Photographs by Randall Vasquez.
The parking lot was overfilled and barricaded. Young punks and middle aged rock fiends walked along Lake Shore in their get ups eager to hear the old classics of new wave. I parked all the way at Billy Bishop airport because there was no easier way for me to get to this show (every lot in a certain radius was packed!). The preparations for the annual car racing in the area limited the amount of space that can be parked in, so there was no way I was getting to this show without a trek. As I walked to the show, through various parks full of soccer players and Pokémon Go fanatics, I had various thoughts in my head. I recalled bumping into Nile Rodgers during Canadian Music Week two years ago, and it helped knowing he would open for Duran Duran with his band Chic. I recalled a favorite moment of the recent film Sing Street where bass player John Taylor is pointed out for his influential bass playing (as a bassist myself, this was a definite focal point for me). Me? I’m just a whipper snapper who just turned twenty seven. Some of these audience members have waited a lot longer for a combination as groovy as this. That hectic trip and long walk wasn’t bad at all.
Nile Rodgers is a musical legend, and his set with Chic was pure funk disco bliss. Rodgers touched upon their staples, including an ending with Good Times that had a massive crowd on stage funking out. Chic played songs Rodgers took part in, ranging from Daft Punk’s 2013 summer hit Get Lucky to a touching David Bowie tribute with the anthem Let’s Dance. They even represented songs that were somehow influenced by the band, including the Sugarhill Gang icon Rapper’s Delight that features the rhythm section of Good Times; Yes, Nile Rodgers rapped on stage and it was sensational.
It’s one thing to enjoy Chic on the radio, in a club or at home. Their music hits you even deeper than you can even imagine live. Rodgers’ genius combination of disco’s love and funk’s passion resonated through the Toronto air for miles and miles, and I’m sure everyone was moving to the music. It’s damn near impossible to not feel it within you, and all of the Molson Amphitheatre was shifting in unison. If Chic aren’t headlining, then you really cannot get a better opener than Chic, because almost no other veteran acts can get you immediately charged like they do (I’m sure you can name some exceptions, but it’s hard). It was a freak out that started the evening off with a bang.
You could only follow a dance party with the dance after party, and while Duran Duran are the headliners, they felt like the magical club you find yourself stumbling into after you’ve raved out. The extensive visuals (which blasted lyrics on screen and some retro imagery like fake pyrotechnics and weird beings) were the back drop, but the excitement came from the fab four themselves. In their fancy attire, Duran Duran burst out and went straight into things without beating around the bush. As they promoted their newest album, 2015’s Paper Gods, they started off with some new material before asking the crowd if they were hungry for more.
Suddenly, bam! Hungry Like the Wolf was there live, and it was every bit as glorious as you could imagine. Duran Duran are still youthful enough that their material sounds exactly as it does on album live, so this was quite the time capsule that was opened up. It was a night of 80’s reminiscing that was cloaked by the nighttime sky as the sun set. As the liveliness from Chic’s set seeped into Duran Duran’s, the sold out crowd went as crazy as they could have ever dreamed to. You can only imagine what happened when the following occurred: When they performed with Nile Rodgers for a few tracks, when they themselves had their own Bowie tribute (Space Oddity this time around) and when they ended the night with the beautiful Rio. Yes, for any nostalgia nut, this was a dream come true. Yes, Duran Duran and Chic can never age. Yes, that hell of a trip down there was entirely worth it, because the trip back to my car was full of awe-filled wonder of what the hell I had just witnessed (hint: It’s unexplainable).