CHIC and Nile Rodgers opened Liverpool Music Week 2017 in spectacular fashion and Getintothis’ Rick Leach was there.
Sometimes things just blow you away.
“CHIC playing Liverpool? Really? You’re kidding me!”
“No, honestly, they are!”
“October. Liverpool Music Week.”
“They’re playing when Liverpool Music Week is on?”
“No, well…yes, kind of. They’re kicking it all off. They’re part of it all! CHIC are opening Liverpool Music Week!”
A stunned silence.
This was the conversation we had one morning at the end of July when Liverpool Music Week dropped a bombshell with the announcement of the line-up for their 15th year anniversary.
Not only had they come up with a coup to top all coups with CHIC playing at the Echo Arena but they also announced a typically diverse line-up of artists who’d be playing across the city for the ten days at the end of October and beginning of November.
Our reaction to hearing the news about CHIC was probably similar to many other music fans throughout the city and indeed across the UK. Just wow.
Not only would this be CHIC’s first show in Liverpool for over 40 years, but it really showed how far Liverpool Music Week has come in 15 years. Starting off as a single venue venture as recently as 2003, they’ve got bigger and better year-on-year until in 2016 they were crowned Metropolitan Festival of the Year. It seemed fitting that they would mark this with something special, but CHIC? Wow.
CHIC at the Echo wasn’t just something special for Liverpool Music Week, but for the city as a whole. A mark on the map.
It was with a certain nervous excitement that we headed down to the waterfront on the Thursday evening. There was a palpable sense of anticipation in the air and not only from us but from the everyone else who was heading in the same direction.
There was a festival-type atmosphere about it all; we were all going to have a good time, we just knew it. CHIC had played a barnstorming set at Glastonbury Festival in June; one that was widely seen as a highpoint for the whole weekend and one that many people were hoping would repeat itself on the banks of the Mersey.
Kicking off the evening and setting the tone perfectly were Liverpool Disco Festival DJ’s who ran treated us all to what was clearly a carefully curated slection of classics and then Liverpool’s own Sense of Sound who sang disco classics with the voices of angels;This was music from the heavens
Happy, smiling faces were the order of the day and there were more than a few people who turned up in their best disco gear. You’ve got to glitter for CHIC, haven’t you? If you can’t sparkle for Nile Rodgers, then who can you sparkle for?
It’s quite ironic really that since Chic formed in 1977 at the height of punk that they’ve managed to become more relevant and vital as opposed to the tired old has-beens who are still lamely trotting out the stale three-chord thrash and no doubt muttering under their breath the daft cliché that ‘disco sucks.’
— Steve Barney (@barneydrums) October 26, 2017
Well, we were at the Echo and we can definitively state that it doesn’t.
We know that Nile Rodgers has written some great songs. Some special songs. Ones that can rightly be called classics. Le Freak. We Are Family. Good Times. Everybody Dance. I’m Coming Out. He’s The Greatest Dancer. The list does really go on and on.
But hearing them is one thing. Listening to them on the radio or on a CD, well as a music fan, you know they are more than good.
Yet seeing them played live, hearing them live, with Nile Rodgers beaming and giving it his all, that’s something else altogether. And when you’re with a few thousand other people all feeling the same way and knowing you’re sharing an experience like no other, it can’t really be topped.
It’s not that often that a gig starts with the audience in the palm of an artist’s hands. Not from the get-go. There usually has to be some sort of winning over and the artist has to work at it; even if it’s just a little bit. There’s a sort of an unwritten contract, something unstated.
There was none of this with Nile Rodgers.
Right from the start we were there, with him and with CHIC. He worked it of course, but he didn’t need to work us.
There was that connection between artist and audience, one that sometimes sparks every now and again at a gig, but again, rarely one that fits that well as it did with Nile Rodgers and us.
It was one of those shows where time seems to stand still; or rather time simply flies by. It’s difficult to know which. You know when you’re at some gigs and you find yourself absent-mindedly thinking “oh, it’s ok, but I wish they’d get on with it a bit” or “this songs dragging a touch” or even “I wonder what we should have for tea tomorrow”?
Well, there was none of that with Nile Rodgers and CHIC. Time seemed to be irrelevant, because the music and performance was so good. It’s not only that he’s written some great songs and not only that he has a top-notch band (to a person, every single one of them was incredible and so tight) but something more. That undefinable quantity, that sparkle and touch of magic which takes it a notch higher.
It’s hard to single out a highpoint. Maybe the opening. Maybe the very first note of Everybody Dance.
Or Dance Dance Dance.
Could it have been Rodgers guitar work on Upside Down sounding something like the choppiest and most staccato guitar since the early Meters, but amazingly even more funky?
Possibly it was just watching everybody singing and dancing along to I’m Coming Out, young and old, male and female; everybody.
Vying for the stand-out moment of the show was Rodgers telling us his tale of how he beat cancer and then launching into Daft Punk‘s Get Lucky complete with phones twinkling throughout the arena, from the floor to the highest seats and back again. It was like the best Christmas display ever.
Of course, wrapping it up with Le Freak then having a mass stage invasion with those members of the audience who got lucky while CHIC jammed their way through Good Times had to top it all.
Yes, it was all of these things that made CHIC at the Echo Arena special. All of these, but the real highpoint, the thing that will live in the memory for a long time is that they were there.
— Nile Rodgers (@nilerodgers) October 27, 2017
CHIC opened Liverpool Music Week 2017 with a party, everybody was smiling, legs were dancing that hadn’t danced for years and we heard songs like no others. And that sparkle.
“So, how were they? How were CHIC?”
Images by Getintothis’ Tom Adam