FREESTYLE BRISTOL

Godfather of the Grooves

Nile Rodgers & Chic let the good times roll at the Harbourside and we sent the OG down for the party

Words: Delroy Hibbert

Images: Guilia Spadafora @soulmedia

There aren’t many artists who could produce two near sell out shows on consecutive nights in Bristol and it stands testimony to the longevity and influence of Nile Rodgers & Chic. As a band their hits and the sound they pioneered in the 1970’s & 80’s are recognisable decades after they were released to those of us who remember them the first time around and the younger crowd introduced to them via more recent collaborations with Daft Punk who are very much in attendance.

First up though is the support act Amahla a British neo-soul artist who has won acclaim in recent years from the music press and also an Ivor Novello nomination for Rising Star. A quick google also points out that she is being mentored than none other than Nile Rodgers himself so I am expecting good things. However good she is (and she’s definitely worth checking out) it’s a familiar case of great artist but wrong venue and her subtle but ethereal blend of songs are seemingly lost on a crowd that there for funk and disco party. She performs well and there is some appreciation from the crowd of her talents but it is largely a subdued affair.

It’s time for the big man himself and Niles enters the stage with a smile and his guitar more warmed up than we are. Launching straight into Dance, Dance, Dance we need no further prompting and the party starts. Nile Rodgers and Chic are here to give us a reminder of not only the hits that made their name but also the many he and partner Bernie Edwards wrote and produced for others. 

We get them all Le Freak, I want Your Love and Everybody Dance are pulled out from the back catalogue, arms are thrown in the air like we just don’t care and everyone sings along while throwing shapes which will hurt in the morning. 

Midway through we get those hits for others which even leaves the hardcore fans surprised at the breadth of their work. Notorious by Duran Duran, Like A Virgin – Madonna as well as hits by Sister Sledge, Spacer and the Diana Ross anthem I’m Coming Out are played and enjoyed by the crowd as much as their own numbers. 

The hits keep coming and we keep dancing and it seems like our history lessons ends too soon although tonights crowd looks like they could go on all night. 

Niles talks to us like we are his favourite audience and the love is mutual. Finishing off with one of their biggest hits Good Times Niles delights us by including some of the lines from the Sugarhill Gangs debut Rappers Delight which famously recreated (stole?) the music from this song for their hit. 

But then inevitably it’s over and the crowd leaves satisfied, my only regret being that I was now wishing I’d had a ticket for both nights of this once in a lifetime performance.