Chic: An Evening With Chic

This works more as a reminder of how great Chic's music is, rather than how integral this live document is to their legacy.


An Evening With Chic

Label: Goldenlane
US Release Date: 2015-11-06
UK Release Date: 2015-11-13

The music of Chic has always worked best when propelling a sweaty mass of humanity into increasingly frenetic, funky dancing. Virtual blueprint artists for some of the most successful disco hits of all time, the pair behind the group have come to define a style, aesthetic and entire genre of music. And while Bernard Edwards’ death in 1996 put an untimely end to what had been an extremely fruitful partnership, Nile Rodgers’ continued relevance and success is a testament to that which they began together in the mid-‘70s.

Recent years have seen the group’s sound spreading across the spectrum of popular music. Thanks in large part to Daft Punk's massively successful “Get Lucky", Nile Rodgers’ profile has reached heights not seen since the late ‘70s/early ‘80s. Fittingly then, An Evening With Chic functions as a sort of celebratory victory lap for both Rogers and the group he co-founded with the late Edwards, coming some 23 years after their last studio recording together under the Chic name.

Here the group, anchored by the inimitable Rodgers and his absurdly funky strumming hand, tear through extended renditions of some of their best-known hits for a crowd of ecstatic listeners. You can almost hear the crowd moving along to each song, a surging mass of humanity spurred on by the undeniable rhythms underscoring these myriad hits. From the opening “Everybody Dance", through the exuberant reading of “Good Times", An Evening With Chic aims to please.

And it largely does. The music throughout is undeniably funky party music that continues unabated for nearly the entire duration of the program. While some of the stage patter runs a little long, the playing behind it helps make up for these slack moments, none of which seem to bother those in attendance. So in control of their audience, that when a moment of silence for the late Luther Vandross is requested prior to “At Last I Am Free,” the entire crowd complies, becoming so quiet one would be forgiven thinking the album had simply stopped. They further honor their late friend with a triumphant, 12-minute reading of the soaring ballad, complete with a searing saxophone solo by original member Bill Holloman.

Similarly, “I’m Thinking Of You” begins with a touching introduction from Rodgers detailing how he and Edwards approached their mutual writing process. Given the lyrical content and Edwards’ untimely passing, the moment becomes all the more poignant and the performance reflects this accordingly. It’s a fine moment that gets to the heart of Chic’s near-universal appeal and, given the selflessness with which they approached the music (having written the song for their own group but ultimately giving it to Sister Sledge) it’s nearly impossible not to enjoy.

But the problem with all of this is that Chic has largely functioned within a studio context where their tight rhythms and harmonies come off impeccably produced, everything falling right where it should. The inherent realness of a live performance and its greater likelihood for error is then not necessarily conducive to this stylistic approach. When even the slightest bit off, the songs begin to sound like loose, sloppy jams, mere approximations of their studio counterparts.

Throughout, however, it’s clear the European audience could not possibly care less, so thrilled are they to be hearing these songs within a live context. During an extended medley of songs written for and performed by others, Chic as a band seems to struggle the most. Muffed cues and tenuous harmonies give the impression things could fall apart at any time. As is often the case with nostalgia acts, however, the audience is simply thrilled to hear songs they know and roar approvingly at the recognition of each. This response seems to help ease the band through some of the trickier passages, as if shrugging nonchalantly, acknowledging the rawness of the performance and taking it in stride.

The opening moments of “Le Freak", perhaps their biggest hit as Chic, features Rogers teasing the iconic guitar phrase as the audience shouts out the vocal part. It’s a fine moment of a band acknowledging their undying appreciation for the fans who put them up on stage in the first place. More than anything, the album aims to please those who’ve been there through thick and thin supporting the band and its music.

At some 80 minutes, An Evening With Chic is a warts and all document of what was clearly an immeasurably enjoyable night for all those in attendance. So while it’s refreshing to hear a number of these tracks benefiting from the added energy of the live setting, there’s ultimately little to distinguish them from their superior studio counterparts in terms of overall quality. Because of this, the album ultimately plays more like a reverent cover band version of Chic than the real thing.


In Americana music the present is female. Two-thirds of our year-end list is comprised of albums by women. Here, then, are the women (and a few men) who represented the best in Americana in 2017.

If a single moment best illustrates the current divide between Americana music and mainstream country music, it was Sturgill Simpson busking in the street outside the CMA Awards in Nashville. While Simpson played his guitar and sang in a sort of renegade-outsider protest, Garth Brooks was onstage lip-syncindg his way to Entertainer of the Year. Americana music is, of course, a sprawling range of roots genres that incorporates traditional aspects of country, blues, soul, bluegrass, etc., but often represents an amalgamation or reconstitution of those styles. But one common aspect of the music that Simpson appeared to be championing during his bit of street theater is the independence, artistic purity, and authenticity at the heart of Americana music. Clearly, that spirit is alive and well in the hundreds of releases each year that could be filed under Americana's vast umbrella.

Keep reading... Show less

The Best Country Music of 2017

still from Midland "Drinkin' Problem" video

There are many fine country musicians making music that is relevant and affecting in these troubled times. Here are ten of our favorites.

Year to year, country music as a genre sometimes seems to roll on without paying that much attention to what's going on in the world (with the exception of bro-country singers trying to adopt the latest hip-hop slang). That can feel like a problem in a year when 58 people are killed and 546 are injured by gun violence at a country-music concert – a public-relations issue for a genre that sees many of its stars outright celebrating the NRA. Then again, these days mainstream country stars don't seem to do all that well when they try to pivot quickly to comment on current events – take Keith Urban's muddled-at-best 2017 single "Female", as but one easy example.

Keep reading... Show less

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.

60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

Scholar Judith May Fathallah's work blurs lines between author and ethnographer, fan experiences and genre TV storytelling.

In Fanfiction and the Author: How Fanfic Changes Popular Culture Texts, author Judith May Fathallah investigates the progressive intersections between popular culture and fan studies, expanding scholarly discourse concerning how contemporary blurred lines between texts and audiences result in evolving mediated practices.

Keep reading... Show less

Which is the draw, the art or the artist? Critic Rachel Corbett examines the intertwined lives of two artists of two different generations and nationalities who worked in two starkly different media.

Artist biographies written for a popular audience necessarily involve compromise. On the one hand, we are only interested in the lives of artists because we are intrigued, engaged, and moved by their work. The confrontation with a work of art is an uncanny experience. We are drawn to, enraptured and entranced by, absorbed in the contemplation of an object. Even the performative arts (music, theater, dance) have an objective quality to them. In watching a play, we are not simply watching people do things; we are attending to the play as a thing that is more than the collection of actions performed. The play seems to have an existence beyond the human endeavor that instantiates it. It is simultaneously more and less than human: more because it's superordinate to human action and less because it's a mere object, lacking the evident subjectivity we prize in the human being.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.