When discussing the wider Belsonic billing for this year with other music lovers, the general consensus seems to be that it’s a little ‘hit or miss’, and maybe this is shown in the lack of sell-out nights (only Biffy Clyro & Imagine Dragons have so far managed capacity). Chic are however unquestionably in the ‘hit’ category and no one in attendance on the night could possibly state otherwise.
The band’s white attire was as spotless as the spectacle they provided for their fans, turning Custom House Square into an old school disco filled with the feel good factor. That magic ability is what makes Chic, Chic. That magic is what makes Nile Rodgers who and what he is, a giant of music. Chic of course is the child of the Adonis partnership of Rodgers and the late Bernard Edwards, whom Rodgers could not let the night slip away without paying tribute to.
It was disco-funk by the masters of disco-funk, the pinnacle of feel good music. Sharing a stage with someone of the stature and reputation of Nile Rodgers could be daunting for anyone, no matter how familiar to him a musician may be. He dominated the stage and he prowled from side to side plucking his distinctive guitar riffs but that dominance only laid the path for the other members of The Chic Organisation to shine through. The personality of Ralph Rolle excelled alongside his drumming ability, while Jerry Barnes on bass and the drive behind the Chic sound, came across as a medicine for any one with anything but a smile on their face. On vocals, alongside Folami Ankoanda-Thompson, Kimberley Davis put in an extraordinary vocal performance, especially early doors with ‘I Want Your Love’.
The set was diverse and spanned the decades of Rodgers ‘life in music’. Pulling songs from all corners of the vast stratosphere in which his catalogue of songs now float. Spawned from collaborations ranging from Sister Sledge and Madonna to Daft Punk, ‘We are Family’, ‘Like a Virgin’ and ‘Get Lucky’ all soared out into the chilly Belfast night through the enchanted crowd. ‘Spacer’ even made a surprise appearance of the set list. The usual crowd pleasers were the unsurprising high points of the show, dozens from the crowd joined the band on stages to dance to ‘Good Times’, while ‘Le Freak’ was hailed by the crowd just as you would expect. These are two of the band’s immortal songs that will undoubtedly survive the generations and were undoubtedly done justice to.
Perhaps the only fault in the night was the failure of the organisers to secure an adequate support act. A DJ set does not warm up a crowd; it just provides a soundtrack to the wait. A clockwork drinks set up can’t be relied on to loosen up an audience. In any case it was an opportunity wasted for a budding local talent to have the opportunity to have graced the same stage as a music legend.
Chic, however, brought something for everyone and Rodgers gave more of himself than anyone could have expected with a two hour set and that’s why he and Chic are true greats collectively and individually. Chic are not an act of the past, but of the present. And with a new record promised for next year, they could yet be the future too.
A triumphant live band.