Liverpool Music Week brings us the good times, and it leaves Shaun Ponsonby wondering how many hits you can fit in one show.
You gotta hand it to Liverpool Music Week – they definitely kicked off their 15th edition with a bang.
When Music Week began a decade and a half ago, this writer recalls Nile Rodgers playing halfway up the bill on something nothing festival that was being broadcast on some random channel that nobody even remembers. It felt like a disservice to a man responsible for more hits than you can say boo to a goose with.
Since his comeback (in commercial terms at least) with 2013’s Get Lucky, he has gone from talking head producer on BBC Four documentaries to bona fide star. Anyone who saw his Glastonbury set over the summer could see not only the effect he had on the audience, but the sheer joy that he exudes on stage, back where he belongs.
The current incarnation of Chic are tight and funky, and they barely let you stop for breath. Opening with a trio of Chic hits – Everybody Dance, Dance Dance Dance (Yowsah Yowsah Yowsah) and I Want Your Love – was obviously only going to be the tip of the iceberg for a man whose guitar is boldly called The Hitmaker.
Just as we had caught our breath from that assault, we were treated to hits that the Chic organisation had written and produced for Diana Ross (Upside Down, I’m Coming Out), Madonna (Like a Virgin), Sister Sledge (We Are Family, He’s The Greatest Dancer, Lost In Music), Duran Duran (Notorious), David Bowie (Let’s Dance) and, of course, Get Lucky.
Then there’s the interpolations into famous Chic samples, such as Will Smith’s Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It in He’s The Greatest Dancer, and the Sugarhill Gang’s Rapper’s Delight in Good Times.
As they launched into their final two-pronged attack with Le Freak and the aforementioned Good Times, you have to wonder; How many hits can you squeeze into one show?
It ultimately comes down to a celebration of a great man’s work – as a songwriter, as a producer, as a band member. Even when he hasn’t written the song in question, as with Like a Virgin and Let’s Dance, there’s something of a Chic feeling to the records, a sheen that only he could bring.
It would be easy to criticise 21st Century Chic as a nostalgia fest. And yeah, most of the songs are 30-40 years old. But looking around the arena, one thing is apparent; most of the crowd weren’t even born when Chic first hit. They have come to Rodgers through Daft Punk, Pharrell and Avicii. This is new music to them, and this only makes it feel more vital.
Rodgers is clearly loving every minute of his renaissance, and he is justifiably proud of his life’s work. Few people deserve the belated public recognition more than he.
The question remains, though, whether Liverpool Music Week 2017 can possibly hope to top opening night.
Photos by Vicky Pea