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Review of Nile Rodgers at Dreamland in Margate


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Review by Andy Gray

On a scorcher of a day by the seaside, the leader and his band proved why after 44 years since "Dance, Dance, Dance" became their debut hit, they are still a hot ticket.

The phrase "all killer, no filler" has never been more apt than when applied to a Nile Rodgers gig. His back catalogue not only contains Chic’s champagne disco classics (Le Freak, I Want Your Love, Everybody Dance, My Forbidden Lover), he’s created a clutch of hits for other leading artists.

Nile Rodgers performs at Dreamland Picture: Angela Whitton
Nile Rodgers performs at Dreamland Picture: Angela Whitton

In essence, if a track was recorded sometime between 1977 and 2020 and features a choppy guitar riff and a beat that somehow finds you waving your arms in the air like you just don’t care, Rodgers probably wrote it.

Hence last night’s set at Dreamland in Margate also included a medley of stompers he helped birth: I’m Coming Out (for Diana Ross) Like a Virgin (Madonna), Notorious (Duran Duran) and most gloriously Modern Love and Let’s Dance, which Rodgers conceived with David Bowie and crowned his successful bid for pop domination in the early 1980s.

Also present and correct on last night’s musical menu were hits Rodgers penned for Chic-a-like all-girl trio, Sister Sledge. These included sing-along house party favourite We Are Family and Thinking of You, which was preceded by a big screen recording of Rodgers paying tribute to his fellow Chic founder and songwriting partner, the late Bernard Edwards.

"Blimey, I never knew he’d written so many great songs", was the ‘word’ among audience members too young to be around in the beginning, or those who have spent the past 40 years living beneath a stone (or listening to rock). It might explain why the introduction of Get Lucky, a Rodgers co-write and a floor-filling worldwide smash for Daft Punk in 2013, met with squeals belying delightful recognition and surprise.

The man himself, who last night was one day shy of his 69th birthday and adorned with the Nile-familiar suit, shades, beret, waist-length dreads, ice-white and ocean-wide smile, proved himself a master of the humble brag when it came to paying tribute to his own genius. In one clearly scripted moment, Rodgers introduces us to the band comprising singers, horn section, keyboardist and guitarists, when the drummer suddenly ‘remembers’ we haven’t been formally introduced to their leader. He then reels off a list of Rodgers’ spectacular musical achievement, serving notice of his involvement in mountainous record sales, Grammy awards and Hall of Fame inductions whilst an unabashed Rodgers noodles away, seemingly making sure the rollcall of success is registering with the front rows.

It’s a stunt you might think unbecoming for an artist of notable charm and graciousness, but what the hell, the artist is Nile Rodgers. His songs have sound tracked the happiest times of your life and they’ll continue to make people want to get up and dance, dance - long after we’ve checked into the great disco in the sky. In short, Mr Rodgers has earned whatever self-congratulation he deems fit to share.

Last night ended with a triumphant and thoroughly apt Good Times – yeah, he wrote that one, too.

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