Gig Review: Chic & Nile Rodgers

Who: Chic & Nile Rodgers

Where: Billboard

When: 11th December 2013

The mish-mash of sounds that emanated from the DJ booth of Detroit’s infamous Todd Terry set the party vibe in motion. The local dancing aficionados were out in force for CHIC & Nile Rodgers’ Australian return. Limbs belonging to those of various ages moved in tandem with an array of high-octane disco tunes, countless funky based beats, and old school hip-hop rhythms.

Once the curtains were raised, the audience roared their collective appreciation as guitar maestro Nile Rodgers and his eight cohorts casually entered the Billboard stage. All nine musicians were clad in a variety of bright white outfits that brought an air of ‘cool’ even before a note was played – heightened by Rodgers and his white Fender Stratocaster.

The distinctive introduction of “Everybody Dance” opened proceedings, and the bar was set excessively high by the dual vocals of Chic’s female duo. Right from the off, Rodgers’ impressed the crowd with his virtuoso guitar capabilities as well as his ability to write one hell of a funk-induced disco tune.

Next up was the bass laden and funk fuelled anthem “Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah Yowsah Yowsah)”, which saw drummer Ralph Rolle lead the crowd in a mass singalong without ever missing a beat. The tightness of the rhythm section – consisting of Rolle and bassist Jerry Barnes – was nothing short of mesmerising for the duration of the set.

“I Want Your Love” included some choreographed dance moves with Rodgers flanked by his leading divas. The trumpet and saxophone gave the song extra vitality, while the battle between Rodgers and Barnes’ playing encouraged more boogying among the masses.

Rodgers rolled out some of the classic songs he produced, including a medley of Diana Ross’ “I’m Coming Out/Upside Down” and Sister Sledge’s “He’s The Greatest Dancer/We Are Family” with the latter receiving a resounding reception from the audience. These snippets once again highlighted the impeccable vocal prowess of the leading ladies on show. The covers kept on coming with Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” and two more Sister Sledge numbers “Thinking Of You” and “Lost In Music”. ‘Thinking Of You’ contained some thumping bass from Barnes, while the guitar noodling by Rodgers and the singalong chorus of the latter allowed the foot tapping and head bobbing to venture to the back of the room.

Rodgers has had his fingers in so many musical flavoured, funk-based pies over the years that the likes of Duran Duran’s “Notorious”, INXS’ “Original Sin”, and David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance”, came close to lifting the roof off the place. Aided by some psychedelic visuals and Rolle taking lead vocals, “Let’s Dance” was the highlight of the night – enough to make the hairs on the back of your neck move in unison to their funky rendition.

“Chic Cheer”, “My Forbidden Lover”, and “Le Freak” had the audience in the palm of the band’s collective hands. It was impossible to take your eyes off all nine band members during “Le Freak”, as it was obvious they were having a blast up there.

“Good times” was the best possible tune to finish off the night, with Barnes’ slap bass – Seinfeld-esque themed at times – vibrating throughout, and some final guitar licks thrown in from Rodgers for good measure. It also included a segment of the Sugar Hill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight” that flowed into the earlier aired ‘We Are Family’.

Last but not least was Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” (of which Rodgers features on). The tune played over the PA system as the band took to the front of the stage, where they stood to soak in the appreciation and say their funky goodbyes.

This review was written for Tonedeaf (An Australian music site)

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