Raising the roof off The O2 arena on the opening night of BluesFest 2017, Nile Rodgers proved himself to be the greatest party-thrower ever.
Backed by an incredible live band and flanked by two awesome singers, the Chic frontman delivered a hit-after-hit-after-hit 90-minute set that had absolutely everyone – from the floor section way up into the rafters via the corporate boxes that are often stuffed with stuffed shirts – up and dancing.
Opening number Everybody Dance wasn’t a request, it was an order. But when there are this many hit packed into one show sitting down was never an option. It may have been under the BluesFest umbrella but no one could possibly have the blues when a legendary guitarist, masterful songwriter and peerless producer like Rodgers is in the room.
Consider those Chic hits alone: I Want Your Love, My Forbidden Lover, Dance Dance Dance, My Feet Keep Dancing (a fan favourite that Nile has snuck back into the set on recent tours) and of course Good Times, which brought the show to a rousing finish. Then there are the songs he co-wrote or co-produced for other artists: Madonna’s Like A Virgin, Bowie’s Let’s Dance and Daft Punk’s Get Lucky, plus I’m Coming Out and Upside Down for Diana Ross and We Are Family, He’s The Greatest Dancer and Thinking Of You.
With a track-listing like that it wasn’t so much a concert as the world’s biggest disco, with 65-year-old Nile himself proving you’re never too old to party hard. Still playing the battered-up guitar that’s estimated to have been featured on $2 billion worth of hits, Rodgers must be loaded and he doesn’t need to tour. But thank God he keeps on going because no-one else could boast so many great grooves nor make everybody dance, dance, dance their asses off from start to finish. Good times indeed.
Support act Chaka Khan didn’t fare quite so well. She was in awesome voice but the sound-mix was a bit muddy and, relying heavily on deep cuts for most of her set, it took her a while to ignite the crowd. But ending with the double whammy of I’m Every Woman and Ain’t Nobody meant all was forgiven and man can that woman sing.
Words by Simon Button