LIVE: British Summer Time (Kylie, Grace Jones, Chic Featuring Nile Rodgers) – Hyde Park 21.06.15

A festival without Chic Featuring Nile Rodgers is like a dance floor without a disco, and a disco without Chic isn’t worth bothering with. While their spot third on the bill was a little surprising (they should have been second), Mr. Rodgers and his band’s mirror ball busting anthems made sure BST’s Sunday began with a bang. Over the last few years, the ‘70s icons have travelled the world, playing their own greatest hits (‘Le Freak’, ‘I Want Your Love’) as well as an endless list of tracks that Nile has written and produced with others (Diana Ross ‘I’m Coming Out’, Duran Duran ‘Notorious’).

Highlights come from drummer Biscuit’s turn on vocals for David Bowie’s ‘Let’s Dance’, while Chic’s latest track (from a forthcoming new album), ‘I’ll Be There’, is every bit as good as the rest of their anthems. Rodger’s clearly lives for his role as the Disco King (it’s no surprise that one of his collaborations with Daft Punk was titled ‘Give Life Back To Music’), but his band are equally as impressive, while vocalist Kimberly Davis controls a vocal so powerful she could probably manage without the mic. ‘Get Lucky’ is given a soulful intro, before the stage is filled with audience members (including Sam Smith and The Edge) for closer ‘Good Times’. If you’ve been to a Chic featuring festival before, you’ll know having any other sort of time is near impossible.

Grace Jones gave her own spin on tonight’s unofficial “disco” theme, opening with the stark beats of ‘Nightclubbing’, before changing outfits between almost every other track, with the majority revealing more – yet also comprising more – than any other performer. In short, she made Lady Gaga look like Waynetta Slob. After demanding that the crowd rocked to a cover of Roxy Music’s ‘Love Is The Drug’, she pulled herself on top of a security guard’s shoulders to greet her audience for ‘Pull Up To The Bumper’, before the now obligatory hula hoop routine to ‘Slave To The Rhythm’. While not quite keeping the momentum created by Chic, Ms. Jones (at 67 years old, topless and body painted) is a legend; just as unpredictable, if not more so, than ever.

A decade after cancelling her Glastonbury headline slot, tonight was Kylie Minogue’s chance to show any naysayers that it would have been one to remember. (Not that it caused as much controversy as Kanye…) Taking to the stage in a crown and gown (did she learn nothing from Madonna?), pop music’s princess opened with early hit ‘Better The Devil You Know’, before quickly pushing forward to latter day dance anthems that have cemented her place in music history. A cover of Kim Carnes’ ‘Bette Davis Eyes’ is sandwiched between ‘Spinning Around’ and ‘Can’t Get You Out Of My Head’, both served with an extra dollop of beats, while her comment on the 10.00pm curfew and “neighbours” causes an impromptu singalong of a certain soap theme tune.

Surprisingly it’s the Robbie-less duet ‘Kids’ that gets the biggest crowd reaction; perhaps it’s time for Kylie to revisit her indie years, the Manics penned ‘Some Kind Of Bliss’ and trip-hoppy ‘Confide In Me’ could easily hold a crowd at the Pyramid Stage. While recent singles ‘I Was Gonna Cancel’ (A Blondie-like, Pharrell production) and ‘Right Here, Right Now’ (with Giorgio Moroder) are criminally kept from the set, a handful of pop gems bring the set to a close, with the pint-sized pop star – a phrase clearly coined for Kylie – keeping the 60, 000 crowd entertained until the end, before waving to her mum and dad in the grandstand.

Dan Bull

Dan Bull

Dan Bull

Reviews Editor
London. Likes: Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts, Prince Charles Cinema, Duran Duran Dislikes: Soreen, All-hits setlists, "I liked them before everyone else..."