Chic & Nile Rodgers review – timeless party classics at the Nile high club

SSE Hydro, Glasgow
Sticking to beloved hits and backed by formidable vocalists, Rodgers has the audience dancing from the get-go on his biggest ever UK tour

This summer Nile Rodgers curated a music festival in a rolling Glasgow park. Day one was stacked with funk and soul veterans such as Roy Ayers while the second featured modern artists, including Emeli Sandé. It is testament to Rodgers’ evergreen musical legacy – and exuberant self-belief – that he and his tireless band slotted sweetly into the main-stage bill on both days. The suggestion seemed to be that you can never have too much Chic.

Six months later and Rodgers is emphatically proving that point, embarking on his biggest UK tour ever while still playing tight sets overflowing with hit songs. In a pair of Versace yowsah-yowsah trousers and twinkling white tux, he looks every inch the Studio 54 disco colossus when he declares: “This may be one of the best nights of my life.” The technically all-seated crowd who jump up for the opening bars of Everybody Dance and bop for the next hour and a half would appear to agree.

Nile Rodgers with backing singers Kimberly Davis (left) and Folami.
Rodgers with backing singers Kimberly Davis, left, and Folami. Photograph: Murdo MacLeod/The Guardian

Among his dapper and dedicated eight-piece band, it is vocalists Kimberly Davis and Folami who do a lot of the heavy lifting. Davis, in particular, delivers a dazzling vocal performance on I Want Your Love. These are songs that have enlivened countless wedding receptions, but Chic sandblast off any cheesiness by rekindling the sophistication that made disco such a powerful cultural force.

For the most part, Rodgers sticks to the classics – they perform nothing from the recent It’s About Time, Chic’s first album in 26 years – although he delivers a heartfelt intro to Get Lucky, the 2013 Daft Punk collaboration that rubber-stamped the Rodgers comeback. Yet even that megahit pales alongside the pulsing power of Le Freak, which topped the US Billboard charts 40 years ago this week.

Even after an expanded version of Good Times that simply keeps on rolling, taking in a Sugarhill Gang detour and a lively latin-influenced verse, Rodgers is reluctant to let the party end, bopping on stage as new song Till the World Falls booms out. He remains an artist high on life, and it seems like everyone wants to join the Nile high club.

• At Manchester Arena, 15 December. Then touring until 19 December.

Contributor

Graeme Virtue

The GuardianTramp

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