Music

Tuesday 22 July 2014

R&B

Ed Power

Published 24/10/2013|21:30

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CHIC

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Vicar Street, Dublin

Chic's sinuous cheesecake pop acquired a jolt of relevancy over the summer when the band's leader, Nile Rodgers, pictured right, guested on the inescapable Daft Punk smash Get Lucky.

Zestfully slathered in Rodgers's jittery, glittery funk guitar, the song was Daft Punk's homage to the heyday of smart R'n'B music – or, putting it another way, to Chic. The French dance-droids were merely the latest to fall under the spell of Rodgers, whose 45-year career contains more all-star cameos than a Hollywood award ceremony.

As a scrappy up and comer in the 1970s he toured with Michael Jackson; later he served as composer for Sister Sledge, produced Madonna's Like A Virgin and midwifed David Bowie's gadzillion-selling Let's Dance.

At the zenith of his powers, it truly did seem as if he could sneeze out four hit singles before breakfast.

A dreadlocked 61 year old with a schoolboy grin, Rodgers appears to regard his 90 minutes on the Vicar Street stage as a chest-puffing victory lap rather than a conventional concert.

With an eight-piece band deploying a nuclear arsenal of guitars, brass, keys and backing vocals, he makes free with his songbook, lurching from Chic classics like Le Freak to Sister Sledge's We Are Family via Bowie's Let's Dance and – well, he was hardly going to pass up the chance – Madge's Like A Virgin.

All share gilt-edged songwriting, irrepressible grooves and unexpected emotional nuance.

I'm Coming Out, originally penned for Diana Ross, is a disco anthem with universal resonances; Lost In Music combines a relentless glitterball rhythm with a sonic manifesto worthy of the most self-serious indie rocker.

As loyal lieutenant to famous collaborators, you might expect Rodgers to be shy of the limelight.

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In fact, he soaks up the love, throwing exaggerated poses and speaking at length about a recent battle with cancer (he's just received the all clear).

He is particularly at home surrounded by the dozen or so 'dancers' plucked from the audience to booty-shake to Good Times.

With Daft Punk declining to tour, Rodgers obviously sees himself as unofficial ambassador for the bashful pair and Get Lucky is dutifully rolled out for the encore, though weirdly only as a recorded version – over which Rodgers and company clap and mug.

The newest song on the set by a factor of decades, it feels every inch a classic – testament to Daft Punk's vision but, even more so, to Rodgers's uncanny talents as tunesmith and bringer of blissful times and cosmic vibes.

Irish Independent

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