Le freak, c’est CHIC, c’est Moseley… Nile Rodgers plays Birmingham

Mostly Jazz, Soul and Funk 2013One night in a disco on the outskirts of Frisco (well, Moseley, off the Alcester Road, just up from Boots), I was cruising with my favourite gang.

The place was so boring, filled with out-of-towners touring. I knew that it wasn’t my thing.

I really wasn’t caring but I felt my eyes staring at a guy who stuck out in the crowd.

He had the kind of body that would shame Adonis and a face that would make any man proud…

He also happens to play the guitar like a god.

It took more than 30 years to see CHIC, the tightest band in disco, but was it worth it? Hell, yes.

Some believers go to Lourdes. Others take a dip in the Ganges. I made my own  pilgrimage to B13 to the shrine of disco that is Moseley Park. It was here, last Sunday, that I finally got to see a personal idol – Mr Nile Rodgers.

Rodgers, now known to a new generation of music-lovers thanks to his work on Daft Punk’s Get Lucky, formed CHIC in 1976 with bassist Bernard Edwards. I was nine. CHIC was my groove then. It’s my groove now. I am 46.

Mostly Jazz, Soul and Funk 2013

Rodgers and CHIC were the headline act at the outrageously joyous Mostly Jazz, Funk and Soul Festival, which is staged in Moseley Park.

I managed to get a late ticket thanks to the blessed brother-love of Purity Brewery, one of the event’s sponsors.

Maybe I shouldn’t have cried in front of the boss Paul Halsey and said things like, “Life won’t be worth living if I don’t get to see CHIC.”

Still, it did the trick.

The late afternoon was set alive by Soul II Soul, who reprised some of the coolest grooves from the late 80s: Keep on Movin’ and the epic Back To Life, violins and all. Jazzie B remains the Daddy.

Mostly Jazz, Soul and Funk 2013

CHIC took to the stage just as the heat started fading from the sun but if anything the temperature went up as Rodgers, the band and his singers opened up with Everybody Dance.

Earlier in the afternoon, I had sneaked a look at a memo in the sound engineers’ booth. It said CHIC would play for an hour, so there would need to be filler disco music piped out between 8.30 and 9.

In the event, Rodgers & Co kicked off at 8.30 and played for two hours.

It was unrelentingly good. Unrelentingly slick.

I’d recount the playlist but in all honesty I was in a daze for most of the night. At one stage, Rodgers took a time out to retune his guitar. I was mesmerised. He tunes up better than most funk guitarists play. It was worth coming along just for that.

There was a sequence of Rodgers-produced classic songs, written for other acts – Sister Sledge, Diana Ross – and a rare outing for Sheila B Devotion’s Spacer, a million seller in France.

David Bowie’s Let’s Dance (another Rodger’s soar-away production) has rarely sounded as funky as CHIC’s take, which sparked a whole new dance phenomenon across the natural amphitheatre of Moseley Park – the disco pogo.

And there was Le Freak and Good Times and everything a die-hard disco dad could ever wish for. When Nile Rodgers comes to town, dreams do come true.

Mostly Jazz, Soul and Funk 2013

 

“Good times.

“These are the good times.

“Leave your cares behind.

“These are the good times…”

 

PS I know this is a food blog, so I ate some veggie stuff too. And drank some beer. Here it is.

Mostly Jazz, Soul and Funk 2013

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