Getting Your “Le Freak” On: Chic at the Pearl

With the proliferation of dance clubs in Las Vegas, you’d think the best place to dance would be in one of those but, on July 16, that place was the Pearl Theater at the Palms casino, where Chic featuring Nile Rodgers played just a few of their hits. If they wanted to play all of them, it would take three nights’ worth of concerts, since it’s unlikely even the most zealous fan could do the 6+ hours necessary.

The Chic Organization is vast: If you check their Wikipedia page, there’s a list of all the former members as long as your arm, and they’re all amazing, as is the current lineup. Rodgers sets the tone with his iconic, harmonically hipper-than-you-expect guitar riffs, backed up by super funky bassist Jerry Barnes, who fills the spot created by Chic cofounder (the late) Bernard Edwards. Chic’s two lead singers, Kim Davis and Folami Ankoanda, are wonderful soloists in their own right, and together are sublime. The whole band sings, except the horns, who add just the right amount of punch, with some nice turns of solo phrase. Trumpeter Curt Ramm sparkles, and Chic elder statesman sax man Bill Holloman makes his tenor sound like three horns—his range is that vast. He also has the best (okay, some say second best) hair in the band.

Drummer Ralph Rolle, besides holding down the rhythmic fort, did a fine job singing “Let’s Dance,” which Rodgers produced for David Bowie. Keyboardist/singer Richard Hilton filled out the orchestrations, and the newest member of the band, pianist and singer Russell Graham really held his own, with perfect vocal harmony and all those piano lines you’ve heard for 40, count em, 40 years. Oh, and there was choreography, of course!

After a plethora of hits, the night ended with a dance party, with a small herd of audience members joining the band on stage for “Good Times,” which were indeed had by all.