There was no doubting the levels of adoration in the room for iconic guitarist and producer Nile Rodgers, whose two Edinburgh shows at the weekend amounted to a fusion of French artist Jean Pierre Muller’s collaborative 7x7 art installation and Rodgers’ autobiographical spoken word and song show, both of which made a big impression at last year’s Edinburgh Festival.
The feeling was mutual, with the dreadlocked 60-year-old Chic guitarist and sometime producer of David Bowie and Madonna declaring “this city has made me feel like I belong”.
Muller first introduced the concept of 7x7 – that it features seven scores by seven musicians based on the seven notes of the scale, colours of the rainbow, first letters of the alphabet and so on – and showed a film clip scored by the first of Rodgers’ seven disco-funk movements for the project. Then our host was introduced and proceeded to chat about and play solo songs from his life for two hours and more – about his heroin addict hippy parents, suing Diana Ross’ record label to release gay anthem I’m Coming Out, writing At Last I Am Free after watching his friend get arrested in Central Park while on LSD, originally titling Freak Out ‘F*** Off’ after being knocked back from Studio 54, and much more.
All the while Muller painted in the background and a cast of female assistants dressed to the nines shifted free-standing images of iconic Harlem people and places around the stage. While there was a work-in-progress quality to proceedings (Rodgers mentioned speaking to benefactors about turning the 7x7 project into “the Disneyland of Scotland”), Rodgers’ charisma – quipping “I beat cancer but Cab Calloway almost took me out” after part of the backdrop nearly fell on his head – drove forward a special evening.