Placing Nile Rodgers as the opening act for Lionel Richie was a bizarre move. Soulful Nile is a musician’s musician, Lionel felt like a Vegas show.
Nile Rodgers blew Lionel Richie off-stage with a gobsmacking set of music history. With Chic he gave us ‘Everybody Dance’, ‘Dance Dance Dance’, ‘Le Freak’ and ‘Good Times’ while at the same time he was also the foundation of Sister Sledge and the writer and producer of ‘We Are Family’ and ‘He’s The Greatest Dancer’.
Nile was the DNA of Bowie’s ‘Let’s Dance’, Madonna’s ‘Like A Virgin’ and in recent (good) times Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky’. He crafted Diana Ross’s comeback with ‘Upside Down’ and ‘I’m Coming Out’. His show was a lesson in music history from the creator of that history.
One hour of Nile Rodgers was not enough. He walked on stage five minutes before his show and allowed the audience to take selfies with him. He stayed after the set and danced along to another song he produced, INXS ‘The Original Sin’.
Nile Rodgers is a living legend. His contribution to culture will be ongoing.
Nile Rodgers and Chic Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne on Sunday 8 April 2017. Photo by Ros O’Gorman
And then there was Lionel Richie. Ummm, let me preface this by saying his audience loved it. They were there for him, not Nile. Lionel gave them what they came for, a setlist of hits from start to finish and they lapped it up. But man, this show was cheesy.
The share about the guy in the audience “who makes love to Stuck On You” got my stomach rumbling. ‘Three Times A Lady” had me dry reaching. Again, let me say the audience loved it. Me, give me Nile in another venue as a main act any day.
Lionel’s fans aren’t necessarily general music fans. Chatting with random people outside before the show, I got the impression that this wasn’t an audience who frequent many music shows. This was a Lionel Richie fan base who came out for Lionel and probably won’t go to another show until Lionel comes back again.
When I asked if they were excited to see Nile Rodgers the general consensus was “who”? Chic wasn’t a name they knew although when ‘Le Freak’ came on they reacted. When he did ‘Let’s Dance’, ‘Upside Down’ and ‘Like A Virgin’ I am certain that they thought they were watching a covers act.
When Lionel excelled with his Commodores hit ‘Brick House’ they seemed oblivious to the fact it was from the band he was in before he went solo. They were there for the ballads they are used to hearing on Smooth FM. Nile Rodgers was was the ultimate opening act for Lionel Ritchie but it was all downhill from there. Nile with Lionel was like a fine wine with a McDonalds cheeseburger meal.
Lionel Richie only has two switches – slow and fast. Every Lionel ballad sounds the same, every Lionel pop song sounds the same. It was only the occasional Commodores funk that shook things up.
Again, his fans loved it and I can respect that as well as his success. It Just wasn’t a show for me.
Nile Rodgers and Chic, 8 April 2018, Melbourne
Everybody Dance (from Chic, 1977)
Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah) (from Chic, 1977)
I Want Your Love (from C’est Chic, 1978)
I’m Coming Out / Upside Down (from Diana Ross, Diana, 1980) / He’s the Greatest Dancer / We Are Family (from Sister Sledge, We Are Family, 1979)
Like a Virgin (from Madonna, Like A Virgin, 1984))
Get Lucky (from Daft Punk, Random Access Memories, 2013)
Let’s Dance (from David Bowie, Lets Dance, 1983))
Le Freak (from C’est Chic, 1978)
Good Times (from Risque, 1979)
Lionel Richie at Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne on Sunday 8 April 2017. Photo by Ros O’Gorman
Lionel Richie Melbourne 8 April 2018
Easy (from Commodores, Commodores, 1977)
Running With the Night (from Can’t Slow Down, 1983)
Penny Lover (from Can’t Slow Down, 1983)
Truly (from Lionel Ritchie, 1982)
You Are (from Lionel Ritchie, 1982)
Stuck On You (from Can’t Slow Down, 1983)
Brick House / Fire (from Commodores, Commodores, 1977)
Three Times a Lady (from Commodores, Natural High, 1978)
Sail On (from Commodores, Midnight Magic, 1979)
Fancy Dancer / Lady (You Bring Me Up) (from Commodores, Hot On The Tracks, 1976, In The Pocket, 1981)
Endless Love (from Endless Love soundtrack, 1981)
My Destiny (from Back To Front, 1992)
Say You Say Me (from Dancing On The Ceiling, 1986)
Hello (from Can’t Slow Down, 1983)
Dancing on the Ceiling (from Dancing On The Ceiling, 1986)
We Are the World (single, 1985)
All Night Long (All Night) (from Can’t Slow Down, 1983)