moving to the DJs dance beats. “It’s a bit loud“, said Kate observing what we didn’t want to notice. “We’re the eldest here by a generation“, said Richard as a precursor to a Grime beat banged out.

If I recall correctly (my memory isn’t what it once was), that was the night that our ‘Dad corner’ was formed. Typically, towards the back of any live venue and definitely at the side, this is the safe space for adults who are now past their prime. Should the venue have seats those in the Dad corner wouldn’t take them because we’re still ‘young enough for our legs to function’ but we’re also realistic enough to know that just a minute in the mosh pit would likely put us out of action for months. We look on enviously at the fun others are having whilst we sway gently from side to side.


My sense is that PJ Hopper won’t be joining us in the ‘Dad corner’ anytime soon. And that’s not simply because venues and clubs remain shut for the foreseeable. In his playful, carefree and bloody brilliant ‘dance’ track, ‘Not Your Daddy’, PJ proudly announces with baritone authority that he can still cut it, throw the shapes and party with the new kids on the block. 

“You’d best not consign me to my rocking chair before my time“, says PJ, in the accompanying press release. “You’d be better off coming along for the ride – I might just teach you a thing or two.

Inspired by nights out at the legendary Heaven nightclub and an observation that the younger guys in the crowd were approaching PJ with increasing regularity, this is his fun response. From the off, ‘Not Your Daddy’ gets me smiling. It’s dark-cheese, slightly smoky and delightfully fluffy. These are tough times and PJ offers up some temporary respite from it all.

As an added bonus – and it needs to be said – PJ shows in his E-mail communications to me that he’s a decidedly thoughtful and caring man. I fully understand why other acts will use those E-mails to talk about themselves (and don’t blame them at all) and yet PJ ended his first E-mail to me with “hope you’ve got some good people watching out for you and keeping you sane.”. That touched me.

PJ Hopper’s humility shines through. We’ll get him in the Dad corner yet. 

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.

Highasakite – Heaven – February 28th 2019

Norwegians are cool. I formed this sweeping generalisation of an opinion over the last year. Back at Eurovision in Lisbon (here), I met three in particular who just seemed to accept, with little notion of the sniffiness that often attaches itself to your typical British Eurovision outlook, that some of the cheesy electro-pop tunes and glorious ballads on offer are sometimes special. 


It might seem like a logical leap to some but the coolness of Norwegians is a thought that I ponder whilst watching Highasakite at Heaven on Thursday night. For this is a show, and I imply no criticism by this, that oozes Eurovision. 

It helps that every song sung by Ingrid and Trond and the rest of their troupe is a douze pointer; whether it’s upbeat banger or stylised ballad, the tunes are allowed to stand out here amongst the highest of production values. 

There’s theatre – I miss the skull and beating heart entrance because I’m in a queue for beer but can’t help approving as contours fizz in a graphic display behind the band. When the light show really gets going and the costume changes hit full flow (the red leather is discarded with) you see the sense in scheduling this slinky swagger of a show at Heaven, this most iconic of clubs nestling in the arches beneath Charing Cross station. 

The first show on Highasakite’s Uranium Heart tour is a triumph; roots tangle, veins do what veins do and the arteries block to point of explosion as the beating heart clogs with uranium. 

They sound so much better live than on record’, is the general tone of conversation as we file on out. 

And you have to concede that there’s something in that line of thought. 

In terms of music, I choose the Norway option..