It stands to reason that no matter how old you are, you’ve listened to and loved a song that was created or at least co-written by Chic frontman and co-founder, Nile Rodgers. Whether it’s one of their original disco hits or Rodgers’ latest involvement with Daft Punk’s concept album, Random Access Memories, the band have cemented their place in history – and rightfully so, having influenced the likes of Duran Duran, Queen, Jamiroquai and countless others.
It’s the third time that Chic have played Cork and there are plenty here to see them, new and old fans alike. For those fans of fancy in the crowd it proves to be an amazing night of surprises. “I didn’t know that was their song!?!” Sometimes it isn’t but our first statement rings true; Rodgers and co have helped write some of the most famous songs of all time. Opening with ‘Everybody Dance’ it takes absolutely nothing for the crowd to erupt into a frenzy of dancing. There’s dad dancing aplenty and it’s hard not to be infected by that feel good vibe emanating from the stage.
It’s not long before they descend into the back catalogue of hits that the funk-ridden guitarist has penned, announcing later that he’s sold around 3 million albums overall. Some classic 80s disco is pumped into the tent as Chic perform a medley of greatest hits. Diana Ross’, ‘I’m Coming Out’ and ‘Upside Down’ are paired with the Sister Sledge classics, ‘He’s the Greatest Dancer’ and ‘We are Family’.
Covers aside, for awhile, they return to their own back catalogue and churn out fantastic performances of ‘I Want Your Love’ and ‘Soup for One’. The accompanying brass section is astonishing; no longer young men, they play with ease and soul-playing solos that reach the top of the tent and break through. Their latest single, ‘I’ll be there’, is met with raucous applause and proves that despite their age there is no reluctance to embrace new methods and technology to aid sound development.
We return back to the covers for a while to listen to a little of Duran Duran’s ‘Notorious’, much to the delight of any McGregor fans under the canvas and an emotional rendition of ‘Get Lucky’ preluded by the story of Rodgers’ battle with cancer, as Kimberly Davis performs a solo a capella version building to the fully fledged Daft Punk cut, talkbox et al.
The band end on arguably their two most famous tracks, ‘Le Freak’ from their sophomore album C’est Chic and ‘Good Times’ both of which have been sampled to death at this stage. Rodgers even gives an abridged version of The Sugarhill Gang’s version of ‘Rapper’s Delight’ before rounding down the night with funky solos and thanks given to each member individually.
Chic and Nile Rodgers are towering giants of so many genres and will always hold a place in music. Likewise, they will always be remembered to be “of that era” and it’s hard not to see the clash of old and new. Gone are the days of playing their most popular songs, albeit extended by solos and edits. Now, Rodgers and his band mates scream, “Can I get a hey hey hey, ho ho ho, hell yeahhhh” and it just doesn’t seem to fit. Despite that, one of my biggest regrets was not getting to see James Brown before he passed; I don’t know how many years Chic have left in them but it would be a massive failure on your part if you didn’t see a little piece of history before it was too late.
Chic photographed by Miki Barlock