Nile Rodgers & Chic @ SSE Hydro, Glasgow, 13 Dec
Within seconds of Nile Rodgers and Chic taking to the stage the whole SSE is on their feet and dancing for a set that highlights the best-known moments from a career that glitters like a disco ball
While his original Chic co-conspirators Bernard Edwards and Tony Thompson haven’t been by his side for several decades, the effortlessly funky Mr Nile Rodgers can lay as strong a claim as anyone to have shaped pop music as we know it.
From his role in Chic to his production and guitar work with the likes of David Bowie, Madonna, Diana Ross, and more recently Daft Punk, the iconic axeman has brought funk and soul to the masses for decades, and tonight he finds himself at the peak of a late career resurgence as he kicks off his first ever UK arena tour. Even before he hits the stage, giant balloons are bouncing around, promoting his first album in more than 25 years, and an excited audience are counting down the minutes until stage time.
A seated venue seems a little out of place for the lord of disco to touch down but never fear; within seconds of him striking a fretboard the whole venue is on their feet and dancing for a set that takes in the best-known moments from a career that glitters like a disco ball.
Kicking off with Chic’s Everybody Dance, followed by Dance, Dance, Dance and I Want Your Love, this is a set of crowd pleasers, with Rodgers – effervescent in a sparkly white jacket and Versace trousers – ably backed by a sharp band who breathe plenty of energy into songs that have effortlessly migrated from the chicest clubs to the wedding bar.
"Here are a few of my number ones," says Rodgers as the band kick off a series of hits including Diana Ross's I’m Coming Out, Madonna’s Like a Virgin and Sister Sledge’s We Are Family. With 500 million records in the bag – plus a host of Grammy awards and a recent induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame – it’s easy to forget that the nineties and early 2000s were not necessarily too kind to Rodgers (or indeed disco as a whole) and in a quick break between songs he takes a moment to reflect on how far he’s come.
When the guitarist was diagnosed with cancer in 2010, he took a look at this life and, rather than resign himself to his fate, decided he wanted to "write more songs, play more shows, do more collaborations". Soon after, he took a call "from two French guys" and the resulting globe-conquering smash hit Get Lucky sent his career soaring back into the stratosphere.
Tonight, despite a recent album, Get Lucky is the only track from the last three decades to be given the Chic treatment, with Rodgers and his band giving it a scratchy soulful remake that befits their status as the greatest "R'n'B, dance, funk, soul, disco band" in the world. Given the all clear from cancer in 2013, it’s clear that there’s nowhere he would rather be than onstage.
As if all of that wasn't enough, the closing stretch is even better, with David Bowie’s Let’s Dance offering a showcase for Russell Graham on vocoder and keys before the unstoppable party monster Le Freak and the delicious strut of Good Times – complete with Rodgers rapping Sugarhill Gang’s perhaps even more influential remake Rapper’s Delight.
It’s a long way and a lot of years from Studio 54 to Glasgow, but if you want to make thousands of people dance? C’est chic!