Nile Rogers & Chic @ The Apollo
Anthony Firmin realises He's The Greatest Dancer whilst boogying on down to disco giant's Nile Rogers and Chic…
Rock or not, Nile Rogers and Chic’s place in music history is assured having been the soundtrack to the late 70s and early 80s with their catchy songs, Rogers' distinctive guitar sounds and the mind blowing bass playing of Bernard Edwards. But is this rock? Roger’s certainly has the credentials having worked with David Bowie, Mick Jagger, Robert Plant’s Honeydrippers and INXS amongst others, so I would say yes.
Life has been particularly difficult for Rogers over the past 20 years. Firstly he lost his friend and co-founder of Chic, Bernard Edwards, who died of pneumonia after a gig in Japan back in 1996. He has also faced death himself having been diagnosed with an aggressive form of prostate cancer and told to get his affairs in order - but he was given a lifeline. A major operation followed by some seriously aggressive treatment set the ball rolling towards his current recovered state. In addition he started walking around Manhattan, and it is all detailed in his blog Walking On Planet C which shows his inner strength. And although declared free of cancer he still wants to play. He feels the concerts are a celebration of his life and his music for which he is truly grateful.
And so: One night in a disco, on the outskirts of ‘Frisco - well, the Manchester Apollo really…Everyone came for one reason but sadly were subjected to a support act who were a couple of nameless DJs who were on stage for two hours followed by a fairly seamless transition at 9 o'clock when Nile Rogers came on stage. Rogers introduced the video to the new single I'll Be There which was displayed on the huge video screen at the back of the stage whilst he watched intently from the side of stage, after which he announced we would be hearing it again during the set.
Rogers along with the rest of the “Chic Organisation” came on stage and for the next two hours played a career retrospective from Everybody Dance to Good Times and every hit in between. The set was made up of songs from Chic, Sister Sledge, Madonna, Daft Punk, Diana Ross and others taking everyone back in time, every song danceable. Halfway through the set we were treated to the band playing the new single, the only non-hit of the evening but that may well change. One thing was assured, there were a lot of sore feet at the end of the evening because the crowd just had to Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsa, Yowsa, Yowsa)
What also came across was the incredible standard of musicianship, every member of the band highly skilled with Chic consisting of two female singers, two keyboard players, a trumpeter and sax player too. Special mentions are needed for the drummer, Ralph Rolle who also sang the David Bowie hit Let's Dance, and also the unbelievable bass playing of Jerry Barnes who admirably filled the huge shoes vacated by Bernard Edwards.
Like most artists, at the end of the show Rogers thanked everyone and that he had been proud to share his work with the Apollo audience. However, you could feel the humbleness and sincerity of this great man come through.
Words: Anthony Firmin | Photos: Frederick Apps