Music review: Nile Rodgers and Chic, O2 Academy, Edinburgh

Nile Rodgers showed his performer’s instinct is as sharp as ever in this memorable journey through his musical past, writes David Pollock

Nile Rodgers PIC: Jeff Spicer/Getty Images
Nile Rodgers PIC: Jeff Spicer/Getty Images

Nile Rodgers & Chic, O2 Acdemy, Edinburgh ****

Oddly, Nile Rodgers’ request for a cheer from anyone who was seeing his group Chic for the first time was met with a loud response. It was unexpected, because after sandwiching an appearance on Daft Punk’s enormous 2013 global hit Get Lucky between two cancer recoveries in the past decade, the 69-year-old songwriter, producer and guitarist tours the world with the "tomorrow can’t wait” energy and regularity of an artist half a century younger.

Still, the cue he offered himself at this point to remind the audience what he’d done was well-deserved, because if anyone has a career in music which deserves to be boasted about, it’s Rodgers. After beginning with a bunch of disco-defining Chic songs from the late ‘70s – Chic Cheer, Dance Dance Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah), Everybody Dance and I Want Your Love – he and his band began to cycle through melodies of the huge array of hit singles he’s produced, co-written and played on.

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    The first of these placed Diana Ross’s I’m Coming Out and Upside Down against Sister Sledge’s He’s the Greatest Dancer and We Are Family. After a warm recollection of being bossed about by a very young but decisive Madonna, he played her Like a Virgin and Material Girl, which segued into David Bowie’s Modern Love. There were diversions into Sheila B Devotion’s Spacer, Modjo’s Lady (Hear Me Tonight), which samples Chic’s Soup for One, and Duran Duran’s Notorious. Both Sister Sledge’s Lost in Music and Thinking of You were dedicated to his late Chic partner Bernard Edwards.

    Rodgers’ current band is packed with multi-skilled singer-instrumentalists, and the sound is fastidiously authentic to the originals; only Get Lucky couldn’t quite recreate the sheer futurism of Daft Punk. Yet Rodgers, in a black suit and black trademark beret, has the performer’s instinct to go with his reputation as a studio wizard. The by-now old trick of asking the audience to wave their illuminated smartphones in the air created an atmospheric prelude to a closing crescendo of Bowie’s Let’s Dance and Chic’s own Le Freak and Good Times.

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