Review: Nile Rodgers and Chic, TKMaxx Summer Sessions, Southampton Guildhall Square

Review: Nile Rodgers and Chic, TKMaxx Summer Sessions, Southampton Guildhall Square

By Nick Mabey.

The Summer Sessions continued last night in Southampton’s Guildhall Square with the irrepressible Nile Rodgers and his band, Chic (23/6/24). The instruction was simple from the start…dance. Rogers asked what we were there for and then told us the answer…dance. Simple. In case people hadn’t worked it out Chic opened with Le Freak, arguably their most famous dance anthem followed by Everybody Dance and Dance, Dance, Dance. You get the idea?

Disco is, to mis-quote Megan Traynor, all about the bass and never more so than with Chic. Jerry Barnes is a big man and his presence and hyper-funked bass licks were at the forefront of most of what was happening on stage. The base riffs in disco music provide everything a dancer needs to ‘get down’, providing rhythm in perfect alignment with the beat of the drums. Here Barnes presence was supplemented beautifully by the charismatic Ralph Rolle on drums. And of course they both sang (it seems like everyone in a disco band has to sing). Rolle even got to lead on an excellent version of David Bowie’s Lets Dance, which Rodgers produced back in 1983.

The band treated us to a broad selection of Rodgers’ amazing back catalogue. Over the decades he has written, produced and sessioned for an extraordinary array of legendary music names. On this occasion, as well seven Chic numbers, we heard two Diana Ross songs, two from Bowie, Madonna, and Daft Punk and one from Beyonce and Duran Duran. Individually brilliant, together you could hear Rodgers influence writ large, particularly in Upside Down, Get Lucky and Notorious, the latter of which I thought was a better version than the original.

I’ve got this far without even mentioning my favourite tunes from the show, the Sister Sledge classics, He’s The Greatest Dancer, We Are Family, Thinking of You and – top the disco tree in my mind – Lost in Music.  Having seen Sister Sledge recently and been in total awe of the quality of the music craft, I am happy to report that Chic did great justice to the source material. Rodgers influence on these anthems was on display for all to witness, and Kimberly Davis and Audrey Martells sang with great soul and skill.

I found Rogers to be a fascinating but curious enigma of a front man. Prone to telling grand stories about his achievements in between songs, he was also happy to yield centre stage and retreat to the wings while others took the limelight. And he seemed to be getting genuine joy from the music and heartfelt gratitude for life in general. Before the set started he was in the wings getting so excited that he entered the stage before his pre-recorded announcement. And after the show was over he stayed on stage, dancing to the PA music long after the band had retired for the night. All in all, a mixture of braggadocio and humility; the aura of a seasoned pro and the smile and mannerisms of a delighted child.  

The set finished of course with an extended version of Good Times, including a sample of the iconic Rappers Delight (by Sugarhill Gang), which was apparently inspired by its bass line. It was one final reminder of what we had witnessed. A high class collection of classic songs performed by outstanding musicians, and at the heart of it the enduring influence of a small man in a pink suit thoroughly enjoying his well-earned legendary status.


If you want to see Nile Rodgers and Chic this summer then visit their website,, where you’ll find another 29 dates (though you’ll need a passport for most of them).


The TK Maxx Summer Sessions at Guildhall Square, Southampton continue for one more week.  Check out artists and dates here –


Photos kindly donated by Chris Orr, all-round great bloke and owner of the Design Chapel:

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