The last time that the founding fathers of Chic performed together was at a 1996 Tokyo show. Shortly after this Nile Rodger’s partner in crime, Bernard Edwards, passed away. After surviving cancer, Nile Rodgers focused on himself.
Despite on/off appearances over the past few years, Chic became festival favourites around the world once again in 2012, including a monumental headline slot on Glastonbury’s West Holts stage, following Rodger’s involvement with Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky’. This Summer will see the release of their new single, ‘I’ll Be There’, from the album It’s About Time, to be released in June, the band’s first collection of new material since 1992. The sound Chic produce is still as pure as funky as previously – the only thing that has changed is that Nile himself has gathered a few more wrinkles.
On with the show! Rodgers began by regaling the crowd with the grizzly tale about how he discovered Bernard Edwards body, but the atmosphere changed to celebrate Edwards. Opening the set were three Chic classics, ‘Everybody Dance’, ‘Dance, Dance, Dance’ and ‘I Want Your Love’. This went down brilliantly with the crowd, the participation and hand clapping was joyous to see and there were a vast amount of shapes being thrown in the passion of the funk.
The near two hour set was flooded by karaoke funk classics from the likes of ‘Upside Down’ (Diana Ross), ‘Lets Dance’ (David Bowie), ‘Spacer’ (Sheila & B. Devotion) and ‘Lost In Music (Sister Sledge). Usually karaoke at a live gig can be seen as tacky and easy, the only other time I have seen this done so successfully was when Prince covered ‘Play That Funky Music’, but as Nile played a part in creating these tracks, they belong to him and his Chic Organisation just as much as they belong to the artist who released them.
The debut of the new single went down very well with the crowd, a risky thing to do when you are known mainly on material produced thirty years ago. The set closed with three huge Chic hits: ‘My Forbidden Lover’, ‘Le Freak’ and ‘Good Times’. They were just as funky in the present day as they were in ’78. Their cover of the Sugarhill Gang ‘Rapper’s Delight’ invited the now compulsory stage invasion by the fans. (A friend of mine who attended the gig made it up on stage and described Nile as being full of life and loving the audience being able to see and hear what he does on stage.) The night as a whole ran very smoothly, the funk was felt and the crowd went home happy.