Good Times With Nile & Chic at Festival

2023 Life Achievement Grammy Award winner, Nile Rodgers & Chic topped this year’s Henley Festival so far performing non-stop hits spanning 5 decades of music from his incredible back catalogue of songs he has written for many huge worldwide stars including Madonna, Diana Ross, Beyonce and David Bowie.

Opening the show with the Chic anthem, Le Freak, Nile halted the song a short way in after there was technical problem with bassist’s Jerry’s guitar.  Nile joked, “Jerry wants to start the show twice!”  Afterwards Nile caught sight of someone in the audience saying, “A few years ago I had an option to sell my cars, guitars and my wardrobe from over the decades.”  Pointing at the gentlemen he said, “This gentleman bought one of my jackets in the front row.  I hope you got it for a good price!”

He continued his welcome by saying “If every festival we do people were dressed like this it would be amazing.  My good friend Peter Gabriel said, “If aliens came down to earth and saw people dancing, partying and having a good time they would know they were in the right place so let’s not let Peter Gabriel down.  Are you ready?”

From that moment Nile then brought soul, charm and his iconic guitar-playing as he played a selection of Chic’s greatest hits – Everybody Dance,  Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah), I Want Your Love.  Diana Ross and Sister Sledge hits followed I’m Coming Out, Upside Down, He’s the Greatest Dancer and We Are Family.  Right from the start to the end the audience were on their feet singing and dancing along to the non-stop hits. Both singers, Audrey Martells and Kimberly Davis delivered impeccable vocals throughout, however Kimberley stunned us with her powerful belts and sensational a cappella.

Before singing Madonna’s Like a Virgin and Material Girl, Nile told a story, “I had a pleasure of working with this young lady early in her career and I said to her Material Girl should be her first single.  She said, I could kiss her material ass and decided to release Like a Virgin first.  Tonight it’s my show so I’m going to play both songs!”

Talking about his Grammy Life Achievement Award, Nile said, “I said, can I just give this s**t back as I’m not finished.”  Before playing the next song, Nile added, “One Grammy I was particularly proud of winning this year was for Beyonce’s single Cuff It which was the longest charting single of her life.” The 2013 Grammy Award Record of the Year, Get Lucky (originally featured Pharrell Williams) followed.

Spacer, Lady (Hear Me Tonight), two more Sister Sledge hits Lost in Music and Thinking of You plus Chic’s, Chic and Forbidden Lover were all part of the later fantastic set.  The surprise song of the night which probably many of the audience didn’t know Nile had written was Durran Durran’s Notorious. 

If you thought the music and energy level couldn’t go up a gear any further, you were wrong, Nile then handed the show over to drummer, Ralph Rolle to get the audience wound up further.  Beforehand, Nile said, “Now it is time to go maximum funkacitisty.  Last time we were here (2018) people starting jumping in the water.”  Ralph then got the audience to scream, clap hands, shout ooh ah, before launching into David Bowie’s Let’s Dance.

With the audience pumped and probably not wanting the show to close, Nile said, “Are you in the party spirit like I am? We have not done this since the pandemic. We’re going to get some people on stage to party with us.”  Around 20 members of the audience were then invited on to stage, including Henley Festival CEO, Jo Bausor to dance and sing along to the euphoric Good Times with some extra lyrics thrown in from The Sugarhill Gang’s Rapper’s Delight.  The last gentlemen from the audience to leave the stage definitely got his five minutes of fame doing a solo dance!  The song ended with Nile and bassist Jerry performing a superb duet.

You could certainly understand why the Festival brought Nile back after only a few years as his show was truly a night not to miss.

The sold out show tonight is Ministry of Sound Classical featuring DJ Danny Rampling.

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