Music review: Chic featuring Nile Rodgers, IndigO2, London
“We're going to start with a song we did for Diana Ross, then another song we did for Diana Ross and then one we did for Sister Sledge - and we’re going to keep going until we take it to the top floor.”
If a performer can say this to an audience - having opened with "Everybody Dance", "Dance Dance Dance" and "I Want Your Love" - you know you’re in good hands. Nile Rodgers’ words are delivered, like the whole performance, with effortless, commanding cool. Dressed all in white, with backing singers in angel get-up, the stage is set for a shamelessly good-fun selection of songs that each owe their existence to Chic.
"I’m Coming Out", "Upside Down", and "We Are Family" are the Ross-Ross-Sledge trio. Then there's "He’s the Greatest Dancer" before Rodgers announces they wrote the next track for a French artist; everyone cheers. "But it’s not Daft Punk," he adds, and the cheers turn to mock boos. Instead, it is "Spacer", produced for Sheila and B. Devotion. Playing this lesser-known hit when Chic have such a high-calibre back catalogue to pick from - from Jackson to Jagger - shows that tonight is, above all, about the love of disco.
When it comes to big hitters, you can't really beat Madonna’s "Like a Virgin" and Bowie’s "Let’s Dance", the former sung by one of the angelic backing girls, the latter by the impressive bass-voiced drummer. "Rapper’s Delight" by Sugarhill Gang, one of the first hip hop tracks to find mainstream success, elevates the set above just an excuse to play the hits. The guitar riff is taken from Chic’s "Good Times", and it makes for a more subtle exploration of the band’s musical DNA.
The only thing to let the performance down is the venue. A soulless, funkless space with a terrible sound system that leaves people able to talk in un-raised voices on the balcony.
Tonight Chic played largely the same set that they’ve been touring with all summer and in the fickle world of music, it’s not hard to imagine that the wave their surfing will break as quickly as it rose. But with another Daft Punk collaboration in the offing, and a host of other artist’s tracks still unplundered - Bob Dylan, Grace Jones, D’Angelo - we may find ourselves inhabiting what Rodgers calls the band's "happy-music universe" a little while longer yet.
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