Disco reigns supreme as musical trendsetter Nile Rodgers leads a breathtaking performance celebrating his storied career at London’s Southbank.
Forty years ago Nile Rodgers was one of the most successful and popular musicians in the world, flash-forward to today, and Nile Rodgers is still revered as one of the greatest talents to ever step into a recording studio. Throughout his Southbank show, Nile name drops almost every great act he’s worked with or met, from Diana Ross to Madonna with particular reference to a meeting with the iconic Frank Sinatra in the 1990s, when the pair discussed Nile Rodgers being the “number one producer of all-time”. Nile Rodgers has contributed to an endless list of records that have sold more than 500 million albums and 75 million singles globally.
Nile Rodgers & Chic at the Royal Festival Hall was the start of the 26th Meltdown Festival curated by Rodgers himself at the Southbank in central London.
“In curating Meltdown I’m effectively creating my own live concert playlist of my favourite artists, new and old. I’m delighted to announce the addition of Jungle and my great friend Johnny Marr to the lineup as well as new artists like Kero Kero Bonito, anaïs and Nakhane. Alongside the incredible artists previously announced such as Eurythmics Songbook, Kokoroko, SOPHIE and CHIC every night is going to be special.” - Nile Rodgers
The current 9-piece line-up of Chic (consisting of Nile Rodgers, Jerry Barnes, Kimberley Davis, Folami, Ralph Rolle, Russell Graham, Richard Hilton, Bill Holoman and Curt Ramm) have been touring for years, and together they have crafted a stellar and instantly crowd-pleasing show that epitomises Nile’s contribution to music throughout the decades. The show began with bombastic lighting and sounds emanating from the stage as the band members took their places. Once Nile had taken his place the band launched into a rendition of the timeless anthem, "Dance, Dance Dance" followed quickly by "Everybody Dance" and "I Want Your Love", three of the bestselling songs from Chic’s back catalogue. The energy and pace of every song left the audience breathless and sweating, but Nile doesn’t like his crowds to stop dancing, after a brief few words the band continue to bombard the crowd with hit after hit. Most songs were grouped into medlies with the crowd erupting with joy every time a familiar bar of music came blaring out of the sound system.
Rodgers takes the role of storyteller as much as he shreds his guitar, through jokes, and anecdotes he recounts his musical journey jumping from year to year. Despite the name, the show was far from your typical Chic show but included flawless renditions of Nile’s greatest collaborations with legendary artists, such as David Bowie, Diana Ross, Daft Punk and Madonna.
Perhaps it was a result of the relentless summertime humidity and a few frosty pints or even a response to the more unsavoury aspects of life in the UK at the moment but every disco dancer in attendance at the Royal Festival Hall left any negative energy at the door and was on their feet from start to finish, as if one of the first songs of the night was, in fact, a spell cast by the masterful Nile Rodgers.
Nile Rodgers’ Meltdown Festival continues until August 11th at the Southbank Centre.
Photo credit: Victor Frankowski