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. 

For Those I Love – I Have A Love

I’ve headed to Alicante for the weekend. Regular readers of Sonic Breakfast will know that this is my happy place. I love the solitude that I get from the villa out in the country but need the buzz of a city from time to time. 

And Alicante gives me that even if the 2020 version is a muted and mutated version of what has gone before. I walked down the esplanade en route to my hotel yesterday and had it all to myself. The hotelier tells me that he might only have money for a couple of weeks more trading. These are desperate times. 

But last night out in the old town I sat under the stars and watched the world go by. There was still an energetic and contagious buzz; we remembered how to smile and laugh amidst the infectious giggles. 

I headed back to my hotel and listened to a piece of music that totally knocked me sideways. I’ve now watched this video a dozen times on repeat and I plan to watch it a dozen times more. 

I remember the very first time I listened to Original Pirate Material by The Streets. Mike Skinner introduced himself as a talent to behold with his gritty, humorous observations about working class life in Birmingham and I adored it. For Those I Love achieve something similar, albeit working class life in Dublin, with this track I have a love’. I can pay no greater compliment. 

For Those I Love is the life project of Dave Balfe. He wrote this piece to honour the memory of his best friend and former band mate, Paul Curran, who died suddenly a couple of years back. In one fell swoop, the beautiful, observational spoken-word poetry builds over a growing electronica swarm to establish a more than fitting tribute for a friend. The video, laced with footage from their friendship, manages to be both beautiful and sad. I defy anyone watching to not feel the lump in the throat as the song builds to its point of no return. 

 

 

Dave puts it better than I ever could when he says, “When it happened, and life froze over, the only way out was through the songs.
How else can I show my love, how else can I remember what we had and what we made, but through the art itself.”