Saturday 16th July 2022
I’m not a dancer. Had I grown up in the ’70s, I’d have been walking around in a DISCO SUCKS t-shirt. If I’d have come of age in the ’80s, I’d have turned my nose up at Bowie releasing ‘Let’s Dance’. I was raised in the ’90s, and I spent all my time listening to guitar bands and rolling my eyes at my friends listening to dance music. I don’t dance at weddings. Hell, I didn’t dance at my own wedding. But when Nile Rodgers tells you to dance, then you bloody well do as you’re told…
As one of the most prolific and successful producers and songwriters in the world, Nile Rodgers has worked with everyone from Bowie to Madonna to Daft Punk. The sheer amount of hits that he has been involved with is astounding. As his drummer Ralph Rolle will inform the Doncaster crowd later in the evening, Rodgers is a three time Grammy winner and an inductee into the revered Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. We are truly blessed to have him.
When you start your set with the one-two punch of ‘Everybody Dance’ and ‘I Need Your Love’, it is clear that you mean business. The sizable crowd are understandably ready to party and Rodgers and his incredible band are only to happy to oblige them. Having already achieved mass funkicity (his phrase, not mine), Rodgers reels off some of the artists he has worked with over the years before indulging in an incredible medley that takes in songs by Diana Ross, Madonna and Duran Duran. Chic’s own ‘We Are Family’ receives perhaps the biggest response, but a snippet of Bowie’s ‘Modern Love’ is my own personal highlight of this section.
At this point, it is worth taking a moment to appreciate just how good Rodgers’ band are. While it is no surprise that one of the most important musicians of the century has assembled an exemplary backing band, the ferocity of Rolle’s drumming and the artistry of Jerry Barnes’ bass are truly a sight to behold. Stealing the show however, are Rodgers’ incredible backing singers Kimberly Davis and Audrey Martells – both of whom combine a natural exuberance and showmanship with incredible musicianship.
After a brief acknowledgment of his struggles with cancer, his joyous declaration about being cancer free is followed by an incredible run through of Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky’ complete with a slowed down, soulful intro from Davis, before Rodgers declares that it is time for maximum funkicity. His crowd work is as accomplished as his playing, never have I seen Doncaster Racecourse united in eating out of the palm of a performer’s hand before. Racecourse gigs are tough, not everyone is there for the music, but Rodgers is such a pro that he takes it all in stride.
A full band introduction follows, before an extended ‘Good Times/Rapper’s Delight’ sends the crowd into raptures. A beaming Nile Rodgers and his band depart the stage leaving the message THANK YOU DONCASTER on the big screen behind them. The pleasure really is ours.
The word legend gets thrown around a lot in the music industry, but make no bones about it, with this gig, Doncaster has witnessed a legend. Even I had a small dance at one point. And that’s an even bigger achievement than the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame.