Nile Rodgers at Kenwood House Heritage Festival
Following Friday’s unprecedented heatwave, the London air is decidedly cooler this evening. That might have something to do with Nile Rodgers rocking Hampstead Heath rather than weather pressures. The artist takes to the stage at Kenwood House alongside Chic as part of the Heritage Live Festival. Rodgers originally co-founded the band with Bernard Edwards back in the 70s. Their hits, of course, include Le Freak, Everybody Dance and Good Times. Rodgers is also responsible for Diana Ross’s Upside Down and I’m Coming Out, and co-wrote and produced the Sister Sledge classic We Are Family.
Some might not be aware that the triple Grammy Award-winner is also behind Madonna’s Like a Virgin and Material Girl, Bowie’s Let’s Dance and Duran Duran’s Notorious. In more recent years, he has collaborated with Avicii, Christina Aguilera and Sam Smith and enjoyed worldwide success with Daft Punk’s monster hit Get Lucky. Listing his entire repertoire would far exceed this writer’s word limit!
Explaining how much he enjoys collaboration – and that tonight we are his collaborators – Rodgers quickly gets to work with a fast-paced and energetic rundown of his number one hits. Anthem I’m Coming Out starts as a slow burn – almost teasing the audience until that infectious, feel-good chorus commands they join in. Upside Down brings the funk with singer Audrey Martells impressing on vocals.
Kimberly Davis then ushers in We Are Family, her voice classic soul and her stage presence electric. Like a Virgin and Material Girl have never sounded so funky, and Let’s Dance – performed by drummer Ralph Rolle – has everybody doing just that.
Rodgers receives rapturous applause when acknowledging that he is a two-time cancer survivor and how lucky he feels to be able to do what he loves. Davis then, fittingly, delivers a slow, soulful opening to Get Lucky – placing a deeper, almost Gospel stamp on the hit song. Le Freak and Good Times prevent the rain from dampening spirits.
At the age of 69, one might expect a man who has been so immensely busy over the decades to slow things down a little. That is by no means the case. Exuding the energy of someone far younger than his years, this is a person who lives and breathes what he does and knows how to put on a show. As it says in Everybody Dance, “Music never lets you down / Puts a smile on your face…” – and that could not be truer of tonight.
Photos: Ambra Vernuccio
For further information and future events visit Nile Rodgers’s website here.
Watch the video for the single Get Lucky here: