The role of the music producer has been that great unknown for the vast majority of the general public. Although great names such as Quincy Jones, Giorgio Moroder or Phil Spector have always appeared on the covers of the most sought-after albums of contemporary music, they have rarely obtained a popular recognition comparable to that of the artist.
It is true that this perspective changes radically when the producer also develops his own artistic career. In recent years, we have seen this phenomenon with names such as Bizarrap, Mark Ronson or Charlie Puth, widely recognized as producers and artists by a large part of their listeners. If we were to make a list of music producers who have also played the role of musician or artist, the figure of Nile Rodgers should appear in the 'Top 3'.
The American guitarist has spent decades putting his stamp on songs that have reached 'Number 1' in the charts. From Madonna, to Daft Punk, to David Bowie, Rodgers has been responsible for leaving a mark that shines today in his more than two hours of concerts. Of course, in these recitals can not miss the classics of CHIC, the group that revolutionized disco music and that had the New Yorker as the main exponent, along with bassist Bernard Edwards.
Today, in 'Remembering the Nights', we travel back to July 11 to remember their performance at Noches del Botánico 2023.
I'm a Freak Chic' read one of the banners that waved in a completely packed arena a few minutes before the start. About 4000 people waited with some trepidation for the 'hitmaker' in the first of his two performances in our country. The atmosphere was unbeatable and the show kicked off with a 'Medley' of CHIC where 'Le Freak' was the letter of introduction.
That riff so characteristic of Rodgers made the audience burst with joy, who still did not foresee the amount of songs that were going to rain that night on the green of the Complutense University Jardín Botánico . The white suit and the classic 'mirror' pickguard of his Fender Stratocaster made Nile a visual magnet from which it was almost impossible to take your eyes off. After those first four guitar bars, CHIC's current line-up began to enter the stage.
With an impeccable groove and an overwhelming mastery of rhythm, Jerry Barnes (Bass) and Ralph Rolle (Drums) begin to levitate on our stage until they rise to the highest expression of disco music. In parallel, the elegant and masterful vocals of Folami Ankoanda and Kim Davis begin to join in with the legendary refrain 'Freak Out, Le Freak, C'est Chic'. Russell Graham, Richard Hilton (keyboards) and Bill Holloman (trumpet) complete a band that had already activated the dance floor machinery at Noches del Botánico.
The classic anthem, which relates a bad experience at the gates of Studio 54, according to Rodgers, will be followed by the well-known 'Everybody Dance', 'Dance, Dance, Dance, Dance' and 'I Want Your Love ' to close a very chic start to the concert.
By 11:00 p.m., the auditorium at Noches del Botánico had already turned into an open-air summer disco, in true 80's style. Just at that moment, the set list changes to focus more on Rodgers' career as a producer. The first stop on this journey would be 'I'm Coming Out' and 'Upside Down', two songs Rodgers and Edwards wrote for Diana Ross' Diana Ross album. Then it was time to remember Sister Sledge with 'We Are Family' and 'He's The Greatest Dancer', two singles from his best-selling album, which bears the signature of the New York guitarist and producer.
After this brief passage through the 'Motown' came another of the highlights of the night. The audience returned to shake their hips and chant the melodies of 'Like a Virgin', one of the standards of Madonna' s songbook that went through the filter of Rodgers in the 80's. The Queen of Pop would have another hole in the set list with 'Material Girl' before giving way to the hits, with Nile's signature, in the last decade.
Rodgers' role as a producer is not only framed within the disco hits of the 70's and 80's. His influence and baggage is so immense that the most relevant artists of the 21st century have wanted to integrate Nile's sonorous mark in their creations. The result of this is 'Cuff It' by Beyoncé, released nine months before being interpreted on the boards of Noches del Botánico.
Of course, in this cascade of hits could not miss Daft Punk's 'Random Access Memories' , winner of the Grammy for 'Best Album' and that Nile Rodgers wanted to honor by performing 'Get Lucky' and 'Love Yourself The Dance' . "But these tracks are his too?", mumbled some spectators while Kim and Folami magnified the vocals that Pharrell Williams designed for both songs. The amazement and enjoyment was breathed among some attendees who were already beginning to shed the first drops of sweat, because of the frenetic pace of dancing.
And the pulse of the concert did not slow down. Brief return to the 'Greatest Hits' of CHIC with 'Soup For One' that would merge with 'Lady' by Modjo. The first chords of this 2000's hit were played, and the madness was unleashed again in the botanical. A connection between the two songs that came like a glove, since the mythical cut of 'Modjo' that became popular at the beginning of the century, uses a sample of 'Soup For One' as the basis of the song.
After the interpretation of other classics, produced by Rodgers, such as 'Notorious' by Duran Duran or 'Spacer' by Sheila & B. Devotion, it was the turn of Brixton's 'Starman'.
Ralph Rolle took over the vocals and began to encourage the audience before giving way to the 'in crescendo' of 'Let's Dance'. Of course! The last great tribute of this concert had to be to David Bowie . The sound of this iconic song, which marked a before and after in the career of the British showman, is largely the fault of Rodgers. It was he himself who modified the harmony of the song and gave it a touch of personality with those slapback guitars in the verse.
Evidently, there was one last golden bullet left in Nile Rodgers & CHIC's magazine and it was engraved with the name 'Good Times' . The most recognized song of the band was the one chosen to close a night of tribute and remembrance to the music that has made several generations dance. The coveted musician and producer, spent the last minutes on stage to sign and dedicate the memories of hundreds of attendees who had been located in the front rows. A signature, which is also indelible in the history of our concert series.