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.