Duran Duran was the headlining act at Starlight Theatre on Sunday, but Nile Rodgers dominated the show.
Besides performing a galvanizing opening set with his band Chic, Rodgers joined Duran Duran during the British band’s appearance. Simon Le Bon, the charismatic frontman of Duran Duran, told the audience of more than 7,000 that Rodgers is “one of the all-time greats of the music scene.”
Rodgers, the co-founder of Chic, is enjoying a late-career renaissance that was underscored by his contribution to the massive 2013 Daft Punk hit “Get Lucky.” He explained that he co-wrote the song shortly after receiving devastating news.
“About five years ago my doctor diagnosed me with extremely aggressive cancer,” Rodgers said.
He proclaimed that he’s now cancer-free. In addition to playing a jubilant rendition of “Get Lucky,” Rodgers and eight additional members of the touring version of Chic summarized his extraordinary career in an hourlong outing.
Rodgers grinned maniacally as he chanted the title of the 1977 single “Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)” and smiled like he’d just won the lottery as he propelled the band with razor-sharp guitar riffs on “Good Times.”
The Chic material was balanced by hits Rodgers helped craft for other stars. Joyous interpretations of “Upside Down” and “I’m Coming Out,” songs Rodgers co-wrote and co-produced for Diana Ross, and a triumphant take on the Rodgers-produced David Bowie hit “Let’s Dance,” inspired a party in the venue’s aisles.
Rodgers returned to the stage to perform two selections with Duran Duran.
The reading of “Notorious,” a 1986 hit he co-produced for the band, resembled a worthy sequel to “Let’s Dance.” Confetti rained on revelers during a rendition of “Pressure Off,” a 2015 Duran Duran single Rodgers co-wrote with Kansas City’s Janelle Monáe.
The remainder of Duran Duran’s 110-minute show emphasized the group’s admirable maturity. Perceived by skeptics as a trivial new wave boy band when it found success in the early 1980s, Duran Duran has become a sleek dance ensemble that was supported by a correspondingly sophisticated visual production.
The sound field that emphasized John Taylor’s bass caused propulsive renditions of early Duran Duran hits like “Hungry Like the Wolf” to resemble adept remixes of Chic’s “Good Times.”
Tokimonsta opened the show with a 30-minute DJ set. As with almost all beat-oriented forms of popular music in 2016, the music of the acclaimed Los Angeles producer also betrayed the unmistakable influence of Rodgers.
Duran Duran set list
Paper Gods, The Wild Boys, Hungry Like the Wolf, A View to a Kill, Come Undone, Last Night in the City, What Are the Chances?, Notorious, Pressure Off, Planet Earth, Ordinary World, I Don’t Want Your Love, White Lines (Don’t Don’t Do It), (Reach Up for the) Sunrise, The Reflex, Girls on Film, Save a Prayer, Rio
Chic set list
Everybody Dance; Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah); I Want Your Love; I’m Coming Out; Upside Down; He'’s the Greatest Dancer; We Are Family; Get Lucky; Let’s Dance; Le Freak; Good Times