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Nile Rodgers And Chic at Indigo2, London (published in Metro, Oct 2014)

Will they, or won't they? Serendipity has brought Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers, the men responsible for last-year's globe-conquering Daft Punk anthem “Get Lucky”, under the Millennium Dome on the same night – Williams is in The O2 or, as Rodgers has it, “the big room nextdoor” - and speculation is rife that collaboration is on the cards.

It never comes to pass, but no-one with a ticket for the smaller room feels short-changed. In a crisp white suit, the dreadlocked disco deity, looking like the Angel Of Funk, or the star of some heavenly mirrorball musical - Rodgers & Edwards (Deceased)? - leads his band through a set he calls “my life in song”. The life to which these songs belong, however, isn't his alone: the music of Chic, and the productions of Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards (the legendary bassist who died in 1986), soundtracked the entire planet.

After surviving a sickness-blighted childhood surrounded by junkies and violence, Rodgers – at various times a member, improbably, of both the Black Panthers and the Sesame St band - brought an aspirational sophistication to black music in the Seventies and, in the Eighties, white music too.

As well as Chic's hits, Rodgers' repertoire includes smashes from Diana Ross, David Bowie, Madonna, Sister Sledge, INXS and Duran Duran, all bearing his indelible fingerprint. And, to remind us how frequently his work is sampled, he incorporates snatches of several indebted artists' tunes into his own, such as “Soup For One” (Modjo's “Lady”), “He's The Greatest Dancer” (Will Smith's “Gettin' Jiggy Wit' It”) and “Good Times” (Sugarhill Gang's “Rapper's Delight”).

The new Chic are superb – particular praise is due to singer Kimberly Davis, drummer Ralph Rolle and bassist Jerry Barnes – but Nile's the true star. It's a joy to watch a genius at work, delivering fidgety funk chops on 'The Hitmaker', his trusty 1960 Stratocaster, with fluid flicks of his upturned palm. High points include a monstrous “I Want Your Love”, a sublime “Upside Down”, a defiant “Lost In Music”, a euphoric “Get Lucky”, an utterly stunning rendition of Sheila & B Devotion's “Spacer”, and an extended crowd-participation version of “Le Freak”.

Pharrell's may be the show that ends with “Happy”, but the Indigo2 is the real “room without a roof” - Nile Rodgers has torn it clean off.










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