The North American International Auto Show got funky on Friday night, September 16 — in the best possible way.
Iconic Nile Rodgers & Chic got the tuxedo and evening robed crowd taking a break from the cars and dance floor at the high-ticket Charity Preview at Huntington Place in Detroit – the first in two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic. entered with a lavish 70-minute set that explored Rodgers’ Grammy Award-winning career. If he and his eight-piece band had only played Chic’s hits, it would have been enough, but Rodgers turned the performance into a neat, chest-pounding overview of 15 songs from a widespread life in music, which also includes songwriting and production collaborations with among others more David Bowie, Diana Ross, Madonna and Daft Punk.
Rodgers — dressed in a pink suit and white beret as he strode across the stage playing his Fender telecaster — touched all those performers on the show. He paired two hits from Chic spin-off Sister Sledge – “He’s the Greatest Dancer” and “We Are Family” – and did the same for a two-fer medley of Diana Ross’ “I’m Coming Out” and “Upside Down.” . And while Rodgers failed to acknowledge Ross’ Detroit and Motown roots, he did note that Michigan’s Madonna is “from this neighborhood” before recalling that while he was producing her second album, he chose “Material Girl” as the lead single, while drowning him out to go with the title track, “Like a Virgin” (which reached number 2 and 1 on the Billboard charts, respectively).
“That’s cool,” Rodgers said. “The point is, tonight it’s MY show, so I get to play both songs,” after that pairing with the Bowie hit “Modern Love.”
Rodgers used Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” to talk about his two bouts with cancer and how he’s been cancer-free for nearly five years now.
But the best parts of the show came when Rodgers and company stretch out for ferocious, funky jams on songs like “I Want Your Love” and “We Are Family,” which featured powerhouse singer Kimberly Davis and “Get Lucky.” . and chic classic “Le Freak”. Rodgers was not a lead singer himself, but served as ringmaster, conductor and composer presenting his works, and the brass current lineup played everything tight but just loose enough to go with the flow, even if it wasn’t quite sure how long. a certain number would last. To go.
“This song is basically this band’s theme,” Rodgers said in announcing the finale, “Good Times”—with a bit of Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight”—and that proved resonating as Chic sent the posh crowd back to the showroom floor. in good spirits.
The Charity Preview, which has raised more than $121 million for local children’s charities since 1976, this year benefited Southeastern Michigan Boys & Girls Clubs, the Children’s Center, the Children’s Foundation, Detroit PAL, the Detroit Auto Dealers Association Charitable Foundation Fund and University of Michigan Health CS Mott Children’s Hospital.
The Auto Show opens to the public on Saturday, September 17 and runs through September 25 in and outside Huntington Place, as well as other areas around downtown Detroit. Full details can be found at naias.com.