Reviewed on Saturday December 7

Undoubtedly one of the best music stories of 2013 has been the career renaissance of Nile Rodgers. The man responsible for hits by a plethora of superstar acts, as well as with Chic – the group he co-founded with the late Bernard Edwards in 1977 – has had a spectacular 18 months in which he has been cleared of prostate cancer, played over 100 shows across the globe and scored some of the biggest hits of his career (thanks to a couple of French fans who like wearing colourful helmets).

Chic’s Sydney Opera House debut opened on a somewhat low-key note, with Rodgers nonchalantly walking on and expressing his bewilderment at the fact that even the seats at the back of the stage were full. Greeted by a rapturous and lengthy reception before playing a note, the band repaid the admiration with a punchy opening burst of signature tracks ‘Everybody Dance’, ‘Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)’ and ‘I Want Your Love’.

Much of the set was dedicated to material either written, produced or played on (or a combination of the three) by Rodgers, including tracks made famous by Sister Sledge (‘He’s The Greatest Dancer’, ’We Are Family’, ‘Lost In Music’), Diana Ross (‘I’m Coming Out’, ’Upside Down’), Duran Duran (‘Notorious’), Madonna (‘Like A Virgin’), INXS (‘Original Sin’) and David Bowie (a show-stopping version of ‘Let’s Dance’).

The tremendous euphoria in the air during the first 90 minutes of the show rose even further in the last half hour when the band launched into ‘My Forbidden Lover’, a triumphant ‘Le Freak’ and an absolutely jubilant ‘Good Times’, which saw the stage overtaken by dancing audience members and Rodgers performing his own version of The Sugarhill Gang’s ‘Rapper’s Delight’ (which sampled the ‘Good Times’ break).

In place of an encore, the band remained onstage as the sound of Rodgers’ defining musical statements of 2013 – Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky’ and ‘Lose Yourself To Dance’ – filled the Concert Hall over the PA. Very few people headed for the exit, instead choosing to clap and dance in a great communal celebration. The Sydney Opera House has played host to quite a few parties in its 40th year but none as jubilant or life-affirming as this.

BY MICHAEL HARTT

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