Nile Rodgers & Chic – Live Review

Written by Sean Diamond
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Before we begin, some complaints.

Liverpool International Music Festival is clearly run by complete twats. I mean, as if grossly unsanitary toilets and ungodly queues for ridiculously overpriced food and beverages weren’t heinous enough, what kind of absolute grade ‘A’ fucking weapon decides to put De La Soul and a Disco Collective featuring Kathy Sledge on the day AFTER Nile Rodgers & Chic headline? I mean, think about it. Putting those three acts on the same stage together would have made this THE undisputed music event of the summer! It would have sold out in hours! Punters would have flocked from all over the globe to witness such a delicious musical feast, from Barking to Prague to the outer regions of Kuala Lumpur! Whomever came up with such a hare brained cultural (and political) decision should be made to wear a glittery dunce cap, inserted into a confetti filled cannon and blasted into a large vat of toxic waste, never to be allowed anywhere near a music festival bill (or civilization) again. TWATS!

Despite all this, 11 quid for Nile Rodgers & Chic was a deal I couldn’t possible ignore, even if the catch was that they would only play for one hour. Still, better than nothing. Being almost perma-skint meant I had been unable to afford a ticket for their full length set at the M&S arena in town a couple of years ago, so to say I leapt at the chance to see them for peanuts is an understatement. Arriving midday to a blisteringly hot Sefton Park afternoon, I headed to the blissfully tranquil shaded area of the bands stage to catch the calm, cool classicism of local singer-songwriter Bill Nickson and the psyched out medieval troubadour stomp of The Fernweh, before heading to the dance tent for a smouldering, double droppin’ funk/soul/rock/hip/hop DJ set from Soul II Soul legend Jazzie B. Then a quick detour to the big stage for the main event.

Generally regarded as Disco’s greatest band, it’s hard to imagine a musical landscape without Chic. As well as pretty much introducing the culture of sampling to the mainstream, after The Sugarhill Gang sampled their megahit ‘Good Times’ for Hip Hop’s first big single, ‘Rapper’s Delight’, it’s estimated that Nile Rodgers alone has been responsible for a staggering 4 billion dollars’ worth of music, including production work on blockbuster albums such as David Bowie’s ‘Let’s Dance’ and Madonna’s ‘Like A Virgin’, and Duran Duran’s hit single ‘The Reflex.’ He also wrote Sister Sledge’s hit album ‘We Are Family’ and Diana Ross’s best-selling 1980 album ‘Diana’, sharing production duties on these releases with the late Bernard Edwards, Chic’s bassist and chief musical collaborator, as The Chic Organization. A huge selling 2013 collaboration with Daft Punk, ‘Get Lucky’, put Rodgers back at the centre of the public eye; since then he’s been touring non-stop and recording new music, releasing the album ‘It’s About Time’ last year.

Arriving to the stage clad in trademark oversized sunglasses, a silver glittery suit and immaculately polished black shoes, Rodgers holds a masterclass in commanding the attention of the assembled crowd. An opening trio of ‘Chic Cheer’, ‘Dance, Dance, Dance’ (with the first incendiary moment of the set coming with the battle cry of ‘Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah’ courtesy of Rodgers) and ‘Everybody Dance’ manage to blow the cobwebs away despite some minor sound problems. It’s a breathtakingly intense rendition of ‘I Want Your Love’, though, which really gets the set started. Vocalists Kimberly Davis and Folami take the lead on much of the set, Davis’s thunderous gospel voice shining particularly brightly on a joyful rendition of ‘He’s The Greatest Dancer’ and the Ross classics ‘Upside Down’ and ‘I’m Coming Out.’ Although stepping into Diana Ross’s shoes is a next to impossible task, being a singer who puts so much character into her songs that they can only be her own, no one else’s (she famously had the ‘Diana’ album re-recorded on the basis that it sounded too much like a Chic album rather than a Diana Ross one), it’s hard not to be swayed by the sheer force of Davis’s voice.

Once the hour is nearly up, with ‘Le Freak’ still sounding genuinely revolutionary and daring, and with an obligatory stage invasion of carnival attired dancers and audience members for ‘Good Times/Rapper’s Delight’, you can’t help wishing there was more to come. Still, 11 quid for a set which packs more wit, invention, edginess and soul into 60 mins than most of today’s mainstream artists can muster in the space of two and a half hours still seems like the musical bargain of the year. It can be hard to get completely lost in music in these stressful, uncertain times; however sometimes the only logical response to the current shitstorm is to turn on, tune in and drop out to the beat of the disco drum. Freak out, indeed.

Nile Rodgers & Chic LIMF, Sefton Park, 20th July 2019


Read 2317 times Last modified on Monday, 29 July 2019 17:09
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Sean Diamond

Sean Diamond

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